Uber Star Trek Voyager, JAG and X-files. No infringement
intended since this is an original story. Among other
things it is about same gender love between consenting adult women and if that is illegal where you are or offensive to
you in any way - please hit your back button!
Rating: Chapters vary between G - NC-17
Revised May 2, 2001
To my beta reader, Pol; you know how uncertain I was regarding this chapter ... you made me believe that I could do it. Thank you for all the research, support and proof reading. Any mistakes made are purely my own!
Finding Shelter From The Storm
Jones stood next to the wall of the destroyed cotton mill.
remained by her side, regarding her solemnly as they waited for news on
Tremayne. They knew that the rescue workers had located the agent under a
pile of debris and that she was alive.
“God, what’s taking them so long?” Jones mumbled through tight lips.
“God, what’s taking them so long?” Jones mumbled through tight lips.
pros. They know what they’re doing. With all the destruction in there
they’ve got to take their time or the entire place is likely to collapse
” Ross said quietly. “I wonder how Morrison is holding up?”
rubbed her forehead, the only outward sign that she was distressed over
the whole situation.
have no idea,” she confessed. “They’ve been through so much lately
that I can’t even begin to speculate what toll this is taking on either
one of them.”
fire chief approached them.
me an update.” Jones requested.
We’ve evacuated two seriously injured men and one woman. So far there
are three dead, all men. We’ve found your other agent. She’s trapped
under a great deal of debris and I have to be honest … it doesn’t look
Jones regarded him silently for a moment.
there signs of any others?” she asked.
but there are still areas we haven’t been able to access because of the
debris and the instability of the structure. There may be others trapped
inside but the chances of survival decline with every passing moment. You
know that as well as I do. Time
doesn’t work in our favour.”
stood silently for a moment then turned towards Ross.
know what I’m thinking, don’t you?
not about to form any opinions, for all I know she’s lying dead beneath
the rubble but my gut says she’s managed to pull off another one of her
haven’t a clue. That’s
why I’m keeping all options open.”
loud noise of a rotor made the trio turn and look upwards.
helicopter hovered overhead t. It’s rotor wash sending bits of sand and
debris flying into the air before the ship settled down in an area that
the local police had marked off with lights in the parking lot near by.
requested a MEDEVAC for your agent. She’ll need to be evacuated to the
Trauma Centre ASAP,” O’Brien explained.
regarded the helicopter and then looked inside the building. She could
barely make out the rescue workers frantically trying to save Tremayne.
long before they‘re able to free her?” she asked.
long. She’s in bad shape. Both Morrison and Grady are in there working
is working on Tremayne?” Jones blurted out, pivoting on her heels and
nailing the fire chief with a glare. “The woman is hurt herself, for
know that, but time’s running out for her partner and she was needed.
Agent Morrison has shown that’s she’s more than capable of performing
her duties. Do you have any better ideas?” he asked and met her angry
stared at him for a moment but then relented.
just get them both the hell out of there,” she said quietly.
all three of them flinched as a heartbreaking outcry carried through the
"Oh God! I'm losing
stared down at the colourless face of the woman she loved.
Checking for a pulse on Joan’s neck, she didn’t detect anything. Her partner had stopped breathing.
own heart seemed to skip several beats in pure fear.
Dawn’s medical training took over. Immediately she began managing
Joan’s airways. With two quick breaths she filled her partner’s lungs.
compressions!” she yelled.
the paramedic, scooted over to Joan’s side and began CPR together with
for the backpack that contained the medical supplies, Dawn tore it open.
Inside among the supplies and equipment was an Ambu bag. Dawn quickly
assembled it and placed it against Joan’s mouth. She pressed the bag
once and Mike made five compressions, a pattern that would ensure Joan’s
could hear Grady working on Joan’s lower limb.
got a bleeder!”
was pumping from the damaged artery Joan’s leg.
fought to stop the bleeding.
fingers moved swiftly over the wound trying to stem the flow of blood.
Finally finding the torn artery he quickly pinched it between his fingers
while another paramedic tied a belt around the thigh, pulling it tight.
need more light here,” Doctor Grady ordered.
rescue worker aimed another searchlight at Joan’s broken body.
doctor slowly removed his hand and this time the blood didn’t gush out
but merely trickled slowly, thanks to the pressure of the belt above the
raised her hand to stop Mike’s heart compressions. She felt for the
going,” she murmured huskily.
eyes were dry and burning. She wanted to curl up and cry but kept on
pressing air into Joan’s lungs. Mike worked tirelessly next to her,
pressing down on the brunette’s chest with one hand on top of the other,
forcing the blood to circulate through her heart and carry oxygen to her
Joan,” Dawn said out loud. “You haven’t quit a single time in your
life so don’t you dare do it now! Fight, damn it! Come on!”
Grady had secured Joan’s leg and was now moving up to Dawn and Mike.
Putting his stethoscope on the injured agent’s chest he looked up.
have a weak pulse,” he said. “You can stop the compressions for now
but keep breathing for her.”
stopped the compressions and leaned back on his heels.
she stable enough to be moved?” he asked.
going to have to. She’ll lose the leg if we don’t get her out of here
now. Secure her neck. Let’s
try to stabilise that leg and get her on a backboard before we try to
anything,” Doctor Grady decided.
put a cervical collar on Joan. The rescue team lowered a Stoke’s litter.
Inside was a backboard. The
medical team began to manoeuvre themselves to slip the board beneath Joan.
