At What Price? by WyldKat
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Story Notes:
Small footnote page at the end of the story
Author's Chapter Notes:

Not a new story, rather a revamp of an old one.

I was reading through some old stuff and noticed some unanswered questions.  

I sat down over the weekend and tightened up some weak spots then answered some of those questions.

First the legal type stuff.

Gatchaman is the property of Tatsunoko and Battle of the Planets is the property of and Sandy Frank Productions. No profit, gain, hire or reward is received for this work.


Some foul language used, but not much.




At What Price

Kat Ross


The Council session was going well.  After three days, it looked like we may be getting close to getting something accomplished.  The chairman had called a short mid-morning recess, giving everyone a chance to stretch his or her legs. 


I found an inconspicuous spot along the wall, leaned back and pulled out my pipe.  Across the atrium, I spotted Kris doing a survey of the area.  As usual, she looked annoyed.  There used to be times I wondered if she had any other expression.  A couple of people quickly sidestepping on the other side of the room told me where Kris' monster of a dog was located.  Having Kris bring Flash eliminated the need for one more conspicuous guard.  Not that he was inconspicuous, but people got so busy watching him, they forgot about his Mistress.  I managed to locate Mark, then Jason a few moments later.  Of Matt or Key there was no immediate sign.  I figured they were doing perimeter sweeps.


"New blend, Neal?"


I turned to find Kris standing at my elbow.  She nodded towards my pipe.


"Actually, yes, it is."


"Not too bad.  It doesn't irritate my sinus, unlike Kronus' cigar.  So, how much longer this going to last?"  Straight to the point: the real reason she had come over, to find out when she could go home.

 "We are making progress, probably about another day."


"Yippee.  Another day of standing around watching people scratch themselves."


"Any problems?"


"Nah."  She shook her head.  "Not unless you consider Flash wanting to chew on a couple of people trouble."


"Considering that he is your dog, I would be surprised if he didn't.  Just don't let him piss on the Chairman's shoes this time."


"Ah, gee," she gave me a wicked grin.  "You don't want to see him jump up and down, cuss, and turn 5 shades of red?"


"No, I don't." Somehow I managed to stop the grin from showing.  At least I thought I had until Kris snorted softly.  I remembered too well what had happened last year when Flash decided he did not like the Chairman.  When that dog decides to piss on you, you end up quite wet.


"Anyway, I better go make sure no one is trying to steal the silverware.  Anything else, you’ll need to ask Mark."


Kris strolled off as Col. Kronus came over.  I had no doubt that she had seen him coming and had left to get away.  There was no love lost between those two.  He thinks she is an uppity, smart-mouthed, kid.  She thinks he is an arrogant, chauvinistic, bastard.  They are both correct.




"I think, over all, everything is going well."


"I see you have those kids on guard again."


"Those kids, your son included, are some of the best fighters I know.  And, I trust their instincts implicitly."  He shook his head and turned the conversation to some of the finer points of the conference.  The conversation came to an abrupt halt a few minutes later when Flash let out an angry howl.  We both turned to see him flying across the atrium in a headlong charge in Kris' direction.


People scrambled to get out of his way as he altered his course to go after a man who was running away from Kris' position.


A scream a few seconds later told everyone in hearing distance that Flash had caught up to him.


I started heading in that direction to see what had caused the alarm.  Kris' voice cut across the room as she called out a short command to her dog.


The screams died to a whimper as Flash released the guy's arm.  Then the furor started.


"Someone get the dog."


"You get him.  I'm not getting bit."


"The dog's mad.  He just attacked the boy."


I glanced over at the circle of people and noticed that Flash had taken a step back, but he was still snarling at the guy, and looked ready to attack again any second.  A couple of uniform guards approached cautiously, neither really wished to get too close to those teeth.


"Put him under arrest, Jess."  I called over to the guard I recognized.


"What?  I didn't do anything."


I know Flash too well.  He does not attack with out provocation, or command.  Apparently, Jess knew him as well.  He hauled the guy to his feet, by the wrist the Flash had bitten.  The man screamed, and looked like he was about to pass out.


"Hey, Jess, take it easy.  The dog about ripped his hand off."


Jess glanced in his partner’s direction and grinned.  "You don't know Flash, do you?"


"You mean, Teeth back here?"  The second guard tipped his chin in Flash's direction.


"Yeah, him."  Jess casually slapped cuffs on the man's uninjured wrist.  "Flash does not attack without reason.  In fact, I'd say this jerk is lucky to be alive."  The smile Jess gave the man reminded me of one of Jason's smiles.  "Hey, someone want to get me a towel.  This jerk is bleeding all over the floor."  Part of the assembled crowd dispersed.  A few went to get bandages of some type.  Others just to get away from Jess.


I stepped over to Kris' side and caught what I took to be the tail end of a long string of profanity.  She was holding her left side, protecting an injury of some type.


"What would your grandmother say if she heard that?"


Kris shot me a dark scowl.  "My grandmather's a total bitch.  I don giv a fuck what tha hell she thinks."




"Tha son o'bitch didn'a like tha idea that I wouldn let him jus walk in an talk ta one o'the reps attendin tha session."


"Why not?" Kronus turned from his study of the man in question.  "He's got an id badge."


"So's my dog.  That doesna mean anythin."


"And?" I prompted, hoping to avert a fight.


"I missed tha fuckin knife."


I shot my friend a warning look when I heard his snort.  Now was not the time to start another of their famous arguments.  I was more concerned with how someone got into the building armed.  Kronus settled for giving her a sarcastic smile.  Thankfully, she apparently chose to ignore him for the moment.


"How'd he get a weapon inside?"


"Same way I do.  When you hav what looks to be proper badge, they don check too careful."


"So why did you stop him?"  Kronus intruded again.


"Instinct.  Something ya wouldna understand.  He was too eager ta get inside ta be one o'tha staff."


