By Dan and Bibby Rush
BOTP (C) 1978 Sandy Frank Ltd. (c) 1972 Tatsunoko Pro. Characters BlackJack and Pomoko (c) Osamu Tezuka 1975. All rights respected. Fan fic contains mild sexual references and some cursing.
December 11, 1998 Planet Denali 7 Crab Nebula
Corporal Baulzak stood beside the office door, rubbed the vicious bruise on his forehead and wondered if he had taken the right job.
"Every time he explodes, I end up in the aid station. Maybe I should do what humans do and sue him."
"BAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUULLLLLLLLLZAK!" Came the angry voice which made the poor man shudder.
Once again into the breech. Baulzak thought as he slowly entered the office and found to his relief that Zoltar was finished with his latest explosion. The purple hooded figure sat slouched in his chair like a mugging victim.
"Yes Sire." The Corporal replied as he pulled a bottle of vintage vino off a nearby shelf and poured a helping amount into a large wine glass. "Sire, if I may be so bold... "
"You may not. Shut-up."
"Sorry Sire." Just thought you'd want to talk to someone who'll listen." The young Spectran placed the glass on the table and turned about to walk away.
"On second thought...don't shut-up. I do need to talk. It's amazing I still have an ass to sit on after this latest retreat."
Baulzak pursed his lips. "Them again?"
"Who else." Zoltar replied as he took a sip of wine. "Little bastards...they'll drive me to madness, or a conniption, or my brain will simply explode. I can still hear their Commander laughing at me!"
Zoltar went into another angry flash and threw his wine glass within inches of Baulzak's head! "Sire! Would you mind controlling that raging urge of yours?"
Zoltar settled back in his chair. "Just once, just once I would like to get my hands on that Commander of theirs. Just to see his blood explode all over the place or his head shrapnel like a grape."
"Sire, I bet you never have any good dreams at night do you?"
"Oh I do. The Eagle sits stuffed and mounted on my desk and the other four hang over my fireplace. That's not a good dream?"
"A bit sadistic Sire." Baulzak watched as Zoltar stood up and walked about the room, picking up his fallen wine glass as he went. "You know Sire, to bad it's not open season on White Eagles."
Zoltar stopped in his tracks. "What?"
"Nothing." Baulzak replied. "I was just making a joke."
It seemed the devious vault in Zoltar's brain hit the time lock once more. Open season? Open season....Open....Season....
Zoltar gave off one of his long diabolical fits of laughter, causing Baulzak to want to call those white coated dudes with the I love me Jackets. Oh Great Spirit he's at it again.
"Sire, you've said that a hundred times now."
"Simple plan my dear Baulzak, why have I put it off for so long?"
"If you would be so kind as to share it Sire, I could agree with you."
Zoltar returned to his desk and leaned on the corner. "What if I had several security camera shots of the White Shadow? Enough to give me a fair idea of what his face looks like? And let s say I can find a sniper good enough to hunt the G-Force Commander and kill him."
"Could be done, provided you can find a hunter good enough and with some steel privates to pull it off. After all...you're asking him to stick his neck out and go after a master ninja. Not so simple a thing to do."
Zoltar pursed his lips. Hmpf..."You know, me and Brigadier Ghartz were touring Europe on Earth a year ago, looking for a base site in the Balkans. We ran across this human there who was...extraordinary to say the least. I wonder if he's still around?"
Baulzak smirked. "He'd better have a good health insurance plan. I haven't heard of a human yet with enough guts to go after G-Force."
"Oh he might. As I remember well...he liked to hunt anything and everything if it gave him some kind of trophy in the offing...and a challenge. Contact Ghartz and make a ship ready for us to go to Earth. I think we'll pay our friend there a visit."
"As you wish Sire". Baulzak bowed and walked out to make the preparations as Zoltar reached into a desk draw and pulled a photocopy picture of the intended target.
"If all goes well, I'll soon have that stuffed Eagle I always wished for."
G-Force Command Center Center
Neptune Island US East Cost...
"Huh? Oh Susan! I was just taking another of my short naps."
"Short is right. About seven minutes short."
"Well I can afford to do that now since I had that upgraded equipment installed. So you have another alert I figure?"
"Not a very large craft. Looks like a two man vehicle. They flashed the normal civil codes but it's not a registered local shuttle. Shall I order a pursuit?"
"Hmmm...well it's probably nothing, travelers perhaps or a couple of young robots acting up. They always tie up security. Keep an eye on them and if they start doing something we don't approve of, you call me."
"Comply. By the way...are you ever going to come up and see me?"
"When I get a vacation. Of course, you know my work and vacations Susan."
"I was wondering, with the year 2000 party and all, if you d be able to get free?"
"I'll try to fix something up. But I can't make promises Susan. They just might keep me busy since it would be a good time for Zoltar to pull one of his midnight specials."
"Well...there's always wishful thinking. Have a good day at work Zark."
"Sigh...She just makes my Trinitron sizzle and my widget wiggle." Zark said as his antenna lowered." I just have to push the case for a once in a lifetime vacation but knowing Zoltar and everyone's worry over Y2K....it ll be a bust."
"Yap.yap,yap,yap,yap...." One Rover One, Zark's ever faithful metal ankle biter, waddled up to his side and tried to offer a bit of friendship to the sad guardian robot. Zark gently picked him up and rubbed his metal snout.
"Yes...it is a lonely job here Rover but not a bad one. And you re hungry again? One of these days I should let you chew on a Ford Pinto...after we remove the gas tank of course."
Yagansk, Yugoslavia Evening of the 11th
Ghartz was both impressed and somewhat bothered by the animal heads and other interesting trophy articles displayed around the modest house of one Gregali Korgan. The short stocky Yugoslav was boastful almost to insult and didn't seem to care much about the visual affect a few of his winnings could invoke. In one section of the house, Korgan had amassed human reminders of his deadly hunting skills. The head of an Italian mafia don, the trigger hand of an assassin sent to kill him, and the stuffed remains of a guard dog with its master's leg jammed between the teeth. That one turned the stomach of even the ruthless Brigadier and caused Zoltar to do several long glances in semi-amused contemplation.
"Did he bite the man before or after you shot him?" The remark caused Ghartz to shotgun his coffee from his nose.
"Well...even a hunter has a sense of humor." Korgan said as he cleaned up the mess left by the choking Ghartz.
All three retired to the kitchen, Ghartz was happy not to see another wild oddity though he wondered what was stuffed in the fridge. Korgan smiled as he removed a full bag of home made deer jerky and passed a few pieces to his two guest.
"So..you've come back to see me again Zoltar. Guess you decided to take up my offer to go hunting?"
"Uh...no. In fact, I have a proposal instead that should appeal to your senses." Zoltar pulled a picture from his cape pocket and handed it to Korgan. "The other features of the head are not very clear you understand."
Korgan looked over the hairless and somewhat poor computer representation and smirked. "The face looks like some punk kid."
Zoltar huffed. "Well...that punk has caused me grief and killed many a good man." Ghartz, sitting next to Zoltar, looked at him as if the word good was a cuss word.
"I see...Do you have a full shot of this man?" Korgan referred to the picture. Zoltar placed a second picture in Korgans hands and watch his reaction.
"Hmm..." Korgan blew from his mouth. "Uh huh...looks like he's 110 pounds, maybe 18 or 19...very interesting."
Ghartz shifted in his seat. "Very interesting? Do you know who that is?"
"Makes no difference." Korgan said back. "It's not who he is but what he is too me. Just another cross hair Rembrandt for me to paint."
"And you re not worried about who he is? No thought at all."
"You miss the point." Korgan smiled. "I m no blindman, we do get television here, I know who this is. You want me to find out who he is and kill him. This I will do."
Zoltar felt adamant. "Many people have tried just that. They all ended up very dead."
"Many of them were stupid amateurish dolts. You need better thinkers before you can have better soldiers. Maybe that's why you end up getting screwed all the time. You don't just waddle in with your big gun and flat out shoot. Too many risks. You must treat your target as if it is the best buck in the world and the smartest. You have to wait, perhaps for years, for that special shot. If you'd asked me when we first met, your problems would have been over and done with."
Zoltar grinned. "I was...too careful. You know what retribution would result if I killed the Eagle?"
"Those are the words of a coward." Korgan said back. It almost made Ghartz rise from his chair.
"Restrain him Zoltar or you'll have one less flunky to screw things up for you."
"I'll show you what..." Ghartz pressed against Zoltar who pushed Ghartz back and out of the room.
"Calm down Ghartz. I expected this bravado. No need to get yourself killed because someone egged you on."
"Son of a bitch. How dare he call you or any of us cowards. We ve done our best against G-Force and you expect him to do any better?"
"Much of his rant makes sense my friend. He's right that I've not prepared us to push things a step farther than I have. Come...let us learn some lessons."
With their return, Korgan offered Zoltar and Ghartz a few prepared documents that outlined his plan. "I'm sure you're working to take advantage of the upcoming Y2K crisis. Seems the Federation and the United Nations on Earth are scrambling like mad to fix their world-wide data bases before next year. My advice for now is to work as unobtrusive as possible, lay low, keep them guessing as to your intent and make G- Force board out of their heads. Makes things easy for me."
"What about retaliation? If you kill the Eagle as I ask, I know the Federation and G- Force will come out looking to hammer me into the dirt. Assassination until now was a semi-honorable taboo. Neither side even considered resorting to going after the high ranks."
