International Rescue: The Next Phase


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Cold Front [message #737] Wed, 25 July 2012 13:55 Go to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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November is cold in the Northern Hemisphere, but in the Southern, the Tracys are heading toward summer. The new people are settling in, and much needed help behind the scenes may soon be on the way. One of the first recruits leaves, his life changed forever, while his replacement stands waiting on the horizon. Rebuilding on one front has begun, and on another is nearly complete. It is a time for family to gather and celebrate. But the cold winds that blow over the North at this time will also blow over the Tracys as they continue the work of International Rescue.

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[Updated on: Wed, 25 July 2012 13:56]

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Re: Cold Front [message #773 is a reply to message #737] Wed, 25 July 2012 16:39 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Thursday, November 1, 2068, 9:30 a.m., Tracy Island

"Well, Jeff," Emily said as she joined her son in the lounge. "What do you need?"

"Need?" Jeff said, standing and motioning his mother to a seat behind his desk. He stood behind her and to one side. "Nothing, really. Just your approval on a couple of items."

Emily sat down and peered at the center screen. "Oh, my!" she said, pleased. "They've been working so hard!"

"Yes, they have, haven't they?" he said, smiling. "These are real-time photos; it's after three back in Kansas... yesterday."

"It... It'll look just like the old one did," she said, her voice wistful. Glancing up, she asked, "What will they do about the barn?"

"They started construction on the barn yesterday." Jeff pulled up another window, using the second screen. "The house isn't exactly the same as it was. It'll have more square footage and a couple of extra bedrooms and baths for when more than one or two of us go out to visit. There'll be a new fence surrounding the property, and a state of the art security system, too."

"A fence? What kind of fence?"

The third screen was activated. "This kind." There was a view from the house out to the street. Between the camera and the street lay a white fence, not of wooden pickets, but of wrought iron bars topped with fancy -- and sharp looking -- fleur de lis. "This is what runs across the front and sides, and surrounds the graveyard. The fence along the back is wide pickets, with gates for any equipment to move through." He shrugged. "The major equipment barns are further out, of course, and have had repairs made and upgrades to security. But they didn't get hit quite as hard as the house and tractor barn."

"We never needed anything like that before, Jeff Tracy," Emily said, giving him a raised eyebrow and a haughty look.

"We weren't as visible then as we are now, Mother." Jeff shook his head slightly. "My original thought was a solid brick wall."

"Hmph." Emily folded her arms. "Lesser of two evils, I suppose." She settled back in her seat. "So, what do you have to have my opinion about?"

"Siding, and trim colors." Jeff pulled up another window, letting it fill the screen to his mother's left. It held a still picture of the house, with computer-added white siding, and two palettes of colors to one side of the picture. "Did you want to continue with the blue? Or go with something else?"

"Hm." She took the stylus, and began clicking on the colors. He watched as the colors his mother chose appeared on the house, either in the siding itself or in the shutters and trim. She hummed with each choice. She chuckled out loud as she painted the house with pink. "Lady Penelope," she muttered. Jeff smiled.

She kept coming back to yellow, with a dark green trim, and a very similar blue to what the house had already been painted, with white trim. Then she sighed, and turned to Jeff. "It wouldn't be the same without the blue."

"Then..." Jeff leaned over and clicked a couple of buttons. "... blue it shall be."

Mother and son shared a smile. Then Emily's face took on a thoughtful look. "What did the builders do with that old oak?"

"Ah, that was the other thing that needed your input." Jeff pulled up a window in the center screen. "What do you say to a fireplace mantel and a really big, custom-made kitchen table with chairs?"

"Is there that much wood?" She sounded surprised.

"Yes, there is, and good quality, too. I've got an artisan lined up to do whatever you like with it." He drew her attention to the artisan's website, and before long, they were in animated conversation about the possibilities.


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Re: Cold Front [message #774 is a reply to message #773] Wed, 25 July 2012 16:39 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Thursday, November 1, 2068, around 2:30 p.m., Tracy Island

"Okay, let's call it a day," Scott told Cassie as the flight scenario came to an end with the plane in one piece. The landing had been far from perfect. She had come in too fast; the landing was bumpy and the plane wasn't on the right runway. Still, it was her best performance so far and there was a noticeable improvement since they'd had their conversation a couple weeks back.

He waited for Cassie to come out of the simulator. "Not a bad lesson today," he told her as she joined him.

"Well, I'm still alive so I guess that's something," she replied, not thrilled with her performance today but even she could see she was at least making improvement now.

"I'll take you up for real next week. Let you get some experience at the controls of an actual plane, though I'll handle take-off and landing. I don't think you're ready for that yet."

"I won't argue about that," Cassie told him as the two started to leave the room. "Oh, about the training on Mobile Control we discussed last week, I'd like for you to do it."

"Are you sure?"

Cassie nodded. She had gone back and forth on the decision a few times but was confident this was the right choice.

"Okay. I'll figure out some times for the sessions and let you know when they are."

The two walked on in silence. When they reached the point where they would go their separate ways Cassie spoke up again.

"Scott, I was wondering if we could play pool again sometime. I know I'm no competition for you, but I did have fun the last time."

"I did too," he admitted. The lack of pressure to win, like he often felt when playing against his brothers, had been nice. It was nice to just enjoy the game for a change, he thought. "And what do you mean no competition? You did win that one game."

"Yeah, right. You sinking the eight ball because you were goofing around hardly counts as a win. Especially since the only ball of mine not on the table was the one you knocked in," the black-haired woman replied, smiling.

Scott laughed. "What about next Monday? Say after dinner?"

"Works for me."

"Okay. I'll talk to you later then," Scott told her, giving her a wave as he headed toward the villa.


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Re: Cold Front [message #775 is a reply to message #774] Wed, 25 July 2012 16:40 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Jenny walked slowly down the garden, pausing every now and then to sniff at a flower. She came to the garden shed and opened the door.

"Hiss! Hissy! Oh, there you are. Aren't you beautiful," she murmured. A pair of eyes regarded her from behind a plant in a large cage at the back of the shed, and then a carpet python raised its head and glided forward to meet her.

"Hello, sweet. I'm sorry I've been neglecting you lately, but I've had so many other things to think about. I might be getting a job soon. I'm just waiting to hear back. How would you like another move? Mmm?"

"I hope I won't have to leave you behind," Jenny continued. "If I do, I'll make sure you'll get a good home. My brother-in-law, Murphy, he'd like you. Mind you, I don't think Wendy will appreciate it."

She picked up a garden trowel lying on the ground and put it back in its place.

"Jenny! Mum? Anyone home?" Jenny recognised her sister Wendy's voice.

"Yeah, I'm home," Jenny yelled back. "Mum's not, she's out playing bowls."

"Where are you?"

"By the garden shed. In you go, Hiss." Jenny gently replaced the snake and shut the shed door. She turned to see her sister making her way along the path.

"Is that snake shut up?" Wendy asked rather nervously.

"Oh, yeah, don't worry. What's up?"

"Well... we thought you and Mum should be the first to know." Wendy took a deep breath and looked Jenny in the eye. "We're expecting a baby. Actually, we've known that for some time."

Jenny gasped in surprise. "Whew! Man! Wow! When's it due?"

Wendy grinned. "April next year."

"Oh, flip. Mum'll be over the moon. What are you hoping for, boy or girl?"

"Don't care, really. We'd love it all the same."

"Of course. Oh, man! I'll be an aunt!" Jenny squealed.

"Aunt Jenny. And Mum will be a grandmother." Wendy suppressed a giggle. "What'll she say when we tell her?"

"She'd say 'So when is Jenny going to get married?' and I'll say 'I can't imagine!'."

"Speaking of that, before you came along, there was a guy who was paying Mum a bit of attention. He's overseas at the moment, but he was giving her flowers and chocolates and things."

"Ooh. Well, in case I get this job I'm going for, will you keep me posted."

"Sure will. What's this job you're after?"

"A sous chef for Tracy Industries. I'd like to get the job. I'll have to relocate though, if I get it."