"I didn't do nuthing."  The guy yelled from where Jess and his partner were 'treating' him.


"Sure.  You were standing there minding your own business and a highly trained guard dog just attacked you for practice," Jess taunted him.  "Why don't you shut the fuck up before I let that dog finish the job.  Seeing as he is trained to kill."


I glanced over and saw the man's eyes widen and his face turn white.  He really believed Jess would let Flash kill him.  Never mind that anyone who knew the dog also knew that Kris was the only person who could give that command. 


A short bark of laughter pulled my attention back to Kris.  When I looked back, I saw a brief narrowing of the eyes and tightening of the lips.  Indications that she was in pain.  Small wonder then that Flash still looked ready to attack.


"How bad?"


"I survived worse."


"No doubt."  Indeed, she had survived a number of serious injuries.  She’s had her left collarbone shattered and had taken a shot to the lower back that could easily have crippled her, all within a two-year period.  "But that does not answer the question."

 "It's jus a scratch.  I'd say Flash did him more harm."


Kronus and I reflexively looked towards the man.  Jess had taken a moment to put a pressure bandage on the wrist, then had proceeded to place the cuffs over the bandage.


"Off hand, I think I'd agree."  Kronus laughed.


I looked back at Kris.  A partially suppressed cough shook her frame and triggered something at the back of my mind.  Her normally light complexion had paled to near white, respiration was shallow and becoming uneven, and I thought I spotted blood on her hand after that cough.  I started mentally kicking myself for buying that scratch line, and her 'it's nothing' attitude, even for a second.  With the maroon blouse and black vest, it was difficult to tell how seriously injured she was, but I had my suspicions. 


"Kris, move your hand."


She glared at me for a second.  Seven out of ten times she'll balk and argue with me.  I hoped this wouldn't be one of those seven times.  Slowly she pulled her hand back to expose the dark stain on her blouse.  The blood I had not been able to see beneath the vest showed clearly on her hand.  The knife had managed to penetrate even though her shirt was made from the same material as the strike units’ battlesuits.


I pushed her vest aside to see how much damage was done.  All I could see was a small slit in the fabric of her blouse.


'Damn.'  My old field training kicked in as I assessed the damage.  What looked like a puncture, rather then an incision, half the blood I expected to see, change in respiration, all added up to mean a building Pneumothorax.  Without treatment, she would be unconscious within minutes, if I was right.  Based on the pallor of her skin and the slight shiver, despite the perspiration on her forehead, I guessed that shock was setting in.


{Dacan.} I calmly addressed my old friend.  He turned; surprised to hear me use his given name.  {Get me the trauma kit,} I told him in Rigan.  Being bilingual does have it advantages.


Kronus raised an eyebrow and looked at Kris.  {That bad?}


{I think so.}


He studied me for a long moment, then nodded and strode off to get the kit.  Now all I had to do was get Kris off her feet and halfway comfortable until we could get paramedics.


I let her resume that guarded position, figuring some pressure was better then nothing until I could get a pressure bandage on the wound.


"Kris, I want you to go over here, and sit down."  I took hold of her shoulder and started to point her towards a nearby wall bench.


"Flash..." she stopped and looked back towards her dog.  His snarls had finally died down once the guards restrained Kris's attacker.


"He can take care of himself," I told her.


"He's still agitated...  He'll go nuts."  She shook her head, as if she was trying to wake up.


I followed her gaze and saw the dog was watching her.  Apparently, he had heard her speak his name.  It took me about a second to follow her meaning.  Kris and Flash share an empathic link.  That was how he had known she had been attacked even though he was across the room.  He knew she was hurt, and the stranger standing in front of him was the one who had harmed her.  As long as she was standing on her feet, he would remain relatively calm.  If he saw her behave as if the injury really were serious, he might decide to go after her attacker again.


  I wanted her off her feet, but I also needed her to stay calm, which meant that I couldn’t rush this.  "Alright, see if you can call him over."


She nodded slowly then snapped her fingers and made a motion with her left hand.  Flash lowered his head, looked back at her attacker, then turned and trotted over.  The small group of people between us parted like the Red Sea before him.  He stuck his nose in the palm of her hand when he got to her side, seeking comfort.  I watched her gently close her hand around that muzzle and lightly shake his head.  I had seen that ritual before and it never failed to fascinate me.  She treated him as if they were packmates, and she was the Alpha member.


Once she had convinced the dog she was not seriously hurt, Kris let me guide her to the bench.  Flash dropped behind us and nervously flitted from one side to the other.


I pulled off my jacket and draped it across her shoulders as she turned to sit down.


"I want you to see if you can lay down and put your feet on the armrest."


She gave me a look that implied I had more then the requisite number of heads, but did not argue.  As soon as she was half settled, Flash wedged himself between us, whined and nudged Kris' arm.  I took my pipe out of my mouth and laid it in the back of the bench; I didn’t want it in the way while I was working.


A light step behind me warned me of the approach of Kronus.  I motioned behind my back for him to move carefully.  I did not want the dog any more agitated then he already was.  He followed my signs and moved to our left so Flash could see him.  I glanced over and noticed that he was carrying a blanket along with the kit.


{You're not the only one who remembers his Field Training,} he told me in response to a raised eyebrow.


I shrugged and took the kit from him.  When I turned to treat Kris' injury, I found Flash's head in the way.  "Flash, move.”  He stayed right where he was, curling his lip at me.  Not too surprising, since he does not understand English.  I tried nudging him over.  His teeth closed less then a centimeter from my hand.  Out of pure reflex I jerked my hand back, although I knew if he had been trying to bite me, I would have been bit before I started moving.


"Kris, see if you can get Flash to move.  I cannot dress the wound with him in the way."