"Ha! There is no honor in war. Win or lose is the only thing you should worry over. As for retaliation, if you use your brains and start now to re-organize your assets, you could escape any retaliation with little damage. It's all in my plans."
"I see...is there anything you require?" Asked Zoltar as he skimmed through the paper booklet.
"Just two things. First I need a place to start hunting my target and I get to keep any personal things of the Eagle as a trophy. As you know...I m fond of trophies."
"Done. I'll have an agent bring you what we've got so far. I'm surprised your not asking for more, after all, the Eagle isn't an easy kill."
"I don't live for the money, but a few million for a larger house and some new weapons would be nice. Let's say...a cool single mill?"
Zoltar huffed... "Well at least your not a greedy bastard. Ghartz, make sure he gets a Swiss bank account for his trouble?"
December 12th,1998 Chief Anderson's
home Deer Isle Maine
"OUT WEST IN GOFER GULCH, LIVED INDIAN TRIBE. THEN COME THE PIONEERS, PUSHED THEM ASIDE! ALL INDIANS LEAVE BUT TWO, THEY VOW TO FIGHT. WHAT CAN TWO INDIANS DO?"
"Keyop?" The deep but still sleepy voice of chief Anderson called out as the long haired eight year old was pushing another large spoonful of overly sugared Cheerios into his mouth.
"Eh? Oh...morning chief!"
Anderson shuffled over to his large television set and halved the volume, much to the dis-contentment of the now frowning boy behind him.
"Chief! I can t hear it!"
"Clean your ears when you're in the bath tub next time. You'll find it does wonders. And what have I told you about eating cereal on my rug?"
"I know...I know...don t do it because I might spill it." Keyop sang in a mournful dirge. "But there's no TV in the kitchen."
Anderson smirked. "Look...put some newspaper or a towel under you at the very least. And be careful?"
"I'm being careful. Oh yeah, it snowed last night." Keyop said as he pointed to the window. "Think we can go outside and play?"
"Sure...after you all do the usual morning chores, which reminds me...go get Mark out of bed?"
"Umm...I don't have insurance."
"Keyop! Just go and get him up or we won't be doing anything this morning."
Anderson never needed much prodding on Keyop to get the youngster to do anything. He bumped into Princess as he walked backwards towards Mark's room, almost knocking her down in the process.
"Oops, sorry Princess!" The boy said with a grin.
"Hmm...yeah, yeah, haven't you learned not to talk to me B.C. ?"
"I've learned not to look at you when you get out of bed in the morning. I'm still seeing my therapist you know."
"Very funny...shoo...go cause trouble...go." Princess pushed Keyop along before stumbling into the kitchen to join the chief. "Morning Chief."
"Morning. I m starting the coffee now."
"Cool. Thanks for taking us up on the vacation offer by the way. Though I know you're going through some pain over it."
"Pain? Oh no. An eight year old sugar addict and a wild eighteen year old jungle boy are no pains, they're heart attacks."
Princess grabbed a coffee cup from the cup rack and stood patiently as the coffee maker brewed.
"Are we suffering?" Chief asked. "Besides your little cling pet's urge to kill his cereal in sugar, you and coffee are just as bad."
"Not as bad as your habit of sucking down Keyop's skittles. I swear if he finds out, I won't be able to put up with his screaming."
Anderson reached into a nearby cupboard and retrieved a box of cotton balls. "Here... you might need these."
"I sent mouse to wake up Mark."
"Jesus Christ. Give me a big hand full?"
Keyop slowly approached the side of the bed with one hand raised, ready to catch anything that might come flying at his head. The last time he tried to wake the sleeping Mark, he got a face full of sneaker. With great care...the youngster began to poke at Mark's head...
"Mark? Mark?...Maaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrk. Come on, if you don't wake up now, we'll never get to play in the snow."
The teen only flopped over on his stomach and took a quick swipe which caused Keyop to fall on his behind. "Damn it! MARK! GETUPGETUPOGETUPGETUP!..." The boy screamed out without much luck.
"Hey? Where's Mark?" Princess asked Keyop as he took a seat at the table with a grouchy look on his face.
"Where do you think? He almost took my head off again!"
"You have to try harder Keyop."
"You try harder! I m going back to my cereal before it gets too soggy to eat."
Princess shook her head as Keyop walked out of the kitchen and plopped down before the television. "Tsk, tsk, no finesse. Let me show you how it's done."
Princess entered Marks room and didn't bother being quiet...or sublime. "Mark? Get your lazy butt out of bed?"
"Hmm....urk...Your speaking to your Commander." Mark said in a sluggish, slurred voice. He quickly went back to sleep. Princess continued to poke, prod, and jab him in the side to no avail.
"Wow!" came Keyop's voice from the living room. Such finesse! I should have taken more notes!
"Shut up Titmouse!" Princess snarled.
"He won't get up I assume?" The Chief said as he sat eating pancakes.
"I think he's in hibernation for the winter."
Anderson rose from his chair and walked back to the cupboards. Princess watched him grab a red can and walk towards Mark's room with a wide grin on his face.
"Now why am I thinking of getting under this table?"
The shrilling violence of the air horn exploded through the house. Princess threw her coffee cup on the floor, gritted her teeth, and felt her heart jump out of her mouth. Shit! No need for this coffee now. From the living room, there came an explosion of a young boy swearing every known cuss word in the world in over a second of pulsating, quivering lips.
"DAMN IT! I M COVERED IN SOUR MILK AND CHEERIOS!....Oops...and something else."
Out came the Chief, smiling with the most widest evil grin on his face. "Uh...he's up now. Up on the ceiling that is."
"Chief? What the heck was that?" Princess asked as Anderson placed the can on the kitchen table.
"Good old trusty air-horn. Works every time. That's how I got him up for Primary school when he was Keyops age."
"Did he piss his pants too?" Keyop asked as he stood covered in milk and cereal.
"Well...maybe I should have warned everyone huh? Go and take a bath Keyop...I m sorry..." Chief started laughing at the whole event.
"Oh...you will be sorry when I get out. I don't forget these things you know."
"Skittles?" Chief remarked as he pulled a bag from his morning coat.
"Huh? What just happened? Why am I standing in these wet P.J.s?"
A sudden noise, more like a crash, suddenly came from Mark's room. Princess quickly shuffled Keyop into the bathroom before returning to the kitchen. "Don't worry Chief, I'll back you up all the way."
"Thanks. You don't think he's just a bit upset do you?" Anderson said as he watched the bedroom door open and a hand grabbing out into space for a hand hold. "My...the Commander is full of grace this morning."
"Piss off." Came the groggy voice.
"You are taking to your Security Chief Marcus."
"See my last comment you evil bastard."
"He really isn't like this in the morning Princess."
"Oh? So this is a rare moment? Has anyone told him that he's not wearing anything from the waist down?" Princess closed her eyes as a sleepy Mark suddenly felt a chill around his legs.
"Oh shit!" He said as he quickly dove back into his room.
"Like I said...grace in the morning."
" I had my shorts on! Till you blew that air horn you evil bastard!"
Chief Anderson laughed as he filled a coffee cup and walked in to say he was sorry for the overt use of force. "Here...but you should heed well when I send two of the others to wake you up." Chief got a snarling face in reply. "I know...go fuck myself."
At last, with one sip of coffee, Mark finally lost it. He let out a good laugh and raised his hand. "I give up...can't argue with my evil step Dad. Can't you find another way to wake me up?"
"Any other way wouldn't be as much fun."
"See my first statement on that. So what are we doing today?"
"Oh joy. I m going back to bed."
"You do and I'll use that horn on you again. Besides, you need a diversion from work. I was getting tired of you slaving in your office after every mission. "
"Have to keep in top form. You don't see Zoltar getting vacations do you?"
The Chief shook his head. "How about I order you to relax? I could pull out my old strait jacket and force you to relax?"
" Alright... I'll shovel the walkway if that will make you happy. Though I'd rather watch you do it. Did anyone tell you that you're not co-ordinated with a shovel Chief?"
"See your original statement."
Bard Bannon Point Newfoundland
"BlackJack? Do you want pancakes or waffles?" Pinoko stood atop a stool in the kitchen, waving a spathula. To some, Pinoko looked like a four year old girl but in reality she was the result of the great craftsmanship of her current charge. The story of her creation was only one of BlackJack's more bizarre medical odysseys in a twenty year medical career that he took great pains to keep out of the public eye. By all accounts, BlackJack was outside the realm of established medical society. No hospital would grant him a licence, no company would back him, yet he was perhaps the most sought after expert in the world. At the moment though...he was being sought by a grouchy Pinoko.
"BLACKJACK! I M TALKING TO YOU!" Pinoko screamed as she waddled into the library and found him sitting quietly in a padded rocking chair. "Awe you going to eat something or do I have to beat you into the kitchen!"
"Calm yourself Pinoko." BlackJack said with a wave of the hand. "I ll be there in a moment. I'm expecting an important call here soon."
"Call, schmall, all I asked was if you wanted pancakes or waffles." Pinoko stood crossed and snarling as BlackJack rocked back and forth in his chair
"Waffles will be just fine." BlackJack said as Pinoko skipped back into the kitchen. He was truly lucky to have her around sometimes, though he had to admit he could drive her insane with his weird habits...
