Allison watched carefully as Max and his men went over the storage area. He started to wonder, for the umpteenth time, if he had made the right decision. He’d left the others in favor of trailing Max, because as long as Max hunted them, he represented a very real threat.
It was simple really. Duck and Tracker seemed better equipped to deal with Briar, and the mystery black IC. He knew he was better equipped to deal with Max. Hunting the hunter had a rather poetic twist to it.
They’d arrived on the scene 10 minutes after the first reports of gunfire. That was almost eight hours ago. A little research tied the storage area to a company in Baltimore, which then tied to an offshore investment firm. After that, it became difficult to trace, but Allison had the distinct impression that it belonged to Duck and Tracker. He was also pretty sure that Max suspected as much.
From the look of things, he had come here looking for someone else. Allison wasn’t sure exactly why, but he knew who. His sources still inside security told him that Max had requested a list of known associates for one ‘Kenneth Wilson.’ He got the report one minute before Max did and it all seemed to fit. Topping the list were two increasing familiar names: John Richardson and Katya Wjowski; Tracker and Duck.
He didn’t like the whole thing, but Max was overjoyed. He could almost feel Max’s expectations as his men went through the bodies, checking the ID’s on each one. Something inside him told him that Max didn’t really want to ID the ‘victims’, he wanted to find Duck and Tracker among the dead.
He was relieved when the bodies that were found did not belong to his friends, but it was still unnerving. It was, as Ange had told him, a war. He watched Max try and push the police out of the area completely, but the head of the Lone Stars seemed just as determined to be there and track down the others.
Ranier paced the line Max’s men had setup. He was getting tired of butting his head up against the Security team, but he forced himself to remain calm. Finagles words of wisdom came back to him. "You’ve got to be in the place where you can do the most, when the time comes."
Finagle was a fine one to talk. He’d lost his position with the force and was now wanted for aiding and abedding in the escape of two known felons.
Still playing follow up instead of lead, rankled. He knew Boomer and the others could take care of themselves, but he was a fighter, not a paper pusher. Max struck him as a paper pusher with an ego, and he knew, that was a dangerous combination.
From his position behind the tape, he saw something Max and his men had missed. They were being followed. He knew that should worry him more, but somehow, it actually made him feel better.
When he saw his opening, he took it, pushing his way through the corporate line. "What exactly is going on here?" he demanded.
"Captain Ranier isn’t it," Max asked condescendingly. "I’m sorry, but I had to take the initiative here, since your people seem to be incapable of allowing us to do our jobs."
"What are you blathering about?" Ranier demanded.
"Well, since your department has been incapable of working with us. And several of your own men are now under arrest for conspiracy, we have been forced to insist on handling this situation on our own. When we are finished, you and your men may proceed."
Ranier seethed as Max waved him away. ‘You will get yours you pompous ass,’ Ranier promised himself. As he turned and headed back for the line, he noticed the other man watching the proceedings with interest. As he turned to focus on the man, he turned, nodded and faded back into the crowd.
‘Just another day in Memphis,’ he thought to himself.
Gina smiled as Davy drove them back to the base. It had been a long time since they’d been out together and it felt good. Even Davy had relaxed a little. They both needed the break, and thanks to Bear and Joey, she didn’t even have to feel guilty about it.
Davy smiled at her as she let out a contented sigh. "This was really nice. Thanks," he whispered.
"Thank you," she answered. She smiled at him again as she thought about how they had eased into the relationship they now shared. It had taken time and more than a little effort on her part. Still, somehow Davy had finally come around, and Gina had a slight suspicion that Geoff had had something to do with it.
"What?" he asked as she shook her head.
"Us," she told him. "We just never seem to have enough time."
"I know," he answered softly. "I wish we had more, but with everything that’s been happening, we can’t afford it."
"I know," Gina answered. "Part of me feels guilty about the time we’ve taken, but Bear made me promise we’d stay out for a few hours," she told him as they neared the base.