They had no idea what injuries she could have sustained in her spine.
are her airways?” Grady
nodded as she concentrated on the task at hand.
you manage her head while we get her on the board?“
Dawn replied. “My hand …
I won’t have the strength.”
pulse in her left foot is hardly detectable compared to the right one,”
the second paramedic alerted them. “We need to move her.”
came up next to Dawn.
take over,” he said.
breathing on her own again but it’s shallow. Let’s do this quick and
get her out of here.”
rose to her feet, feeling dizzy and a bit nauseous. Reluctantly she got
out of the way and moved further down along Joan body.
and the other paramedic were now in place.
us a hand with the board.”
manoeuvred the board so that it was readily available.
the count of three the team rolled Joan and slipped the board beneath her
back. Quickly they secured her to the board while Mike stabilized her neck
and monitored her vital signs.
Grady commented as he inspected their work and checked his patient.
“Let’s get her in the Stokes. Mike?
his command all four of them gently lifted Joan, Dawn using her one good
hand, and placed her into the litter. Rescue workers began passing down
extra lines to help secure the basket.
placed the IV bags inside the litter.
in there Joanie, hang in there,” Dawn whispered leaning over the basket.
do it people.” Grady called to the rescue workers above.
the rescue workers lifted the litter from rubble.
are you doing?” asked Grady.
Dawn nodded, fighting back the tears,
on, let’s get up there and see how she’s doing.”
Grady and Mike helped Dawn climb up out of the debris.
this time rescue workers were already placing warming blankets on Joan and
hooking her up on a small portable monitoring unit. They had place an
oxygen mask over her mouth and nose and a small tank was providing her
with a hundred percent oxygen.
went directly to Joan. After checking her vitals he quickly examined the
tourniquet on her leg.
team lifted the litter and walked as quickly as they could among the
staggered behind them, not wanting to let Joan out of her sight.
Mike offered a hand to steady her.
emerged from the building. Valerie Jones and Ross joined them.
taking care of her now,” Ross said seriously. “There won’t be room
for you in the helicopter but my partner and I can drive you to the Trauma
not doing well either,” added Mike. He turned to Dawn. “You can go
with your folks here or we can put you in an ambulance but you need to be
seen too. That arm has to be examined.”
felt her knees give in and to her dismay she had to lean against Ross.
right,” she accepted. “Let’s go.”
came up next to them.
have to stay on a while,” she said, carefully regarding Dawn. “I’ll
join you as soon as I can.”
you, ma’am,” Dawn whispered and then looked at Mike.
thank you, Mike. Tell the rest of the team how grateful I am,” said Dawn
as tears began to fill her eyes. She
was feeling very weak now, the events and her injuries catching up with
mention it Doc. It was our pleasure.”
Turning Mike looked at Ross. “You better get her out of here now.”
nodded. He bent down and put
his arm around her shoulders and under her knees, lifting her up.
her weak attempts to object he carried her to his car. His partner opened
the passenger door and Ross placed Dawn on the seat, fastening the seat
belt for her.
looked at him as he took the driver’s seat.
you,” she said again, her voice trembling.
need for thanks,” Ross said sincerely.
know. But still …”
go and see how your partner is doing.”
in bad shape,” she mumbled.
extended a hand, placing it on her shoulder in an encouraging gesture.
know Tremayne,” he said. “She is one tough lady. She won’t give up
on herself … or on you.”
shot him a look.
…” she said slowly and then in a stronger voice, “no, she won’t.”
started the engine and turned the car around.
inhaled deeply and bit her lip.
keep fighting, Joan,” she whispered to herself. “Don’t give up,
opened her eyes slowly.
bright light in the room stung her eyes and she blinked several times,
trying to clear them from the tears that formed.
head ached and she groaned softly.
images drifted in and out of her mind. She tried to grasp them, examine
them to make some sense of the flighty memories they formed.
ought to be someone, she thought, someone special. She couldn’t remember.
tried to raise her hand to rub her aching forehead. Something pulled at
her and she tried to focus on her hand.
was an IV hooked up to her arm.
was in the hospital.
she tried to sit up when a gentle hand pushed her back into the bed by
pressing down on her shoulder.
just relax and rest, dear. You’ve been through a terrible ordeal,” a
kind female voice said. “I’ll just get the doctor for you now that
heard disappearing footsteps and then the sound of a door opening and
memories flooded her mind so fast it made her head spin and ache even more.
of Laura injured at the motel, of herself driving Vincent’s car with
Laura resting on her lap, of making love in the old people’s cabin …
Then the bitter recollection of finding Laura’s short note when the
older woman had left her behind at Jared’s place.
shifted in bed, trying to find a position that didn’t bother her head as
door opened and closed.
Stewart, it is good to see that you are awake.”
man in green scrubs stood next to her bed, regarding her with calm grey
Doctor Hudson,” he said. “You have suffered a severe concussion and
have several contusions and lacerations. We had to stitch up a nasty gash
in your head. I’m still
awaiting the results of some x-rays but for the most part you are a very
lucky young woman to be alive.”
tried to get up on her elbow. The nurse, appearing to the left, lowered
her firmly to the bed.
now,” the nurse said gently. “You have to be careful.”
Sunny mumbled, tears beginning to run down her cheeks. “Have you any
news of Laura Carter?”
nurse and the doctor exchanged looks.
I’m sorry,” the doctor said. “We haven’t admitted any patient
under that name.”
her lip to prevent the sobs working their way through her aching throat,
Sunny tried to remember that other name, her foggy brain not co-operating
not Laura … not really Laura,” she mumbled, causing the people by her
bed to lean over her. The doctor took out a penlight and flashed it at her
Sunny tried. “Her name is really Grace … but that is a secret … so
… perhaps you wouldn’t know her anyway. Grace? Have they brought in
anyone called Grace?”