Click "You have reached the residence of BlackJack. Please describe in detail the name of the patient, relation to the caller, nature of complaint, and how much you're willing to pay. Leave your return number and I will get in touch with you."
BlackJack listened intently as the man on the other line described his eleven year old daughter's illness, a heart related complaint by accounts, and the man's terrified willingness to spare no expense. BlackJack quickly phoned the man back....
"Mister Faust? This is BlackJack."
"Thank God! I'll pay you anything you want, I'll do anything, she s my only child..."
"Calm yourself mister Faust, you'll only do yourself and your daughter severe mental trauma which could hurt the outcome of this situation. I'll take the case. By the Way... what is your annual income?"
"Roughly 200,000 a year. Like I said, I don t care how much money it will cost."
BlackJack pondered the issue. "Alright...my fee is 200,000 dollars. 100 when I arrive, 100 when I leave. Is that fair?"
"I...expected something more expensive."
"Don t wish, or you might get what you want."
"Pinoko? Start packing, we have a client."
"Oh sure. I slave over this hot stove just to give you a good breakfast and you start talking about packing! What a slave driver you can be at times!"
BlackJack bent over to come face to face with the gloomy pinoko. "But you love me for it don't you?"
"Don't push me." Pinoko said back as she waved a knife in the air.
New Brunswick International Airport Maine 12 noon on the 12th of December
The passing through customs was easy enough. Gregori Korgan entered the United States as Edgar Zenekov, a simple history teacher from Sarajavio, Bosnia on vacation. No worries about equipment as Zoltar had promised him but he'd believe that fact when it was proven. Walking up to a Hertz rent-a-car counter, Gregori handed the agent a ticket stub and signed the required papers. Of course, these would quickly vanish without a trace as the Spectra agent pushed the car keys across the counter. Gregori found the car as plain and simple as he requested, except the back seat was only a cover to an equipment and arms locker he designed and had stocked with his personal gear. Feeling his way around the cushions, Gregori pulled several fiber optic cables from their hiding places and began to wire the frame of the small car with the pen-sized cameras he carried on his flight over.
The target of course, was Chief Anderson's home in Dear Isle. It took Spectra inteligencia a year or so to finally find this average looking house but they never tried to attack it, for obvious reasons. Gregori didn't intend to do such a crazy thing either though he figured that the G-Force team would have to spend some part of the holidays with their handler. The work quickly finished, Gregori started the car and began his up the coast towards Deer Isle.
Chief Anderson's home Deer Isle
Foof! "Keyop! If you throw another snowball, I swear you won't like what I'll do to you!" Mark stood with his shovel raised as Keyop came walking from behind a tree with a snow ball in his hands.
"Aw man, you should have some fun."
"And you should help me shovel this walk off. Don't give me any of those wise ass excuses of yours."
"Alright. By the way, I know a cool place to go snow boarding if you wanna go later?"
Mark leaned on his shovel. "Oh...you re talking about the golf course aren't you?"
"What! That's my secret."
"No, that's mine and Jason's. You forget we lived here a long time since we were kids."
"Did you two snow board?"
"Well...most of the time we ended up in the hospital. Jason's quite a kamikaze on a board."
Throwing the snow ball in his hand away, Keyop took Mark's shovel and started digging like a mad man. "Hey! Slow down." Mark said as Keyop kept tearing through the powder.
"I wanna get there before dark. Wouldn't wanna miss seeing you wipe out. Bet you look silly."
As Keyop gave Mark a big grin, Mark shoved a handful of snow down Keyop's thick layers of shirts. "Take that titmouse!"
"AAAAAAAAAAAAAH...MARKYOUBASTARD!OWOWOWOWOW!" Keyop danced about in a wild, wiggling display as Mark laughed himself to tears. He soon regretted his actions as a snowball connected with his face.
"I'M GONNA KILL YOU, YOU LITTLE SHIT!" Mark yelled as he started throwing a barrage of quick snowballs at the running Swallow.
"NANANANANAAAAAA...TAKE THIS!" Another of Keyop's good throws smacked Mark off the head.
"I forgot this little kid has good aim!" Mark said as he dove behind a snow pile and resumed his shots.
Standing on the porch above this madness, Princess shook her head at the childish display. "Stop acting like childish punks and hurry up! At this rate we'll never get to do anything other than work!" Princess made a big mistake...
"What? Hey Mark? Who let her into this?"
"DIE PRINCESS!" Both boys yelled as they let the snowballs fly. Princess jumped back into the house just as the balls whacked harmlessly against the door.
"You know she's right Mark? You'd better get going if we're gonna go play. I'm gonna go inside and clean the living room."
"Ok...go and get that done." Mark said but he suddenly did a double take. Living room? Television? "YOU LITTLE SHIT!" Mark couldn't stop him fast enough. Once again, the Swallow wiggled his way out of a job.
Pavilion Hotel Deer Isle
evening of the 12th
Gregali took another shot of whiskey into his mouth as he finished hooking up his video P/C and brought up the stored videos from his quick trip through Deer Isle. He was a firm believer in the one time, quick slip policy of surveillance. Had he done it the usual way, he most certainly would have been noticed by some of the locals, the G- Force team, and their usual shadow group of security minded friends. This was much quicker for Gregali know several key things. These were obviously young kids, perhaps teens. Kids don't like to be pent up. Kids like to play. Kids liked to play in the snow. That was all he needed as he watched the eight different views on his screen, stopping every so often to catch faces and compare them to his set of composites. Hours went by, so did several shots of whiskey, before one series of video shots caught Gregali's eye. It was at a golf course about half a mile from Anderson's home. Gregali almost passed it up until he noticed the three kids playing on a hill with snow boards. One was a teenage girl, another a younger boy, then there was the one that looked much older and taller than the other two. Gregali sat back in his seat and played his lips on the tips of his fingers. He would spend the next hour working on the small image of the older boy's head in an image processor. As each successive attempt brought more and more features out, Gregali took eye-take after eye-take between his composites and the computer enhanced image.
"The face is close...it's very close. Rule out the static and noise and it might be him." Gregali said to himself. The remainder of his thoughts came as gut feelings. Pulling an old Mosin-nagant 7mili-meter sniper rifle from a cylinder holding case, Gregali rubbed it's rough oak body as if to summon some distant entity for spiritual help.
"Him...it's him." Gregali assured himself as he brought the rifle up and sighted on a lamp across the room. He suddenly felt very set in his path.
Orchard Beach, Maine early morning...
"That must be him." Said the aide to Robert Foust, CEO of Coro Coro Industries as they watched BlackJack come down the arrival ramp at New Orchard National Airport. "Looks as scary as some people have described him."
"I never noticed." To me he's just the man who might save my daughter, all his scars aside. Remember that."
Foust extended a hand and admired BlackJack's suit as he tried to avoid staring to long at the stitch marks on the Doctor's face. "You don't know how happy I am too finally meet you."
"That's obvious. Same feeling as having the cavalry arrive at a critical point in the battle". BlackJack gestured to Pinoko and took a black book from her hands.
"Your daughter?" Foust's aide asked. "How cute."
"You want a fat lip?"
"Pinoko!" BlackJack warned.
"Sorry! Didn't mean to offend the little tyke."
"I'll offend him! He's on the wrong foot already...let me kick his..."
BlackJack gestured again with more force. "I think it would be advisable for your aide to watch his comments Mister Foust. I'll
explain in greater details when we reach the house."
Foust shook his head and tried not to laugh as Pinoko passed the aide man by and simply flipped him off. "I hope I'm not insulting if I say..."
"Nothing you would say, brings insult to me. I'm just here to do what you've asked me here to do. I don't allow the thoughts and opinions of others to detract from my work. How is your daughter?"
"At the moment she's resting. I don't think she knows exactly the seriousness of her situation. I've done as much as I could to keep it from her."
BlackJack started to jot notes in his book. "You said you have complete medical facilities availed for me?"
"The best I could afford to budget. Like I told you in our conversation, I spared nothing for the price of my child. Her mother had the same condition and died last year without any clue as to the ailment. It seems to be hereditary."
"I see...a family history?"
"A long and complex history. Each case led to crippling paralysis of the respiratory functions, weakened heart, death at an early age."
"Any evidence of Asthma?"
"Negative results. And there's no signs of visible heart infunctions."
"BlackJack continued to scribble as he sat in the limo. Bowel and fluid movements?"
"She's drinking water and fluids normally?"
BlackJack eventually closed his note book and sat in silent ponder. Between watching the passing scenes outside and going back and forth through previous heart cases, he noticed that Pinoko was keeping a deaths eye on Faust's aide.
"Will you stop the faces of death on that man? You do this every time someone comments on your size. You can't help it if they assume before you have a chance to say something."
"Easy for you to say. You're not three feet tall and seventeen years short of growth."
"Pinoko...It's not the first appearance that shapes the rest of the..."
"Yeah, yeah...the book thing, I know, I know. But I still have the right to defend myself against people forming opinions right?"
"Just don't go ripping people's heads off." BlackJack asked as Pinoko resumed her angry pout. "Look...after this case we could take a little vacation and do some skiing. I know you've been wanting to do that for a while."
"Ok, then we'll go home and stew around the house?"
"You're a terrorist."
"Takes one to know one...right?"
Pinoko smiled, then her eyes opened wide when she saw the estate of Faust as the limo drove through the main gates. "Now here's a house! Why can't we get something this big?"