"Oh. Well, let me know where you'll be moving to. Is your email address still the same?"

"Yes, jennyfinch at yahoo dot com . Don't bother ringing me on my mobile phone; I'm always forgetting it."

Wendy smiled. "Just like me. Well, I'm planning on having a look at baby things this morning. Like to come?"

Jenny opened her eyes. "It's not due for ages! And what if you have a miscarriage?"

"Don't talk about that! Well, we could get a book on baby names."

"You're on. Just let me get my handbag."

They walked back down the garden path, discussing their favourite names.


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Re: Cold Front [message #776 is a reply to message #775] Wed, 25 July 2012 16:40 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Thursday, November 1, 2068, 4:45 p.m., Thunderbird Three's silo

Alan leaned his head back in the pilot's seat and stretched his arms out over his head with a loud groan. "Oh, God, it feels good to be back on Earth."

"How would you know?" Virgil asked, amused. "You haven't left Three yet."

Alan glared at his brother, who laughed. He shook his head. "You're awfully chipper. You must not have had too much to drink last night."

"I had enough for a buzz, but not enough to get plastered," Virgil replied, checking the silo's status. He and Alan couldn't really leave the silo until the exhaust and heat from their landing dissipated and it was safe to disembark. "Now, Callie... that was a different story. I don't know if she missed what Elise told her about the punch or what. What I do know is that Scott reported she was feeling no pain last night, and Mom said she was feeling plenty this morning. So was Mom, for that matter." He paused, shaking his head. "That's why I got tapped as co-pilot today. By the time we knew Callie wouldn't be space-worthy, Scott was already into his training session with Cassie."

"Y'know, I thought she didn't drink," Alan commented. He was writing up his flight log. "That's probably why she got drunk; she's not used to it."

"Yeah, that's likely. She'll know better next time... if there is a next time."

Alan got up and stretched again. "Gonna help me with post-flights?"

Virgil made a face, and sighed. "I guess I should. Fair warning, though: it's been a long time since I've done this for Three. Don't be surprised if I forget something."

They began taking read-outs from the various panels and gauges, then Alan asked, almost casually, "So, how was Nikki last night?"

"Gorgeous in that flamenco costume," Virgil replied, matching Alan's tone. "She looked like she was having a fine time."

He swore he could hear a slight "hrmph" coming from Alan's direction. "Who was she having that fine time with?"

A grin crossed Virgil's face, but he was turned away from his brother, so Alan couldn't see. "Oh, everybody, I think. Gordon, Brains, Dom, Will..." He sounded as if he was thinking hard. "Scott, John, Brandon, Luke..." He paused to let the names sink in, then went on. "Tyler and Alex... Josh... Rommel." The grin grew wider. "She had a fine time with just... everybody."

Alan glanced at his brother, who turned to him with an innocent smile. Frowning, he snorted and rolled his eyes. "Yeah, right." There was a pause. "I notice you weren't on that list."

Virgil raised an eyebrow, and his voice turned speculative. "Wellllll, that's because I was having a fine time with someone else."

"I see." There was a pause, then Alan continued, sounding brisk and business-like. "Well, I'm back now, and I intend to show Nikki a better time than she had last night."

"Hey, if she likes you, then go for it." Virgil glanced over at Alan, catching his brother's eye. "Just don't make the same mistake you made with Tin-Tin, okay?"

Alan didn't reply, just looked thoughtful as he went back to his work.


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Re: Cold Front [message #777 is a reply to message #776] Wed, 25 July 2012 16:42 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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******Thursday, November 1, 2068, around 5:30 p.m., Tracy Island******

Callie entered her apartment after working the afternoon in the lab. Her day didn't start well, due to the condition she found herself in when she awoke.

******Flashback to 8 a.m.******

After a very long night, she awakened to the sunlight in her face, a very thirsty feeling, slight nausea, and a pounding headache. "Oh, God, my head..." She found herself on the couch instead of in her bed. Also, she noticed she was still in most of her costume, except for her jacket, which lay on the floor.

When she stood up, she felt her head hurting even worse than before. "Damn it...why did I drink so much last night?"

Before she could think, she heard the buzz of her door. "Oh, um, just a minute!" She stumbled to her door and pressed her intercom button. "Who-who is it?"

"It's Nikki."

"Uh, um, hold on!" She quickly pressed the button and let the door open. "Uh... hi."

The nurse noticed how she was dressed. "Callie, you're still in your--"

"Yes, I know. I fell asleep on the couch last night." She held her head. "I still don't feel good."

Nikki escorted her back to her couch. "Easy. You definitely have the signs of the classic hangover."

Nodding slowly, Callie curled herself up onto the couch. "I drank too much of that spiked punch."

"Oh, dear, I guess the alcohol got to you, didn't it?"

"Yeah, but it sure tasted good." With a sigh, Callie added, "I don't know if I'm going to be able to do any type of work today with this blasted hangover."

Nikki shook her head. "You're probably not going to be space-worthy, since you're practically still buzzed."

"I swear I will never drink again, not after last night's fiasco."

"Why don't you go see Doctor Tracy? Maybe she's got something to help your symptoms."

"I just hope I won't look too bad."

Nikki rolled her eyes. "It would help if you'd get out of your costume first."

"Yeah, I really don't want to go to the lab looking like a pirate, since Halloween is officially over."

After Nikki left, Callie changed out of her costume and into a comfortable pair of khaki slacks and light-blue shirt.

With barely an appetite and after consuming only a cup of coffee and some dry toast, she took the walk to the sick bay.

******1:15 p.m.******

After Dianne gave her some medicine to counteract the hangover, Callie went back to her apartment and got some more sleep. Feeling better following a light lunch, she made her way to the lab, as Jeff was walking out. "Oh, hello, sir."

Jeff said, "Ah, Callie. How are you feeling?"

"Much better thanks to Doc's medicine." She sighed. "I got distracted by the guys' cat calls, so I didn't know that sign for the spiked punch was real and not a prop. As a result of my getting drunk, I couldn't go with John to Five this morning. I'm sorry, sir."

Jeff smiled lightly. "I would give you a dressing down, but since you weren't the only person who had too much to drink last night, I'll let it go this time. Besides, you probably learned your lesson in a hurry."

"Oh, did I ever," she said with her face blushing. "I will avoid drinking when it's so close to changeover day from now on."

"Good. I assume you've never been drunk like this before?"

"No, sir."

With a chuckle, Jeff said, "Well, it was very good punch. So, what are you planning to do this afternoon?"

"I've been trying to work on various chemical compositions, especially trying to counteract that fuel from three months ago in that Malaysian plane crash. I still haven't had any luck yet, but I'll keep at it."

"Very well. I'd better get back to my desk, so I'll let you get to finding that counteragent." He left for the lounge while she walked into the lab.

******4:30 p.m.******

Callie worked straight through the afternoon, the brunt of her headache practically gone at this point. However, something else started bothering her to the point where she overpoured just a little dicetylene into her beaker. "Ugh!" she said as she quickly grabbed some wipes to clean up the mess. "Damn," she whispered.

Brains and Tin-Tin noticed what happened. "Are you all right?" Tin-Tin asked.

"Yeah, I'm fine. I just lost my concentration. I'll be more careful."

With a sigh, Brains said, "Listen, you've done a lot with us today, but something tells me you need a little more time to recover. How about you go home early, and we'll see you tomorrow?"

Callie blushed. "Okay. Maybe you're right." She sighed.

Tin-Tin said, "Don't worry, Callie. Get some rest, and I'm sure you'll be able to put in a full day tomorrow."

"Thanks. I'll see you guys tomorrow." Callie removed her lab coat and hung it back in the closet. Afterward, she left the lab and headed back to her apartment.

******Present time******

After cooking herself an easy meal of mac and cheese, she sat down and started eating it, but with a forkful halfway in her mouth, she suddenly remembered the entire incident with Luke from the night before. When she recalled what she had done with Luke, she became more embarrassed. "I can't believe I was insane enough to...try to hit on Luke! I lost my inhibitions because of the punch! What am I gonna do now? I can't face him..." She lost her appetite and placed her dinner into the refrigerator. Slowly sitting on the sofa, she still thought about the nearly steamy encounter with Luke. "I've got to do something. I need to apologize to him as soon as possible. I just need to find him, that's all."

