Chapter 18

Walker Chapter 18

Copyright 2011 Banzai Ben and Amazing Anastasia


Present – Jens – Private Airport – Washington D.C.


Now is not the time to dwell on my nightmare about Ben and Stacy's wedding: It was just a dream – it had better been just a dream! The airport FAA liaison enters the room and announces: "Everyone please gather, we have some information on Elizabeth Morgan's flight." It's about fricken time!


As we gather around, he waits for us to get quiet then he continues, "This is just a short briefing to let you know we have a good idea where the plane crashed. We don't have the exact location because radar contact with the plane was lost on the way down. Coast Guard vessels are preparing to leave for the presumed crash site and should arrive in the vicinity within an hour or so then we will know more. Are there any questions?"


I look at Jack, he gives me a sharp return look and chews some ass, "Excuse me! You're telling me you lost radar contact with the plane on the way down and it was over the ocean? Just how the hell did that happen?"


The liaison waffles, "We aren't sure exactly."


I can smell the bullshit from a hundred miles away, then I remember something about the time we rescued Ben when he dove off Daddy's sailboat when rescuing Frankie. Now it's my turn so I bitch, "You’re telling us it's going to take over an hour to reach the water landing site (I almost said crash site). That is totally unacceptable! With the water temperature this time of year any survivors will be dead from hypothermia by then. Why the hell can't you immediately send out a chopper for them?"


He looks like a deer caught in the headlights when he replies, "I'm sorry I don't have an answer for that question. However I will go and see if I can get an answer."


He retreats from the room. I look at everyone and order, "Look I don't know what sort of bullshit they're trying to feed us, but I for one am not going to swallow it. Jack, you handle things on this end - get yourself and everyone else on the fricken horn and call in any and all favors. Linus, you're coming with me…"


We start to leave the room when we hear…


Present – Maria – Private Airport – Washington D.C.


My Princess Boss takes charge of the situation, then starts to take off with Linus and I ask, "Jens, is it okay if I come with both of you?" I wasn't sure what she was going to do with Linus, but sometimes (okay much of the time) she's a crazy as a moonbat Princess Boss! And now that I finally have a man, I sure as hell don't want to lose him to one of her crazy antics.


Jens laughs and apologizes, "Sorry Maria I forgot to include you. Of course you're invited to come with us."


Linus smiles at me, I take his hand and he asks, "Jens, what's your plan?"


I can't believe what she says next! I'm sure glad I'm coming along to keep Linus safe!


Present – Linus – Private Airport – Washington D.C.


I'm not really sure how I feel about Maria yet, but I'm sure as hell too smart to acknowledge that tidbit. I mean she's awesome in the sack, she's good looking, smart as hell, but are we really compatible? In her mind we're already a couple and I bet she's even planning our wedding, but damn I've only known her a single day and that's just too fast for me!


Maria tags along with us, which is good because we can get to know each other better. I ask Jens, "Jens, what's your plan?"


Jens says, "We're going to rent a chopper and go out and search for the survivors because I can't just sit around on my rear and wait for those incompetent nincompoops to do anything. When we find them Linus and if they need any help, then since you were a Seal you're going in the water to rescue them."


Maria says, "Excuse me? Linus is going to do what?"


Jens repeats, "He's going in the water to help them. Do you have a problem with this?"


The last thing I need are Jens and Maria fighting over me, so I interject, "Look you two, I have no problem going in the water if they need help but not without my wet suit because Jens you're right, it's too cold this time of year to stay in the water for more than a few hours."


Jens asks, "Okay Linus where's your wetsuit?"


I reply, "It's back at the extended stay hotel. We can get the chopper to land in the parking lot and I can go get it."


Maria surprises the hell out of me when she says, "And I can go get mine too, because I'm going to help."


I ask, "Maria, do you own a wetsuit and know how to swim?"


She punches me in the arm and answers, "Linus, just because I was Army and not Navy, doesn't mean I don't know how to swim…"


I want to say, "Just because you own a wetsuit doesn't mean you know how to swim." But instead I show some intelligence and squeeze her hand.


Present – Jens – Private Airport – Washington D.C.


I bite my tongue to keep from laughing at those two because they remind me of Ben and me when we first met. And Linus, just like Ben, has no idea he's been roped and tied (the branding will come when they get married) – I sure as heck hope that he doesn't go crazy like my Ben did and run off on Maria since she's not as forgiving as I am.


