A few minutes later, they were clear of the compound and flying over the city. "How is she?" Tracker asked once he was sure they were safe. Allison looked at Duck and checked the unit's assessment. "Two broken ribs, compacted spine, looks like its pinching a nerve. I've got some people on the south side of town who can take care of it, if we get her there that is. Let me see about contacting them, you'll probably have to set down in the park, Baseball diamond's probably the best bet. Got it?"
"Copy that," Tracker answered. "I'll find the place. Masters, you can fly this thing can't you?"
"Since I was fifteen," Masters answered. "Why?"
"When we get off, I want you to go to Corp HQ and make sure we never see Maxie again."
"Copy," Masters answered as he smiled at Max.
Allison looked down at Duck again and she smiled up at him. He could tell from the smile that the medical unit had administered some kind of antispasmodic. Duck was feeling no pain. When he was sure she was going to be alright, he turned his attention to Max.
Max was still railing at Masters, and Duck and Tracker. ‘They' were the ones that had ruined his plan. He had lost two guards and his prize. The capture of Duck and Tracker would have taken him far in the company. Greed and ambition had blinded him to the fact that far better men had tried and failed when it came to capturing the two of them.
"How?" Max demanded. "How did you get through my security?"
Allison started to say something, when Duck looked at him, her eyes were big from the medication. "Beating you was easy," she told him. "You didn't do your homework. You were over confident. You made a very big mistake."
"What?" Max asked angrily.
"You hit Masters. Nobody hits Masters," she muttered.
"Easy there," Masters urged as he slipped next to her and took her hand. "We're all okay."
"Tell that to the two guards," Duck muttered. "They're dead, cause they followed him. Sure, they were weasel-boys, but they should still be breathing, playing happy little weasel-games and doing other weasel-boy things..."
"I know," Masters told her. "I know."
"You know," Duck commented to him "I can't understand how many of your people seem to keep missing the fact that I'm the second best infiltration Decker the military ever trained."
She turned to Max and smiled sweetly. "He," she stated, nodding towards Tracker. "Is the best."
Allison watched the exchange and shook his head. Max was not a happy camper, which suited him just fine. Duck's assessment of ‘weasel-boy' seemed to say it all. He would try to weasel out of it, if they weren't careful, he might succeed. Duck was probably right if they didn't take Max out of the equation, he'd probably find a way to get back at them.
It was then that Allison realized the real problem Duck and Tracker had with Aerocomm. Too many people had wasted too many resources in trying to get them. When all they wanted was to be left alone.
He pulled out his pocket phone and dialed a few numbers. "Ange," he stated softly. "I got a problem."
"How bad, and is it going to come back to haunt me?" she answered with a chuckle.
"Lots and probably," he answered.
"So long as we have a clear picture," she told him.
"Got a hurt friend and a problem with roses," he told her.
"South-side park," she answered. He could tell the laughter had left her system. Briar was no laughing matter.
Tracker waited for the blades to stop turning, then stepped out of the chopper, allowing Masters to take over. "You two be careful," Tracker urged. "Max had people backing him."
"We know," Masters answered. "You take good care of each other, and when this is over, I want a full report."
Tracker grinned and nodded. Then he turned to the back of the chopper and Duck. Allison picked her up gently and handed her to Tracker, then got out and followed him away from the chopper. When they were clear, Tracker signaled Masters.
"Well," Tracker stated as he watched the chopper take off. "We're right back where we were four hours ago."
"But in a much better part of town," Duck pointed out groggily.
"And a whole new bunch of people after us," Tracker told her as he looked around.
"And hopefully some new friends," Allison told them as he nodded towards the dugout.
"Lead on," Tracker urged.
Ange grumbled to herself as she signaled the others. Five o'clock in the morning Mark calls her with no warning. Says he's got a ‘hurt friend' and that he needs her. Needs her people more like it. Well, Mark's reliable for one thing, she thought. He always brings trouble, and he always makes up for it. She started wondering about his friend.