Curling up, she began thinking on how she could tell him she was sorry for her actions.


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Re: Cold Front [message #779 is a reply to message #777] Wed, 25 July 2012 16:45 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Thursday, November 1, 2068, 8:55 p.m., Christchurch, New Zealand

"You should have seen Dom!" Cherie exclaimed. "He was dressed as Dorothy, from the Wizard of Oz movie!"

"Sounds like you had a great bun-fight," Aroha said, sipping her drink. "Would be nice to go to a big do like that sometime."

Cherie's excitement deflated a little. Her friends had been quiet that evening at the ice cream shop. In fact, they hadn't really asked her to come with them, but when she asked if they were going, Anneliese had shrugged and said, "Yeah. We're going." Cherie had never even thought twice about not being part of the group, so she'd tagged along. But now she was feeling as if she weren't wanted. A slight frown creased the space between her eyebrows as she looked from friend to friend.

"Hey, is there something the matter?" she asked. "Everyone seems so... glum."

The friends glanced at each other, and Jen held a hand out, giving a half shrug. Finally, she spoke up, not looking Cherie in the eye. "We were, uh, we were wondering when you were going to tell us who you really are."

Cherie's frown deepened. "What do you mean, who I really am?" She glanced around the table. "I'm Cherie."

"But Cherie who?" Tim asked, giving her a keen look. "You never told us your last name. You can never stay past a certain time, even if we offer you a lift home. We asked Mr. Jernigan to give us your last name, and he kinda hemmed and hawed and wouldn't tell us."

Anneliese took up the explanation. "You talk about big parties and your brothers and all these strange people and how you went to the States for a weekend... as if they're nothing. I mean, some of us would have to save up forever to go to the States, and it would be a huge big thing."

"Not only that," Manjari said, lowering her voice. "I've noticed that everywhere you go," she made a motion with her head toward Airini, who sat in a corner, reading, "she goes."

Cherie sighed. She rubbed one arm with the opposite hand, and bit her lower lip. Then she took a deep breath, and leaned in. "You want to know who I am?" she said softly, so softly that the others had to lean in to hear. "You have to promise not to tell anyone."

"Why?" Jen asked, a half-sneer on her face. "Are you some kind of celebrity or something?"

"Something like that. But I won't tell you unless you promise to keep this between us." Cherie glanced at each friend, and one by one, they nodded or made some indication that they agreed. "Okay."

She ducked into her art bag, and pulled out her wallet. "Since I'm sure you won't believe me without proof..." Opening the wallet, she looked at the pictures, then selected one. Pushing it over to the center of the table, she said, in a low, hushed voice, "I'm Cherie Tracy, and this is my dad."

It was a picture of a silver-haired man in a tuxedo, standing next to a woman in a wedding dress. Cherie was in the picture, as were two younger boys, one with rusty red hair, and the other blond. "That was my mom and dad's wedding day."

"And this is supposed to convince us of... what?" Jen asked, her tone sarcastic.

"Wait a minute," Tim said, looking at the picture carefully. "My brother fancies space stuff and has a big poster with the space pioneers on the wall in our room." He tapped the picture carefully. "This bloke is on that poster. Younger looking, sure, but he's on it. Jeff Tracy."

"Get off the grass!" Aroha said, waving a dismissive hand. "That Jeff Tracy bloke's a million-billionaire. She's giving you a load of codswollop!"

"I'm not," Cherie hissed. "I'm telling the truth. He's my adoptive father. You can see it for yourself."

The girls glanced at Tim, who held the picture thoughtfully. He shrugged. "If he's your dad, then why not say so?"

"What do you think?" Cherie said, still keeping her voice down. "My dad's a rich man. People know I'm here, they could try something. Maybe kidnapping." She shot a glance at Airini. "She's... she's my bodyguard." She licked her lips a little and said, even softer, "Besides, I wanted to make friends who didn't care who my dad was. Who liked me just for me."

Anneliese's face took on a troubled look at the last statement. "I... I guess I'd want that, too."

"So, these are your brothers?" Aroha asked, sounding skeptical.

"Those are my younger brothers," Cherie said. "My biological brothers. I have adoptive brothers, too, but they're way older than me."

Aroha nodded slowly. "I was wondering 'cause you always talk about them giving you a lift and all." She took the picture from Tim. "These two aren't old enough to drive."

"Do you have a picture of your older brothers?" Manjari asked, curious.

Cherie shook her head. "No, I don't." This wasn't exactly true; she did have one, but with this group being the core of Virgil's fan club, she knew she couldn't show them that picture. She held out a hand, and Manjari gave the picture back. "Please, guys, don't tell anyone about this. My dad... he's really paranoid about security."

"We'll keep it quiet," Anneliese promised. She gave each of the others a hard look. Jen rolled her eyes and shook her head, but Anneliese wouldn't give in. "Won't we, Jen?"

"I think she's spinning a yarn, and if she isn't, she's skiting," Jen said, loud enough to be heard.

"Strewth!" Aroha gave Jen a hard nudge. "You don't have to be stroppy about it." Turning to Cherie, she said, "We'll be quiet, and make sure this one is, too."

Cherie looked at her ice cream sundae, and sighed. "I'd probably better go." Pulling out her phone, she fast dialed a number. As she did, Airini got up and sauntered out.

"Gords? I'm ready." Cherie tucked her picture back into the wallet, and the wallet back into her art bag. She picked up the remains of her treat. She said to the group, "I'll see you next week." Shouldering the art bag, she made her way to the door, and out onto the sidewalk. Airini was there, waiting.

The sports car pulled up, and Cherie opened the door. "Here," she said, handing her treat to Gordon, who sat behind the wheel. Sliding in, she closed the door behind her.

"Gee, thanks!" he replied, a touch of sarcasm in his voice. Then he noticed Cherie's demeanor, and his attitude changed. "I'm sorry, Cherry. You okay?"

"Not really." She sighed. "I think I just blew it."

In the doorway, Tim looked out in the night, watching as the sports car pulled out and disappeared into traffic. He made a mental note of the car's make and model, determined to find out if Cherie was really telling the truth or not.


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Re: Cold Front [message #781 is a reply to message #779] Wed, 25 July 2012 16:46 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Mid-afternoon, Friday, November 2; the Pod Storage Bay.

"So you see, Brains, we could attach a track to the ceiling of the pods. It could allow the platforms to move forward and back, as well as side to side. Even if it couldn't hold the larger equipment, we could put enough up there to clear space down here. And have more room for the field crew members to move around."

Brains and Will were standing in the entrance of one of the pods. Brains was nodding as Will spoke, and looking at the young man's sketches that were uploaded to his data padd. "You're right. I believe we have motors strong enough to move what we'd put up there safely, and quickly enough to make using the platforms feasible. Or we can order them."

He made some notes in his padd while Will waited, then said, "I think, though, that we should install them in one or two pods first, to see how they work out. Then, if they do as well as I expect, we'll get more materials and do the other pods. We may have to try something different in the pod holding Thunderbird Four, but that can wait for now."

Brains and Will exited the pod and the engineer looked up at the redhead. "Well done; it was a good idea. We need them, and I can't be the one to come up with them all the time." He grinned, and Will chuckled. Then Brains looked toward where Thunderbird Two was housed and said, "Have you seen the cockpits of any of the Thunderbirds?"

"Not yet."

"Well, now's as good a time as any. Follow me."

He took Will into Virgil's favorite craft and let him into the control area. Will's face took on a look of awe as he examined the controls in front of the pilot's seat. He whistled. "Now this is somethin'. I recognize several things, but what's that?" He pointed.

"That's the camera detector. If it senses any cameras -- still or otherwise -- in use, it signals the pilot who switches on the fogger, here." He indicated the control.