We find a chopper and a pilot. I call Jack, get the last known coordinates of Liz's plane and we take off to get the cute couple's wetsuits…


Present – Jack – Private Airport – Washington D.C.


I just finish giving the last known coordinates of Liz's plane to Jens after almost having to beat them out of the FAA liaison. I just hang up my mobile phone when it rings again. I answer it and hear, "Jack this is Mike I have some good news and some bad news."


I want to say what the fuck is worse than Liz's plane crash but I bite my tongue and cautiously reply, "Okay Mike let's hear the bad news first, then the good news."


Mike gives me the bad news, "Jack we're damn sure someone put a bomb on that plane and that's why it went down. And because of the bomb damage and some other reasons that we can't fathom the plane sank like the proverbial rock."


Shit! Someone purposely tried to kill them! My blood boils as I respond, "Mike, I want to know who the bastards are that put a bomb on that plane!"


Mike says, "Jack, simmer the hell down because I'm taking care of it. Now do you want to hear the good news?"


I smile because having worked with Capt. M, I know how it's going to be taken care of – heads are going to roll - literally. I'm much happier when I say, "Okay, your bad news wasn't that bad, don't tell me this is another fucking trick where the good news is actually the really bad news."


He laughs and answers, "Jack you old SOB, I told you I'd never pull that trick on you again."


I interrupt, "That's a good thing otherwise I'd have to kick your ass again."


Mike chuckles, "In your dreams old man. Listen we just happened to have a satellite over the area and I was lucky enough to get access to it for this mission. We have eyes on two life rafts with what appear to be part of the crew on them."


Yeah I had heard the 'just happened to have' excuse before and knew it was BS but I wasn't going to give him shit about it. I also wasn't surprised that he knew exactly how many of the crew are in the rafts. I'd seen satellite images years back and even back then they could easily distinguish an object the size of a golf ball. But it did bother me that he said 'part of the crew.' I query, "Mike how many of the crew are missing?"


He replies, "Well Jack, that's hard to tell because these damn flights of Liz's are so clandestine. Using infrared we were only able to count five passengers in the rafts which seems a little shy of what we would have expected for her normal entourage."


I do the math and realize they are missing three people. I respond, "Well Mike all this information is great but what the hell are you doing about rescuing them?"


He answers, "Jack I don't know what the hell is going on, but everyone was dragging their feet. I'm sure going to find out why and make whomever is responsible pay for it. So I said fuck them all and we have two Marine choppers headed to the location. They should be onsite in twenty minutes. Now is Jennifer Donaldson around, I'd like to talk with her about Ben."


Someone else is fucking with my friends? I bristle and say, "Mike, if possible I'd sure like a piece of the person responsible for the slow up. And unfortunately Jens has left. She got tired of no one doing anything so she took off with a couple of the team to rent a chopper."


Mike gripes, "Jack call her and get her ass back to the main building right now. She's just going to be in the way."


I wonder why the hell she would be in the way, but I know better than to bother Mike when he's on a mission so I answer, "Mike, I will call her and get her back here ASAP. Two more things, first I think we are short three people in the rafts. Would you do a search for them? And second, remember I want a piece of the fuckers that did this…"


Present – Thom – Private Airport – Washington D.C.


I see Jack Reynolds talking on his mobile phone and I know if Jack is here and Jennifer isn't that he's running the show. So Byron and I wander up close enough so we can kibitz on his conversation. His wife Masha gives us the evil eye but I ignore it because I hear Jack say, "I want a piece of the fuckers that did this…" And then ends the call.


I clear my throat and say, "Well then stand in line because we're going after the bastards first."


Jack looks at Byron and me, smiles, shakes our hands and challenges us, "Like hell you are! Shit! You two look like hell twice warmed over. Byron's got a broken arm and you're walking like the sorry old bastard you really are. Don't you know at your age you're supposed to be sitting on the porch at some retirement home in a rocking chair?"


Byron bristles and berates him, "Just who are you calling old. You're so old you were there when Moses parted the Red Sea."


Jack chides in retaliation, "Well if I saw Moses part the Red Sea, you saw Noah put the animals on the ark."


I add to the teasing, "Jack, last thing I heard, you were a mall cop in Hawaii so you're a great one to talk."