Mark Allison's idea of ‘hurt' usually meant ‘in serious need of medical attention.' Sometimes she wondered why she put up with his antics, but then again, they were on the same side. Briar was their enemy, and it had made them friends of sorts. Time had done the rest. She still wondered how he could continue to work for the Corp. that created Briar in the first place.
‘If he's got rose problems, and an injured ‘friend,' we're going to need fast medical help, that means a mage, probably Candide since Whisper was just getting off of patrol. Add Tyler and Jonesy that gets us some muscle and firepower,' she thought as she went over the roster in her mind. She'd have to shuffle the patrols some, but the past three weeks had been pretty slow, almost as if the Briar was gearing up for something. She had a feeling she was about to find out what.
After she made sure everybody'd received her call, she went down to the garage. She was going to need some transportation and she had no idea what was available.
"Wheels, what we got for transport these days," she called out to the team's mechanic.
"Hey Ange," Wheel's answered as she wiped her hand on her pants. "What you need?"
"What do I always need, something fast, reliable and won't let me down. What I want for right now is transport. I just got a call from Mark, he's got rose problems and an injured friend."
Wheels shook her head. Ange deserved a hell of a lot better. "What kind of trip you planning?"
"Me, Candide, Tyler and Jonesey. Picking up Mark and his party at the park," Ange sighed.
"He tell you anything else?"
"Hell, you know Mark. I'm lucky if I can get two words out of him when it comes to the status of anything," Ange countered, then shook her head. "Sorry kiddo, the man just..."
"Is clueless," Wheels interrupted. "I'll set up two bikes and a wagon, how's that sound to you?"
"Sounds fine," Ange answers with a grin. Wheels was right, the man was clueless, cute, but clueless. As Wheels went to work, Ange went to check the weapons and equipment lists.
By the time she got back, Tyler and Jonesy were there, hitting on Wheels. If she lived to be a hundred, she didn't thing she'd ever figure the three of them out. Tyler and Jonesy were practically inseparable, and both of them were mad about Wheels. Wheels on the other hand, seemed to be amused by the whole situation.
"Hey guys," Ange called as she carried the equipment in.
Tyler rushed over to help her, while Jonesy continued to make eyes at Wheels. They were a strange bunch, hell, the entire team was. Yet they formed a rather respectable force when they needed to. They'd come from all over, with one thing in common: The Briar. Briar had either tried to take them, or had taken someone they cared about. Tyler and Jonesy were the only survivors from a team that called themselves ‘The Messengers.' Wheels had pulled them out of an ambush, and had had their divided attention ever since.
She found the others along the way. Candide had found her. Together they formed a protective force against the Briar. They weren't strong enough to take them on in a head on fight, she knew she couldn't afford to delude herself on that front. They simply struggled to keep their area clear of Briar and its influence. So far they'd been able to keep Briar at bay.
It was too much work for Briar to fight them right now. Not while the pickings were so good elsewhere. She knew it was only a matter of time before they came back. Briar was getting stronger all the time. Fortunately, so were her people. As of last count, her crew, the Gang- Busters, numbered fifty-two. Between them, they'd been able to hold their own.
"So, what you got?" Tyler asked as he set the guns down. "Why the call?"
"You, me, Jonesy and Candide are going for a ride," Ange answered. "Soon as Candide gets here, I'll tell you all about it."
Tyler nodded. He could tell by her tone of voice, it was Briar. Of course, these days it was seldom anything else. "Hey, Jonesy, wasn't Candide in on the club district investigation?"
Jonesy looked up at Tyler and shook his head. "Hu?"
"You have such a way with words," Wheels teased with a grin. "And yeah, she was. There was a couple of incidents down there that sounded like our boys."
"Well, she better get here soon," Ange growled.
Tracker didn't like the location. The dugout offered some protection, but it also locked them in. The only way out was the front, and it was way to easy to get penned in. The fact that Duck was in no condition to move made it that much worse.