"Why doesn't it automatically do that? I think it would be a lot better. Or even automatically switch on when the craft is a certain distance from the rescue site. That way, you can be sure."

Brains looked at the mechanic approvingly. "Where were you when I was inventing this? You are coming up with some very good ideas."

Will laughed. "I was probably somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on the McCain, workin' on the fighter jets with my crew."

"That's probably right. Tell me, what rank did you have when you left?"

"Lieutenant Commander. Why?"

"Just curious. Do you ever miss it?"

"I did, sometimes. But working here is something like being there, except for not having a crew to boss around."

As they turned to leave, Will gave one more admiring look around, then followed Brains out.

"Did you say you served aboard the McCain?" the engineer asked.

"Yes, I did. Why? Did you know someone else who served aboard her?"

"Not exactly. But I seem to remember hearing that Scott was aboard her for some exercises. Did you ever meet him?"

"No, but I did work on his jet."

"Really? What can you tell me about it?"

"Well. . ."

If anyone had been around listening at the time, the voices would have faded as the two men moved on.


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Re: Cold Front [message #783 is a reply to message #781] Wed, 25 July 2012 16:48 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Friday, November 2, 3:30 p.m., Tracy Island

He was short, fat, and dapper-looking in his waistcoat and jacket, though by the time they'd arrived at the Villa, he was looking rather red in the face. He was appreciative when Kyrano brought lemonade and iced tea to the lounge, but was rather non-plussed to see the retainer sit down beside Mrs. Tracy.

"Both Kyrano and my mother are in charge of the kitchen," Mr. Tracy said amiably. "I value both of them highly, and it is their opinion that will carry the most weight."

The would-be sous chef was suddenly seized by a feeling of foreboding. He had thought he would only be dealing with Mr. Tracy, who -- as a man -- would likely know little about the world of haute cuisine. Instead, he found himself faced with a set-in-her-ways old biddy who just happened to be his future employer's mother, and a servant who might easily be pushed aside.

"Kyrano here was head chef of the Hilton de la Défense in Paris before coming on staff here," Mr. Tracy was saying.

Now Mrs. Tracy appeared to hide something of the shark behind her gentle smile. And the Asian man's face became coolly inscrutable. He gulped, and fought to conceal his nervousness.

The interview proceeded, and his feeling of anxiety began to fade away. They discussed terms and he played up his experience as much as he dared. After all, this was a mere sous chef position, and he wouldn't have pursued it if he hadn't heard a rumor that the successful candidate would be working for the family, not the company.

He let them know the hours he was willing to work, and which days, and about his yearly excursion to Mardi Gras. They didn't discuss salary; he wanted the conversation to turn that way, but Mr. Tracy was not to be baited. The Asian man asked a few quiet questions, while Mrs. Tracy's were sharper and more to the point.

"Well," Mr. Tracy was saying, smiling. "Before we go any further, Kyrano and Mother would like you to see our facilities."

"Of course." He rose and shook the billionaire's hand.

"This way," the Asian man (what was his name?) guided him from the room. They went down a flight of stairs and to the right.

"This is the dining room," the Asian said, sweeping his arm to indicate the huge table and hefty sideboards. "The family eats here, and occasionally some of the other staff will join us." The Asian made eye contact, and said, his statement more like a question, "I hope you are well versed in vegetarian cuisine -- one of our nurses is vegan."

He smiled and bobbed his head, assuring the Asian he was fully conversant in vegetarian cooking. They passed through the swinging doors and stepped into the kitchen. There was the smell of fresh coffee, and a thirty-something man was pouring himself a cup. The man looked up, startled, a cookie stuck in his mouth.

"Scott!" Mrs. Tracy scolded, scowling at the young man. "What are doing with that cookie?"

The young man -- Scott -- pulled the cookie from his mouth, having taken a sizable bite from it. He chewed, swallowed, and took a sip of coffee. "I'm hungry, Grandma. You know we growing boys need a snack now and then." The young man grinned and winked at Mrs. Tracy.

"Growing boy, my foot!" She stuck a finger in the young man's face (despite the fact that he seemed to tower over her) and shook it. "The only way you're growing is around the belly!" She gave that belly -- what little of it there was -- a poke with her finger.

Scott put up a hand in surrender. "Okay, okay. I'll take my coffee and the remains of my cookie elsewhere."

The Asian man stopped Scott long enough to introduce him properly. Scott said the usual pleasantries, and gave him a firm handshake, then retreated with his snack. Mrs. Tracy guided him over to a work island in the middle of the room. There were small bowls, large bowls and other tools of the trade laid out. The Asian pulled a half-dozen eggs from one of the huge, stainless steel refrigerators.

"Here is where we test your skill," he said as he set the bowls down. "Please, prepare an omelet."

He swallowed, nervous. He had heard of such tests before and how they had involved the most simple but elegant of entrées. And he was at a disadvantage here, too; he hated getting up in the morning, and so had insisted on the luncheon and dinner shifts wherever he had worked. But... it would not look good to refuse.

He began to mix and to stir, turning on the stove, and putting butter in the shallow omelet pan. He was keenly aware of the Asian's eyes on him, and of Mrs. Tracy's, watching his every move. He took every care in its preparation, adding cheese and ham and peppers. It browned a little too much, he thought, but he had no choice but to present it to his examiners.

The Asian tasted, looking pensive. Mrs. Tracy took a small portion, and sampled it, a thoughtful frown on her face. They exchanged a glance, then the Asian smiled.

"Please help yourself to a soft drink or coffee, and return to the dining room. Mrs. Tracy and I must confer."

There wasn't much he could do. He poured himself a cup of coffee, fixed it to his liking, and returned to the dining room. He pulled out the chair at the head of the table, imagining that it must be Mr. Tracy's special place to sit. He tried to imagine himself at the head of the table, with the gleaming china and the sparkling crystal.

An older silver-haired woman came in, breaking his reverie. She smiled at him and inclined her head as she passed by. Before she could enter the kitchen, he called out. "Um, madam?"

She stopped, hand poised to push open the door. "Yes?"

"They... they are in conference."

She smiled again. "I know." Then she pushed the door open and disappeared within.

He sipped his coffee and examined the quiet room from where he sat. The drapes were open, and he saw three children, a girl and two boys, head past, dressed for a swim. He wondered what it would be like to live there. Did they have raucous parties? Were his sons the riotous playboys that so many gossip magazines had declared they were? He would like that; he was always at his best when it came to parties... and partying.

The door opened behind him and he turned to see the Asian and Mrs. Tracy come out. They were followed by the silver-haired woman. The Asian stopped to introduce her, and she smiled, shook his hand, and went on her way.

"Let us return to the lounge."

He rose and followed Mrs. Tracy up the stairs again. He was surprised to see an elevator open, when they reached the top of the stairs, and a young, blond man step out. He wondered why they didn't use the lift; it was so much less stressful than climbing stairs!

The young man proceeded to give Mrs. Tracy a kiss on the cheek. "What's for dinner, Grandma?"

"Veal parmigiana, Alan. Just for you."

The young man glanced at him, a small look of concern on his face. Then he smiled. "I love it when you make my favorites, Grandma."

They entered through the room with the bookshelves, and the young man -- Alan -- opened the grillwork door for them. Mr. Tracy was behind his desk, and stood as they came in.

"Ah, good. You're here." He shot a glance at Alan. "Are you ready?"

Alan nodded. "Everything is fueled up and ready to go. Nikki's pulling the plane out of the hangar."

"Excellent." Mr. Tracy came out from behind his desk. "It was good to have you here, sir, and thank you for your interest in the position." He glanced at the Asian and Mrs. Tracy. "Of course, you're the first of several candidates, and we want to be thoroughly sure of whoever we are hiring." He gestured to the young man. "Alan here will fly you to Christchurch, where there is a hotel room waiting for you." He smiled a little. "No cost to you, of course."

"Of course," he murmured as he took Mr. Tracy's proffered hand. "Thank you for your hospitality."

"You're welcome."

"Thank you for coming," the Asian said, bowing. "We will be in touch."