"Because you complain that you can't keep up the house we have now."
"Oh.....screw you." Pinoko snarled with a smile.
"Mister BlackJack?" The aide man started to talk but came face to face with an angry Pinoko as BlackJack caught her from going airborne.
"You say another stupid thing? And I'm going to kill you so bad that they won't find your remains for weeks."
The aide man couldn't take the hint. As he left the car, he said... "Someone needs a serious nap."
"Uh...I heard that." Pinoko was off again! Hanging in mid-air, swinging her fist and feet as BlackJack calmly held her. "I'M GOING TO KILL THIS STUPID BASTARD! LET ME GO! I WANNA USE THE PINOKO SLAM ON HIS ASS!"
BlackJack shook his head in frustration. "Time to invest in a strong child leash."
Downtown Deer Isle
"You think you could have bought less girl's stuff?" Keyop asked Princess as they walked out of a specialty shop. She burdened the boy with all the bags while she sampled several new bottles of body oils.
"Look who's talking oh bubble bath king. I should have never got you hooked on Bath'n Body."
"But I take up less space in the bathroom. You take up all the cabinets with your girl stuff. And all so you can get into Mark's pants."
Princess stopped in her tracks. "What?"
Oh...I m sorry. You want Mark to get in your pants.
"Little....Oh! You come this close to getting killed sometimes." She said with a gesture of hands to accent Keyop's limited life span.
"Look, can you take these?" Keyop buckled under the weight of the bags but Princess wasn't listening. She started to walk away after seeing Mark in the music store across the street. "Oh great! She's zeroed in on her target. Pheromones away!"
"You re asking to get hurt little man!"
"AT LEAST YOU WERE NICE ENOUGH TO ADD MAN!"
"I was referring to your penis size." Princess said back. She watched as Keyop dumped the bags into the truck of his buggy and snarled back at her. She avoided him, keeping her concentration fixed on Mark as he was browsing through a box of used CDs. She slowly walked up next to him and stood smiling as he continued to look at the boxes.
"Hi Mark. I was just passing by when I saw you..."
"Oh BS!" Keyop's voice snapped from behind. "She was drooling for five minutes next to my buggy like a dog in heat."
Princess turned about. "How about I make you a neutered Swallow?"
"Is she allowed to do that?" Keyop asked Mark as he continued to look at the CDs.
"If you keep pestering her, I can't see why not. It might improve your behavior."
Keyop snickered. "I'm getting ganged up on by a girl and you take her side. I'll remember this when it comes time for the Great Swallow to save your butt."
"I'll remember that the next time I have to go in and save your little butt. And I mean little too..."
"THAT DOES IT! I HOPE YOU HAVE AN ACCIDENT AND HAVE A KID! THEN I'LL RAISE HIM TO BE A SPOILED TERRORIST!"
"Too late Keyop. Chief already put that curse on me. In the future you'll have to deal with kids who act just like me."
"Oh great! The world is dead! I'm leaving!" Keyop waddled out of the store, not seeing that Princess was trying to hold her laughter.
"Prin? You're turning red. Better let go before you end up plad." Princess held her head. "Is that true? What will we do then?"
"I don't know. I've contemplated hijacking a bus to Cuba." He said as he batted his eyebrows and caused Princess to laugh some more.
"No I'm smart. I want my hair to stay black for a while. I don't know if I could handle kids if they act like me. I was pretty bad when I was younger."
"No...you were weird. Chief's told me the legend of Marcus many times."
"I'm honored." Mark said as he shook a CD case in his hand. "Look...vintage Rolling Stones. The original Hot Rocks recordings. I know Chief likes this old man music."
Princess smirked. "What did you do now?"
"What?" Mark replied in a look of shock.
"You heard me. What did you do? You broke something and now you re trying to smooth things over."
"That's not true. I'm trying to coax him into going with us to the golf course to go skiing . You know he's always busy saving humanity..."
"What? From you?"
"Watch it you. I am..."
"I know...the White Shadow who ate at Tacco Bell."
"Very funny." Mark said as he gathered up his collection of CDs and walked over to the pay counter. "You know Prin, if we get lucky tonight we may just have the house to ourselves for a romantic night of music?"
"Oh sure. Just don't count Keyop right?"
"We could drug him? Tie him up in the tub? Lock him in a closet?"
Princess frowned. "Mark you're so mean to him. Do you have a set of handcuffs?"
"Bad luck huh? I guess we'd have to resort to traditional bribery. By the way, isn't it strange that things have toned down since Spectras last attack?"
"No. This is just what those fools would do. There's a break every time they fail to get what they want. Funny thing is that these breaks are becoming longer with each failed attack. I think Spectras getting exhausted."
"You hope they are." Princess said with a soft assurance as she led Mark out of the shop and into Keyop's buggy.
"Are you two finished fantasizing yet?" Keyop asked.
"We finished doing that a long time ago Keyop. You just don't make a good subject for fantasy."
"Ha ha ha ha, you're so funny Mark. About as funny as Chief's cat." Keyop snarled as he threw the buggy into gear and drove down the center of town. "Hey, we're going to the hill again right?"
"Don't see why not. Unless you're tired of it?"
"If it gets me out of shoveling snow, I m not tired at all." -----------
North Orchard's Beach Faust residence Mid-afternoon
BlackJack sat at the bedside of eleven year old Ayesa Faust, pausing his examination to look at the stuffed animals that adorned every spot. "You have quite a collection of small friends here young lady."
"My father thinks the money should have gone to better things." The little girl said back as she closed her eyes and moaned. "There it is again. My father said you could make it better."
"I have a way of making things feel better. You should stop worrying and rest."
BlackJack eased his way from the room and met Faust in the hallway. "I'll need to see every scrap of information you have, every chart, every test, every x-ray, everything."
"You're going to do it tonight...aren't you?" Faust asked with worry. "So soon? Without a complete examination by yourself?" Faust and BlackJack began to walk side by side down a set of stairs to the first floor of the estate.
BlackJack loosened his tie. "We don't have much time, I can tell that without even a second glance. The option now is to go open heart and test a theory I have about what may be an acute anomaly of the heart structure. If we don't go now, you'll have to go with the option of a transplant or lose your daughter...I won't accept either options."
"But I understand that open heart requires a great deal of risk and a stable time schedule...."
"Mister Faust." BlackJack said sternly. "Do you or do you not continue to trust my judgement?"
"I do for Gods sake. I told you no expense..."
"You are suffering from anxiety, a normal human emotion. You must keep your faith above all things Faust, nothing more could swing the balance in our favor or doom us to defeat. If you can keep your faith, then I will keep fighting. We will save your daughter, you have my word." BlackJack kept his stern face through the whole exchange. It seemed to help Faust very much. He nodded in agreement.
"By the way...I know this might not be an appropriate question but...your face?"
BlackJack smiled. "I normally don't escape such an obvious observation. It was the gift of an old friend. I was just like that typical kid who didn't know better with matches...I got burned very badly. Had it not been for that friend...I would have been disfigured for the rest of my life."
Faust rubbed his hands, placed them behind his back, and closed his eyes. "Then I can understand your devotion and positive attitude. Perhaps it has rubbed off on me. I wish you...no...I pray for your best."
"Then that will do. Sleep well tonight Robert Faust." BlackJack patted the man's shoulder and left him standing on the steps alone.
Wild Links Golf Park Mid-afternoon in Deer Isle
"Watch me! Watch me!" Keyop chirped as he stood with his snow board balancing on his head. "HEY! Are you two gonna kiss or are you gonna watch!"
Princess smirked as she pushed Mark away from her for the time being. "Alright, we re watching. Break your leg this time."
"You're so mean Princess." Mark whispered in her ear as the two of them watched Keyop go into an exaggerated wind-up at the edge of the large snow covered hill. Mark couldn't help but laugh.
"Must be a good luck ritual dance. Didn't he bash a tree last year?"
"Yup...fourteen stitches across his head. You have to admire Keyop's bravery."
"Sometimes it's mistaken for stupidity."
"I HEARD THAT!" The boy bellowed as he quickly jumped on his board and took off down the steep hill.
"He's getting better!" Mark said with a nod.
"Just wait..." Princess warned. Sure enough, Keyop had still not learned the most important part of snow boarding...how to stop. He flew up a steep bank of snow, rolled end over end through the air, and crashed into a snowdrift. As the dust cleared there sat the poor Swallow buried up to his chest in snow.
"Get me out!" He cried as Mark ran down the hill, somewhat not so graceful as he slipped and rolled end over end to the bottom of the hill with Princess laughing over him as he landed.
"Oh how graceful! The White Shadow lands on his ass!"
"I didn t know I had one."
"Oh very funny Mark. Should we leave Keyop in the snow or save him?" Princess walked past the commander and stood over the trapped Swallow who now relied on his saint-hood to save him.
"Hello Prinny. Save me please?"
"I dunno. You look like you can't get in trouble, which is a good thing."
Keyop frowned. "Just get me out of this? I m starting to freeze down here."
Mark stood behind Princess and laughed. "I didn't know there was anything worth freezing down there Kid."
Keyop screamed. "If you don't stop making those stupid jokes, I m gonna beat you up and you'll never see Princess again!"
"Testy...isn't he?" Princess remarked. "I guess we'd better save him."
