The first blasts from the bombs began going while the three were still engaged in battle with Zoltar's personal guard. As part of the wall caved in about the Red Raider pilot and the Eagle, the Condor pursued Zoltar.
Shaking off the debris, Gillian spotted the Eagle pinned to the deck by a heavy beam across his mid-section. She pulled off a glove and checked his pulse. Looking at the beam, she muttered, "Hang on, I'll get this off you."
The Eagle coughed, his lips turning bright red. "Too heavy. No leverage." Blue gloves pulled at the metal.
"I'll get Jason," Gillian whispered in his ear. She looked up to see Zoltar jump over the balcony railing with the Condor close on his heels. "Condor! No!" She screamed, breaking into a run. She lunged and grabbed the Condor's hand as he plunged over the balcony railing. She felt herself sliding closer to the edge as he twisted to keep the fleeing Spectran leader in sight. "Condor, don't move!"
"Hell with that! Let me go!" The Condor fought the hand holding him.
"Condor!" Gillian yelled trying to reach past his single-minded hatred. "Jason!" He paused at the use of his given name. "Jason, it's Gillian!"
Behind the Condor's mask, Jason saw the copper bracelet on the wrist of the hand holding him. Zoltar's mocking laughter, called the Condor to the surface, reaching for his cable-gun, he said, "Hold on! I can get him from here!"
"Jason, my grip is slipping you're going to fall," Gillian hooked her knee around a piece of the torn railing, hoping it was still attached somewhere. How do I get through to him? she thought, frantically. The Condor was entirely different from Jason. "Jason, your brother's hurt. He's trapped. I can't rescue him out of here by myself. He needs you. I need you."
When Jason began climbing up her body like a ladder, the extra pressure forced a sharp edge into the back of her knee. Gillian bit back the cry that wanted out. She sighed when Jason was on the balcony with her. She pushed him towards Mark, saying, "Can you get that off him?" While he levered, the beam off the Eagle she used her white scarf as a pressure bandage around her knee.
Limping over to Jason's side, she winced at the blood staining Mark's lips. "He needs a hospital," she touched Jason's shoulder.
From the depths of the base, there was a deeper rumbling noise.
"Shit! That's not ours! Zoltar's hit the self-destruct!" Gillian pulled at Jason's shoulder. "Time to move!"
Jason cradled the limp form in his arms and followed Gillian through the flames and falling rubble from what was left of the Spectran base.
At her plane, Gillian jumped onto the wing, grunting as pain shot up her leg. She blinked as Jason lightly landed on the wing beside her. Popping the canopy on her plane, she vaulted to the other side and helped Jason strap the unconscious Eagle into the small rumble-seat behind the pilot's chair.
"Get in!" Jason shouted. "Get him out of here! There's no room for me here!"
Grabbing his wrist, Gillian shouted back. "Forget it, bud! There's your ride!" She jerked her head towards the hovering red plane nearby. The pilot's canopy was open and the pilot was waving for him to hurry.
"Get in!" Jason grabbed her waist and set her in the pilot's seat.
Buckling her harness, Gillian said. "Go! Keep the old harridan company!"
"Harridan?" Jason blinked.
"The Commodore," Gillian pulled the canopy closed on whatever Jason began shouting. She was pleased when he leapt from her wing tip to the wing tip of the Commodore's plane.
The Commodore? Jason fumed as he landed on the red wing, bracing to compensate for a sag with his extra weight. When none came, he was irrationally annoyed that she was able to compensate so smoothly. He pulled his wings close as he slipped into the small rumble-seat and reached for the safety harness. He could hear the low voice murmuring orders over the outside roar, suddenly the sound dimished as the canopy was closed and the plane was pulled into a sharp climb.
Shaking the Commodore's shoulder, Jason shouted. "The Eagle can't take this type of g-force!" When a comm-link was thrust into his hands, he detransmuted and put it in his ear, saying. "The Eagle's hurt! He can't take this kind of g-forces!"
"Better than getting blown up," the Commodore replied.
Jason glanced back at the fireball chasing them into the sky. "Shit!"
Jason rolled off the bed, landing on his feet reaching for his gun.
Gillian looked up from where a doctor was bandaging her knee. "It's okay, Jason. We're at base."