He gripes, "Mall cop like hell! I was in the State Patrol."


I laugh, "So just how much highway is in Hawaii for the State Patrol to cruise."


Just like a woman to end all the fun! His wife Masha interrupts, "Jack honey, don't you need to call Jennifer?"


He says, "Damn honey you're right. Guys let me call Jens."


Jack moves away to call Jennifer, I look at his wife and she gives me a rather peculiar smile: Now what the hell is she thinking?


Present – Masha – Private Airport – Washington D.C.


I listen to Thom, Byron and my husband Jack. If I do not put an end to their silly posturing, it will continue all night. So I gently remind Jack to call Jennifer (yes I was also listening in on the phone call with Mike). During the time at the spy school, when he first contacted my husband and Ben, he was of serious interest to my government, but now he is of major interest to my government and they are more than highly interested in the current mission to find Elizabeth Morgan's flight.


I love my husband with my whole heart! It wasn't supposed to happen, but happen it did when Ben 'introduced' us in Moscow. You see it wasn't a real introduction, it was an arranged meeting. It was determined that Ben couldn't be coerced to divulge information after the monumental failure with Miranda Sedankina. However Jack was thought to be highly susceptible. So the meeting was planned and I was to become his girlfriend. I had no idea I would actually fall in love with him but I was 'swept off my feet.' Unlike Miranda though, I was older and had just enough information on just the right people in my government that I was allowed to semi-retire from working for them. I say semi-retire, because there are still times they call on me to help with minor things. The funny thing is Jack, my husband, never did and I now know never will divulge any of the information they wanted - and believe me, I have tried. He always says, "Loose lips sink ships."


So I am a happy and content 'soccer mom' as the Americans like to call me, who is also just a little bit of a spy. But I would never give my old country any information which would jeopardize my new country because just as with Jack, I have fallen in love with my new country.


After my husband leaves to call Jennifer I look at Thom and Byron and smile. Thom says, "A penny for your thoughts."


I continue the smile and state, "Your American euphemisms are so quaint and amusing. However Thom I am thankful you didn't follow it with the normal line you use on available women, otherwise I would have been highly offended."


He grins and lies, "Masha, I don't know what you're talking about."


I knew he would fall for my trap so I smile and reply, "Are you trying to tell me you don't normally ask, 'A penny for your thoughts and ten dollars for your body?'"


Byron starts laughing and says, "Damn Thom your legend precedes you!"


Thom says, "I don't know what you're talking about. Now would you mind moving out of the way so we can get a cup of coffee?"


I continue to taunt, "So you can tell some other sweet young girl, 'You like your coffee like you like your women, hot, instant and cheap. By the way you two both need a bath…"


I hear Byron laughing as I walk away…


Present – Byron – Private Airport – Washington D.C.


Damn this isn't Thom's day – no, that's not right - this isn't Thom's week. The only good thing that's happened is he and none of the team died on the mission to save him. Masha handed his hat to him and I just can't stop laughing. How the hell did she hear about Thom?


Thom looks at me and gripes, "What the hell happened to you, did you get bit by a laughing hyena?"


I continue to laugh and respond, "Come on Thom, don't get your nose all bent out of joint. Masha was just having fun with you and didn't even mention your black eye."


He touches his face and says, "Yeah thanks for reminding me. I owe Linus's new female panther something for giving this to me."


Thom's entirely too upset with Maria so I grab him by the shoulders, look him in the eye and argue, "Thom, you need to snap out of it. I know you're upset because the team came and rescued you and then got injured. But dammit Thom, what did you expect because we're not just a team, we're a family. And like it or not this family has gained one more member named Maria. Shit Thom if it wasn't for her we would have lost Hammer and possibly Todd. So yeah you owe her, you owe her the thanks and respect just as if she was your daughter."


I watch Thom's eyes, they finally soften as he chuckles and states, "Byron, you know I hate it when you're right. But I sure as hell never thought I'd have a daughter that could kick my ass!"


I laugh back and say, "I wonder if she can cook as good as she looks?"


Thom continues with a chuckle, "Damn! I could go for some homemade tacos. Changing the subject, just how in the hell do you think Masha knows so much about me?"


I look at Thom and suggest, "I would say there's a lot more to Masha than the soccer mom she pretends to be. Now let's get our cup of coffee and see what sort of help we can provide."