{Tried calling her brother?  He speaks Regalian, should be able to control the beast.}


{No, he is in another state.  I doubt the dog would listen to him over the comm.}


Kris snapped her fingers and made some subtle gesture to the dog.  He whined and lowered his head.  She repeated the gesture, this time turning her head to make eye contact with him.  Finally, he backed up and took up a position next to her head, but out of my way.    When I knelt down, I found his muzzle level with my ear.  'Lovely, he can kill me in a matter of seconds from this position.'  Trying to ignore the looming threat, I opened the kit and started pulling out an occlusive pad and some tape.


"He won' do anythin' ta ya."  Kris' voice was just barely over a whisper.  "He's upset, bu na stupid."


I nodded confidant as was possible in those circumstances.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw Flash lay down and put his head on his paws, still watching me.


Kronus unfolded the blanket and laid it across her legs and stomach.  "Paramedics are enroute."


"Good."  I nodded as I open her blouse.  "Take the tape and cut me two five inch strips, and two about four inches."  If he responded, I did not notice.


Flash raised his head up, and flicked his ears, when Kris flinched as I started applying the dressing.


"Gettin blood all o'er yer jacket."


"Not the first time," I told her.  I reached out and took the first strip from Kronus, keeping an eye turned to the dog.  He was starting to get agitated again.


"Neal, tha badge.."


"Save it." I did not want her trying to talk. 


Flash sighed and lay back down, still watching everything and everyone.


She shook her head and persisted.  "It was real."


"Okay, one of your own guys stuck you?"


Kris shook her head at Kronus' comment.  "No, I didna know him."


I bit back a sigh as I set the third strip.  She was determined to say what ever it was that was on her mind.


"You think you know everyone here?"


This time she did look at Kronus.  "I know enough o’em."


"Maybe he's new."


"They don let newbies inta the sessions."  She paused for a moment, trying to get her breath.  "Someone got him tha badge."


I rocked back on my heels and stared at her.  I watched Flash stand up and shake himself.  The badge clipped to his harness clicked against the leather straps.  I remembered Kris fighting to get him his own badge, arguing that he spent enough time working away from her, and she didn't want anyone trying to stop him.  I also recalled the struggle I had gone through trying to get the younger kids id badges so they could work at head quarters unimpeded.  If she was right, we had a security breach on our hands.


"I'll look into it."


"We'll take over from here, Chief."  The head paramedic stepped over, laying a hand on my shoulder.


Flash started to lunge forward, snarling.  I did not think.  I reached out and grabbed at the harness.  A harness attached to a three-foot tall, one hundred and fifty plus pound, attack trained dog that is incredibly dedicated to his owner.  That had to be one of the biggest gambles I had ever taken.  Anyone trying to stop Flash from getting to Kris, from protecting her, stood a tremendous risk of serious bodily injury, if not death.  Only Paul and Jun had dared put that dog's training to test.  Real gamble too, Kris' twin brother, and one of her best friends with whom Flash seems besotted.  I almost had my shoulder dislocated, but he did pull up inches from the medic.  She slowly took a step back.  I felt a hand take hold of the harness next to mine.  I turned to look and saw that Kris had grabbed the harness and was using it to draw Flash's attention.


"Okay, whose dog?"  The medic stood back from Flash, calmly watching him.


"Mine," Kris quietly told her.


"Can you get him to stand down?  Or do we need animal control?"


Kris spoke quietly to her dog in Regalian.  The snarls slowly faded to a soft, low, grumble.  "Turn him loose."


I stared at her for a long second, then released the harness.  Flash took a few stiff-legged steps backwards, still grumbling.  A couple more soft Regalian words and the grumbling stopped.  A moment later, he headed back into the atrium.


"Well, that's better.  I'm Carol.  What's your name?"  The medic moved to take a position next to Kris.  I stood up and moved back.


Kris looked at me, one eyebrow raised.  Standard procedure would not permit her give her real name.  I nodded to her.




Carol knelt down and started checking the bandage I had just finished applying.  "What happened, Kris?"


"Got in tha way o'a knife."


"Where's the knife?"


"I sent Flash ta fin it."


"Flash?  Oh, the dog.  Okay.  Where are you from, Kris?"




"I've been around here enough to know that a high number of people in this building are from places other then Earth.  Do we need to get hold of a Xeno-Spec?"


"Yes, she's Regalian."


"Okay.”  She turned her chin into the switch key on her shoulder mike.  "Leroy, contact CalVet, tell them we have a Regalian, female,.."


"She's twenty.”  I told her.


"Twenty years of age, with a knife wound to the chest.  We're going to need a Xeno-Spec.  Then get me the O2 and the cot."


Then reply was muffled to my ears as Carol finished checking Kris' vital signs.


Flash slipped up beside her, ghost silent, knife held gently between his teeth.  He looked between the three of us, waiting for the order to release the weapon.


"Eh, you again?" Carol turned when her arm met with a wet nose.  "What's this, you brought the knife?"


Kris spoke quietly to Flash and he laid the instrument on the floor.  Carol reached down and picked it up by the hilt, looking at the narrow serrated blade.


"That's an assassins weapon," Kronus commented needlessly.


I followed Carol gaze past Kronus, towards the main entrance when the sounds of people scurrying around reached our ears.  Two people in medic uniforms were moving our direction, pushing the cot from the ambulance.


"Leroy, don't make any sudden moves, and keep your voice down."


The male medic looked at us, past Carol, and saw Flash standing there.  "Oh.  Hers?"


"Yes, and he is very nervous."




The female medic eyed Flash apprehensively, spoke quietly with Leroy, then headed towards Jess and Kris' attacker.  Leroy brought the cot the rest of the way, expertly slid it next to Carol then dropped it to match the level of the wall bench.  Carol reached out to pick up the O2 unit and started setting it up.


"I want you to try and breath naturally," she told Kris as she set the mask.


Kris' snort, audible even through the mask, suggested what she thought of that.


