Yuki sat looking at the pictures in the album thinking back over the last few years that had taken their toll on her marriage to David. There was the death of his first girlfriend “Maree”, the loss of her daughter Cassie, the shooting soon after of the two agents who were to taken to safety and the relocation of their son and finally there was the way his best friend had shut all evidence of his dead family away so that it appeared as though they never existed..
Home in comparison had been relatively quiet; Mark was doing well at school and enjoying flying lessons with his father. David would come home and sit quietly holding Yuki, whispering over and over how much he loved her and their son. At first there had been tears for the loss and after a silent rage that seemed to feel the void left by them. His work consumed him so much that he rarely socialised with friends anymore. His life revolved around his job and family, so much so that Yuki had been keeping something from him, afraid that it might push him over the edge.
She continued to flick through the album, looking at pictures of their wedding, of Mark’s birth and christening, all the happy memories that filled their lives. She smiled to herself and thought back to a picnic lunch the two of them had shared on a little island that David had flown them to. It was there he had proposed to her and she had thought at that moment it was impossible to be any happier, how wrong she was. They had flown back to that island after their marriage and it was there that Mark had been conceived. She remembered how they both cried the day Mark was born and sworn that they would be together forever.
She was startled from her reverie by the sound of a key in the door and she closed the album looking up to see Mark coming in. She smiled at him
“Welcome home Mark, how was school?”
Mark smiled back at his mum and went over to hug her.
“What you doing mum?” he said looking down at the photo album in her hands.
She smiled at Mark as she returned his hug, “I was just looking at some old pictures”
She settled him at her side and then asked “so how was school?”
Mark looked up at her and shrugged “same old”
He snuggled closer to her, he wasn’t sure why but there seemed to be something different and he wanted to make it better. His dad was away so much and when he was home he was different too. The only time things felt right with his dad were when they flew together. He looked up at her again
“Want to show me some pictures and tell me about them?”
She smiled at him, he reminded her so much of how his father was when they were first together. This impending battle had changed that and she could only hope it would not affect the rest of her family although she knew in her heart it was already too late for that.
“Sure thing, shall we start at the beginning?”
He nodded and they snuggled together spending the next few hours sharing memories.
It was almost midnight when he walked through the door; he opened it quietly to ensure he did not wake his family and closed it just as quietly behind him. He walked into the lounge and saw her lying asleep on the couch. She looked so serene laying there that he gazed at her for a while before deciding to carry her gently up to the bed they shared.
He lay her on the bed and placed the covers over her before moving away to get undressed so that he could join her. He carefully climbed into the bed and then stared at her face so beautiful in the moonlight that shone through their bedroom window. He took a deep breath inhaling her scent and smiled.
The last few years had been hard on them, especially her. She had been patient through the missions and long hours spent away, not complaining once. He knew he was blessed to have her in his life and he could not imagine life without her. He watched her a while longer before exhaustion claimed him, pulling him into a long deserved sleep.
His dreams were fitful but nonetheless when he woke in the morning he felt calmer and more rested than the night before. He looked across to the indentation on the pillow and then at the clock next to the bed. Nine o’clock, he got up showering and dressing quickly and then made his way downstairs. Mark and Yuki were at the table eating breakfast and both looked at him as he entered. Mark jumped from his chair and ran to his father hugging him tightly.
David smiled and looked down at the little boy,
“Would you like to fly with me today Mark?”
His little head shot up a wide smile covering his face as he nodded vigorously. Yuki smiled as she looked at them both.
“Maybe you should both eat first so that you have a more enjoyable time?”
David looked into her eyes and smiled back at her, before nudging his son back towards the table. He lent over kissing her softly and then sat down to some scrambled eggs.
Less than an hour later he and Mark were out the door and on their way to the airfield where the Cessna was. David loved flying with Mark he even let him take control and marvelled at his son’s natural ability.
Yuki set about cleaning the house, tidying away Mark’s toys, she was just putting on some washing when the phone rang.
A male voice spoke “Yuki, You can’t keep running from this would you rather I speak to your husband?”
She sighed heavily knowing she was running out of time and agreed to meet the male at the other end of the phone.
She replaced the phone receiver and then sat down and quietly wept.
It was late that night when David and Mark returned home, by them Yuki was her usual picture of calm.
They sat down to a late dinner and afterwards sat watching a film together. David looked over at Yuki and the now sleeping Mark and smiled. He then rose silently and picked up Mark to take him to bed.
As he lay Mark in his bed and covered him over he gave a silent prayer of thanks for the blessing of his family. He smiled down at his sleeping son before walking back down to his beloved wife.
He knew he still had to tell her about his impending mission but he did not know how he could explain that he would be away so long. He let out a sigh and thought if only this war was not coming and he could remain with his family.
He knew however that those chosen before him had lost their families because they remained close. This mission meant he had to change his identity and the man he currently was had to die. How could he explain that to her and why had fate chosen him for this role.
He had at least a week before he had to go and he wanted to hold on to his family for as long as he could.
The next morning was a flurry of activity Mark had school, Yuki had to meet a friend to assist with some event planning and this meant he had the house to himself.
After everyone had left he sat down and started looking at the picture album. The more he looked at the pictures the more his heart told him he had to turn down this mission. He let out a sigh and then rose from his chair to go towards the phone.
Just as he reached it, it rang and caused him to startle, he picked it up and was about to speak when a muffled male voice said.
“If you value your family you will do exactly as I say and they may not be hurt too much. You will deliver the plans for the sanctuary project to us and in return we will ensure your family stay alive. In case you doubt our sincerity look outside your door there is a package for you. We will contact you again shortly.”