Allison shook his head. Tracker's feelings were obvious. He could feel the man's tenseness as he scanned the area, but it was the only place he could think of to wait for Ange and her people. "They'll be here soon," Allison assured him.
Tracker looked at the man for a minute and then back at Duck. "I hope so," he countered as he checked his weapon and scanned the area again.
"Me too," Allison agreed. It had been a long night and Duck's condition did nothing for his disposition. Max, one of his own people had betrayed him, betrayed the company.
"We've got movement," Tracker stated as he handed his binoculars to Allison. "Along the third baseline."
Allison took the binoculars and patted Tracker's shoulder. "Its them," he stated with relief. He climbed out of the dug-out and waved. Even as the group waved back, Tracker was moving.
"Everybody down!" he yelled as he saw the movement in the stands. Allison dropped and rolled back into the dugout as someone opened fire on them. Tracker fired three shots at their attacker, waiting for a positive ID from Allison.
"Check him," Tracker called as he watched the movement above. He could see one man, and from the looks of things he knew what he was doing. After firing, he had ducked down along the bleachers and was moving. It was hard to spot him in the predawn light.
"Don't recognize him," Allison commented, then looked back along the third base-line. Ange and her people had scattered. He ducked down as the sniper fired another round into the dugout. "I Don't think he's friendly."
"Ya think?" Tracker asked sarcastically.
"Eyeball. Mission Pack," Duck murmured.
"Darlin, you couldn't fly it if you tried," Tracker countered gently. "Just keep your head down, let me handle this the old fashioned way.
"Get shot?" Duck asked.
"No, that's how Boomer'd handle this," Tracker answered with a grin. "Keep your head down."
"Luck," Duck called after him, but he was already gone.
Tracker rolled out of the dugout and straight into the backstop. This position wasn't much better. The sniper in the stands couldn't get to him, but anybody in the outfield would have a clear shot. He hoped he could trust Allison's people, but he hated depending on people he didn't know. There were too many unknowns in this whole situation.
He crawled to the edge of the backstop and tried to get a fix on the sniper. "He's still to your left," Duck's voice sounded in his ear. "About half way up."
"I thought I told you to keep your head down," he chided half heartedly.
"You know how well I listen," Duck countered. "I'm not picking up any other heat signatures in the stands," she added. "Got to love the thermals on these things!"
"Well, if you're going to ignore my heroic requests, could you check the rest of the field, I don't want any surprises."
"Already done," Duck assured him. "Four people, all Allison's friends, all reasonably covered."
As Tracker prepared to move, Duck fired off a few rounds into the stands. Even injured, Duck knew the drill. He knew he could rely on her stubbornness. Only way to get Duck to sit anything out was to knock her out. He made the stands before the sniper opened up on the dugout again.
"Uhm, Tracker, this roof isn't going to take much more abuse," Duck informed him.
"Tell me about it," Tracker muttered to himself. He could tell by the sound, the sniper was packing some serious firepower.
"He's on the move again," Duck told him, this time he could hear her sudden intake of air.
"Duck," he called softly.
"I think I'll just keep my head down," she told him meekly. He could tell the meds were wearing off. Then he heard the familiar faint buzzing sound of and eyeball. "There," Duck sighed. "I thought about it and realized, I don't have to fly it, just hover. Be nice though, its the only one we had in the kit."
Tracker shook his head. He should have expected no less from Duck. "Way too stubborn," he muttered.
"You can put it on my tombstone," Duck told him. "He's getting ready to fire again."
Tracker waited for him to open up on the dugout again and fired. Two hits and a miss, but it was enough. "Duck?" He asked as he hugged the ground again.
"He's not moving," Duck confirmed. "Nothing else around."
Then an explosion lit up the sky. Tracker covered his head as the debris rained down around him. He could tell Duck had lost the remote by the amount of swearing he was picking up on the comm-unit.
Tracker checked around. The sniper was at the center of the blast. There was nothing to do, but get out of there. He climbed back down to the field. "Lets get out of here," he urged.