Davy smiled at her then made a sudden U-turn.
"What are you doing?" she asked with a laugh.
"Well, I’d hate for you to break your promise to Bear," he teased as he drove away from the base. "How about some ice-cream, then we go back to work?"
Gina laughed, hoping the night would never end, but knowing it had to. She decided to enjoy what time they did have together tonight. ‘Besides,’ she thought, "its not like we aren’t going to see each other ever again.
Rico looked over the boxes as Tommy and Eclipse walked in. They’d been going through the records for the past 3 days, but they really hadn’t accomplished anything. It was just one of the final steps before closing down the old place.
‘Soon we’ll all be back together again,’ he told himself. ‘The whole family,’ he promised.
"We’ve got another three boxes in the hallway," Tommy informed him.
Every time he’d found the floor in the records vault, one of them would add more papers to the pile of things to be gone through.
"I just can’t believe we’ve accumulated this much paper," Rico complained as Eclipse handed him another box.
"Believe it," Eclipse grumbled. "And there’s more in the basement."
Rico began wishing he was locked out with Boomer and the others. At least they weren’t busy being bored to death.
"You guys want to knock off for dinner?" he asked.
Tommy smiled. "I was afraid you’d never ask."
"Eclipse," Rico called. "You interested in a break?"
Eclipse chuckled to himself then turned. "Figure I’d check in on Joey and see how he’s doing."
"Be back in an hour," Rico told him. "Just because you’re an assassin doesn’t mean you get out of paperwork."
"Ex-assassin," Eclipse informed him. "Unless of course it gets me out of filing."
"Hey, don’t look at me," Rico countered. "You think if I had figured a way out this I wouldn’t have used it already?"
Eclipse smiled as he headed towards the medical wing.
*** *** ***
Bear watched as Joey made his rounds. It was hard to believe that he was the same young man that had come into their lives only two years earlier. He’d grown, physically as well as emotionally. He still looked like his brother, but there was a wisdom in his eyes that hadn’t been there before.
‘Man’s finally realized what happened wasn’t his fault,’ Bear realized. ‘And he’s finally come to terms with that.’
There were only two patients in the clinic, so the rounds weren’t that involved for a change. Bear allowed himself to relax as Joey finished with the second patient, Martin Thomas.
"Bear, could you help me with this for a minute?" Joey asked as he eased the man up a little.
Bear turned and realized that the sheets had gotten bunched up under him. "No problems," he answered as he gently lifted the man so Joey could fasten down the sheets.
Joey smiled at his patient as Bear eased him back down. "There you go Mr. Thomas."
The man nodded and then turned to Bear. As he turned his eyes glazed over.
You will die very soon.
Bear looked around, but he had no idea where the voice had come from. He looked at Joey, but from his expression, he hadn’t heard a thing.
"Joey?" Bear called uneasily.
You all will die.
Bear felt his pulse quicken as the voice once again filled the room, but again, only he could hear it.
"Joey, get Mr. Alberts," he urged as he watched the smile growing on Mr. Thomas’s face.
Joey stiffened. He’d heard that tone in Bear’s voice before and knew that something was very wrong. As he turned to go, Mr. Thomas spoke again, this time Joey heard him.
You will die, and your woman will be his...
"Bear?" Joey gasped.
"Get Mr. Alberts, now" Bear ordered as he began stretched out his senses, then recoiled as he felt the pure hatred radiating from Mr. Thomas.
"There’s nothing you can do," the man added as he unleashed the power he had kept hidden. "Too bad you won’t get to see it."
Bear growled as pain ripped through his mind, draining him of everything, except his will to live, to fight. He snarled as he grabbed a tranq patch and applied it to the man’s arm. The attack stopped, but the damage had already been done.
Joey gasped as he returned with Mr. Alberts. Bear was kneeling by Mr. Thomas. Looking at him, Joey was reminded of the look Bear had when he’d been hit with heavy stun charges. The completely drained look.