Present – Jens – In the chopper – Washington D.C.


We just get ready to touch down at the hotel when my phone rings, I check the caller ID, it's Jack and I say, "Jack, what's going on?"


He tells me all about Capt. M's work and that two Marine choppers are headed to area. He also says that Mike wants me to abort my mission because we will be in the way and he wants us to come back to the main building so he can talk with me about Ben.


I complain, "Jack, I'm not sure I like Mike's idea or if I even trust him."


Jack answers, "Look Jens, if Mike said he'd take care of things, I know him and he will take care of things. You really should come back here because he's not someone you want to get pissed at you."


I reply, "Yeah, well he'd better not mess up or he'll find out what it's like to have me pissed at him."


I look at Linus and Maria and explain, "Well, looks like we're headed back to the airport and the main building." Then I order, "Pilot, take us back to the airport."


Linus asks, "So why the change in plans."


I answer, "It looks like Jack has Capt. M – Mike on the mission and he already has choppers headed to the water landing site."


Linus nods his head, "Well if Mike is taking care of it, then we're not needed."


Maria interjects, "Jens did I hear something about finding Ben?"


I answer, "Yeah, Mike wanted to talk to me about Ben."


Linus adds, "Damn Jens, if we can get Mike working on this, then Ben's as good as found."


Yeah Linus may be right. I've heard things about the former Major M and this conversation has given me renewed hope. I just have to find him before my terrible nightmare – no I can't even think about that!


Present – Jack – Private Airport – Washington D.C.


Thom and Byron wander up to me after my call with Jens and Thom asks, "Jack we'd really like to know if there's any way we can help."


I glance around the room to see if anyone's listening, pull him and Byron over to the side of the room and say, "I don't know if you guys know Capt. M, or Mike as we call him now, but he's been able to determine the crash site coordinates and has also been able to confirm there are two life rafts with five survivors. Someone was impeding the rescue so he has two Marine choppers headed toward the rafts as we speak."


I check my watch and continue, "They should be on site in fifteen minutes. I'm concerned because the rafts are three people shy of what the plane was carrying."


Byron says, "Jack Liz is much more resourceful that most people know, so I wouldn't get too concerned until the rescue team arrives and assesses the situation. Besides you know if they are Marines, they will search to hell and back again before they give up."


I nod my head and continue, "You're right about that. Anyway if you guys want to help see if you guys can figure out who is impeding the rescue. Mike said he'd look into it, but frankly I'd like to find out who it is first."


Thom replies, "Jack we'll get right on it. Come on Byron."


I ask, "I'd like a word with Byron alone if I could?'


Thom gives me a funny look and says, "You damn jarheads always seem to have some sort of alternate game running. Just don't let it get in the way of what you've asked me to do."


As he heads away I look at Byron and ask, "Is Thom going to be okay?"


Byron affirms, "Yeah he's just pissed right now because our team took some pretty hard hits rescuing him and he feels guilty about it. Thanks for giving him something to do because it will help keep his mind of things."


I smile and say, "Hey I hope he finds the bastard that's blocking this rescue because I want to 'take a walk' with that fucker."


Byron gives me a knowing smile and answers, "Just remember, even though we're wounded, when Thom finds them we've got your six. Now I'd better go help Thom."


He walks away as I see Jens' chopper touch down…


Present – Mike (Capt. M) – Undisclosed location – Washington D.C.


I watch my team as they handle the rescue and other operations and for once wish I had a few more team members. I'd love to put some of them on tracking down who the hell provides the bottleneck on rescuing Liz and her people. Oh I have some good ideas since she and the Truth Network have pissed off more people in DC than you can shake a stick at. And I'm sure some or many of them are out for her blood. But they don't realize that in this case even if Liz dies the Truth Network would continue! Once the real American people got a taste of unbiased reporting and not opinionated bullshit, they clamored for more. Shit! The Truth Network basically shut down all the other national news networks.


One of my team members announces, "Sir! It looks like Jennifer Donaldson's helicopter is back at the main building."


Good. I really need to talk to her about some other things first and then we need to talk about Ben. I command, "I need to call her from my private office. Keep me apprised of the operations and interrupt me if you hit any snags."


I start my wheelchair toward my office…


Present – Jens – Private Airport – Washington D.C.