"Yes, thank you," he said, bowing in return, though he wasn't sure quite why. Mrs. Tracy smiled, and shook his hand, then he found himself outside, escorted by Alan back down to the small cart.

"Hope you enjoyed your visit," Alan said, smiling.

He murmured some inane pleasantries, and stifled a sigh. He knew that when he next heard from the Tracys, it would be a polite rejection letter. No matter. He was being treated to an overnight visit in Christchurch, and he would make sure that Mr. Tracy footed as large a bill as he could manage.


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Re: Cold Front [message #784 is a reply to message #783] Wed, 25 July 2012 16:50 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
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Field Commander
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Early evening, around 7:oo pm....

Luke read over the report he was currently typing up, making a correction here and there. He held a pen clamped between his teeth, a bad habit he'd had since high school. Frowning at what he had written, he consulted his notes, then corrected things on the computer. Finally he gave it a last read through and hit the print button. He also threw in a disc and burned a copy on that as well.

He leaned back in his chair, stretching his arms over his head. He glanced over at Rommel, who was sprawled in front of the door. "Hey, mutt, what do you say we go for a walk before watching the game?" Luke had taped the previous night's hockey game between the Avalanche and the Sabres, and was looking forward to watching it.

Rommel got up, tail wagging as he watched his master pull on his sneakers. "All right, let's go." Luke snapped his fingers and started towards the door. He paused as his computer beeped, indicating a new email. "Hold on a sec, just let me see what this is." He sat back down and opened his mail. "Hey, it's from Roger. It's late at home, wonder what's up..." He sat back and read what his brother had to say.

Hey, Sasquatch,

How's things? Haven't heard from you for a while and wondered if you'd run off with some stud from Malibu. I mean, now that you're a Cali beach bum, you mustn't have a lot of time for us way up here in snow country.

Anyway, as you probably know, hunting season has started. Sarah is old enough to go to hunting camp this year, and has been pestering me about it. Can you get some time off and we'll grab Dad and head up to the cabin for a few days? I haven't seen you since July and it would be good to catch up. And, Mom's starting to miss you. I know, hard to believe since I'm her favorite, but it's true. Besides, I'm not going to be trapped in the woods with a 13-year old all by myself.

Give me a buzz and let me know what works for you. Things are pretty slow around the office at the moment, so my schedule's pretty open. Stay out of trouble. Or better yet, go find some.

Rog


Luke chucked to himself as he started his reply.

Hey yourself, shorty,

Great to hear from you. Things have been hectic here, with juggling the studs and all.

You have snow already? Man, one thing about this job, I do miss the seasons. But, I'll just have to suffer and deal with the sunshine.

I just finished up a big project, so I'll talk to my boss about getting some time off. Maybe around the 9th? A nice trip home is just what I need at this point. Do me a favor, check the store and see if you can pick me up a pair of Bauer's or CCM's, size 7 women's. Not sure what that would be for men's. Just make sure they're hockey skates. No frilly figure things. Black too, no pink or blue.

Gotta run, I'll let you know about coming home as soon as I can.

Luke

P.S. Mom's favorite? You? Man, I'm away for a while and you start suffering delusions of grandeur.


Luke hit the "send" button and turned back to his dog. "Whadda you say, Rom, want to head home for a visit? Have Grammy spoil you?" The word "Grammy" had Rommel's tail thumping and Luke laughed. "C'mon, let's go for that walk." Together they headed out the door.


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[Updated on: Wed, 25 July 2012 16:51]

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Re: Cold Front [message #786 is a reply to message #784] Wed, 25 July 2012 16:51 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
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Field Commander
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Cassie was walking across the balcony toward Luke's apartment when she noticed him and Rommel walk out.

"Hey, Luke! Looks like I caught you at a bad time."

"Hey, Cassie! We were just going to take a walk," Luke replied, gesturing toward Rommel with one hand. "You want to join us? Or I can skip the walk."

"A walk actually sounds like a good idea. My apartment was getting too quiet," she commented reaching out a hand to scratch Rommel behind the ears. "Oh, I should probably give you these before we go though," Cassie said, remembering the envelope she was carrying.

"What's in it?" Luke asked, taking the envelope Cassie held out to him.

"Pictures from the party that I thought you might like."

Luke opened the envelope and took out two pictures. The first one was of Luke, Elise, and Rommel in their costumes. The second was of all the recruits, though Rommel no longer had his costume on.

"These are great! Thanks! I'd like to see the others sometime."

"Well, I've got them all transferred to my laptop, but that's about as far as I've gotten. I'm hoping to find time this weekend to go through and do any touch ups and delete those that are beyond help or just didn't come out the way I wanted."

"Maybe, I'll try stopping by sometime next week then," he told her. "Let me just put these inside real quick."

Luke ducked back into the apartment while Cassie kept petting Rommel. The Shepherd closed his eyes, enjoying the attention.

It wasn't long before Luke had rejoined them on the balcony. The two friends headed toward the steps on the side of the Cliff House, Rom walking between the two of them. They conversed about trivial things for awhile, such as training and things that had happened throughout the day.

When the conversation hit a lull, Luke decided to try broaching a more serious topic.

"Have you decided what to do about Alex?"

Cassie sighed. She glanced out over the horizon for a moment before looking back at her friend.

"Yes and no," she replied. At Luke's confused look she continued. "I managed to schedule a time to talk to Dr. Lindon, my therapist back in New York, via IM earlier today. We talked about Alex and what you said to me on Sunday. She warned me not to go rushing back just because things weren't working out how I thought they would. The two of us decided that for now the best course of action is to take a wait and see approach. I plan on talking to Alex via email for awhile and see where things go."

"And if the two of you work things out?" He asked, looking to see where Rommel had gotten to. He spotted the dog up ahead of them, sniffing the ground.

"I don't know. Guess I cross that bridge when I get there. One thing I do know, things would need to change for me to go back. Alex controlled my life too much when we were together. That isn't what a marriage should be. It should be a partnership between two people. For the first time in my life, I've got control of my life and though I may not be doing such a stellar job, at least I know I've only got myself to blame."

"You're being too hard on yourself."

"Maybe," she said slowly. After a short pause, she continued. "You were right though, Luke. I was throwing so much of myself into my work that I haven't taken the time to try fitting in with everyone. It was easier to do that than to open up and let people get to know me. There's a certain amount of a detachment to a work relationship that you can hide behind. Less chance of getting hurt. That's not what I want, though. Sure, I want to be a part of the IR team, but I also want to feel like part of the community here on the island."

"I'm glad to hear you say that. I was also glad to see a little of the Cassie I know surfacing at the party."

"Then are you up for helping me with a project?"

"What is it?'

"I was going to hold a tea ceremony. Tin-Tin has expressed an interest in experiencing one and Virgil has shown an interest in the Japanese culture. Some of the others may be interested too. I'd need someone to be the Shokyaku, or guest of honor, and seeing as no one has actually been to a tea ceremony except for me, that maybe you could fill that role. I can explain things to you in more detail later but basically the other guests would look to you for what to do."

"I'm not wearing one of those dress things."

"It's not a dress and I'm not asking you to wear one!"

"Then I'd be happy to help you out. When were you planning on doing it?"

"The last day of the month. It's a Friday and that will give me plenty of time to prepare. It's been a while since I've hosted or attended one myself."

"Who are you inviting?"

"Well, John will be up on Thunderbird 5, but I was figuring that I would just send an invitation to everybody here on the island. I don't really know everyone well enough to be able to decide who might be interested and who wouldn't."

"Sounds reasonable."

"Would you be willing to help me get the invitations ready?"

Luke nodded. "When do you want to do it?"

"Well, I wanted to type up something about the tea ceremony to put in the invitations as well as doing some calligraphy on the front of the invitations."

"Well, I certainly can't help you with that. I can write legibly enough but I can't do anything fancy."

Cassie laughed. "I wasn't going to ask you to. If you could help me fill out the inside with the needed information though, it would be helpful. Maybe Sunday afternoon if you don't have any plans. I'll cook you lunch and then we can work on them afterward."