"What happened?" he asked worriedly.
"Get out of here," Bear managed to gasp. "Warn the others!"
Joey turned, but it was too late.
Rico shook his head as he took a look at the boxes that had been piled up in front of the vault. Everytime they seemed to get a handle on the project, more boxes would appear. For a minute, he wondered if Eclipse had been merely taking the filed boxes and teleporting them somewhere else to be found later.
Except for the fact that it would mean extra work for him, Rico wouldn’t have been surprised if that were the case.
Tommy met him in the hallway, heavily laden with sandwiches, chips and sodas.
"How can you keep eating that junk?" Rico grumbled as he took the sodas from his brother. "I mean this stuff’ll stunt your growth!"
Tommy shook his head. "Rico, I’m a good foot and a half taller than you," he reminded him.
Rico smiled as his eyes widened and he pretended to notice the height difference for the first time. "My god! What have you been eating?"
"Rico," Tommy countered. "Stop."
Rico paused as he noticed the serious expression in Tommy’s eyes. "Tommy?"
"Sorry," Tommy answered. "Terri’s not sure she wants to see me anymore. I think its the size issue."
Rico bit his lip. Tommy was so easy going about everything, that sometimes he forgot that his brother was also overly sensitive at times. Not that he didn’t have reason. He moved to put a hand on his brother’s shoulder when it happened.
Tommy stumbled as the floor trembled and the first of three blasts rocked the building. As the first blast hit, Rico was already moving, half pushing Tommy in front of him he moved to the safest room in the area, the vault.
Once they reached the room, he reached for the door, but it was too late. As the wave of heat hit him from behind, he felt Tommy impact with his side, pushing him clear of the door. The explosions echoed in his ears, followed by silence.
Tommy was deathly still.
Gina smiled to herself as she and Davy walked back to the clinic from the parking garage. Davy even seemed more relaxed, but she could see the change that came over him as he neared the offices. There was still too much to be done, and there were a lot of people who depended on them.
She shrugged. They both had their jobs to do and their share of responsibilities. At least Geoff was back. She knew that Davy depended on him when it came to the pressure of his role as Patriarch of the Wilson Clan.
Geoff was one of the few people Davy could allow to share the responsibility. Both of them would work themselves into an early grave if the others let them. She knew she wasn’t much better, but with Davy and Geoff as role models, very few Wilsons knew how to take it easy.
She was broken out of revery by a faint hiss. She could feel Davy stiffen as the night sky lit up before them. Next thing she knew she was being crushed to the ground as Davy threw himself on top of her. She could barely breathe as she heard three loud blasts. When it was over, nothing moved. Davy’s breath was weak and raspy in her ears.
"Gods no," she thought as she tried to move, and found she couldn’t. Time seemed to stand still until the sound of sirens finally broke the silence.
*** *** ***
Eclipse had made it halfway to medical when the blast hit. It took him a moment to realize what had happened. He saw the wave of flames coming towards him as he pulled the air around him and teleported. He didn’t have time to think of where, it was just a reflex action.
He was enclosed in darkness for a minute before the backup generators kicked in. When the emergency lights came up, he found himself in the cafeteria. His next thoughts were of the others: Tommy and Rico in the vault, Joey and Bear in the clinic.
He ignored the pain in his leg as he tried to get a line on exactly what happened. He could hear movement out in the hallway. At least the below ground areas were still functional. As he moved towards the door, he was forced to look down at his leg. He realized that a steel reinforcer from the concrete had managed to hit him in the calf before the teleported.
‘Not as fast as you used to be,’ he thought to himself as he forced himself to move into the hall. "What’s happened?" he asked the first Wilson he passed.
"E?" the man asked as he looked around. "Who was upstairs?"
"Tommy and Rico were in the vault," he answered. "Bear and Joey were in the clinic. I’ve got to get up there."