From a safe distance, Gregori watched the youths in their playful exchanges. "And these are vicious killers? Hmph..." Korgan laughed silently to himself as he thought of how Zoltar, who considered himself mighty to the point of insult, could be so scared of what were nothing more than children. Then again, Gregali did not delude himself of the danger to his own life. Though well hidden in the brush, he thought about the one team member he couldn't see. Where was the Condor? Perhaps this most silent of the five was lurking. Zoltar mentioned that the Condor was more a loner than a player in the team by his own design. Perhaps the Condor was sitting here as well, planning to
kill Gregali as Gregali planned to kill the older boy in his gunsight. He kept as still as rock and as silent as the slowest wind.
For his part, Mark chased Princess through the snow as Keyop ran to cut off her escape. "I got her!" The youngster screamed as he hugged her until Mark was able to grab hold of her by the waist.
"Thanks Mouse! Group hug!" Mark screamed as he and Keyop hugged and tickled Princess till she fell on the snow. Mark quickly took the advantage and held her down with his face coming closer and closer to hers.
"Mark! This snow is cold!" She snapped.
"Well...we could make it much warmer." He replied as he slowly kissed her. Princess fought at first, resisting the embarrassment of Keyop being present. She didn't have long to notice the youngster's wicked smile.
"Eeeeeeewwwwwwwww...trading spit! So Mark? Did you slip her the tongue?"
"Keep on mouse and I'll slip you the foot!"
Princess scowled. "Are you still here? Shoo! Go! Make trouble."
"I am. You re as red as a fire engine! A little hot there Prinny?"
"Well, he is right. You are red in the face." Mark said with a snicker. Princess didn't seem upset at the remark as she smiled, acted coy, and shoved a handful of snow down the front of Mark's pants!
"AAAAAHHHHHHH....JUDEST PRIEST THAT's COLD!"
"What's wrong Mark? You're turning blue! Guess the fire's out huh?"
Keyop fell to the ground rolling in laughter. "I guess that's what you get when you re taking a pee at the North Pole!"
"I'LL NORTH POLE YOU SWALLOW!" Mark yelled as he scooped up a snowball and the little group went into another snowball fighting fit. Gregali took advantage of the distraction and slowly slipped out of his hiding place, allowing the three youths to enjoy a last late evening of peace together.
Faust Residence Orchard Beach early evening
The diary of BlackJack records the Open Heart Operation of eleven year old Ayesa Faust.
'Ayesa Faust, eleven years of age. So young a child to be going through such trials as this. The ailment seems to be a hereditary trait among the females in her family, all have died young from it. All medical evidence, tests, and exams provided no clear cut cause for the degenerative problem...'
BlackJack scrubs his hands for several minutes, pausing every so often to watch Pinoko as she adjusted the level of anesthesia flowing into Ayesa's body. He closes his eyes for the moment, a small pause to center the mind and body on the task at hand. He walks into the O/R room in a slow deliberate manor, not minding the fact that Pinoko is trying to talk to him as he stands looking over the prepared spot on Ayesa's chest.
'Nothing is more fragile than the heart. Vulnerable to disease, pain, or a lack of spirit, it is the one organ of the body deserving the greatest of care. It is also the most difficult of organs to operate on. Though it's a pump. And quite a simple one in its design, it is first and foremost a muscle. I have found muscles the most complex of organs to have to deal with. Any major operation comes with a risk of decreasing the effective tissues in damaged muscles. The trick of Open Heart Surgery is to be so calm, perform so accurate, and handle the tools with such finesse that the heart retains some of its original strength. A transplant should be fought against with all efforts...'
BlackJack begins the time consuming and emotion taxing procedure by performing the basic incisions between the pectoral Adols majors, the left and right breast regions, forming a neat fist sized square in the tissues. Pinoko aides him by rubbing the sweat from his brow with a soft cloth and watching the monitoring equipment that controlled anestic and vital life support functions.
"So far...nothing visually abnormal about the heart. Looks healthy..." BlackJack took pause to probe around the young girl's heart...
'Amazing thing...the brain sends an impulse, a chemical electro zap that fires the heart muscles and forces this center of life to jump. Why can't people find the human body more fascinating than troublesome? It's a wondrous, complex work of art. Nothing more interesting or puzzling has ever been devised, studied, storied, or song about than the wonder of living man and the vessel he rides in....'
BlackJack turns to Pionoko. "Ok, set the life support machine to normal pressure, maintain level blood pressure flow and pump rate." Slowly, carefully, BlackJack cradles the object of his work. He has very few precious minutes to decipher what's wrong and replace the heart back in the girl before the tissues attain the outset of fleshular breakdown.
"Anything yet?" Pinoko asks as BlackJack moves with robotic efficiency. She watches him slowly probe every surface of the wounded muscle.
"Nothing...Very strange." He replies as he moves from target point to target point.
'What was I missing? I asked myself this question as I went from looking around the heart and its chambers to references in my notebooks. I had to be missing something so simple that it would and had to bite me in the ass sooner or later...'
"What?" BlackJack suddenly stops amidst his probing. He looks again at a single spot on the heart then races back to his books.
"You found something?" Pinoko asks as she watches BlackJack examine the same spot again and again.
"It looks normal, but it should not be there." He replies. 'Looks normal but should not be there.' The doctor frowns. 'Perhaps a test?' He thinks as he reaches for a needle sized electrical probe.
"What's that for?" Pinoko asks as BlackJack brings the probe close to one of the main heart veins that supply blood to the sensitive tissues. "Give me a 5 volt shot Pinoko, short burst."
Pinoko complies and watches the doctors reaction as his face lights up. "I'll be God damned..."
"WHAT!" Pinoko screams as she pulls on BlackJack's lab coat.
"The vein moved." BlackJack said back.
"Huh? Well of course it moved. You just shocked the heart with electricity, so what."
"Problem is...the vein is still moving...on it's own...under the first epil layer of skin."
Faust stood on the large terrace of his home to watch the sunrise come up. He had slept all night when he should have been deathly worried but he never felt any guilt over the fact. He heard the sounds of footfalls behind him and slowly turned to see BlackJack taking a seat in one of the white lounge chairs. The man seemed to lack exhaustion and a trace of physical emotion from what must have been a long and trying operation.
"Did you?" Faust asked as he walked up to the doctor. "My God man did you win?"
BlackJack released a slight smile. "We did Mister Faust. We did."
Faust found a chair to fall into. "And my daughter?"
"A months rest and therapy should restore her to full health. The...ailment was without doubt, very interesting."
Faust was curious. "What was it?"
"Arouto Cymus Cirsis, or in more English terms...a worm."
Faust's eyes shot open. "A worm? What kind of crap is that!"
"It's not crap Mister Faust. Arouto Cymus is a hereditary predator form of the tape worm culture that attacks the circular system of humans, most often found afflicting females. It's a rare and dangerous tape that matures in the heart and transmits future offspring through the womb. Your wife's side of the family has been afflicted with the same disease for seven generations. The reason no one caught the tape is because of its unique ability to mask itself under the first epilar layer of the heart. To the untrained eye, it looks like a normal heart vein."
Faust looked shocked. "Can this thing manifest another tape?"
"Not now, but she should get examinations over the next ten years. I have taken complete biographic into on her heart so this worm can't hide so well the next time, if there's a next time. I think I caught this early."
Faust nodded. "I'd like to double your fee if I may. You don't know what pain you've taken from me by your great skill. It should be rewarded."
BlackJack shook his head. "Doubling will not be needed nor welcome. Take that extra money and spend it on your daughter. I've contacted a good friend of mine in Boston who's on his way up to do the post-op therapy with her. He can be trusted."
"I see then that you're not staying, as I expected so. I took the liberty of getting a car delivered here for your personal use. Thank you again BlackJack."
The Doctor didn't say another word, only waved as he turned about and left with the money bag in his hand.
"So now are we going skiing? You promised me remember?" Pinoko walked behind BlackJack as he yawned and shook the sleep from his hand.
"Yes Pinoko. After I find us a place to bed down and I get some sleep."
BlackJack stopped to take a last look at the large house, a bit of allowed envy before he slipped into the car and drove off down the road towards Deer Isle.
Wild Links Golf Park. 0700 am
He d been in the same spot of five hours with not one flinch, twitch, or sudden move to distract him from his place. The choice of location was perfect too. From a hill across from the very spot where the three youths enjoyed their snow boarding, the tree line and heavy ground bushes offered max concealment but no obstructions for the line of sight. Gregali had prepared the round in advance, filing the head to a razor sharp point and replacing the wax cap at the tip that held back a pool of Jellied mercury. He was proud of his craft, especially in such rounds that could inflict a one time kill ratio of 97 percent. The other 3 percent were few and happily very few to have lived past a minute after being struck by such a devastating bullet. Now he rethought his motions and his escape again in his mind. Breath, control, pull, slip, escape. He would be slow and snail-like, taking advantage of those precious moments where the other two would be too confused and frightened to do anything in retaliation. But he still worried about the Condor, his main concern as he continued to scout his options. If that bastard was around, Gregali would only have a few precious seconds to see him and hopefully drop him with the other six rounds he had in his gun.
Chief Anderson's house 0700am
"Chief? Hey Chief, it's time to get up old fat."
Chief Anderson tossed about at first, then gave a sort of growl as he saw Mark's face looming over him. "Do you wish to die Marcus?"
"No. I wish to drag you out of bed and get you to have some fun for a change. We re going snow boarding again and you need the break."