"Sunday will work."

"Thanks, Luke!" Cassie said, throwing her arms around him to give him a hug.

"No problem, Cass," he told her returning the hug. As they broke away he noticed the fading light. "Maybe we should start heading back. I was planning on watching the Avalanche and Sabers game I taped. Care to join me."

Cassie shrugged. "It's been awhile since I've actually watched ice hockey but why not. It's not like I have a hot date or anything," she said, as the two headed back to the Cliff House.

"Well, there are plenty of single guys here," Luke said teasingly.

"Hey, if you don't want me to set you up don't go getting any ideas!"


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Re: Cold Front [message #787 is a reply to message #786] Wed, 25 July 2012 16:52 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
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Friday, November 2, 9 p.m., Christchurch, New Zealand

"Well?"

Anneliese's face stared back out at Tim through his computer screen, and not only hers, but Manjari's and Aroha's faces were present during this computer conference. Jen had declined to participate, saying that she'd made up her mind about "snotty paheka Cherie" and didn't want to know anything more about her.
"Found it." He pressed a few keys, and sent the addresses of what he'd found to his friends. "Take a shufti at this."

It hadn't been difficult to find information on Jeff Tracy; he was a space hero, after all, and a big businessman. What was difficult to find was information on the man's private life, and in particular, his second marriage. It had been mentioned as a footnote sort of thing in the biographies Tim had found, but few if any pictures of the man as he was today existed. However, Tim was nothing if not persistent, and finally he found a few official pictures of the man, and one or two on his recent marriage.

"That's them, all right," Manjari said, shaking her head. "Same people as in Cherie's picture."

"But she could have... I dunno... taken this picture from the article and manipulated it or some such," Aroha said, her tone doubtful.

"Read the article," Tim said. "Her name is mentioned. She was in the wedding party."

"And if she was going to manipulate the picture, why put her little brothers in it?" Manjari said, making a face. She had three little brothers, and found them all to be pests. She noticed that Anneliese was quiet. "What's wrong, Liese?"

The girl was frowning. "Mrs. Tracy... she looks familiar. I'm wracking my brains but I can't figure out where I've seen her before."

"Maybe you've just seen someone who looks like her," Tim said, trying to sound encouraging. "They say everyone has a double."

"Maybe."

"I notice that there are no pictures of the older brothers," Aroha sounded triumphant. "Even though they're listed in the article."

"I thought that was a bit dodgy myself," Tim said. "Especially since a couple of them are famous."

"Really?" Anneliese's eyes widened a bit. "Which ones?"

"Let's see: John is an astronomer bloke; he's written a few books and found some nebula somewhere. And Gordon has an Olympic gold medal and world record in swimming." He looked at one of the other articles he'd pulled up. "Oh, and Alan's a race car driver." Glancing up at his friends, he asked, "Want me to send the addys to you?"

"Sure." "Yeah." "Please."

He sent the articles to his friends, then sat back. "So, now that we've sussed this out, what do we want to do?"

The girls were silent for a bit. Then Anneliese spoke up. "I, for one, think she needs some mates. I mean, looking at the articles, she lives on a blooming island! And she's the only girl there. I bet she started the art class to meet some new people as much as for learning art."

Manjari nodded. "You ain't wrong, Liese. I'm willing to give her a chance." She paused, then asked, "How about you, bugalugs?"

Aroha frowned. "I don't wanna be a wet blanket, but I agree with Jen. I think she's skiting and snotty, even if what she says is true." She looked behind her. "And I have to go. Tata!"

Her picture disappeared, which left only Tim to be heard from. "What about it, mate?" Liese asked.

Tim looked thoughtful. "She's quite nice, I guess. I'll not be stroppy." He straightened up. "Just don't expect me to piss around with that bloody fan club of yours."

"Naff off!" Manjari said, good-naturedly. "We wouldn't have you!"

The trio laughed, and began talking about other, more interesting, matters.


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Re: Cold Front [message #788 is a reply to message #787] Wed, 25 July 2012 16:53 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Friday, Nov. 2nd, Tracy Island

As she finished the hem she was working on, Tin-Tin paused in her work. She stretched her arms over her head, trying to get rid of some of the kinks that had developed from bending over the sewing machine.

Tin-Tin glanced toward the clock on the wall, which read nine-thirty. A perfect time for a night stroll along the beach. There was something peaceful about seeing the moonlight dance upon the waves. The young woman got to her feet. She quickly got a flashlight and then headed out of her room.

Perhaps I can get Brains to join me, she thought, as she reached the scientist's room. Stopping outside the door she knocked. It wasn't long before the door opened.

"Hi, Tin-Tin! Can I do something for you?"

"I was going to take a stroll on the beach and was wondering if you would like to join me?"

"Walk on the Beach? At this hour?"

"Why not? It's perfect. No sun to glare off the sand, and it's a nice evening out."

Brains hesitated. Taking a stroll on the beach at night had never occurred to him before. Still, Tin-Tin seemed excited about it and the chance to spend some time with her would be nice.

"Let me just wrap up what I'm working on and I'd be happy to join you," Brains told her. "Come on in," he said, stepping aside so that Tin-Tin could step into his room. "Why don't you have a seat," he told her, waving a hand toward the couch. "I'll just be a moment."

Tin-Tin sat down on the couch while Brains walked over to his computer. Lena immediately hoped up next to Tin-Tin wanting attention. Reaching out, she stroked the kitten as she waited for Brains.

Meanwhile, Brains made sure his work was saved and then put the computer into hibernation, hoping to return to it after the walk. As the computer blinked off, he turned around.

"I'm ready. Let's go for that stroll."

Walking side-by-side, the two of them left the room. They walked down the hallway in silence, making their way to the main door of the villa.

The evening was warm with a slight breeze blowing. The couple headed down the path toward the beach chatting amicably about their day. It wasn't long before they were on the beach, the crashing waves the only other sound other than their voices.

As he listened to Tin-Tin talking about something funny that had happened, he reached out and took a hold of her hand. She didn't pull her hand away as the two of them continued down the beach, hand in hand.


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Re: Cold Front [message #790 is a reply to message #788] Wed, 25 July 2012 16:54 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Field Commander
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Saturday, November 3rd, Mid-morning...

Jeff bent over his desk, doing his least favorite job, paperwork. But there were times it couldn't be avoided. And this was one of them. He finished typing up his notes on the last interviewee, and sent it on to his human resources department. He had just started in on the latest expense report when he heard someone clearing their throat. Looking up, he spied Luke standing in the doorway.

"Mr. Tracy? Could I talk to you for a few minutes?"

Jeff smiled. "Sure, Luke, come in." He waited until the young man had sat down in front of him. "What can I do for you?"

Luke handed him a file and a disc. "My report on the New England plant, sir. I don't think Burlington, Vermont is the way to go. The spotted owl is finally making a viable comeback up there, and the environmentalists tend to go overboard at any new industry trying to move into the area."

"You wouldn't happen to agree with said environmentalists, now would you?"

Luke chuckled. "There are environmentalists and there are enviro-terrorists. But don't get me started on that. I did a little research and I think Toronto is the best bet for what you're looking to do. There's an abandoned manufacturing plant right on Lake Ontario that could easily be converted. Plus, it's an already established structure so you won't have to jump through as many hoops to get the building permits. It's zoned manufacturing and right on the lake, so shipping won't be a problem either. And by using this factory, you don't have to build another, thereby lessening the environmental impact."

Jeff nodded thoughtfully, his eyes skimming the report. "Hmmm....you've done your homework here. Nice job."

"Thank-you, sir."

"In fact," Jeff closed the folder. "I'd like you to go to the Los Angeles office and give this to the Board in person."

Luke paled. "You...what?"

"Remember, the main reason Tracy Industries hired you is for just this. You'll just have to present this report, answer a few questions from the Board, things like that. Since you seem to have gathered detailed information about the property in question, I don't see the need to send you to Toronto for further study."

Luke nodded. "All right, Mr. Tracy. But I have to tell you, I hate public speaking."