Tracker watched as Allison's friends tended Duck's wounds. He hadn't thought about it when Allison had called ahead, but when they showed up he realized their medic was a mage. He tried to warn them, but the mage had been so confident. Kenny always had problems working on Duck and she trusted Kenny. Now a stranger was tying to heal her. It was not going well.
"I don't understand it," Candide stated in frustration. Her voice was almost a whine as she continued. "She's resisting me."
"I tried to warn you," Tracker stated. "She's kind of stubborn."
"Kind of?" Allison grumbled. "Kind of? She's the most stubborn individual I've ever met!"
Tracker nodded as he looked back at Duck and the mage. "There is that," he agreed.
"So what am I supposed to do?" Candide countered. The entire concept of some one fighting a healing was ludicrous.
"Well," Tracker started. "She was in contact with her remote when it got blown up. That in itself is disorienting enough. Add to it the drugs your friends loaded her up on..."
"Your not helping," Allison told him, before Candide blew a gasket.
"Look there's nothing we can do for her right here, right now," Tracker added after a thought. "We need to get out of here, and I really don't want to have to find a place to hide out with Duck in her current shape.
Ange nodded. The man was right, they were wasting time trying to heal the woman out in the open like this. "Man's right, we need to move out."
"We need something to keep her back straight," Candide objected.
"Not a problem," Tyler countered as he smiled at them. With a nod he and Jonesy headed over to the bleachers and pulled up a six foot plank. "One back board coming up."
Tracker shook his head. He could tell the two ‘brawns' were enjoying the look the mage gave them.
"Lets move," Ange urged. It was a mistake to bring Tyler and Jonesy and Candide on the same mission. Candide's experience before joining the Gang Busters was completely academic. And Tyler and Jonesy just loved to play with her.
Tracker looked at her and nodded appreciatively.
Ange watched Allison carefully as they eased the woman into the back of the wagon. Someone had known to find them at the diamond. That worried her more than she cared to admit. She wanted to talk to him, get the details, but it would have to wait.
"I appreciate this," the man, Tracker, stated.
Ange looked at him a moment and smiled. At least he understood little things like gratitude. "We better move," she called out to her people. Tyler and Jonesy mounted their bikes and signaled her. They were ready.
As she eased the wagon out of the parking lot she scanned the area, looking for signs of trouble. Then she saw a car blocking the exit. "Damn," she swore as she wrenched the wheel to the left.
Tracker held on as Allison's friend Ange pulled a bootlegger turn in the parking lot. As the car came around, he had already loaded his last clip into his predator and was looking for a target.
"Everybody down," Ange urged as she tried to put some distance between them and the car. Looking in her rear view, she saw Tracker as he rolled down the window and checked behind and above.
"They've got a remote on us," Tracker informed her. "Roto drone, armed."
"Great," she growled. "Roll up the window. The wagon should be able to take the hits," she ordered.
Tracker complied immediately. As she maneuvered the car towards the trees and what little cover they offered. "What about the bikes?" Tracker asked worriedly.
"Can you work a turret mounted Auto-Cannon?" she asked as she activated some controls on the dash.
"Sweet," Tracker commented as the control panel rose in front of him. As he ran his hands across the panel he smiled to himself. Things were looking a little better. "Give me a two count," he stated then shook his head. "Tell me when you can hold it steady for two seconds," he explained.
Ange nodded. "You'll have it in three, two one... " she forced herself to continue straight until Tracker had fired the gun. The impact lit up the area behind them.
"I'd say that was a hit," Tracker told her. "Now what?"
"Sit back and leave the driving to me," she answered. "And thanks."
"No." Tracker corrected her. "Thank you."
Ange found herself smiling as she radioed the others. "Lets go home boys," she told them.
Ange waited until Candide had finished working on Allison's friend before she called him into her office. He had a lot of explaining to do.
"Okay, who are they?" she asked as he closed the door behind him.