I’m sorry, Miss Stewart. There’s nobody by that name here,” the
nurse said compassionately. “Is it a friend of yours? Was she in the
she is … she was … I have to find her. You have no idea how important
it is that I find her.”
the tears flowed down Sunny’s alabaster cheeks, dampening the tousled
blonde hair as they trickled down her temples.
was so close,” she murmured almost incoherently. “I was so close, I
could see her. She looked so small when she faced those men. I wanted to
shoot … but Joan wouldn’t let me … I should have shot him … oh,
God … I should have shot him when I had the chance …”
Sunny drifted into unconsciousness again.
worried about the concussion and the fact that this seems to have been an
emotional trauma for her as much as a physical one. Make sure somebody
sits with her. She might wonder off in this frame of mind she in.”
a beautiful girl,” the nurse mused. “I saw the ruins of that old
building on the news. Can you believe that anybody in there made it?”
there is a great risk that this Grace … or was it Laura, didn’t.”
had been in the emergency room for three hours. She’d undergone a
thorough examination and a series of x-rays. She and the chief of
emergency services had gotten into it.
He wanted to admit her for observation and she wanted nothing to do
with it. After a heated discussion agent had relented to follow up with
her own physician and sit still long enough to have her arm put in a cast.
was sitting on a chair in front of a young ER intern that conscientiously
was putting a cast on her sprained wrist. There were no fractures but in
order to stabilise the stretched ligaments and the joint the resident
orthopaedist had recommended a cast.
only wanted out of there to check on Joan. She had tried to explain this
to these idiots but none of them would listen.
was sending all of them, including Ross, who had stood by her side as if
guarding her, exasperated glares.
she was tapping her foot impatiently, realising that this probably made
the young man in front of her more nervous and slowing down his work.
you go, ma’am,” the intern said and looked just as relieved to see her
get up as she was in doing so.
she said and nodded briskly.
left the room and began to walk towards the elevators.
scared that kid half to death,” a voice to her right said, making her
she exclaimed, almost stumbling as she turned to look at the man next to
her. “Surely you have better things to do than baby sit me?”
I don’t,” he replied amicably. “I’m under orders as of two hours
ago to not let you out of my sight. Monroe’s disappeared.”
metro police found the ambulance that was supposed to transport Monroe
here, empty. Our agent was in the ditch next to it.”
They found him in time. They probably drugged him. By the way, in addition
to Monroe, the driver and the attendant are missing as too.”
got to him,” Dawn whispered. “Is there anyone …”
In addition the hospital’s own security we have our own agents and some
of metro’s guarding the hospital and both Tremayne and Stewart.”
about the other surviving goon?”
informed me that he died half an hour ago. He never regained consciousness.”
leaned against the wall.
you heard anything about Joan’s condition?”
was still in surgery fifteen minutes ago.”
news on Farlow then?”
shook his head.
Nothing. She’s either deeply buried under the larger stacks of debris or
could she be gone? There wasn’t anywhere for her to go, to hide, after
pushing that detonator.”
know her better than I do. Don’t you think she might have chosen that
particular building for a reason?”
I suppose so.” She began to walk again. “Come on. I want to check on
reached the reception where they both flashed their badges. They needed to
identify themselves in order to get passes for the elevators and the doors
to the wards. This was normal procedure on all the ICU wards at the Trauma
Sunny Stewart also on this ward?” Dawn asked as they rode the elevator.
She’s on the second floor. She
regained consciousness earlier tonight. She’s out of danger physically.”
does that mean?”
was apparently very upset when she woke up.
She tried to leave the bed, IV lines and all.”
sighed, closing her eyes briefly.
girl,” she mumbled. “She’s been through so much these last few days.”
can only imagine,” Ross mumbled.
regarded him solemnly.
you?” she asked. “Can you imagine how confused and lost she feels? She
meets this charismatic woman who turns her world upside down. She follows
her on a trip that turns into a vicious hunt within less than twenty-four
hours, only to be dumped without any explanation and then blown up?”
stared at her.
calm down,” he said, raising his hand defensively. “I’m sure I
don’t understand this completely but there is no need to bite my head
sorry, Ross,” she said. “It’s just …”
elevator stopped and they got off.
just that you are worried sick about Tremayne,” Ross filled in.
nodded, looking at him cautiously.
and I have worked together for a long time.”
two agents came to the entrance of the unit and pressed a buzzer. Through
the glass door Dawn could see the layout of the unit. Everything there was
state of the art, the newest in technology and it ha a reputation for
having one of the finest staffs in the world.
design of the unit allowed medical personnel to monitor all critically
injured patients from one central command station where monitors and
computers provided constant feedback on each patient’s condition.
walls were made of plexiglas allowing for full visibility. Each patient
had at least one nurse, sometimes two or three, assigned to them,
depending on their condition.
woman dressed in light green scrubs approached the door. Her badge
identified her as Nurse Walters. She pressed on the intercom.
Can I help you?”
flashed his badge again, together with the visitor’s badge that he had
received at reception.
Agent Ross, this is my colleague, Agent Morrison. We’re here to inquire
about Agent Joan Tremayne. Last we heard she was still in surgery.”
door slid open.
follow me.” Nurse Walters said and pointed towards a waiting room where
several people were sitting awaiting word on their loved ones. The room
was comfortable with several couches, chairs and a coffee machine. “Have
a seat and wait here. I’ll
check with the OR and see how they’re progressing.”
turned and walked away.
sank down on the nearest couch, relieved to sit down as her legs had begun
Ross asked, motioning towards the coffee machine.
thanks, I’m hyper as it is,” Dawn grimaced.
tall man with jet-black hair approached them.