The other person disconnected and a chill went down his spine. He rushed to the door and sure enough on the step was a package. He gave it a cursory check and then took it inside so he could open it.
He took out some pictures a breathed a sigh of relief it was not his wife and son. It was someone else family. His relief though turned to fear, they knew where he lived which means they too would realise their mistake. He had to do something and fast to protect his family and with a heavy heart he knew that he would have to take the mission too because only in his death would they be truly safe.
He set off to see his friend John, he needed his help to deal with this and to formulate a plan that would ensure his family’s safety.
She left the doctors having had an hour and a half meeting with him and was more than a little distracted as she walked down towards her son’s school. She decided to collect Mark and then go home with him.
She walked slowly going over everything in her mind, trying to work out the best way to explain everything to her husband. Little did she know their lives were going to become very tangled and soon.
After meeting John everything had been set up. They had found out whose family was taken and a security contingent had been sent to Mark’s school to collect him. Everything else was in place, he sighed heavily they had been through so much in their marriage. He and Yuki had hoped to try again for a child when things were more settled and once she had been given the all clear by the doctors but it seemed this was not to be. He thought back to the heartache they had endured together, the lost children through miscarriage and in one case an ectopic pregnancy that had caused severe trauma and had led to the wait for the all clear to try again.
He had originally hoped that they could be moved to a safer location but his talk with John revealed that several people had been targeted and in some cases their families died a brutal death in front of their loved one. He could not allow this to happen to Mark and Yuki so they planned everything in minute detail in order that they would be safe. John promised to explain things to Yuki as best as possible in order she would know that he had not left her. Mark however was too young to explain things too just now and so he had written a letter to Yuki to hand onto Mark when he was older.
He sighed heavily and then punched the nearby wall to try to release the frustration. Things were not supposed to be like this. He and Yuki were supposed to be together forever and now they had to be apart. He had made arrangements to see Yuki one final time before he had to leave, to explain, to tell her just how much he loved her and their son.
He hurried to the location he was to meet her and waited, it was not long after that she and Mark turned up. He walked towards her and looked into her eyes and saw such sadness that it tore at his heart. He knew at that moment he could not leave them. He turned to John and said "We have to find another way. I can't do it"
He then wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close.
John had actually expected this to happen as he knew how much David loved his family. Unfortunately Intel had suggested that the enemy was aware of their mistake which meant there was only one thing left to do.
He looked on at the happy scene and frowned because he knew he had to take away their happiness.
He walked away and made a few phone calls and it was during his last he was told the news that David and Yuki's home had been destroyed. He walked slowly over to them and pulled David to one side and told him what had happened.
David looked at him in alarm and then turned to John and asked
"Is there a safe house we can stay at?"
John thought for a minute and then nodded.
"You can stay with me."
They all went back to John's, Yuki explained to Mark that there had been an accident and their home was badly damaged.
Mark didn't really mind as he like to stay at Uncle John's place as it was so big.
The next few days seemed settled as David arranged a meeting with the Rigan's he was supposed to be joining. He was due to fly out of the nearby airstrip and meet them at a neutral location. Everything was prepared and the day quickly arrived.
He set off early preparing the Cessna; he had just finished preparing when he got called to the phone.
He answered to find John at the other end, who informed him the meeting had been moved up and he had to leave now if they were to meet on time. John also informed him that he had made arrangements with the Rigan's for David's family to move there in order for them to remain together and be safe.
David went back to the Cessna and climbed in starting up his engine; he taxied down the small runway and was soon on his way towards the rendezvous point. His flight path took him over John's house and as he was flying over he saw Yuki and Mark outside. He smiled and circle performing a loop for them before waving and returning to his designated route. It was then that the controls locked up and smoke started to pour from the engines.
He struggled to regain control as his Cessna went into a steep dive but he was unable to. He popped the canopy and prepared to eject, flying upwards to gain height before opening his parachute. He pulled the ripcord and his chute failed to open. He pulled the secondary and that too failed. He looked down helplessly as he plummeted towards the ground.
Yuki and Mark had smiled and waved at him as he flew over but their joy at seeing him quickly turned to panic as things unfolded. They saw the smoke followed by the plane plummeting down. They watched as he ejected sighing with relief as he got out and then that relief turned to horror as he fell towards the ground his chute not opening.
There was a loud scream and it was this that brought John outside just in time to see David hit some trees and Yuki collapse.
He rushed over and checked her before hurrying back into the house to call a security detail to find David. He could only pray that he had survived.
Yuki was moved inside to await the doctor. Mark sat at her bedside silently. John looked at him concerned but said nothing. News came quickly and he left the room to be advised that David had survived but was badly injured and beyond the current abilities of the federation doctors. By this time the Rigan contact had arrived and on hearing this suggested that David be transferred to Riga where their doctors could try to heal him.
John nodded knowing this was the only hope they had and with that the Rigan made the arrangements. Shortly after the doctor arrived and checked over Yuki, he advised she was suffering severe shock and that there was an irregular rhythm with her heart. She was transferred to the hospital as Mark looked on.
John walked over to him and held him and then said
"Your daddy is very sick and had to be taken to a special place to help him. But we can go visit your mum if you like?"
Mark nodded and they made their way to the hospital. They arrived shortly after the ambulance and as they waited in reception a call came through for John.
It was the Rigan doctor who advised that David was critical and unlikely to survive as he had severe head injuries. He sighed heavily and looked over at Mark praying things could not get any worse.