"Well, her name is Katya Wjowski," he started.
"Wjowski? As in Sergei Wjowski, Aerocomm's development guru?" Ange was outraged. Aerocomm was the one who'd created the whole mess in the first place. "I want them out of here! NOW!"
"Ange, its not what you think," he countered.
"And how would you know what I think?" she yelled. "They're responsible for the problem, and I put my people at risk to save them. I don't know why I even try with you anymore. You're so blind to what your company is doing, and now you've just made things that much worse for those of us who have to clean up after Briar."
"Ange," Allison pleaded. "Briar is setting them up, trying to make it look like they've gone bad. Isolate them so it can have them, that's the only explanation I can come up with."
"Fine, they created him, let them deal with him, let them tell all those people out there why they created the THING that destroyed their lives."
"Ange, you aren't listening," Allison growled. "Duck and Tracker have very little if anything to do with Aerocomm. And they have nothing to do with Briar except as his victims. Although I'd hardly consider either one of them ‘victims' to much of anything." He shook his head and then smiled at her. "Give me a chance to explain."
Ange scowled. He was giving her that smile. The smile that had gotten her into more trouble than any other thing she'd dealt with. "You have five minutes."
Allison drew a deep breath. He had five minutes to explain Duck and Tracker. He'd known them for less than five hours, and he hadn't even begun to understand them himself. It was going to be interesting.
"First and most importantly, they have nothing to do with this mess," He told her. "Those two people have spent their lives fighting groups like Briar. You saw them in action," he pointed out. He waited gaging her expression. ‘Lady should be playing cards,' he thought to himself.
"Duck and Tracker are military. They don't work for Aerocomm. Matter of fact, Duck joined the military to get away from them. That's where she met Tracker. And if it weren't for him she'd have never had anything to do with Aerocomm again. But he had been kidnaped and she needed help finding him. She accepted their retainer in exchange for information on his location. She's never been concerned with power, or the corp. They're warriors, fighting the good fight. And if Aerocomm is wrong, they'll be the first ones to tell them to take a hike. They're good people, and I'm beginning to thing they're in this mess because of Aerocomm."
Ange glared at him a minute longer, but she had seen them in action. Even with one of them injured they had worked together to handle the sniper. They didn't rely on strangers, but more importantly, they'd worked to keep her team safe. And when they were under fire from the drone Tracker's first concern was Tyler and Jonesy. They at least deserved a chance to explain themselves.
"For now they can stay," she announced. "But I want full disclosure on what's happening here, you understand me? If their story doesn't jive, they're out of here. You too!"
Allison nodded. It was more than he had hoped for. "Thanks, Ange," he told her as he left the office. "You won't regret it."
"I better not," she answered. ‘Cause I'll take it out of your hide,' she added mentally.
She needed to know more about his friends and Allison wasn't any help. She put in two calls, first to ‘Halifax,' her team's decker and then Whisper, one of the best combat mages she'd ever worked with.
Their reactions surprised her. Halifax was ecstatic. "Duck and Tracker? The Duck and Tracker?" He'd asked.
"How many of them are there?" she'd asked.
"You're kidding aren't you?" She could hear the excitement in his voice. "I'll be right down."
She was still trying to figure it out when Whisper picked up on her call. "Ange, I heard there was a problem at the park. Are you alright?"
"Pretty much, we've got a few visitors a man and a woman. Friends of Allison's." She knew that would set him on edge, he never entirely trusted the security man, but then he had plenty of reason to hate Aerocomm specifically and their employees in general.
"Got any names?" he'd asked.
"Woman's Katya Wjowski, man goes by," she never got to finish the sentence.
"Tracker? Duck and Tracker are there? This is terrific! I'll be there in an hour!"
Kenny gasped as the morning light shown through the window. The images still played in his mind, but it was more like waking up from a nightmare. He tried to move, and found himself cradled in Derrick's arms. He turned and looked at his brother.