Jeff laughed. "Don't we all. Now was there anything else?"

"Well, actually, yes." Luke sighed. "We're big outdoorsmen in my family, and it's currently hunting season back home in Montana. My niece is finally old enough for hunting camp and my brother emailed me last night, asking if I could get some time off so we could all go together. It's sort of a family tradition. I told him I'd have to check with you first."

Jeff frowned thoughtfully. "I don't see a problem. When were you planning on going?"

"Around the ninth of this month, sir."

His employer pulled a calendar up on the screen. "I think that would work fine. You could spend time with your family, then report to the LA office later in the week, around the fifteenth. Will that give you enough time?"

"Yes, it should. Thank-you, sir."

"You're welcome, Luke."

"Mr. Tracy, there is one other thing." Luke took a deep breath. "I'm used to attending church services pretty regularly. I haven't been since I got here and...well, I'm missing it. I made a few inquiries and there's a Catholic church in Christchurch that holds Mass every Sunday at ten. Scott said I was progressing well in the simulator and that it would be a good idea for me to get some actual flight time in. I thought maybe I could kill two birds with one stone and fly with someone to the mainland every couple of Sundays."

"That would be fine. I'm sure any of the boys would be glad to take you." He looked thoughtfully at Luke. "You're not a prisoner here, Luke. You're free to ask for whatever it is you need. It's your home, after all. Granted, I may not be able to give in to every request, but I'll try my best."

Luke smiled in relief. "Yes, sir."

"And stop with all the 'sir-ring'. I've been out of the military for quite some time now."

"Yes, si-- Mr. Tracy." Luke grinned. "I guess I'd better go get in touch with my family. Let them know I'm coming home." He started towards the door, then paused. "Where will I be staying in LA? A hotel?"

Jeff shook his head. "No. We have a house that we use for occasions like this. There are enough furnishings in it to look completely lived in. You're not the first agent to use it. Will you be taking Rommel with you?"

Luke nodded. "My mother would kill me if I left him behind. And I've found out that he can fly commercially if he's working." He blushed slightly. "I just need to make him wear his vest and say we're on our way somewhere. I hate to do it but it really cuts down the red tape."

"Right. We'll work out the logistics of getting you to the States later on. Enjoy the rest of your day, Luke."

"I will. You too." With a wave, Luke left.

Jeff sighed and turned back to his paperwork. "If only I could..."


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Re: Cold Front [message #791 is a reply to message #790] Wed, 25 July 2012 16:55 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Virgil, Cherie and Cassie sat at one end of the dining room table. In front of Virgil was a data pad which he was using to make up the contract for the mural project. The three had been ironing out details for almost the last half hour. Ideally, it should have been done sooner but with everything that had been going on they hadn't found the time. Now he looked over it, trying to decide if anything had been missed.

They had worked out the payment, agreeing on a fee for work done of the mural. In addition, Cassie was paying for any materials that might be needed. Virgil would help Cherie pick up the necessary supplies once the sketches and plans had been made and she was ready to start on the mural itself. A tentative schedule had been mapped out, giving Cherie deadlines to shoot for.

"I think the only thing left to figure out is exactly how we're going to go about doing the mural," Virgil said looking up from the data pad. "The most obvious method would be to do it right on the wall but that has some drawbacks, like Cherie actually needing to be in your apartment to do it."

Cassie nodded. "And if the apartment ever ended up getting repainted for some reason, the mural would have to be painted over."

"Right. That would leave painting the mural on a canvas and then hanging the canvas."

Cherie thought about the sketches she had been working on, and the mental image she had of how they would all go together in the big project. "The canvas would be on the big side, wouldn't it?" she ventured.

"Yeah, it would. Which means we would need to figure out a place for you to work on it and then how to move and hang it when you've completed it."

The three of them sat in silence for a few moments, thinking about the problem. The canvas solved the drawbacks of painting directly on the wall. If only they could figure out a way to solve the current issue. Cassie knew enough about canvases to know that breaking it into smaller pieces wasn't as straightforward as it sounded. The frame needed for the canvas would make the parts of the canvas obvious whether the frame was on the outside or underneath the canvas. Of course, sometimes that was the effect the artist was looking for. She remembered seeing works of art in the museums in New York like that - part of the whole picture had been painted on a smaller squares and then the squares hung to form the intended image.

Would something like that work in this instance? Cassie wondered?

Cassie spoke up, voicing her thought. She could see the two artists thinking about the concept. She knew they would know better than she whether the concept could be applied in this instance.

"You know that might work," Virgil said finally. "It's going to give the image as a whole a kind of broken effect though, but if you don't mind that, it would solve the size issue."

Cassie shook her head as Virgil continued. "Breaking it up would make it easy to find a place to work on it, move it and you could also take it with you if you were to ever leave." He looked to his sister. "It does mean more effort on the planning side of things. Think you're up for it?"

Cherie had been considering the concept in silence herself. She knew Virgil would give her any help she needed and if it was planned well enough, the execution shouldn't be much harder than if she were to do the mural as a whole.

"Yeah. I'm for doing it that way."

"Okay, that's settled then. That will affect the schedule some though," Virgil said, picking up the pad so the necessary changes could be made to the contract.


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Re: Cold Front [message #793 is a reply to message #791] Wed, 25 July 2012 16:56 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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She wasn't much to look at, rather mousy, and most of her features could be considered "average". Only her eyes, with their keen gaze, could be considered more than ordinary. She took in everything, filing it away. Yes, she was here for the interview with Tracy, but it was part of a larger scheme for her true employers.

Everyone she came in contact with treated her graciously, and when she was introduced to both Kyrano and Mrs. Tracy, she filed their faces and names away for later retrieval. She answered their questions, trying not to seem too eager, trying not to seem too formal, trying not to seem uninterested. The balance was hard to maintain, and she noticed that Mrs. Tracy, in particular, was frowning slightly and often.

Finally, they escorted her downstairs to see the facilities. She passed through the study, making a quick note of its location and furnishings. Going downstairs, she noticed the lift that they passed, and heard a snippet of a Spanish lesson being held in a room opposite the study. Classroom, she thought.

Passing through the dining room, she noticed the style of furnishings and the set up of the room. All of it tucked away in her head, just as if she were taking photographs. She'd been asked to bring a hidden camera, but she declined. If she was caught with it, her chances of getting the job -- and a long term position from which to watch the Tracys and report on them -- would be totally blown. No, her real employers would have to make do with her eidetic memory, and her communiqués.

The kitchen offered more fodder for her thoughts. No one was there when she entered, tagging along at Kyrano's heels, but one of the sons came in. Gordon, was what the old lady called him. He asked what was for dinner, and she'd replied they were having steamed mahi-mahi and rice pilaf. He'd asked, jokingly, if it were fresh-caught. She'd replied, no, it was frozen. He replied that everyone would eat it then, knowing he hadn't caught it. It seemed to be some sort of inside joke.

Then Kyrano put her to the test: prepare an omelet. There were several different ingredients available, but she decided to go the minimalist route. Eggs, a bit of milk, a touch of salt and pepper. Keep watching it so it doesn't burn. The pans were nice; they made flipping it easy. Top of the line cookware. Would be a pleasure doing this job if she got it. And getting paid twice would be a bonus.

They tasted it, and nodded. Both approved of her choices and liked her technique.

"Now," the old lady said, smiling. "For another test."

She pulled out a tray covered with a cloth, and uncovered it. On it was flour, shortening, seasonings, and in a big bowl, some fresh apples. "Please, make an apple pie."

"Apple pie."

Damn. Why a bloody apple pie? Why not something less... American? But these people are Yanks, aren't they? She stifled a sigh, and began.

Whoever said things were easy as pie had obviously never made one. Rolling out the crust had to be the hardest part of the whole thing. And both of them were there, watching, evaluating her. Finally, the bloody thing was in the oven, and she could go sit in the dining room as it baked. They'd made her a cuppa -- good tea, too, the best kind. She almost wanted the job now that she thought she'd made a bloody mess of the whole thing.