I was momentarily surprised by how calm she was.  Under normal circumstances, she detests being kept idle.  Flash's nervous fidgeting drew my attention for a moment.  Two thoughts occurred: one, Kris was probably forcing herself to maintain a degree of calmness for his benefit; two, it was highly unlikely the medics would allow him to accompany her in the ambulance.


"We're going to move you on to the cot."  Carol reached back and handed me the O2 unit while she was talking to Kris.


Carol and Leroy switched places and moved the cot closer to her.  I tried to watch, interested in how they would manage, since the bench did not have side access.  The dilemma was solved when Leroy put his right knee on the bench just above Kris' right shoulder.  I took hold of Flash’s harness when Leroy had leaned over Kris and the dog had started growling.  Leroy reached down and took hold of the jacket, speaking quietly to her.  When Carol was in position, and had hold of her ankles, he nodded.  A soft three count later they had her off the bench and onto the gurney; and I had my hands full trying to juggle the O2 unit and Flash. He strained against his harness, whining loudly and reared up on his hind-legs.


"Holy Shit!"  Leroy stared at the dog, whose head was now level with mine.  "I didn't realize he was that big."  He reached past the trembling forepaws to take the unit so I could get a better grip on Flash.


"Yeah," I grunted as I tried to pull Flash back and get him down on all fours.  "He's big, and strong too.  Kronus, see if you can find Caleb.  He's been known to get this monster to behave."


"No."  Kris tried to push herself into an upright position, shaking her head.  Flash finally dropped back to all fours but continued straining against the harness.


"Kris," I kept my voice level, trying to be patient with her, "Flash can not go on the ambulance."


Carol tried to get Kris to lie back down.  She just shook the medic off.  "Then stay with him.  He'll obey."


"That's out of the question.  Someone has to accompany you."


She started to say something but ended up doubling over in pain.  Flash broke free of my grasp and bound over to the gurney.  Leroy took a half step back as the dog stood up, putting his paws on the rail.  He licked and nuzzled Kris' face until she relaxed and lay back down.


Carol reset the oxygen mask Kris had shoved aside earlier.  "Leave it there."


Kris sighed, said something in Regalian to Flash, getting him to drop back to the floor, then said something I almost missed.


"Who da ya thin he was realla after?"


I realized, after mentally translating her increasingly accented English, what she meant.  I had been the intended target. 


"Leroy, could you hand me the comm. unit from the inside jacket pocket."


Leroy nodded, reached into the pocket and handed me the small unit.


Kris settled for giving me an odd look when I tapped the keys to activate the transmitter.  There was one person at the session that Kris would trust to stop a possible second assassin - her rival.





"We've had an incident.  I need you to meet me at the entrance to CalVet Emergency."




When I looked, Kris was rolling her eyes, and looking at me like I was insane, but she was not arguing anymore.


Caleb stepped up beside me and took hold of the short strap Kris kept attached to Flash's harness.  A few soft words in Regalian followed by a whimper and lowered tail and Flash allowed Caleb to lead him away.


"Okay, people, let's go."  Carol grabbed the head of the gurney and started towards door.


I spent the first few minutes in the ambulance answering questions that Carol fired off in rapid succession.


"You know her medical history?"


"Most of it."


"Any drug allergies?"


"Codeine and Penicillin."


"History of heart trouble or seizure disorder?"




"Respiratory problems?"


"Beyond the current one? Seasonal Rhinitis."


"One of your people has hay-fever?"


"Happens.  She keeps it under control, and it is not currently acting up."


“Major surgeries?"


“Nothing recent.”


"Anything else? 


"Yeah, she's strong as an ox and hates doctors."


"Lovely.  Taking any drugs or recently consumed alcohol?"


"No.  She is almost fanatical about not consuming anything that will alter her perceptions and reaction time."


Carol nodded and started to set the IV.  I suddenly remembered that I had a few calls to make and pulled the comm. unit out of my shirt pocket.


I pivoted slightly, ostensibly getting out of Carol's way, and punched in the code.  I learned very early not to let any of the "kids" find out something 'got to you'.  Jun still finds bugs in her room, someone always makes a point to telling Ellie how high off the ground she is, or pointing out the pentagram to Kris. At least once a month someone fakes a nasty electrical storm in the gym while Jason is working out.


"Mycroft, get me Dr. Kiley."  I told Alpha Base's A.I.


"Yes, Chief Anderson."


Before I could count to 10, the base Xeno-Spec was on the line.


"Kiley here."


"Kiley, Anderson here.  I need you to meet us at CalVet."


"Charlene, get my bag and call the flight deck.  I need a ScramJet and a pilot, 5 minutes ago."  I heard him firing off orders to his tech.  "Who is it?"


"Kris took a knife to the ribs, suspected phenumothorax."


"You're enroute...  What're her vitals?"  The slight change in his voice told me that he was on his way to the flight deck.  


Carol leaned over and started talking to Dr. Kiley.  I held the comm. out to her while the babbled at each other in medicalese.  She nodded, leaned back, and reached for an IV bag when they finished.




"Yes, Doctor?"


"I should be there in about 20 minutes.  Carol is going to tell the ER staff to try to hold off doing anything beyond keeping her stable until I get there.  Don't authorize unless it is deemed life or death."


"Understood."  I closed that connection and punched in another one.


"What the hell took so long?"  Paul's voice growled from the speaker.  He knew something was wrong, the twins have a telepathic link, when one is injured, the other knows.  "I had another call to make.   What is your location?"


"Northbound on Coast Ex-1.  I assume you are still at the HQ."


"We're currently in route to CalVet."


“What happened?  How bad is it?  What little I am getting is jumbled up.”


I glanced at the medic and her screens.  I didn’t like what I saw.  “It isn’t too bad but it isn’t good either.  I will give you the details after you arrive.”


"Okay, I can be there in about 70 minutes."