"Upstairs is gone," the man told him. Eclipse could see the shock in his eyes.
"How many down below?" he asked.
"Ten, eleven including you."
Eclipse nodded. "Get everybody here and accounted for," he told the man. "I’m going to see what I can find out about the others."
Eclipse knew it was bad. ‘Tommy and Rico may be alright,’ he told himself. If they were inside the vault, it may have been enough to protect them. He tried not to think about the flames that would have come afterwards. Joey and Bear on the other hand would have been completely exposed to both the explosion and the flames afterwards.
He tried to console himself with the fact that it could have been worse, but it didn’t work. Davy and Gina were at least safe. That was some consolation.
He prepared himself to teleport then looked around. Nothing was safe, he needed to keep reminding himself of that.
Joey watched in horror as the flames danced around them. He knew he should be afraid, hell, he should be dead. But the flames danced outside a ring that surrounded them. He looked at Bear and found the source of the ring.
Already beads of sweat were forming as Bear struggled to maintain the barrier he’d placed between them and the destruction. Then he saw that Bear had also taken the place of one of the steel I-Beams that supported the ceiling above them.
He started to move. He knew he had to find something to brace the ceiling. Bear would not last long maintaining both spell and support. He choked back his fear and started looking, but there was nothing. He looked at Bear, but all Bear could do was nod. Things did not look good.
"Cap, we found one."
Gina looked up at the call, but as she tried to get up, the attending paramedic put a hand on her shoulder.
"Just take it easy," he advised. "They’ll have him out in a minute."
Gina tried to be patient, but she had to know how everyone else was. ‘Davy will want to know,’ she told herself. She tried to tell herself that he’d be alright, but she knew better. She’d seen the debris he’d saved her from, seen the wounds inflicted by the explosion. Worse, she’d felt his heart beat as it slowed into an arrhythmic pattern. He’d already been medivac-ed out, but she had to find out about the others.
As she watched as the rescue team climbed to where Wilson travel had been, she wondered how the others in the base were holding out. She knew the base had been designed to withstand just this sort of incident, but short of blowing up the building there was no real way to be sure.
‘We’ll know now,’ she thought perversely. She shuddered as the rescue dogs began digging in the area that had once been the clinic, her clinic. She steeled herself for what they’d find. She knew there was little to no protection in the clinic, with the possibility of O.R. 3, Kenny’s O.R.
With Kenny’s ‘enhancements’, the room might have survived the blast, but the odds of Joey and Bear being there when the blast hit were slim. She looked at her watch.
It had stopped just after 8:30, when the blast hit. Gina started rocking as she thought of Davy. Images of him laughing filled her mind until she wanted to scream. Looking at the ruins of their business offices a calm voice overrode everything else.
"This is WAR."
Ranier took a deep breath as he arrived on the scene. The destruction seemed complete. As he got out of the car, he was greeted with the all to familiar smell of death. "Hell," he declared softly.
As he tried to take stock of the situation, he saw Gina sitting on the back of the ambulance. She had a blanket wrapped around her, but she seemed alright. Biting his lip, he headed over towards her.
"Gina?" he called softly.
She looked at him for a minute, then nodded.
"I don’t know if you remember me," he started, as he tried to figure out what to say.
"I remember you Sam," she assured him as she looked around.
"How bad?" he asked changing tact, remembering that Gina was a Wilson.
"Davy’s been medivac-ed. He’s bad. We don’t know about the others yet."
He nodded as put a hand on his shoulder. "Who was inside?"
Gina took a deep breath as she once again went through the list. "Tommy, Rico and E... James, were in Travel, going through some of the records. We had two patients in the clinic, Joey and Danny TwoBears were attending," she paused. "Some one needs to call Geoff," she added.
"I’ll do it myself," Ranier assured her. You just hang in there."
Gina nodded, but she was staring at the ruins. Her world was falling apart, and she needed to know how badly.