The chopper lands at the main building and I order, "You can spin the engines down and catch a nap, but please stay here in case we need you."


The pilot replies, "Thanks, I'll hit the head and be right back."


As we bail out of the chopper, I notice Maria is holding Linus's hand and sticking to him like glue – I wished to hell that I had done that with Ben. Yeah I needed to go and take care of Daddy and mom. I can't help but feel that if I had been by Ben's side, like Maria is by Linus's side, we would have been married and living happily ever after.


I shake my head and wonder… With the new 'assignment' Ben and I have, will we ever see the happily ever after part of our life or will we be destined to fight forever? I remember our one real battle together and decide even fighting forever by his side would be happily ever after…


Well, this is all a bit premature because first I have to find Ben and he's damn good at hiding. I just have to make sure I find him before that damn nightmare… no I have to push that out of my mind. We no sooner get into the building than my mobile phone rings. I check the caller ID and see some crazy as hell number. I answer it with, "Who the hell are you?"


He replies, "Jennifer Donaldson, this is Mike and you and I need to have a little talk in private. Find Jack Reynolds, get a private room and I will call you back."


Damn! I resent Mike more than a little bit! He had Ben and Jack doing some crazy-assed sneaky missions which I couldn't even get information about. But I had hopes that he was going to help us find Ben. I answer, "Mike, give me about ten minutes and call us back."


I ask, "Linus please find Jack and Maria find us a private room. Mike has some information for us that's for our ears only."


Linus replies, "Well Jack and Matt are already headed this way."


Maria adds, "Jens I think we should move back to the chopper because it's probably the most private place around here."


I reply, "Thanks Maria that makes a heck of a lot of sense to me. I sure as heck don't like what's going on around here and I only trust you guys right now."


The guys walk up and I ask, "Matt, how are Megs and Jim doing?"


He smiles and says, "They are both fast asleep on cots in the other room. Jack says you're having some issues. What can I do to help?"


I explain, "I might be overly paranoid, but I sure as heck don't like our exposure here - especially with what's going on with Liz. I'd love it if you and Jim could head back to the hotel and gear up just in case."


Linus interrupts, "Jens, there's no need for them to head to the hotel. If he wakes up Jim, then we can head over to the C-130 and retrieve the gear we left there."


I look at Linus and say, "I think I need to know more about this C-130 later. But Linus you're in charge of securing this airfield for us."


Linus asks, "Jens what are you concerned about?"


I look him in the eyes and theorize, "Linus, call it women's intuition but if someone went after Liz, we could be next. I want you guys to gear up heavy, in fact because we're at an airport, if we had some MANPADS1 it would be great. Plus we sure as heck could use some comsets."


1 MANPADS – Man-Portable Air-Defense Systems - shoulder launched surface to air missiles.


Jack questions, "Jens you can't be serious."


Masha walks up and interrupts, "Jack I think all of you should listen to Jennifer."


I smile at her and just wonder what sort of 'soccer mom' she is. But then I realize if I ever become a 'soccer mom' I will be just like her.


Linus answers, "Jens if you two are right, then I'd better move my ass. Maria please stay with Jens until I get back."


Matt says, "Linus, I'll go get Jim and meet you at the C-130."


Linus answers, "Matt, by the time you get there, the C-130 will be on high alert. The challenge response will be crypt for you and kicker for us."


As Linus take off, I notice that Maria looks worried and I attempt to comfort her, "Maria Linus has been through things like this before, he's going to be fine."


We head out to the chopper and I notice Masha is latched on to Jack's arm like a leech. Again, I wish I had been smart enough to latch onto Ben's arm that way. I ask the pilot, "We're going to use your chopper as a private meeting room. Head inside, grab some food, but stay close in case we need you."


He takes off. As we all squeeze into the chopper, my phone rings and I wonder how the heck Mike does things like this. I answer, "Okay Mike we're in a secure location."


He answers, "Jennifer, it was a good call for you to hold the meeting in the chopper. It's probably the most secure location you have right now other than the C-130. So who are the other three people in the chopper with you?"


I wonder how and what he knows about the C-130 and the other three with me but I know he won't tell me. I answer, "Maria my girl Friday, Jack and his wife Masha. Now what did you want to tell us?"