A 70-minute estimate meant he had hit the road just after it happened and he was doing about 200 miles an hour.  It was a good thing that there was no established speed limit on the Coastal Expressway.  Not that it really would have mattered to him given the circumstances.  And I doubt there's a police cruiser that could have kept up with him for very long.


"Don't get yourself into an accident in your rush to get here.  We don't need both of you injured."


"Don't worry about me, Chief.  I'm a better driver then that."


"I'm not as worried about you as I am the other cars on the road.  They don't have your reflexes."


“Understood.”  The line went dead.


I nodded and closed the comm.  Paul had said he would be here in a little over an hour.  I just hoped there would not be any complications arising before he could arrive.


I could feel the ambulance slow to turn in the hospital driveway just after I pocketed the comm. unit.  A few seconds later the rear doors were pulled open by staff from the emergency room.


Beyond the staff I caught a glimpse of a familiar looking blue car hood.  My suspicions were confirmed when the staff moved out of my line of sight; Jason was leaning against the door of his car watching us exit the ambulance.  I did not care to ask how he had gotten there ahead of us.  Over the years I had learned that sometimes it is better to remain ignorant.


"Chief?"  Jason moved to walk along side me as I followed the gurney inside.


"Kris took a knife in the chest."


"Mighty mite missed a weapon?"


"Jason!"  I shot my foster son a quick glower.  Sometimes this rivalry of theirs went too far.


He had the grace to look embarrassed and mutter an apology. "Sorry."


We followed the Medics towards the trauma exam room.  Jason stopped outside the door, I continued on in.


"Sir," one of the doctors moved towards me, "you'll have to wait outside."


"The young lady is one of my people."


"I understand that, sir, but you will still have to wait outside."  He took hold of my arm and tried to escort me out.


"Look," I extracted my arm from his grip, "she is hurt and upset.  English is not her first language, she usually falls back to her native language when upset, so it is likely she will not understand anything you are saying to her.  She is also quite strong and very fast.  If she thinks she is under attack, she might retaliate."


"Sure."  He tried to take my arm again.  


"Minimal English?"  The voice came from behind me.


"At the moment, yes."  I spoke over my shoulder.


“You can interpret for her?”


“After a fashion.”


The first doctor nodded and motioned me to follow him in. 


The look in Kris’ eyes when I walked in was one I don’t remember ever seeing seen before – fear.  Of course she was scared, every other time she had been injured bad enough to require emergency medical attention she had been unconscious by the time she had arrived in the medical bay.  The intense activity in the room was obviously alarming her.


"Kris, calm down. They are trying to help."  I added a few words in the sign language used on the field.  It took a moment, but she did start to relax.  At least she would not be fighting the staff.    The best thing I could do for her was to stay in her line of sight


"I heard we had someone from Federation headquarters brought in."  The second man moved around to stand next to the exam table.  "They said someone needed a Xeno-Spec.  I'm Dr. Northway."




"Privilege to meet you, Chief.  Wish it were under different circumstances."  He spoke without taking his attention off his patient.  "All right, Kris, let's have a look see, and see how bad hurt you are."


I stepped back and watched as Dr. Northway checked Kris over, talking to her in a low, even, voice the entire time.


"You are familiar with her medical history?  I see she is allergic to codeine, so nothing has been administered for pain.  Do you know what she can take?"  He cocked his head just enough to direct that question to me.


i"Butorphanol and Propoxyphene.  She handles the Propoxyphene better, but the Butorphanol is more effective."


"Hmm.  Arletta, give her 2ml of Butorphanol, IV.  She should be a bit calmer after the pain ebbs. She's lost a good deal of blood, have we a match?"


"The closest match on Terra is still an hour away."  I told him, glancing at my watch to see it has been just minutes since I spoke with Paul.


"Blast.  I don't want to use Terran blood, or plasma, then; we'll have to go with a perflurochemical replacement.”  He looked over at the tech that handed Arletta a syringe.  ii“Kajem, set up Hespan in place of the Ringers, and get me some Fluosanal.  If our match is still an hour away, we need to temporize.” He continued with his examination without bothering to look up to see if Arletta or Kajem had followed his orders.  He stopped while listening to her chest.


“I’m not getting good breath sounds here.  Get me a portable X-ray.  I think we may have a building hemothorax.”


Kajem handed off the Hespan and ran out of the room.


All I could do was watch, and chew my lower lip.  As I watched, Kris’ eyes slid closed.  I had to slap down the bolt of panic.  She was just responding to the pain medication.


It took several minutes for the tech to return.  Several minutes that I had to fight the urge to pace.  Once he did return, it took another minute or two to set the machine up.  Jason stuck his head in the door and looked at me.  I nodded to let him know everything was all right.  He returned my nod and withdrew his head.


When I glanced back at the X-ray screen, my concern increased ten fold.  I had seen enough X-rays over the years to tell when something was wrong, and what I saw definitely looked wrong.  The screen showed the left side of her chest totally white, not black like the right side.


“Get me a tube, now!”


Kiley had stipulated actions to maintain stability or preserve life; a hemothorax was defiantly a life-threatening situation, so I chewed the inside of my lip and kept silent. 


I noticed that Kris started breathing a bit easier as they drained some of the blood from her chest.  If fortune favored us, they would not have to do anything else.  If, on the other hand, luck ran the way it usually seems to where the members of the teams were concerned, they would have to operate.


Five minutes later, another X-ray showed some improvement, but not as much as had been expected.  Dr. Northway stepped back to stand next to me.


“You’re her superior; I presume you have authority to give consent for surgery.”


I nodded, glancing at my watch.  By my best estimate, Dr. Kiley wouldn’t arrive for another 10 minutes.  That same 10 minutes could mean the difference between life and death for a highly trained member of the department.


I started to ask how narrow a time window we had when a ruckus at the door drew our attention.  Dr. Kiley walked in with Jason a few inches off his heel.  Jason gave me a slight smirk.