"Rabbit?" he called softly when he saw the tears in his brother's eyes.
"Hey kid," Rabbit countered softly as he stretched. "You feeling better?"
Kenny thought about the images and nodded. "Think so," he stated. "Thanks for staying with me."
"You've done the same for me," Rabbit told him with a grin. "Least I could do."
Kenny nodded. "I... it was.."
"I know," Rabbit assured him "Believe me I know. You were a kid," he added. "There was nothing you could have done. Now, you want to tell me the whole thing?"
"You seem to know quite a bit about it," Kenny stated evenly.
"You talk in your sleep," Rabbit teased. "Remember, Bear's helped me through similar episodes."
"I'd say you learned a thing or two from the experience."
"Well, you know, you hang with the Bear long enough, its bound to happen," Rabbit teased. "He always says that if you keep everything inside, it'll come out at the worst possible time."
"Like last night?" Kenny asked.
"Sounds like a good bet," Rabbit answered with a grin.
"How are you doing?" Kenny asked as he sat up and turned towards his brother.
"Me?" Rabbit asked. "Hell, I'm fine."
Kenny caught something in his voice and turned towards Boomer worriedly. "What happened?"
"Nothings wrong with Boomer," Rabbit assured him. "Fallout from the shoot out last night. Seems the sniper was a cop."
"Holy..." Kenny swore.
"Ain't nothin' holy ‘bout it," Rabbit countered. "He was going to kill you or Boomer, but there ain't no way I can prove it. That's what the traffic tie up was about."
"How'd we get through?"
"Got me," Rabbit told him. "Near as I can tell Boomer threw me in the overhead, and gave ‘em some shuck and jive about you not feeling well."
Kenny looked at them worriedly. "We're going to have to straighten this thing out," he stated.
"Tell me about it," Rabbit countered. "But for right now, lets get you straightened out."
Kenny nodded. There was a lot that he needed to discuss, and short of Bear or Geoff, he couldn't think of anybody else he'd rather to talk to about it.
Rabbit nodded encouragingly as he started to tell him what he'd seen.
*** *** ***
Lightning woke up and headed for the track. Somehow she wasn't surprised when she found Rico waiting for her.
"Am I getting that predictable?" she asked as she started jogging in place.
"Well, I figured I'd find you here," he admitted. "I translated some of Duck's message and it isn't good."
Lightning stopped and turned towards him. "What?" she asked coolly.
"Well, Duck must have figured that I'd be the one to check out the remote once we found it. She started off with a series of ‘Duck Trivia questions.' Then I had to convert the..."
"Rico, I'm sure I'd appreciate the intricacies of how she encrypted her information, if I understood what I was looking for, but I don't," Lightning interrupted. "So could you just tell me what you found out?"
Lightning kicked herself when she saw the deflated look in the man's eyes. She wished she could understand his fascination and enthusiasm for the intricacies and subtleties of Duck's message, but it really wasn't her area of interest.
Rico nodded. "Sorry." He smiled at her and shook his head. "They were hit on their way out of the Playful Dragon. She included downloaded images from the van's tapes, so we at least have a few pictures of their attackers. I'm trying to get id's now. They were up against some heavy magic too. Somebody threw an elemental at them. When you're done here, you may want to take a look. Geoff and Davy want you to view the tape, then talk to them about it."
"They've already seen it?" she asked.
"Yeah," Rico confirmed. "They were up. Some thing happened last night, and they aren't talking about it. I think they're waiting for something."
"Let's go look," she countered.
"What about your run?" Rico asked.
"It'll be here," Lightning answered. She had a feeling that whatever had Geoff and Davy worried involved Boomer and the others.
Tracker dozed in a chair next to Duck. Candide had finally given up trying to heal Duck and had simply opted to put her in traction. Under the current circumstances, he knew it was best he be nearby when Duck came to, it was better for all concerned that his be the first face she saw when she woke up. Still he couldn't help but feel some how exposed.