"I'm taking my break. I'm sleeping in today and I don't want you bothering me. By the way, would you check with base and see what's going on?"
Mark huffed. "You're no fun Chief."
"Just check with Neptune Mark. Besides, I was planning to go bowling later in the day."
"Nope. But watching you three bowl is comedy enough for one day."
"Very funny Chief. We'll be back in a while." Mark turned his wrist com on and sent a warble tone off to Center Neptune.
"Yes Commander?" Came the familiar mechanical voice back.
"Morning Zark. Anything brewing this morning?"
"Nope, just my premium oil coffee. Everything's quiet...way too quiet if you ask me."
Mark stopped by Keyop's room to see if the boy was up and about. "Sure enough, he was playing his Nintendo and sucking down an overflowing bowl of cereal. Princess up yet Keyop?"
"Yeah. I'm up to level ten on Pokemon now Mark!"
"Good kid. Hey Zark? I was going to ask if we shouldn't cancel our vacation and come back. Zoltar should be doing something new by now."
Zark answered back in a quandary. "Don't I know it. But there's nothing Mark, just a big fat zero from all over the Federation. Don't worry though, I'll bring you all back in enough time to catch whatever comes. You know that Zoltar, he always telegraphs every move."
"Sounds like Rover needs to eat another Chevy Zark." Mark said when Rover's bark interrupted their conversation. Keyop came out of his room now, wearing his favorite snow suit, tugging on Mark's shirt as the Commander kept talking to Zark.
"Are we going? Princess should be ready now."
"Hold the horses mouse. I have to talk to Zark for a minute."
"Mark, go ahead and enjoy yourself. I'll call you when I need you." Zark replied as he wished Mark a nice vacation and signed off.
"Well if old tin head tells me to get, I'll get . Ok Keyop, let's see if you can keep from bashing another tree this time."
"Very funny Mark. Just hope I'm not right behind you when you go down that hill again." Keyop snapped back as he went to grab Princess from her room.
BlackJack and Pinoko entering Deer Isle 0800 am
"You're never satisfied till we've torn the whole town apart, are you?" BlackJack said as he and Pinoko walked out of a gift shop in downtown Deer Isle. She started to badger him shortly after they left Orchard Beach to pursue her rabid hobby of collecting anything related to the famous G-Force team. So here they were, standing in a gift shop and arguing over a porcelain statue of the G-Force Eagle leader...
"It's a rare collectors edition BlackJack! It would look good on my nightstand, please? Please can I have it? Pleeeeeeeeese?"
"Look at the price of this thing Pinoko. You could use the money for better things than this. How about that limited edition plate over there?" BlackJack pointed to a decorative collectors plate.
"I already have one! Come on BlackJack, it's not that expensive."
"I wouldn't call 300.00 dollars not expensive Pinoko!" BlackJack said back as he took her out of the shop and paid for it in wounded ear drums. We'll find it cheaper somewhere else.
"I'M REALLY STARTING TO QUESTION OUR RELATIONSHIP HERE! YOU'RE A SCROOGE! HEY EVERYONE! THIS GUYS A SCROOGE!" Pinoko raised quite a fuss as BlackJack carried her down the street into a restaurant for breakfast.
Of course, what happened next? You guessed it. BlackJack gave in and bought the doll while Pinoko wasn't looking.
"You're sooooooooo nice to me. She said smiling."
"Blackmail artist." He snorted back.
"Well next time I'll get the rest of the team to go with him huh?" She said, holding the figurine like it was the ark of the covenant. "Isn't it sweet?"
"Yeah...300.00 dollars out of sweet." BlackJack mumbled as he drove through Deer Isle towards Ipswitch in the south.
Wild Links Golf Park 0900 am
"New fall last night Mark. Looks like our old tracks got covered."
"No problem. Keyop? Will you do the honors?"
"What? Kill myself? I think you should go this time." The youngster said as he pointed down the hill.
Mark snickered. "What? Is the brave little Swallow scared of a little hill now?" He jabbed at Keyop's back as Princess started to put distance between her and the growing eruption to come. It was all in fun of course, but when any of the boys went at things like this...she usually got dragged in as an unwilling peacekeeping force.
"Ohhhhh..." Keyop shuddered visually with a snarl. "Sometimes I just hate you Mark!"
"But it always works! See...you're grabbing the board now." Mark pointed as Keyop snatched up his board and did his famous shuffle. "We'll see who's chicken!"
Mark watched the boy take off down the steep hill, kicking up clouds of powder as he moved side to side. "See Prin! Piss the kid off and he does real good!"
"Just wait till he hits a tree again! Princess shouted back." She became pleasantly surprised when Keyop stopped himself at the base of the hill and jumped in a note of triumph at completing his run.
"I did it! I did it! The great Swallow wins again!" The youngster stood with his arms raised in triumph for only a second before Princess watched him drop for the ground. Mark's back was turned as Keyop whirled around with a wicked grin on his face and a fully packed snowball in his right hand.
"Mark?" Princess said as she could see the snowball come flying up the hill towards Mark's head.
"What? SHIT!" Mark began to turn to his side by instinct and training but it wasn't enough to avoid the speeding ball of snow as it smashed the side of his head with a loud smack!
"YOU LITTLE SHIT!" Mark yelled back as he dove to pull his own snowball together and sent it back down the hill into Keyop's chest. Poor Princess thought she was well away from the exchange but not to far enough to take a ball off her cap.
"THAT DOES IT! DIE KEYOP!" She yelled as she now joined Mark in sending pummel shots down upon the outnumbered Swallow.
"NO FAIR YOU TWO! SWALLOW ATTACK!" Now the youngster was fit to be tied as he unleashed both hands in a fury of flying snowballs. It seemed that Mark was enjoying the exchange as he dodged, ducked, rolled, and jumped to avoid the fusillade of frosted fire.
"Eat your heart out Claude Van Damn It!" Mark yelled as he jumped up to avoid one ball, only to hear Princess screech as it connected with her chin. "Woops!... uh sorry Prin."
"You have only begun to be sorry.... KILL HIM KEYOP!" Princess reversed her alliance and hit Mark in the back with another snowball. She was soon joined by the rabid Swallow as Mark began to run.
"Ah! Time for the Mother of all Retreats! I shant surrender!" Mark's words came up short as he backed up as far as he could without falling off the hill. Behind him, the hill dropped at a steep angle to the snow covered greens below.
"Uh hum... looks like we have you Eagle leader." Princess said as Keyop stood next to her with an evil grin on his face.
"Say Prin? Did I ever tell you how wonderful you looked this morning?"
"It's getting deep out here." Keyop replied as he pulled his snow suit pants up. And I'm not talking about the snow.
Mark replied. "I...did say I was sorry, didn t I?"
"Not really." Princess said. "I think you owe Keyop a sorry for calling him little. In fact...he deserves a free shot."
"Yeah! Just one." Keyop snickered as he aimed his shot and let it go as hard as he could.
Wild Links Golf Club
The snowball, from Mark's point of view, flew slow enough for him to recite the alphabet through before he was struck in the face. His move to dodge the flying ice ball was quick enough but he still got hit hard in the cheek...
It was at that point that Gregali had expelled the last of his stored breath. Eye, mind, hand, trigger, and weapon became as one soul. There was no flash, no explosion, no crack to identify his location. The bullet flew across the small saddle between his own hill and the one that Mark was on...
Keyop was on his way up the hill when he saw Mark fall backwards as his snowball made its mark on the teens face. "Wow! I really creamed him!" The boy chuckled as he came running up towards Princess...
To Princess, there was something strange about the way Mark fell from his place on the hill. "It couldn't have been that hard!" She said to herself. "Mark you're such a clown!"...
Mark couldn't hear anything. His back felt like fire, his whole chest felt like fire! He could feel the impact of the ground when he crashed into it. He seemed to roll and tumble end over end until he finally came to rest in the saddle below. His first attempt to breath was met with an un-Godly amount of pain...
Gregali didn't move at all. He lay waiting quietly as he watched his target come to rest in the saddle below. The hit looked good enough, a square to the center of mass shot always produced the best results. He just kept his place and waited for the best time to pull himself out. Perhaps the Condor would come to his dead Commander's aid and a second notch could be added to the tally...
Keyop came up next to Princess and looked down at the prostrate Mark. "Wow! I hit him so hard that I knocked him off the hill!"
"No you didn't." Princess replied. "He's just playing games with us. HEY MARK! WHAT ARE YOU DOING? MAKING SNOW ANGELS OR WAITING FOR AN OSCAR?" Mark didn't respond, didn't move one bit to her calls.
"Prin?" Keyop turned to look at Princess before he started running down the steep hill side with Princess hot behind him. "Maybe I knocked him cold?"
"Maybe he knocked himself cold by over-acting. I hope he didn't break anything Keyop, he fell down this hill pretty hard."...
"Try to breath again... "Mark tested his breath again and again there was an explosion of pain. He felt cold, of course he was laying in the snow or so he blamed that for the chills. He could hear Keyop coming closer behind him but he couldn't force the words out, couldn't call, couldn't speak. He tried to roll over but his body wouldn't respond. He
struggled to move but the pain began to run violently through his body. Now fear began to replace bewilderment...
Keyop dropped by Mark's side. "Hey Mark? You can stop faking it now."
"Hey Commander, stop messing with us?"