“The fools out there weren’t inclined to let him in.”


“She’s one of your patients?” Dr. Northway asked.


“Hmhn.”  Dr. Kiley took the board from Arletta.  “John Kiley.”


“Bob Northway.  We have her stable, at least for the moment, but I strongly suspect moderate to severe internal damage.”


I was distracted from their conversation by a beeping from my comm. unit.  I flipped it open and stepped back against the wall. “Anderson.”


“Chief?!  Are you okay?”  Mark’s voice was as near panic as I have ever heard it.  “There’s talk of one of the dogs going nuts and attacking someone and someone being taken out by ambulance, then Cobra said something about meeting you at the emergency room and then we were cut off.”


“I’m fine, Commander.  I asked Cobra to meet us here.”


“Us?  Who’s us?”  Key butted in.


I lowered the comm. unit and turned to Jason. 


“He called for a status check and to see if I knew what the ruckus had been.  I told him what I could before Kiley showed up.  I had a choice, finish telling him what was going on, or get the doc in.”


“Sorry, Commander, Hawk’s been injured.”


 “Is she alright?”  Key butt in again.  Behind him I could hear that high pitched whistle Mark uses to attract the attention of other members of the department.


"She's taken a knife to the chest."


“How bad?”  Mark asked.


“They are discussing surgery right now.”


“I presume you contacted her brother, what about Dr. Kiley.”  The question of who Mark had been calling was answered by the voice of Kris' immediate superior, and Mark's cousin, Matt.


“Dr. Kiley is currently conferring with the staff Xeno.”


“Good.  Even at best speeds, Mustang should still be about an hour away.”  I could almost see the looks being exchanged between the cousins while Matt was speaking.  “Should only take me a few minutes.”


“Not necessary.”


“Chief, someone she knows should be there.”


“Cobra and I are here.  The rest of you should stay at the conference.”


“Chief are you sure?”  Mark sounded a bit dubious.


“That was not a suggestion, gentlemen.


“Yes Sir.”  The tone of Matt’s voice suggested that he might be inclined to discuss the matter more in depth at a later time.


“Yo, Eagle.”  Jason leaned over to speak into my comm. unit.  “Give Panther a call.”




“I think he’s in the area.   Ask him to cover for me.  I get the feeling we’re going to be here a while.  No sense in you guys being too short handed.”


“Good idea.  Keep us posted, Chief?”


“Affirmative, Eagle.”  I closed the link, wondering how long the barrage of insults in Rigan would last, and studied Jason for a moment.  “You realize that you almost gave your brother a coronary.”


“Eh.”  Jason shrugged.  “Keeps him on his toes.”  Nearly twenty years those two had known each other, and Jason still delights in picking at Mark.


I turned back to see Kajem and Arletta start to wheel the gurney towards the door.




We are in agreement, Chief.  Her best chance is to operate, repair the damage now.”


“You understand that her brother is still an hour away; we have no cross-match?”


“I brought a small supply with me, that should suffice until he gets here, if not, we’ll collect and use the builders.  I’m uncomfortable trying to transport her back to base.”


I nodded and glanced back at Jason.  He gave me a barely perceptible nod and moved to follow the gurney.  I fell in along side Dr. Kiley.  He quietly filled me in on his diagnoses.  It appeared that the knife had nicked something, the lung cavity was starting to fill up again, if left untreated too long, perhaps even as long as the trip to Alpha Base, she could bleed to death.  He was concerned enough to risk surgery without the support of his hand picked team.


On the elevator Dr. Kiley turned to Dr. Northway.  “I have to commend you, Bob.  Kris is well known for her dislike of doctors.  You appear to have gained her trust.”


Dr. Northway smiled slightly.  “I am a bit accustomed to dealing with patients that I can not communicate with.”




“I originally studied Veterinary medicine.  I was in a residency program when I developed a severe allergy to cats.  So, I went back to school and studied Xeno-physiology.


I heard the sound of choked laughter and turned to see Jason doing his best not to laugh out loud.  I knew what he was thinking, and did not relish the thought of him repeating it to the others: they called in a Vet to deal with the self-proclaimed ‘battle bitch’.  He caught my stare and managed to stop sniggering, but didn’t stop smirking.  I raised an eyebrow and continued watching him.


“Oh, all right.”  He sighed and finally consented.  “It would be priceless though.”


“She would do her level best to kill you.”


“She could try.”


Dr. Northway gave us a puzzled look till Dr. Kiley leaned over and whispered something to him.


“By the way, Dr. Kiley, how did you manage the trip in 10 minutes rather then the 20 estimated?”


“Ask the pilot.  I didn’t bother.  I was just grateful we arrived so quickly.” 


“Our stop gentlemen.”  Arletta announced as the door started to slide open.


“There is a waiting room just to the left, Chief Anderson.” Dr. Northway nodded in the general direction.


I hesitated a moment, ill at ease at the thought of not being able to observe the proceedings.


“I’ll let you know as soon as I know anything, Chief.”  I noticed that Dr. Kiley had used the same tone and volume he uses on the team members, low and calm.


I nodded reluctantly and followed Jason to the waiting room.


Jason found himself a spot along the wall where he could watch the door, the windows, and me with out moving. I settled into one of the chairs and picked up one of the numerous magazines lying about. I flipped through and article about the latest group to say we should cease our on going battle against The Alliance.  Another group preaching love and understanding, saying that all we really needed to do was accept each other, love one another, and live together in peace and harmony.  I felt sorry for them.  They had no idea that the motives behind Spectra, Remklin, and the other members of The Alliance.  Love and understanding was not on their agenda.  Complete dominance of the known galaxy was the only thing they desired.  Seeing the article gave me a thought.  It followed that if there was one person inside the conference, there may be another.  However unlikely it might be, the possibility did exist.  Someone had tried to kill her already, if there was another person, they may try to finish the job, if only to clean up their mess.  I contacted the base and had a couple of guards sent over.  Tucking the comm. unit back into my shirt pocket I stood up and wandered over the window.  I had too many things that needed to be done: a dozen reports on my desk, the conference in session, personnel evaluations that still awaited my signature, sitting around a waiting room was not something I care to do, nor had the time to do.  It was one of the unpleasant aspects of being the boss, so I chewed the inside of my lip, wished I had my pipe, and hoped my impatience wasn’t obvious.