I can't believe what Mike tells us next… I don't know if I'm pissed and happy or happy and pissed or if I can even be both at the same time! This information certainly changes things…


Present – Liz – on the life raft


The plane sinks so fast that it almost pulls the life rafts under with it. I know with it gone that it will be that much harder for search and rescue to find us. Since the pilot called in the mayday early enough, the delay in response really bothers me - they should have been waiting for us. Something doesn't make sense to me.


Alexi isn't doing well and I think he's in shock. Shit I'm almost in shock too and I can't believe both Mira and Ira are gone. I think back about the many times I know they saved me and wonder how many other times they saved me that I didn't even know about…


I start to shiver when Bernie hugs me and says, "Liz, we're all going to die from hypothermia if we don't find some way to stay warm."


I realize Alexi is shivering. As I look at the girls, Zarika is the only one that's awake and she's shivering too. We're all wet, cold and freezing. I request, "Bernie, see if this life raft has a rain fly. If so let's get it out, cover up with the rain fly and hug each other for warmth."


Since I'm still hugging Alexi, I nudge him and ask, "Alexi, I really need for you to help me right now. Do you think that you can?"


He responds, "Of course Ms. Morgan my sisters told me to make sure I take care of and protect you."


I smile as I’m very pleased Alexi will be Mira and Ira's legacy. I ask, "Because I don't speak Russian very well, would you please explain to Zarika about hypothermia? That reminds me do you know what hypothermia is? Explain that they need to hug each other and cover up with the rain fly from their life raft."


Alexi responds, "Ms. Morgan I understand hypothermia and I will do as you request."


He starts speaking to Zarika in Russian…


Present – Zarika – on the life raft


I am very cold, colder than I ever remember. The nice lady's brother Alexi tells me about something called 'hyperthermica' I don't completely understand the concept but I do understand that I must hug Yasmeen very tight and cover up with the cold plastic rain cover for the life raft. At first it makes me colder but then I start to warm up and feel better. Yasmeen starts to wake up and she asks, "Zarika, I am so cold. Are we dead?"


The silly goose - I reply, "No Yasmeen, we got wet with cold water leaving the airplane and it is causing something called 'hyperthermica.' Alexi told me about it and said we needed to hug each other and stay wrapped up in this piece of plastic."


Yasmeen asks, "I don't remember getting off the airplane. Did the nice lady help me?"


I answer, "I helped you and she helped you. But she did not make it out of the airplane before it sank."


Yasmeen sniffles, "I will miss her. She was sometimes mean to us but saved us and then brought the Liz Lady to us so we could come to America. Did everyone else make it out of the airplane?"


I tell her, "The two pilots also sank with the airplane."


She sniffles some more and then she calls…


Present – Yasmeen – on the life raft


I decide I need to talk to Alexi. I am worried he is sad because he lost both of his sisters. I call to him, "Alexi can you hear me?"


He answers, "Of course Yasmeen, it is good to know you are awake."


I say, "I am sorry about your sister Mira. Both your sisters were nice to us and were responsible for saving us and bringing us to America."


I hear very much sadness when he answers, "Yes I only knew them such a short time but I grew to love both of them. Now I am an orphan but I have promised myself I will live in a manner to honor my two perfect sisters."


I have an idea and offer, "Alexi, you do not have to be an orphan! I will ask our husband to adopt you and you will be my and Zarika's son. He is such a kind and wonderful man I know he would gladly do this for us."


He responds, "Yasmeen, thank you for the offer however I will dedicate my life to Ms. Morgan. It is what my sisters would have wished."


I reply, "Well I hope that we will remain close friends and do not worry because I am sure our husband, who is a famous movie star, has all of America searching for us. In fact, I think I hear a helicopter…"


Present – Liz – on the life raft


It's much better being under the rain fly as we've stopper shivering and are getting quite warm. Yasmeen wakes up and she and Alexi have a conversation. I can't make out all of what's said, but it seems to have comforted Alexi some, when he wasn't being slightly rude to Yasmeen…


Finally I hear what sounds like a helicopter. I say, "Bernie, where's the flare gun."


We search the raft and find the flare gun. Bernie uncovers us, fires the flare into the air and we watch the chopper as it heads towards us.


It's more than one chopper and as they get closer, I begin to get a peculiar feeling… when they're close enough I realize why and yell, "Quick everyone get out of the rafts!"