“How’s it going?”
reached out and shook Ross’s hand.
have you two met before?” asked Ross, motioning towards Dawn.
man turned towards Morrison, “Hi, I’m Miguel Rodriguez. I’m sorry
about your partner.”
stood and shook Rodriguez’s hand. “Thanks
Are you the security detail?”
for this floor. Jones is taking no chances.”
that moment Nurse Walters appeared with one of her colleagues.
is one of the surgical team members who has been working on Agent Tremayne,
she doing doctor?” Dawn asked.
The physician motioned all of them to sit down. Taking a deep breath she began to inform them.
be honest, it’s not good, she said quietly. “We’ve managed to stem
most of the internal bleeding but there is a lot of damage. It’s going to be a while before we’re finished.
We’ll keep you updated but you’ll have to be patient. ”
is the leg? asked Dawn.
re-established blood flow to the limb. If we’re lucky we’ll be able to
keep you informed on our progress.”
felt her heart flutter nervously in her chest and got up again. Restless
and more scared than she had been in her life, she began pacing the room.
Over and over she relieved the past days in her mind.
God, get her through this” she silently prayed.
don’t we go and see how Miss Stewart is doing,” Ross suggested softly.
“Miguel will come and get us as soon as there is anything new about
looked gratefully at him.
she said. “I’ll go crazy if I have to wait in this room … it’s
two agents road the elevator to the next floor and approached the
nurse’s station. The nurse directed them to a room at the far end of the
ward. She hoped this meant that Sunny was doing better.
showed their badges to the policeman at Sunny’s door. He examined them
and motioned them to go inside.
ahead,” said Ross. “I’ll
stay out here.”
the door opened she nodded at the nurse sitting at Sunny’s bedside.
Is she awake?” she asked in a low voice.
drifting in and out of sleep,” the nurse said, shaking her head.
“She’s very agitated at times. Are you a relative?”
but she’s … a friend.”
“Here, take my seat. I can sit over there and work on her chart,” the nurse said in a friendly manner.
sank down on the chair.
was facing her and the bruises on her left cheek and forehead made her
look even younger. She seemed fragile. The blonde normally portrayed such
strength and a certain aloofness. Now she looked like a child with the
dishevelled blonde tresses hanging around her battered face.
reached out and captured a restless hand that moved over the blanket as if
searching for something.
now,” she hushed. “Don’t go pulling out your lines. You need that
stuff, you know.”
found herself talking to the girl like she was a child.
be okay, Sunny,” she mumbled softly. “We got you out in time. It was
Hubert, you know. He found you. He crawled with me through all that rubble
and found you. I don’t know where he is now, but I am sure he’s being
treated like the hero he is.”
ran down her cheeks. Raising the arm with the cast, she wiped them away
with trembling fingers, trying to not sob out loud.
found Joan too,” she kept talking, her voice little more than a whisper.
“She’s in a bad way Sunny, but they’re fixing her up now. She’ll
be out of surgery soon.”
Sunny’s eyelids fluttered open and pale blue eyes looked dazedly at
sorry Dawn. If she dies … it’s my fault. I would gone crashing down
with that ledge if she hadn’t forced me to leave.”
you both would have been lost. Joan knew what she was doing Sunny and she
would not want you blaming yourself for any of this.”
Laura? What about Laura?”
the blonde asked huskily.
shook her head remorsefully.
trace of her yet,” she said.
should have been bad news for the motel owner but instead she seemed to
sigh in relief.
not there,” the girl mumbled.
there’s a ton of the debris that hasn’t been examined yet.”
all like to think so but we can’t be certain until the entire building
has been searched.”
rolled over on her back.
had a plan going in there. She planned to get Monroe and perhaps she knew
she’d die trying. But I know she’s alive. I can sense it.”
regarded the blonde sorrowfully.
hope you’re right, Sunny, I really do.”
sound of the door opening made them both jump.
Jones entered the room.
heart skipped a beat.
she croaked before finding her voice again. “Is she … ?”
still working on her,” the older woman said calmly.
walked up to Sunny’s bed.
are you feeling?” she asked, her tone of voice softer.
okay,” Sunny said cautiously. “How about yourself, ma’am?”
made a face.
if I sit down?” she asked and sank down next to Sunny’s feet without
waiting for a reply. “I’m getting too old for this stuff.”
regarded her former boss. She had obviously found time and opportunity to
change clothes and brush her hair. This probably meant that she had had to
deal with the press after Ross left the site.
you been checked out at the ER, ma’am?” Dawn asked casually.
shot her a look.
yes. They assured me that I was fine. I could have told them that.”
felt sorry for the staff. Valerie Jones had no doubt completely run them
news?” Dawn asked.
don’t know how much Ross has briefed you. We have three dead at the site;
one dead at the local hospital and Monroe is missing. They found the agent
assigned to guard Monroe unconscious next to the abandoned ambulance about
ten minutes from the local hospital. There’s no trace of Farlow but the
rescue workers are working through the largest pile of debris right now so
we’ll know soon enough.”
looked at Sunny.
must be hard on you. Is there anyone that we can call? A family member or
shook her head.
When the doctors say I can leave, I’ll just go home.”
ma’am. I have a concussion, that’s all. They just have to rule out any
serious complications before they release me. I’ll go home and wait for
and Jones exchanged surprised looks. There was such conviction in
seem very certain,” Dawn said.
am. She’s alive,” Sunny said. “You would‘ve found her by now if
she was still in that building. She was standing right next to all those
men when she … pressed the button. You found all of them so why
haven’t you found her? It’s not logical.”
had to agree.
just have to wait and see,” the agent said, squeezing Sunny’s hand.
“In the meantime, you have to rest. Even if it’s a mild concussion,
you’re pretty banged up.”
and so are you.”
smiled crookedly. “True.”