Princess was bending over Mark's face, smiling widely as his eyes opened to look at her. It was then that things began to sink in.
"Mark?" Princess asked as she moved to check Mark over. Suddenly, a spray of frothy blood exploded from his mouth.
"Eeeeeeeeeeyaaaaaaaa!" Keyop flopped on his behind screaming over and over. "What
happened? My God he's bleeding! Mark, Mark!"
"Keyop!" Princess yelled sharply. "Mark, I have to check you over." Princess started at his head and began to work down the length of his body. "Mark, can you speak? Where does it hurt?"
Mark tried to manage a word through the pain and shock raging in his wounded body..."B...back."
Princess started to feel along the back and hoped that Mark hadn't broken a vertebra in the fall from the hill. When her hand came across the warm feeling of blood however, she
"Keyop!" Princess leaped atop the boy and pushed him flat against the ground, much to his sudden sharp protest.
"Prinny! What are you doing!"
"Stay down damn it...Stay down." She said as she scanned the surrounding land. "Where the fuck are you!" She called out.
"Where's who? I'm right here!" Keyop yelped. Princess bopped him on the head.
"God damned sniper! Mark's been shot by a fricken sniper!"
"Where?" Keyop tried to get up but Princess kept him down in the snow.
"You want to get shot you little fool?"
"I'M NOT LITTLE!"
Princess got a little rough with the youngster, bouncing him once against the ground. "You stay here till I tell you to move.
Princess quickly crawled over to Mark and found him with his eyes closed. "Oh no.. You're not going to do this to me. WAKE THE FUCK UP MARK!"
Mark was shaken awake by her screams. His face contorted by the extreme pain in his chest and back...
"Mark? Which side does it hurt the most? Left or right?" Princess sat removing her heavy jacket and sliding it under the prostrate commander's body. "Which side Mark? Left hand or right?"
Marks right hand moved weakly. The bullet had ripped through his right lung after blasting a way through the lower part of his spine. Princess had to act fast, knowing that Mark's possible back injuries were out-weighted by his rapid blood loss and a possible collapsed lung.
"Mark, I have to turn you on your right side. It looks like you've been shot in the back and it blew out a lung. This is going to hurt!" Princess pushed Mark on his right side, which brought a hailstorm of swearing and
"AHHHHHHH! God damn it!" Mark screamed as his mouth released more up-chocked blood.
Princess pulled a cloth from her back pocket and used a small knife to cut a slit in Mark's shirt. The wound was elongated, about half a little finger in size. The round had tumbled when it struck Mark's back, a bad sign. Quickly she stopped the blood flow with direct pressure and bound the wound with her long winter scarf.
"Keyop? Get over here." Princess called to the boy as she finished binding the scarf over Mark's chest. "Keyop, GET UP!"
"I...I don't wanna die!"
"Some brave man you are. The snipers long gone by now."
"How do you know?" The boy asked as he crawled over to her side. "Oh God...There's so much blood."
"Try not to think of it. Go and flag a car down."
"He's gonna die, isn't he?'
"SHUT-UP AND RUN YOU LITTLE SHIT!" Princess was obviously patience thin as she all but threw Keyop into a sprint. "Mark, keep calm."
Mark tried to move his arms but they were limp. "I...cough...I'm cold."
Princess tore her sweater off and wrapped it around Mark's bare head. "Listen to me Mark. You've been shot in the back and your right lung has been pierced... "
"I...I can't feel anything!"
"You're in a lot of pain. Just hang
on...Keyop's running to get help."
BlackJack and Pinoko
driving near the Links course.
"So where are we going again?" Pinoko asked as she examined the details on her G-Force China doll.
"Littington. We went there before remember? Last year."
"Oh yeah. That kid with the rare kidney
disease that turned out to be from his older brother trying to poison him out of his estate? Bastard. Doing that to a little kid should get you life in jail."
BlackJack pointed to the China doll, "Why don't you put that in the box before you break...HOLY SHIT!"
The car came screaming out of a hidden dirt road near the golf course and flashed like a deadly apparition in the windscreen. BlackJack reacted quickly as he turned the steering wheel hard and sent his car into a flying spin across the ice laden road.
"Hang on!" He shouted as the world spun before him...
Keyop had just emerged from the course himself when the phantom car almost clipped him in the leg. "BASTARD!" He screamed as he watched the car cut in front of a blue skyline and sent that car into a wild spin...right at him! There was no time to run and Keyop was frozen in shock at the sight of this out of control car closing in on him.
"EEEEEEEEEEEYAAAAAAAAHHHH!" The youngster screamed as he cringed for the certain impact but by some hidden good fortune, BlackJack's car was slowed. The bumper stopped only inches from Keyop's face.
BlackJack emerged from the vehicle and
carefully checked the shaking boy over. "Are you ok? You didn't get hit?"
"No. That bastard! What was he think... " Keyop's brain kicked in, a rare moment in the youths life. "That...That was the sniper! Mistermisteryouhavetohelpmemyfriendwas
"Hey kid, slow down." BlackJack asked as he could hear Pinoko screaming in the car. "Pinoko? Are you hurt?"
"MY CHINA DOLL IS BROKE! THAT SON OF A BITCH BROKE MY CHINA DOLL! I'LL SUE! SOMEONE'S GONNA DIE!... "
"Mister! You have to help me, my friend's been shot an he's dying!" Keyop pulled on
BlackJack's coat as the doctor jumped into the car and motioned the boy to jump in the back.
"Take me to him."
"Prin?.... "Mark's eyes began to roll around as Princess fought to keep him awake. All the while she crouched in a semi-state of anger and fear. That sound of a car could have been the sniper but was it? The bastard could be stalking around her about now. Maybe he was just playing around, waiting for her and Keyop to relax so he could drill them both in their heads. She went back and forth between cocking her hand to throw Mark's bird-rang and shaking him out of a want to just sleep.
"I'm tired...I can't even feel any pain... "
"Stay awake." Princess slapped him lightly on the face. "Stay awake Mark!"
"Did we leave food out for Buttons?"
Princess cocked her head. "What?"
"Better leave food out for buttons... "
"You're shot and all you can think about is that fat cat? Shoot, he's still losing blood, Mark! Don't you weird out on me yet!"
Princess looked around again for Keyop and saw the boy pulling and tugging a man behind him down the snow covered fairway. "Princess! I found a doctor, or he found me, well he tried to run me over anyway!"
"Mark, we got a doctor here. Mark? WAKE UP DAMN IT!"
"What?... "Mark said weakly as he watched BlackJack kneel beside him. Princess was surprised by the man's bizarre looks. His hair had a white streak running down the center, ending in a huge cowlick over his face. His skin was a patchwork of light brown and whitish color, marked with various stitch marks on the face. To Princess, he was a bit on the sinister side.
"What's his name? Age?" BlackJack asked as he looked over Mark's wound in the back.
"Mark. He's eighteen." Keyop chirped. "Is he gonna die?"
"How long has it been since he got shot?"
"About ten minutes." Princess replied. "He got hit in the back and I think his right lung was punctured."
"That I can tell...blood around the lips and no injuries to explain it. The wound in the back's pretty bad. Did you see the sniper?"
"No." Princess said as she watched BlackJack pull bandages, tubes, and drugs from his carrying bag. "What are you going to do?"
"We need to keep his right lung from
Patients name is Mark, age eighteen, beyond that, no reason known for what happened or why. There's an elongated wound in the lower back around the seventh Vertebra. Right lung known to be punctured by fragments but nothing else found so far. Injected a quick clotting agent to stop the bleeding out of the back, performed a quick lateral incision in the right
brachialis major after application of a sterile localizer and introduced a draining tube to free up fluids in the damaged lung...
BlackJack looked around and pointed Keyop towards his boogy board. "Get that over here." He said as he tapped the speed dial button on his cell phone.
"Kelly Bracket Memorial Hospital."
"I'm calling from a cell phone at a golf course in Deer Isle, I have a shooting victim with major internal trauma, GSW in the back, collapsed lung and possible SPC injury. Request life flight ambulance meet me half way at the Deer Isle Hilton for immediate trauma surgery."
"Is the patient conscious and breathing?"
"Patient is under 10ccs local anesthiser sebrutan, breathing is shallow and labored, pulse weak and unstable. Get to the Hilton as fast as you can! "beep."
"We're going to move him?" Princess asked.
"It's that or he sits here and dies. On the count of three we lift him onto the snow board. One...two...three!"
Mark screamed as he was placed on the board. "MY BACK! JESUS CHRIST ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME?" His protest went ignored as the small group manhandled the board as gently as they could across the fairway and into the back of BlackJack's car.
"We haven't got much time. Pinoko, make sure you watch that drain tube while these two keep him steady." BlackJack gunned the engine and the skyline flew down the dirt road and out into the street.
"I HATE IT WHEN YOU DECIDE TO PLAY AN
AMBULANCE DRIVER!" Pinoko screamed as she was almost jolted off her feet.
Though he was very weak, Mark looked down at Pinoko and sighed... "Oh great, I've a got a four year old trying to play doctor... "
"I'll four year old you big mouth." Pinoko snapped back. Keyop looked at Princess, then at the little girl beside him.
"You sure look four years old." The boy said. He got a snarl then a slap in the face for his trouble.
"PINOKO!" BlackJack called sternly. "Don't start any trouble when I have a patient in the car, please?"