I turned away from the window to see Jason looking past me, outside.


“I’d be a lot more comfortable if you’d come away from that window.”


I decided to humor him and walked to the door.


“Here.”  Jason held out my pipe.  “I almost forgot this.  Kronus said you may want this.  Something about being out of lime lollipops.”


The half smile he gave me said he didn’t get the entire joke, but he still found it amusing.  I took the proffered pipe, and heartily wished my friend into an abyss.  I may not be able to light it, but it gave me something to chew on besides my lip.  I wandered back to my chair and picked up another magazine. 


A soft sound I just barely registered had Jason’s undivided attention outside the door.  Like all the “kids”, he may act caviler about life, but he took his job seriously, especially when part of the job was making sure I stayed alive and uninjured.  They may grumble and argue, some more the others, but once on the job they were as tenacious as pitbulls. 


A moment later Jess accompanied a couple of other uniformed guards into the room.


“Chief Anderson, this is Nikolai and Gorge.  I’ve worked with them a few times before.”


The implied meaning wasn't hard to pick up.  ‘I know these guys and trust them.’


That Jess grabbed people he knew, and trusted, for the job wasn't at all surprising.  Kris and Sergeant Riley had struck up a friendship a few years ago.


“Gentlemen.  One of our Field Agents is in surgery.  I want someone outside the OR, and to accompany her to recovery.  No one is to enter that you do not recognize, or can not be vouched for by one of the surgical team.  The other one can float around the floor as he sees fit.  You can switch off, as long as someone is always near the agent.  Understood?”




“Yes, Sir.”


The three Uniforms pivoted sharply at the sound of footsteps.  Jason moved away from the wall a step, eyeing the surgical garbed person who entered the waiting room.


“Chief Anderson, Dr. Kiley asked me to bring this stuff to you.”  She held out a plastic bag, which Jason took from her.  The tech stared at Jason while he checked out the contents of the bag before handing it to me.


“Your jacket and some of Kris’ stuff.”


The tech shook her head and walked away, one of the Uniforms right behind her.  The other one left a few seconds later.


“If you will excuse me, Chief, I need to get back to the conference.”  Jess nodded and started to turn.  “Oh, by the way, we arranged for the guy that knifed Kris to be treated at the detention facility.  Flash really did a number on his wrist.  He’s likely to be left-handed after today.”  He gave me a tight, almost vicious, smile and left.


I did not agree with his sentiments, but I did understand.  If someone injuries a member of the Security Department the other members tend to want blood in exchange.  The fact that Kris was not part of his department did not matter.  She was part of the overall Department, and a friend.  I had witnessed the same dedication in the Teams many times over the past six years, and had seen several similar such scenes.


I unfolded my jacket and narrowly avoided being hit on the foot by a Detonics CombatMaster that had been inside one of the folds.  Fortunately, the safety features engineered into the gun prevented it from firing.


“Fuck!”  Jason bent down to retrieve the compact .45.  “She was still armed?”  He slid the pistol from its holster, removed the clip and locked the slide back on Kris’ “civilian” piece, palming the round from the chamber.


“I had a few other things on my mind.”  I gently reached into the pockets to see if they had placed the rest of her weapons there.  I found one of her knives.  They had either missed the other knife, or she had opted not to carry it due to the routine, and “safe”, nature of the assignment.


“Those guys don’t know how lucky they are.”  Jason reached into the bag and pulled out her communicator and cross.  “If she knew they were removing these, she’d have killed them.”


“That is why Dr. Kiley sent them to me.  For safe keeping, and to make sure she gets them back.”


“Why take her cross off?”  He frowned and handed me the items.

      The removal of a religious icon was an affront to him, questioning the action was to be expected, even when that icon belonged to Kris.  In all of their rivalry driven bickering, that one area was kept off-limits.  They respected each other’s beliefs, and would speak out to defend the other - if only in that one area.


“They always remove jewelry, Jason.”


“I guess I never noticed.”  He shrugged and handed me the gun and the bag the stuff had been in.


I returned everything except the jacket, to the bag and went back to my seat.  The jacket was in pretty good shape, a few spots that I was sure could be cleaned so I slid it on.  Jason wandered around the room, pausing to stare out the window for a moment before finding another spot along the wall from which to watch the entire room.


After the fourth uninteresting and ridiculous magazine we heard the sounds of an argument in the corridor.


“I don’t care who gave you orders.  I told you to get out of my way.”


I looked down at my watch.  Paul had arrived in the 70 minutes he had estimated.


“Look, Asshole, that’s my sister in there.  Now, you can either move, or I will move you.  Which do you prefer?”


I preferred to avoid an incident in the middle of the hospital so I sent Jason to go fetch the agitated young man.


They walked in a moment later, Paul still smoldering.  “Thanks, Chief.  I really didn’t want to hurt the guy.”


“Partially my fault, Paul.  I did tell them to stop anyone they did not recognize.  I forgot to warm them to keep an eye out for you.”


“Any word yet?”


“No.”  I shook my head.


“I didn’t get much from Kris.  What happened?”


I motioned for him to sit down then quietly told him what I knew.


“We may have discovered a potentially security breech.”  I concluded.  "Which is why we have uniformed guards outside right now.”


“Yeah, but at what price did we learn?”  He turned to stare out the door for a moment then got up and started pacing.