Farlow is running again,” Jones said thoughtfully, “I hope she
surfaces soon. We need to get her statement and the government would need
to debrief her regarding her research. She will always be a target if
she’s the only one with the information.”
looked at Dawn.
have never asked,” she said in a low voice. “I certainly never
questioned Laura about her motives for running, not even when she began to
share some details with me. I know this research of hers was controversial
and classified, but …”
you’re curious?” Jones asked. “Well, we can’t give you any details,
of course, but I think you deserve something for being dragged into this
and even more for being instrumental in finding Farlow.”
Jones cleared her throat softly. Dawn got the impression that she was
me nurse, could you step outside … just for a moment?”
nurse looked at the three women and nodded.
me immediately if there’s any problems.”
have my word on that,” replied Jones as she watched the nurse exit the
room and closed the door behind her.
Farlow was the head scientist of a project sponsored by the government
several years ago,” the older woman continued. “Her work entailed
finding a way for the human immune system to disregard transplanted
organs. She wanted to accomplish this without having to suppress the
immune system to the extent that it made the patient vulnerable to
infections, which is the case today. She discovered a way to fool the body,
to make it think that the DNA of the new organ was identical to its own.
Then, as a side effect to this, she also discovered a way to seemingly
alter the bodies DNA strands. This was what alerted the government and
also what made her a target for the organised crime.”
would they be interested in DNA research?” Sunny asked, looking puzzled.
research indicated that there was also a way to alter a person’s DNA, or
rather, the outcome of a DNA test. Imagine that somebody kills or rapes
someone. The police find traces of semen or blood. They test it. Then they
have a suspect. The DNA match is close, but doesn’t match to a
percentage that can convict him or her. They might have the right person
in custody – but the test won’t be able to show it because of the
alteration done after the crime.”
won’t such tampering show up in tests?” Sunny asked. “Wouldn’t
that in itself be suspicious?”
a valid question but who would think to test for a technology that nobody
knew existed? Who knows if it would leave a trace? It might end up looking
like a body substance normally found in humans. We have no way of knowing.
This is why it has been so vital to find Farlow before the bad guys got
their hands on her.”
never sell out,” Sunny said darkly.
forget, we thought she already had. We know different now but we still
need to make sure that her research doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
That is why it is important that we find her, dead or alive.”
would you prefer?” Sunny whispered. “For her to be dead? That would
solve a lot for you.”
We’re not monsters.”
her, you’re probably all monsters.”
you aren’t. So if she’s alive, she’ll come to you, don’t you think?”
shook her head.
until she’s ready. That time may never come.”
that she closed her eyes.
was as if she couldn’t bear the thought of never seeing Laura again.
had no idea how long she had been unconscious.
muscles ached and she could hardly breathe for the pain in her left side.
She realised she must have sprained or broken a rib, perhaps several.
around her was dark but she had to start moving.
against the dust she began to crawl. Her ears were still ringing from the
explosion and the thunder when the roof caved in.
old wooden tunnel had proved to be sturdier than she could ever have hoped
for. Finding it on the old blueprints had set her plan in motion but there
had always been the doubt if it would work or not.
coughed again, gasping out loud as pain shot through her. Her body had
taken more beating these last weeks than it had during her entire run
to mention her heart.
wheezed against the dust and kept crawling.
couldn’t start thinking of Sunny right now. She had to keep going.
were things to take care of. She had to pay Gordon for the goods. He was a
lowlife but he had come through for her and didn’t deserve to have that
boss of his leaning on him.
was also the not so small matter of the Bureau.
would have to give herself up and would do so as soon as she learned the
fate of Monroe and his goons. Eliminating Monroe and his accomplices
should have wiped out the connection between the Bureau and the
organisation that was after her and her research.
stopped to rest, grimacing at the pain that seemed to increase with each
move she made.
Bureau would probably be eager to cut her a deal for the opportunity to
get everything she could recall of her work documented and kept in a safe
place. The government would see to that.
They were greedy both for the initial purpose of her research as
well as the more accidental outcome of it.
course there would be money and power connected to both angles of it.
sighed and began to crawl again.
wooden tunnel, originally built to carry all the water the old mill had
needed from the Potomac River, had saved her.
construction reminded her of a how they made wooden barrels. It had become
rotten with time and it would leak profusely if anybody tried to use it
for its old purpose. It ran along the entire old machine hall with several
openings through the floor. She had prepared two of the lids and kicked
the closest one of them open when she realised that the time had come.
had thrown herself down the tunnel as she pressed the button of the
bit her lip and crawled on.
had a long way to go and all she could hope was that the end of the tunnel
didn’t emerge too deep under water.
that were the case, it would be a cold, cold swim.
Jones stood outside the room where the medical staff had just finished
attending to the unconscious Joan Tremayne. Her gaze never left the face
of the dark haired woman in the ICU bed.
staff had let Dawn into the room after cautioning her that she could only
stay for a short while.
the agent had halted just inside the door as if reluctant or afraid to
approach the bed.
between hope and despair several times this evening, Dawn Morrison showed
apparent trepidation. The reality that Joan might not pull through this
ordeal was staggering.
doctors had been guarded about Joan’s chances. She was in critical
condition and it would be a while before they knew the outcome.
had volunteered to call Joan’s family but Jones had claimed that it was
her duty as the senior officer in charge.
relief on the younger agent’s face had proven Jones’ suspicions right.