"Mark?" Jason slowly relaxed as no one tried to stop him from going to Gillian.
"Punched lung. He's in recovery right now," Gillian said.
"I want to see him"
A silver-haired woman in a white coat approached Jason, saying. "You can as soon as I check you over."
"Bull!" Jason was surprised when he couldn't shake her hand on his wrist.
"Everyone in the Red Raiders is trained in combat. I'm Doctor Peri Seymour." She smiled. "Now why don't you cooperate? You'll get to see your friend sooner."
Growling Jason let Dr. Seymour check him over. When she asked if he could remember the last minutes before he hit his head, he nodded, then stilled. Shoving the doctor out of the way, he grabbed Gillian's upper arms and shook her. "What did you mean -- my brother needs me?"
"Just what she said," the Commodore's voice carried from the door. "Mark is your half-brother."
Letting Gillian go, Jason turned on the Commodore. "Just who in the hell are you then?"
"How is he, Peri?" The Commodore remained leaning in the doorway.
"He's got the same hard head as you do." The doctor patted the Commodore on the shoulder as she left.
Another Red Raider took up the rest of the doorway.
"Where's Mark?" Jason snapped, glaring at both red uniformed figures.
"He's in a room now," the latecomer said.
"Why did the doctor say that my head's as hard as yours?" Jason returned to glaring at the Commodore.
"He can't seem to hold a train of thought," the second Raider offered.
"Don't tease, Jason, please." Gillian said as she walked to stand beside him.
"Gillian..." Jason began, but stopped as the Commodore took her mask and helmet off. "Mama," he whispered, then looked closer at the eyes. This woman looked like his mother had when she had been killed thirteen years before. A flash of gunfire and the sound of her scream as she fell rushed over him. Trembling he fought back the memory and looked at the woman, the Commodore. "Who are you?"
"Aaron Asukura, your older sister." She gestured to the other Raider. "This is Gypsy Washio, our half-sister, and Mark's full-blooded sister."
Jason's mouth dropped at the female version of Mark standing beside the Commodore -- his sister. Even if he had been inclined to disbelieve her words, her appearance was too close in family resemblence for her to be lying. Finally his mind lit on an idea. "Surgery! To make you look like me."
Gypsy shook her head, "He sounds almost as paranoid as you."
Aaron sighed and murmured. "Mama called you bambino." She watched Jason's eyes and added. "I changed your diapers and caught you the first time you tried to walk. Gypsy and I took you to help steal a watermelon from the old woman's patch next door, she could never resist your dimpled smile. She caught us and we told her you wanted it, she gave us fresh-baked cookies and sent us home." Aaron chuckled. "I don't think she ever believed that you instigated all our trips to her garden, but she never minded and she always had cookies for us."
Leaning heavily against the cool examining table, Jason went past the memory of his mother's death into the time before. There he found images of a grinning oriental cast girl and a sharp eyed copy of their mother. He remembered an old woman with silver hair and a gentle smile giving them cookies. He remembered their mother reading stories from a large, leather- bound book with the three of them sprawled at her feet. He remembered being scared by a thunderstorm and finding his mother gone, he had gone crying to Rossa who had let him sleep with her until morning.
"Rossa?" Jason whispered.
Aaron nodded, tears in her eyes. "No one has called me that since you."
If asked, Jason would have denied being sentimental, but he crossed to throw his arms around her and hold her, brokenly repeating "rossa". Suddenly he was embraced by two sets of arms as Aaron and Gypsy held him tightly. After long moments, he pulled back slightly, unwilling to entirely lose touch with the pair. "Where have you been?"
"Fighting Spectra," Aaron said.
"Questions later," Aaron hugged him, "you should see Mark."
"Mark is my brother?"
"Half-brother," Gypsy nodded. "Just like I'm your half-sister."
"I can't wait to tell him," Jason grinned.
"Are you sure you want to now?" Aaron pulled away from the other two. "Think about what you do for a living. Do you think Mark could handle knowing you are brothers and that possibly he'll have to leave you behind to complete a mission?"
"But when he sees you two," Jason stopped as Aaron shook her head.