Pinoko mocked BlackJack's words as she allowed a little of Mark's flooded right lung to drain into a coke bottle. She then showed her teeth at Keyop like she was about to bite him.
"Keyop, I think you'd better leave her alone." Princess said softly as she reached for one of Mark's hands. "Hang in there Mark. It won't be long."
The car soon entered town and came to
screeching halt in the parking lot of the Deer Island Hilton as the life flight helicopter touched down a few feet away. BlackJack leaped from his side of the car and tore open the back door as the EMTs pulled a flat board from the landing rung of the chopper.
"You're a doctor?" Technician Silvia Norad asked as two other techs strapped Mark to the flat board and lifted him from the car.
"I am! The patient has a GSW in the back, right lung is vented and preped with a drainage tube, can't determine further internal
injuries, vitals are very shaky and he may have suffered SCI in the seventh Viceral region... " BlackJack rattled off what he knew as Mark was loaded and strapped into the helo. Princess kept a vice grip lock on Mark's hand, refusing to let go as the life flight began to spin up.
"You have to let go!" BlackJack stood next to her as a technician tried to pry her hand off. "They only have room for him! I'll drive you to Kelly Bracket and you can meet him there."
Princess allowed her hand to fall and fell BlackJack pull her away as the chopper jumped into the air and soared off over the street and past the trees beyond. "I don't know how I'll pay you for this." Princess said as they got back on the road towards Kelly Bracket
"Don't worry. Consider this an early Christmas present." The doctor said back as he looked in his rear view mirror and watched the two kids in the back cuddling up. Pinoko was a different story...
"Look at this doll! I swear I'm gonna kill someone. It's ruined."
Princess looked at Pinoko and saw for the first time what she was angry about. Her Eagle leader China doll was broken in half. Princess turned away to look out her own window and allow the tears to come out. "Please? Please be alright when we get there."
They were getting closer now. The helo could be seen touching down on the roof of the hospital in the distance. BlackJack turned to ask Princess if there was anyone she needed to call. "You have any parents? How about him? Anyone else need to know about this?"
Keyop squirmed in his seat. "You should call the Chief."
"Oh yeah, he's got a foster parent." Princess jabbed Keyop in the side. She whispered softly but forcefully to the boy... "Watch what you say!"
BlackJack commented further. "Don't tell them he's been shot. You do that and the hospital might have a few more un-needed cases. Just say he's in the hospital and they need to get to Kelly Bracket as soon as they can."
"Tell me the truth? Is he going to live?" Princess asked. She could feel Keyop gathering her shirt in his hands.
"It's touch and go. No promises but I think we made the golden hour by a hair. If they can stabilize him enough to repair the damage to his organs, he'll have a chance."
Princess pulled herself closer to BlackJack's ear as they pulled up to the hospital. "You're a doctor, you seen the wound in the back, tell me the truth?"
BlackJack said nothing back. "We're here. You'd better get inside."
Princess pushed Keyop ahead of her for only a few steps. "God...I forgot to say thank you." She turned only to see that the car had vanished from sight.
"Maybe he's going to park it?" Keyop said as he pulled on her hand.
"No...I have a feeling he's long gone." She stood silent for a moment then turned to click the button on her wristband.
"What... what are you gonna tell him?" Keyop asked as she contacted the chief.
"The truth. Mark's in the hospital. Nothing more than that."
Chief Anderson's house
"Kelly Bracket? What did he do?" Chief asked as he was busy gathering up his coat.
"He's been hurt at the golf course and they need to speak to the guardian." Princess said back. Her voice was as calm as water.
"I see... should have never let him on Keyop's snow board. I'll be there soon."
"Should I call the others?"
"No. Just tell them he's hurt himself and they don't need to come up." Anderson said as he hopped into his car and started the
Kelly Bracket Memorial
"You can't tell them that." Keyop said as he gripped Princess tighter. "What's taking them so long?"
"Can't expect Mark to just jump up and say "surprise" Keyop. He's pretty messed up right now."
Keyop moved closer, burying himself into Princess's side as the minutes ticked on.
Trauma room two
Orderly confusion, the sounds of medical machines and life support, the barking orders of doctors and the replies of nurses, the hot reflections of lights, total fear amidst a faint hint of life...
"Son of a bitch this kid's messed up. 14th vertibra...splinters, fragments, lung, kidney, what the *^&( did they hit this kid with?"
"A cannon." said another doctor who was busy working in the area that BlackJack had inserted the drainage tube. "I'd like to know who put this tube in. Guy was a professional. Sure saved this kids life."
"Something about this round people, it's a definite frangent. Anyone ever seen frangents used in a hunting rifle before?"
"Not unless you'd want deer sauce. I hunt all the time." Said doctor Sidney Ryan as she worked to close the back wound through a square opening on the tilt table. "What are you thinking Doctor Stavros?"
"Oh...that this was a professional hit.
Someone wanted this poor kid dead. I need suction in here.. "Stavros said, pointing to the open cavity in Mark's chest. "See all this superficial bruise damage? It was a high impact frangent like the rounds cops use if they need to fire into crowds."
"Nice observation. Being a seven year doctor in Chicago must teach you all kinds of
interesting stuff." A nurse said as she wiped the doctor's brow.
"Including animal medicine. Worst case? Try separating two very angry pieces of bovine meat after sex."
"You're bedside humor is lousy Doctor
Stavros." Trauma administrator Edward Layne remarked as he hooked up another vital monitor to the wounded Mark's arm. "Has anyone got an I.D. on this kid yet?"
A nurse was busy taking apart Mark's pants with a scalpel when she suddenly hit something metallic. "What in the?...I think this kid's armed."
Stavros smirked. "Ok... take it out slowly, I don't want someone else ending up on a rack in here. Make sure you safe it too."
The nurse shook her head as she pulled the Bird-rang from it's hidden holster that was wrapped around Mark's leg. "Hey...this isn't a piece."
"Ok, I don't care if it's a buck knife just get the thing out of the ER so we don't cause a problem in here." Stavros was closing the wound in Mark's right lung when a loud teeth grinding shrill filled the room and he watched the nurse toss the Bird-rang to the other side of the room. "Nurse? What the hell was that?"
"It wasn't a new kind of pager. That thing shocked me!"
"You're not hurt." Asked another doctor.
"No...just a bit stunned. I'm not touching that thing again."
Stavros continued his work as yet another doctor entered the room with several mid-term students behind him.
"As you can zee my friends, Trauma can be zee most challenging task in modern med... "The short and stocky doctor suddenly froze in his place. "Non." he said as he looked closer at the poor youth lying on the rack with several doctors over him. "Non!" He repeated with more force. Suddenly the man moved towards the bed and began pulling nurses and doctors by their arms. "OUT! YOU, YOU, YOU, ANZ YOU OUT NOW!"
Stavros was bewildered as he watched Craft snatch Mark's Bird-rang out of the hands of a startled nurse. "You can stay, you stay, anz you doctair stay."
"Craft? What the hell are you doing?" Stavros protested as Craft moved to shut the blinds and lock the door. "Craft! Are you hearing me?"
"Shut-up!" Craft yelled back. "All of you be quiet." He moved about the room, looking around every table. "Where eez zee x-ray?"
"They're not here yet. What in God's name are you doing?"
A knock on the door was answered quickly as Craft opened it, ripped the X-rays from the technician's hands, and slammed the door in his face. "How many people ave seen zees?"
"You're the first! Now tell me what in God's name is going on here Craft before I have you stomped on the floor by your ass!" Stavros now snarled with determination.
"Let us just zay zat ees fathair is very big. Big enough to make your lives a nightmair from hell. No more I tell you. Now what eez his condeetion?"
Stavros growled. "GSW to the back, damage to the 14th spinal vertebra w/ possible extensive damage to the spiral cordial matrix, right lung punctured, right kidney lacerated...anything else?"
Craft curled his lips. "Yes...I hope you have zee big fucking insurance policy. Pray you won't have to use eet."
"What the hell does that mean?"
"You won't know that een a million yeers. Tell zee front desk that if a Mister Anderson comes in looking for Mark, ees up in surgery. Have Mister Anderson wait for me and I will see him soon. For now...zees patient ees mine."
"We should wait till he's stable Craft, if I get your drift that he's this important. He's lost a lot of blood and he's not quite stable for surgery just yet."
Craft pulled an x-ray, blocked off some parts with paper, and slapped it on a viewer. "He's taken fragments near zee heart or did you not know zat?"
"I do know that but he's not stable!"
"You let me worry about zat. These wounds must be taken care of with all possible speed now or ee will slowly bleed to death... "
"Craft...this kid is not stable enough. Now I don't think you have any authority in this hospital to be countermanding my orders or my... "
Craft hauled off and quickly slammed a fist into Stavros stomach, then he delivered a grip to the back of the man's neck. "There ees my authority... "Craft said as he displayed an I.D. card in front of Stavros face.
"You?" The man said between gasp. "One of them?"
"As I was saying...Shut...up. You and these people will be de-brief by a few friends of mine after zees ees over. Now I want a good supply of hees blood type ready, an isolated ward, And for security...we provide. You just be good doctair and help me..no?"
"Very well. Trust me...zee patient ees stable enough for big surgery."
"Just tell me one thing Craft?"
"Do you guys fly around in black helicopters?"
"Not all of us." Craft looked at the
unconscious Mark and softly touched his head. "Ees ok commander...you in good hands yes?"