Dawn was not up to facing Joan’s family yet. Especially when the
prognosis was so uncertain.
had notified the branch office nearest Joan's parents and had sent two
agents to break the news to them. Her greatest fear was that the Tremaynes
would see it on CNN before someone notified them. She then followed it up
with a personal phone call and talked to both of Joan’s parents. They
had been horrified to learn of their daughter’s injuries and would come
to the hospital first thing in the morning.
father had first insisted that they come immediately but Jones had managed
to convince him that his daughter would need them well rested and able to
support her the next day when she was hopefully more awake. Mr Tremayne
had reluctantly conceded.
then asked to speak the agents who were standing by at the Treymane’s
home. She instructed them to
make arrangements for the family to fly to Washington on the first flight
headed east in the morning.
also warned the agents to stand by at the Treymane’s home and deal with
the press who were sure to show up on their steps at any moment.
The word was already leaking out and the press was beginning to go
into one of its feeding frenzies.
that handled Jones had turned her attention to Morrison. She was worried
for the doctor.
guessed that both Dawn and Joan needed to have the first conscious moments
alone. The looks and the touches the two agents had exchanged earlier had
indicated a far long gone intimacy that had not eluded the older woman one
was now taking two hesitant steps towards the bed.
is she doing?” a deep voice asked next to Jones, making her jump before
she caught herself.
she exclaimed. “Don’t do that!”
glared at him.
isn’t out of the woods yet. Morrison is staying with her a little.”
both looked through the glass walls.
there was a faint movement in the bed, a slender hand moving aimlessly as
Joan seemed to reach some level of consciousness.
gave Dawn back some of her assertiveness. The agent moved forward, taking
the searching hand in hers and leaning over the bed.
pressed her lips on Joan’s forehead without hesitation, obviously not
caring that someone might see. Jones noticed that Dawn’s shoulders began
to shake and realised that she was crying.
on, Ross,” she said, pulling at her subordinate. “Time for you to
brief me, but first of all … give me some coffee. I promise I’ll be
nice to you if you can arrange for something else than that poison in that
machine out there.”
had lost cohesion in his jaw as he witnessed the moment of tenderness in
the ICU room. He only nodded absentmindedly. Jones dragged him away by a
firm grip around his arm.
by the way, Ross,” Jones said in a velvety voice. “If you mention to
anybody what you just witnessed back there, you’re busted down to
minding the parking lot. Is that understood?”
woke the man out of his reverie. He blinked twice, realising that she was
what? By the way, could I
interest you in a cup of Starbuck’s?”
couldn’t take her eyes off the bruised face of her beloved in the ICU
bed. She had been almost certain that she would never see Joan alive again
and when that brave heart had stopped beating …
shivered and tears of relief flooded her cheeks.
Joanie …” she whispered and kissed her forehead again.
brown hair lay matted against her head but still she was as beautiful as
she had ever been. A blackening bruise extended from her forehead, across
her temple all the way down to her left ear. She had suffered no serious
head trauma and that the CAT scan was clear. That was the good news. The
rest of the news had not been positive.
team of surgeons had worked on Joan for hours. There had been internal
bleeding and the spleen had been damaged.
the vascular surgeon and well as the orthopaedic surgeon had worked on the
crushed leg to stabilise and restore the blood flow to the damaged limb.
It was questionable whether they had been successful or not.
were tubes and lines everywhere. Joan looked to so small and helpless
among all this technology and antiseptic environment.
back an errant strand of hair behind Joan’s ear with trembling fingers,
she felt her knees buckle. As if the nurse on duty in the room had sensed
this happening, she pushed at the back of Dawn’s knees and she
gratefully sank down.
she mumbled, not taking her eyes off Joan.
coming to,” the nurse said encouragingly when Joan shifted a little in
had extubated her before bringing her down and the doctors were pleased
with her O2 saturation.
the brunette stirred again and opened her eyes halfway.
I’m here with you,” Dawn said quietly and tried to meet the other
woman’s eyes. “Squeeze my hand if you can hear me.”
there was nothing but then a faint, almost undetectable tremor passed
through Joan’s fingers.
lips moved without sound at first and then there was a hoarse whisper.
here, darling,” Dawn whispered, her voice betraying her completely at
the wonderful sound of her own name being said with such longing. “I’m
the fingers in her hand squeezed hers more insistently.
choked and then coughed weakly. Dawn put her arm under her partner’s
pillow and helped her up just a little to assist her.
you go, just cough, it’s good for you.”
coughed twice and then moaned, as pain seemed to surge through her.
…” she whispered.
know, I know. I’ll ask the nurse …”
didn’t have to. The nurse looked at the chart and then gave Joan more
morphine from the standing order that Joan’s doctor had signed.
was only a matter of minutes before the pain subsided and Joan’s eyelids
grew heavy again.
Rest now. I’ll be here when you wake up and so will your mom and dad,”
Dawn promised. “You’ll be fine. You did everything right and you’ll
ran down her cheeks as she pulled the now relaxed hand to her lips and
kissed it. Turning her head and rubbing her wet cheek against it she
noticed the nurse smiling warmly at her.
said on the news that she saved a girl’s life,” the nurse said quietly.
she did. She saved the girl on the second floor,” Dawn nodded.
a brave lady, then.”
also said that you risked your life to save them both.”
turned her face towards the woman she loved.
jogger ran to the beat of his favourite reggae music.
Having run the same route every day for a little over three years he didn’t pay much attention to the surroundings. He needed the exercise in his job as an executive officer of a large industrial company.
he would actually jog all the way to work but most of the time he settled
for his usual five blocks.
turned a corner and reached a large construction site. The workers
weren’t there yet. He was very early, and he set a faster pace as he
passed the naked iron bars and blocks of concrete.
was the blanket that caught his attention.
dirty hospital’s blanket, the name of the hospital still visible through
the mud, hung from a cement mixer.
he would not even bother to look, but he had watched the news like most
other people in DC last night and with astonishment watched a most unusual
turn of events unfold before his eyes.
he slowed down and cautiously approached the cement mixer. It was a huge
machine and there was no way he could reach the opening without anything
to stand on.
saw a wooden box about five yards away and dragged it to the mixer. With
some hesitation he crawled up on it and peeked inside.
stomach overturned and still he found the strength to reach for his cell
phone and dial 911.
was no doubt that the police would be interested.
out of the almost solidified cement was a naked foot.
hated these things but somebody had to address the media. The public
affairs guys at the Bureau had insisted that she head the press conference.