The base used by Ange's people, the Gang-Busters, was an old salvage yard. Their medical ‘building':an old school bus. Still they'd both bivouac-ed in worse. He could tell the mage wasn't comfortable in these surroundings. The others seemed to take it in stride.
He wasn't sure how long he'd been there, when Ange joined him in his vigil.
"So, Allison says you've run into Briar," she stated.
"That's what people tell us," Tracker answered as he looked up at her. "Allison's supposed to fill us in on what we're up against. All I know is I'm getting really tired of seeing black roses."
Ange nodded. "I hear you on that," she agreed. "How long you know Allison?"
Tracker chuckled, then looked at his watch. "‘Bout five hours and thirty-five minutes," he told her with a shrug. "You?"
"Two years," she answered evenly. "How did you meet anyway?"
Again Tracker chuckled, but this time he shook his head. "Its a long story," he answered, and then he saw the look in her eyes. "Sit down and I'll tell you."
Ange sat down and watched Tracker intently. He was a lot more intuitive than Allison. That could make him dangerous. She'd have to watch her step with this one, she told herself.
Tracker on the other hand opened up to her. She was this group's leader, and she'd taken them in on Allison's word. He owed her that much.
"How much has Allison told you?' he asked, trying to find a starting point.
"Just that you two are worth the risk I'm taking," she answered. "And that there's no love lost between you and Aerocomm."
Tracker nodded. "I'll leave that evaluation to you," he told her. "Most of the problems with Aercomm involve Duck," he stated with a nod towards his companion. "I don't know all the details, but I know that her father got her a job there and things didn't go very well. She ended up on the run, enlisted in the military, became a ‘Jacker.' The military's designation for someone who Decks, and Rigs. Her mentor was my best friend."
Tracker shook his head. "His handle was Silly Wizard, he was the best." Tracker shrugged. "She and I teamed up after he died. Couple of years later was the first time I found anything out about Aerocomm. New head of security, trying to make a name for himself came across an old file and decided to make it a personal thing. He wanted to be the man who brought in Katya Wjowski, dreaded black mailer. Only problem was, the man didn't read the file well enough. Duck only resorted to black mail when all else failed. Seems she'd gotten a hold of some damaging information and they wanted it. Her ‘black mail' plan was simple. They leave her alone and in exchange, nobody gets the files."
Tracker looked over at Duck and shook his head. "Worked for a while," he admitted. "But like I said, this new guy had something to prove. His name was Chisholm. He tried to get to her by using me. Duck did not take that well. Not well at all."
"Yeah well, the lady always was a bit over protective when it came to her friends," a familiar voice called from the front of the bus.
Tracker looked up and grinned in disbelief. "Whisper! How the hell are you?"
"I almost didn't believe it when Ange said you two were here," he answered with a smile. His smile faded when he saw Duck. "Bloody hell," he groused as he moved to her side. "What'd she do this time?"
"Broken ribs, compacted spine," Tracker answered. "She must have figured that wasn't enough so she went and had a remote blow up on her while she was in contact."
"Ouch!" Whisper commented.
"Tell me about it," Tracker agreed.
"Let me guess," Whisper asked as he turned towards Ange. "Candide tried to take care of her?"
Ange nodded. "Why?"
"Her defenses are on overload. Don't worry about it," Whisper answered softly. "Tracker, I'll catch up with you later."
"Thanks," Tracker countered.
"Like I don't owe her this," Whisper answered with a grin, then his concentration was focused completely on Duck.
Tracker let out a sigh of relief. If there was anybody other than Bear could heal the Duck, it was Whisper.
"Okay," Ange stated as she looked at Tracker. "Maybe I should opt for how do you know Whisper?"
"SEALs ," Tracker answered with a nod.
"Whisper, was a SEAL?" Ange asked in disbelief.
"And one of the few mages who can actually get through Duck's defenses," Tracker answered. "Like I said, she's kind of stubborn."
"I think the rest can wait for now," Ange told him. "We'll talk more later."