I waved Jason silent when he looked like he was about to protest.  Paul is usually a very calm, even-tempered, young-man, soft spoken, and easy to work with, quite the opposite of his sister in that aspect.  But, where that same sister is involved, especially when she has been injured, he can become the quintessential Mother Hen with one chick: very protective and slightly edgy.  Best to let him pace off part of that nervous energy.


After a few minutes of watching him, Jason came over and started rooting through the bag.  He pulled something out and moved to where he could meet Paul mid-route.


“I think you better hang on to this.”


I realized after a few seconds that Jason was holding the cross.


“I get the feeling that she’ll be a bit more comfortable with you holding on to it then anyone else.”


Paul took the cross and slid it into a pocket.


“She’ll be demanding its return as soon as she notices its absence, which will most likely be almost immediately.  Sooner then she’ll notice her communicator is missing.  I presume someone is holding that for her.’


“Yeah.”  Jason tipped his head in my direction.  “The Chief has it.”


“Good.”  Paul nodded.  Jason gave him an odd smile and went back to his spot along the wall.  He started pacing again, but slower then before.  A few moments later he finally settled into a chair and stared out the door.


After a few moments of silence, I turned to look at Jason, raising an eyebrow.


Jason looked at Paul to see if he was watching before signing a reply.


{Get him to calm down.  Him being upset won’t help her.}


‘Of course!  Why did I think of that?’ I asked myself.  ‘Must be getting old, that’s twice today I’ve missed something obvious.’ I nodded slowly and tried to focus on the magazine I held.  I would have thought that the hospital a majority of the Federation personnel frequented would have not only more recent magazines, but also something a bit more relevant.  Somehow, Modern Metropolitan Home seemed out of place.  I gave up and tossed the magazine aside in frustration and stood up.  ‘We should have heard something by now.’  I shook my head and wandered over to the window.  I was starting to get almost as edgy as Paul.  I knew that it had been just over an hour, but it felt like we had been waiting for half a day.  I stared out the window at the mid-day sky, chewing on my pipe and wishing I dared light up. 


The little witch was arrogant, rude, insubordinate, a loner, cold and calculating, and a member of a small group of handpicked people that I had become somewhat fond of in the past few years.  I had seen her go from calm and quiet to full battle fury in the blink of an eye.  I had also seen her go out of her way to do something for a friend.  She would ignore an injury or insult to her, but would tear someone’s head off if they harmed an innocent.  And she had a fierce devotion to her family, biological and “adopted”.  In some aspects, she reminded me of Jason.  Even down to an ill concealed love of young children.


I turned back around to find that self-same foster son watching me with a look of exasperation.


“Why don’t we just hang a sign out that window.  Make it easier for them to spot you.”


“Oh, give it a rest, Jase.  You’re as bad as Kris.”


“Oh?”  Jason turned his attention towards Paul


“Yeah, paranoid.  The entire galaxy isn’t out to kill us.”


“Just a significant portion of it.”  Paul sighed and shook his head.  “Besides,” Jason grinned at him, “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.”  That got a soft chuckle from Paul as he returned to the magazine that he had picked up.


I gave Jason a slight smile and moved back across the room.  The line was older then I was, but it still was rather amusing.


With some effort I stifled the urge to pace a bit myself and settled back into my chair and tried another magazine. 


Half an hour after he had arrived, a tech came in to get Paul so he could donate blood for his sister.  He came back a bit later with a bandage on his arm, nursing a juice drink.

 I lost count of how many magazines I had picked up, none held my interest, so I leaned back and closed my eyes.  While taking a nap was out of the question, I could at least mentally review some of the reports that had crossed my desk this week.


I had gone over three reports, and had made notes to follow up on several things, when Jason spoke up.


“Chief, Paul.”


We both looked up to see Dr. Kiley and one of the guards headed towards the waiting room.  Paul almost lunged out of his seat as the doctor entered.


“Gentlemen.”  He nodded a greeting.  “Glad to see you made it Paul.”


“Well?”  Paul demanded. 


I stood up and moved to stand behind him.


“Well, we got the damage repaired.  She’s lucky you noticed it and knew what to do, Chief.  If she had done one of her usual “I’m not really hurt” routines, she may not have survived.”


“But she’s going to be alright?”


“Yes, Paul, she’s going to be alright.  I predict that in a few days I’ll be listening to her complain about being kept in bed.  Because she is going to need a few weeks to recover.”


“Can I see her?”


“Normally we don’t like visitors in the post-op area, but in this case I think we can make an exception.”  He turned slightly and nodded to the guard.  “Take him to his sister, and you might want to warn your partner.  The wrong person getting in his way can get seriously injured.”


The look the guard gave Paul had me wondering if that was the same one he had confronted earlier.


“I will need to have her transferred to Alpha as soon as possible, Chief.”


“I agree.  She is too easy a target at a civilian hospital.  I’ll call for a transport and having it waiting for you.”


“Not to mention, the staff here is not fully equipped to handle some of her special needs.”


“You mean like bullet proof vests?”  Jason quipped.


“Yeah.”  Dr. Kiley laughed.  He had been treating Kris, and her brother, for over 5 years and had learned to deal with her.  “Seriously, Chief Anderson, I’d say you saved the young lady’s life.”


“Let’s just say, I was returning the favor.”


He gave me a puzzled look and turned to leave.


“You ready to get back to the conference, Cobra?”  I turned to collect the bag.


“You not going to wait till she’s awake?”


“Not really necessary.  Her brother will stay with her.  I’d stake odds she’ll be as safe with him there as if she was in Alpha’s Med. Wing.  And there is still a lot to do at the conference.”


“What ever.  You’re the Chief.”  Jason moved away from the wall and started for the door.   “Does this mean I have to put that stupid jacket back on?”


“Yes, you do.”  I nudged him in the back to move him along towards the elevator.



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