She had not been amused.
and gentlemen,” Valerie Jones began, “can I have your attention please.
I will read a brief statement and then I’ll try and answer your
questions. At least the ones that won’t interfere with our investigation.”
crowd of men and women of the press went quiet, all of them yielding to
her commanding presence. Those who knew of her realised that their only
chance of getting a question answered was to play by her rules. None of
them were very interested in getting their heads chewed off on national
night there was an explosion in what was known as Paxton’s Cotton Mill
in the Alexandria industrial area along the Potomac River,” Jones began,
pretending to read from her notes.
knew it all by heart.
can not go into detail as of the origin of the explosion but facts are
that three people were killed instantly, two more have subsequently died
and three others were injured. We are unable to release the name of the
dead yet since all of the next of kin have not been notified.
We expect to have this information for you later today.”
you know the identities of all involved?” a young man asked.
older reporters held their breaths.
regarded the novice reporter over her reading glasses.
she said, not sounding unkind at all.
injured persons are two agents under my command, Agent Dawn Morrison and
Agent Joan Tremayne. The third injured person is a woman whose identity
must remain confidential. Otherwise it would jeopardise both our
investigation and her safety. I trust that you will respect and honour
shot the crowd a look that said it would serve in their best interest if
they did so.
folded her papers neatly and looked up from the podium.
if there are any questions …”
room exploded in a cacophony of voices.
this bombing aimed at your agents?”
cannot confirm at this point that it was a bomb,” Jones answered
is this a matter for the Bureau?” a seasoned reporter asked from the
were involved in this case from the beginning.”
case would that be?”
the agents badly injured? Can you describe their injuries?”
Morrison is out of the hospital with minor injuries. Agent Tremayne under
went surgery last night. Her condition is listed as guarded but stable.”
it true that you were in the building yourself, ma’am? Were you injured?”
shot the reporter a look.
was there. As you can see I am fine.”
was a brief silence as that piece of news hit them.
were you in the building?”
it a stake out that went wrong?”
there threats prior to the bombing?”
shoot out that took place just blocks from the scene? Is there a connection?”
questions exploded again.
the order of which the questions were asked,” Jones said, not raising
her voice for a moment, forcing the members of the press to quiet down in
order to hear her replies. “I was there at the request of my
subordinates. No, it was not a stake out. I still can’t confirm or deny
if it was a bomb and we are currently investigating the shoot out you
referred to, to see if it was connected to the explosion.”
reporters inhaled simultaneously to shout out the next question on their
mind but she forestalled them.
regret that I don’t have any more time to answer your questions. There
will be an update delivered by my next in command this afternoon. Good day,
ladies and gentlemen.”
objections to what the media obviously regarded as a very meagre press
conference followed her out the door. Ross was there, grinning at her.
handled them well, ma’am,” he said.
hate these things. It’s like swimming with a bunch of piranhas and
you’re lunch.” She shook
her head. “I surrender them into your capable hands and our media
relations department from now on. I did my bit Let the pro’s take it
from here. I have an investigation to head and a case to solve. I don’t
have time for this. I have two meetings today with two directors that are
demanding answers. I also have to go to the hospital to check on Tremayne
and Stewart. By the way, I got in touch with Jared Malachai this morning.
No matter what the girl says, she’s going to need someone to pick her up
when she’s discharged.”
you talked to Morrison this morning?”
she’s starting to sound like her old self again. She handled the news on
Monroe’s demise pretty well.”
wanted to kill him with her bare hands last night so I’m not surprised.”
know. I think it’s only dawning on her now that Tremayne might make
you can’t blame her for being frantic,” Ross mused. “Tremayne
actually went flat line in her care.”
shivered and then squared her shoulders.
night will haunt us for quite a while,” she conceded.
entire mess will have tremendous repercussions throughout the Bureau. God,
when the Senate Judiciary Committee gets its hands on this!”
did the Bureau become so comprised?”
began with Monroe. He obviously recruited others into his scheme. We need
to find out how this all went undetected for so long.
you think there may be others?”
don’t know. What we do know is that Monroe and four other agents under
his command are dead. Tremayne lies in critical condition. Morrison came
close to getting herself killed as well. This is the worst scandal to hit
the Bureau in its history.”
it possible that the agents accompanying Monroe didn’t know what was
but not likely. Right now Ross, we’re in the damage control mode until
we gather more facts and talk to Grace Farlow.”
you’re assuming she escaped?”
at least for the time being. I want to clean up our own house then we’ll
deal with Farlow.”
looked at his superior.
are you up to, boss? I know that look.”
my good man,” she drawled. “I haven’t a clue what you’re talking
had reached her hotel room soaking wet.
didn’t have to swim in the Potomac but the rain had mercilessly drenched
her as she made her way towards the city. She had not dared to stop a cab,
not that any DC cab drivers would have picked her up in the state she was
lied shivering between the thin blankets on her bed, dressed in double
layers of sweats trying not to shiver.
was not the first time over the years where she had wondered if she would
get warm ever again.
enormity of what she had done was finally taking its toll. She had had to
kill before but never this deliberately.
she pushed the detonator she knew that it was more than likely that the
men in front of her would die and she with them. To think she actually
pulled it off, that she made her way down the narrow tunnel, was in
retrospect nothing short of a miracle.
looked at her watch.
had to go out in less than an hour to take care of some things. She needed
to make sure that the money reached Gordon.
image of Sunny flashed unexpectedly before her eyes.
her fists and pressing them against her trembling lips prevented the
anguished moan to escape. She missed the young blonde so much it hurt.