"I have sources of information, on both sides. I trust that you will not feel compelled to inform Security Chief Anderson about us, but Mark would." Aaron straightened. "The time will come soon enough when all our secrets will be revealed, but for now." She reached for her helmet and mask. "As soon as Mark is stable, you will be moved to the home of a doctor who will claim to have found both of you after the explosion."
"Mark won't lie about that," Jason snorted.
"Mark will be sedated the entire time you are here," Aaron's eyes hardened forestalling Jason's protests. She looked at Gillian. "Take Jason to see Mark, then show him the guest quarters until he can get cleaned up."
"Don't talk around me!" Jason snapped, then watched as Aaron put her helmet and mask on. Somehow behind that mask, he knew Aaron was buried and the Commodore was to the fore.
Gillian should have known he would start a fight. Aaron's apparent withdrawal had to hurt, but Aaron had her defenses much as he did his. After seeing Mark sleeping on the white sheets, he had demanded that she take him to her quarters -- they had to talk were his words. What Gillian hadn't seen coming was the subject of the argument.
"She didn't order, tell, or even suggest that I seduce you!" Gillian matched his glare.
"But you said you were supposed to protect me from that assassin." Jason settle back against the locked door.
"Protect you!" Gillian growled.
"Where better to protect me than in my bed? It's well known I have a weakness for pretty Spectran agents. Or was that a lie too? What you told me at the cabin."
Gillian clenched her teeth. "If you will remember, I was the one who was freezing."
Leashing her sharp reply behind her teeth, Gillian caught a glimpse of something behind Jason's eyes - fear, uncertainity? He thinks..., she thought. With a gentle smile, she undressed and crossed to stand in front of him. "I love you, Jason Asukura," she whispered. "I need you." Her reward was his consuming mouth on hers and his hands doing wicked things to her body.
Nearing exhaustion, they lay in a tangle of sheets their bodies still entwined. In soft whispers they spoke of little things - favorite colors, music, and foods. Occassionally they paused to caress and stroke each other for the simple joy of touch.
Untangling his earring from his hair, Gillian kissed the lobe and said. "I'm glad you like the earring."
Jason dropped a kiss on her shoulder. "I see you still have that lion."
Gillian blushed and glanced at the carnival lion laying across the floor from the bed. "I hold him and dream it's you."
Guiding her hand along his bare hip, he said. "I'm not that furry."
"No, you're not," Gillian murmured.
"Tell me how you met Aaron. Please."
Gillian saw a need in Jason's eyes. "You remember, I told you I was left to die in a ditch by the guards?" When he tightened his arm around her waist, she continued. "I was starved, beaten, and nearly dead. I remember thinking it hurt less to die than live. Then this face covered the sun. A cold, metal rim was pressed to my lips. The water tasted of the metal, but it was so sweet. A blanket was wrapped around me as hands pulled me from the mud. I remember seeing gold braid on red cuffs and thinking how sad it was that the mud was staining something that pretty. I must have muttered something, because the two gave me an odd look before bundling me off.
"The next time I awoke, I was in a hospital room. Sitting in a chair, the sun turning her hair bright red, was Aaron. She gave me more water. She let me rage about my slavery. She held me when I cried. Then she taught me to fly and gave me the greatest gift I ever received before your love -- her trust."
Gillian looked at Jason. "You accused me of seducing you on her orders. The hardest thing I ever did was confess our time together. I thought she would see it as a betrayal of her trust. She asked if you made me happy, I said yes. She asked if I would do my best to make you happy, I said with all my heart. Then Aaron smiled and said "that's the best any of us can do". She loves you. Gypsy loves you. And I love you, Jason. Always remember that."
Kissing her, Jason said. "I love you, Gillian, so very much it scares me."
Holding each other tightly, the pair drifted off to sleep.
The Condor watched the huge, scarred man carry the sleeping Mark into the doctor's house. He glanced up at Aaron - no, the Commodore, he thought, and asked. "Who's he?"
"Varn is my personal aide," the Commodore turned a wolfish grin to the Condor, "and bodyguard."
Nodding, he said, "He looks competent."
"He'd eat you alive, Condor." The Commodore commented as Varn returned. She slapped the Condor's shoulder and said. "Take care, Condor."
"You too, Commodore."
When he turned to leave, she added, softly. "Take care, bambino."
Over his shoulder, he replied. "You too, rossa."