Closing her eyes she could taste the kisses they had shared.
then remembered the deadly dance Sunny had performed in the garden of the
motel where they had stayed the first day of their journey together. The
younger woman had practised her marshal art in slow motion only to explode
in a series of kicks that seemed faster than the human eye could perceive.
had regarded Sunny with admiration and surprise, wondering who had taught
her this. She now realised it could only had been Sunny’s father, the
down on her knuckles, she realised that she had never got around to asking
Sunny about why this vibrant, wonderful young woman still had been a
virgin. They had barely touched the subject but she knew that if she had
insisted, Sunny would have told her. One dangerous moment after another
had occurred, leaving them constantly in jeopardy, one way or another.
There had been little time for talking about such sensitive things.
didn’t know if she would ever find her way back to Sunny or if she would
be welcome if she did. There were so much that could go wrong.
closed her eyes and tried to rest.
was out of the question. She didn’t even try.
was looking at the man in the door with tears in her eyes.
sweetie,” the tall man said as he walked into the room.
did you know?”
very nice lady by the name Valerie Jones called and said you needed me.”
held her breath for a bit and then threw herself into Jared’s arms. He
held her close and rocked her slowly.
Sunshine,” he mumbled into her hair. “There.”
still had a headache, the doctor had explained that it should go away in a
couple of days, and she leaned her head on Jared’s shoulder.
me home,” she said in a low voice. “Let’s go find Hubert and go home?”
my dear,” Jared said. “As soon as the doctors release you.”
some local police officer is taking care of my dog while I’ve been here.”
Now there’s a lifesaver for you.
… have they told you?”
said he didn’t make it.”
bit her lip and nodded.
Jones stopped by and told me that there still were no trace of Laura …
Of Grace Farlow, I mean,” Sunny corrected herself.
know. Take that as a good sign. She will always be Laura to you, won’t
she?” Jarred asked softly.
Sunny whispered, “always.”
was in agony.
chest was on fire as she coughed and coughed against her will.
One more time,” the nurse said, holding a small pillow gently against
no … it hurts to much,” the agent wheezed but still had to cough again.
know, dear, but it’s for your own good.”
loathed when somebody said it was for her own good. That generally meant
that it was not anything she would like or enjoy.
door opened and Dawn walked in.
she said. “I just showed your parents to the cafeteria. They were
nurse lowered Joan to the pillows and smoothed the blankets over her.
Joan whispered and reached out for Dawn. She needed to touch her, to feel
the warmth of the other woman’s skin.
took her hand.
have tears in your eyes,” the doctor said worriedly. “Are you in
bad,” Joan said huskily. “I had to cough.”
for me. I know.”
glared at the nurse who winked back at her.
give the nurses here a hard time now. You need them.”
felt a bit dizzy all of a sudden but kept her eyes locked on the small
woman sitting next to her bed. She was pale and had bruises on her face.
Her one arm was in a cast. Still she was the most wonderful sight Joan
soft lights in the ICU room reflected in Dawn’s red hair. Her blue eyes
darted between Joan and the monitors behind her.
the doctor?” Joan whispered, confused when her tongue hardly were able
to wrap around the words.
not to in this environment,” Dawn grinned sheepishly.
… you always …”
suddenly had a strange taste in her mouth. She parted her lips to speak
but no words would come; only her breath gushed out of her lungs in
shallow gulps of air.
saw Dawn rise to her feet, heard the chair fall behind her partner.
the room went darker.
bleeding out!” Dawn yelled.
could still hear but everything was black.
quickly lowered the head of her bed.
can you hear me?”
tried to reply but an overshadowing feeling of being extremely cold came
over her and now she could hardly hear what they were saying.
last thing she was aware of was people issuing orders in loud voices and
what sounded like an army of running feet.
entered the bar with her backpack casually thrown over her shoulder.
it down on a bar stool and hopping up on another she ordered an orange
juice from the middle-aged man behind the counter.
added a couple of ice cubes and then poured from a juice carton.
drank the first sips thirstily and then automatically turned her head
towards the TV set on a shelf to her left.
news was on and the news team was reporting from a press conference of
have the latest news on the explosion that claimed lives of five people
and injured four. Here is
Louise Garret with the story …”
only stared as her blood turned cold.
explosion at an old abandoned cotton mill in Alexandria has claimed the
lives of five federal agents and has left at least two others, an agent
and an unknown civilian, in critical condition. Three victims were rushed
to the D.C. Trauma Centre. One died en–route while two others...”
doubled over from the pain exploding in the pit of her stomach.
… oh God … no …
orange juice burned the back of her throat as it cascaded out of her mouth
and onto the floor of the bar.
man behind the counter gasped and came running at her.
Are you ill?”
waved him off as her stomach overturned again and made her gag.
stood silent by her side as the last of the juice left her.
the bartender then said and handed her his dishtowel.
wiped her mouth and then closed her eyes as she leaned weakly against the
counter. Looking towards the
screen she caught a glimpse of Joan Tremayne as rescue workers loaded her
on a chopper.
you be okay?” the man asked.
opened her eyes and regarded him solemnly, thinking that he was being very
nice to her when she deserved it the least.
“No,” she said, her voice throaty and without any inflections at all. “I’m not okay. I don’t think I ever will be again.”