An older woman, plump, silver-haired, came through the dining room. She smiled, asked if things were all right, then headed for the kitchen. The timer went off, and she got up, taking her cuppa with her as she pulled the pie from the oven.

"It will take time to cool," Kyrano told her. "Why don't you wait on the patio and enjoy the sun as it does?"

Another cuppa fixed, and she was led to the patio, where she could watch people swimming in the pool. She took out a small cigar and had a smoke; she'd been able to douse the craving before, but here, outside... wouldn't hurt, would it?

As she lit up, a dark-haired boy came by, dressed for the pool. He stopped to look at her, and frowned, but didn't say anything before running off. She groaned internally. Trust a sprog to be a nosey parker. Her smoking would be common knowledge before long. And, it seemed, no one here indulged.

Eventually, Kyrano came out and told her that the pie was cool enough to eat. By the time she arrived back in the kitchen, three pieces were gone, and had been consumed by Kyrano, the old lady, and the plump lady, who was introduced to her as Lisa. She tried a piece herself; it wasn't bad, but her pastry left much to be desired, and she knew it.

It seemed that they'd discussed her good points and bad points before bringing her back inside, and when she was guided back upstairs to see Mr. Tracy, he smiled and told her she was heading back to Christchurch. The son she'd seen in the kitchen, Gordon, had been deputized to fly her there, with someone named Alan as his co-pilot. They were eager to go, so she shook hands with Mr. Tracy and the others, murmured something inane and harmless, and got in the cart to head back down to the air strip. She sat in the passenger cabin for the half hour trip, and took a cab to the hotel she'd been told was expecting her.

Once ensconced in her room, she pulled her hair from its confines and brushed it out well. Then she put on some make-up, and made a call on her satellite phone. The call took a few moments to place; the other party was on the other side of the world, after all.

He picked up and she smiled at him. "Hello, Giles?"


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Re: Cold Front [message #794 is a reply to message #793] Wed, 25 July 2012 16:56 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
Registered: July 2012
Location: Northern Ireland
Karma: 2
Field Commander
Switzerland

Saturday, 3rd November, 8:30pm

Nikki paused the football match she was watching and made her way to the kitchen to check on the meal she was cooking. Because she never missed a televised game when she was living in England, she begged her brother to record the matches and send them to her via the computer.

Nikki first checked on the rice before checking what was in the oven. "Mmm, coming along nicely. Right, the oven can turn off now along with the vegetables and the table is already set. I'll turn off the rice once I change and look decent." As Nikki made her way to her bedroom, she froze at the sound of the door chime. She looked at her watch. "It's too early for Alan. I wonder who it is?"

Opening the door, Nikki looked surprised at who was standing in front of her. "Alan."

"Hey, Nikki. So I didn't know what you were cooking and couldn't decide on red or white wine, so I brought both."

"You're early. And I look scruffy."

Alan laughed. "You look fine to me."

"Ripped jeans and a top with Jerk sauce on it."

"Jerk sauce?"

"You'll see. Come in, make yourself comfortable and I'll go and get changed."

"Ok," Alan said as he closed the apartment door. "You know I didn't notice the sauce on your top."

"Yeah right," Nikki called out.

Alan glanced at the computer screen before walking over to the kitchen, "Smells good," he called out.

"Thanks. But if you take a peek at what's cooking, you won't get any at all."

"I wasn't even thinking of looking." Alan looked at the TV again. "You were watching a soccer game."

"No I was watching a football match," Nikki joked, knowing full well what Alan meant.

Alan smiled. "Who's playing and which team are you supporting? It only says Che1 and Man Utd 1."

"It's Chelsea against Manchester United and I support Chelsea."

"Hmmm, one all at the moment. I bet Manchester will win it."

"Ha ha, very funny. Do you actually want to get some dinner tonight?"

It wasn't long before Nikki came out of her room dressed in a pair of black trousers and a pink off the shoulder peasant top. She clapped her hands together. "Right, despite what you said about my football team, I decided I will give you dinner. How does a Caribbean meal sound to you?"

"It sounds good. I'll help you dish."

"Oh no you don't. You're a guest here."

"Ok, but don't say that I didn't offer to help." Alan sat down at the table while Nikki dished up dinner. "Now you mentioned something about Jerk sauce earlier. What is it?"

"It's a marinade really, consisting of herbs, spices and peppers. I didn't put a lot on though, because I didn't know what your limit on spicy food would be." Nikki placed a plate in front of Alan. "Here you go. Jerk Chicken, rice and peas and a medley of vegetables."

"You sound like a waitress from a restaurant."

"Does that mean I'll get a tip at the end of the evening?" Nikki asked as she sat down opposite Alan.

"Thinking about it." Alan replied.


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Re: Cold Front [message #795 is a reply to message #794] Wed, 25 July 2012 16:57 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
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Karma: 2
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After the meal and cleaning up, which Alan insisted on helping with, both Alan and Nikki relaxed in the living room. Nikki transferred the game from the computer to the television and both of them watched the match for about five minutes, until conversation and joking around took over.

Nikki laughed. She paused when Alan gave her look, but proceeded to laugh again, "I'm sorry Alan, it's just that...I can't believe you broke every window of your university with a single rocket. That must've been some record."

"Well, everyone at Colorado University definitely knew my name after that incident." He looked at Nikki and smiled. "I guess it is a bit funny."

"See."

"So come on."

"Come on what?"

"It's your turn."

"Trust me; I don't have a story that can top that. I didn't cause mass destruction during my school or uni days."

"Ok, well, I'm sure there was something you must have done in your life. Unless you led a perfect life."

"I didn't lead a perfect life." Nikki cringed. "Ok, I didn't cause mass destruction but I did cause a mass panic in school."

"Panic? What happened? Skipped out of school and made everyone think that you were missing?" Alan joked.

"No. More like set off the fire alarm, by accident, got the whole school evacuated thinking it was a fire. Bright side, we got to see fire engines."

"How do you set off an alarm by accident?"

"First of all, I was only eight years old and didn't mean to do it. Anyway a mate of mine was showing off his karate skills. So I tried it and ended up kicking the alarm."

Alan laughed. "Excluded from school."

"Suspended for two days and grounded for a week. Let's just say that my mum was not overly impressed. She had to take me to her workplace during my suspension. My dad saw the funny side to it after about an hour or so."

"Your punishment doesn't sound too bad."

"To an eight-year-old being grounded is."

"And suspension?"

"Two days off school. Need I say more?"

"You were right you know; your story was good but doesn't top mine."

"I told you."

It was quiet for a while before Alan spoke up, "You know, we should do this again. But next time, I'll cook."

"You can cook?"

"Yeah."

Nikki looked skeptical.

"Ok, maybe I need help in some areas but I can cook."

"Ok, ok. I'll take your word for it. So what are you going to make?"

"You'll have to wait and see." Alan looked at his watch. "I didn't realise it was that late. I better get going."

"Or they'll send out a search party?" Nikki got up with Alan and walked towards the door with him.

"I doubt it." Alan stopped at the door and turned to Nikki. "Thanks for dinner. It was great. Not too spicy."

Nikki smiled. "I'm glad you liked it. I'll happily give you the recipe."

"I get the feeling that it won't taste the same if I tried to make it." Alan laughed along with Nikki. "Well, goodnight."

"Goodnight Alan."

Putting his hand on one cheek, Alan leant down and kissed the other cheek. Nikki closed her eyes at his touch. She wished she had the courage to just come out with it and tell Alan how she felt. She opened her eyes as Alan pulled away slightly, with his hand still on her cheek.

Feeling that there was nothing to lose, Nikki decided to speak up. "Alan, there's something that I..."

"Shh." Alan's thumb traced over Nikki's lips before he moved closer and kissed her softly.


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Re: Cold Front [message #796 is a reply to message #795] Wed, 25 July 2012 16:57 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
Registered: July 2012
Location: Northern Ireland
Karma: 2
Field Commander
Switzerland

Sunday, November 4; 11:30 AM; Tracy Island (7:30 PM the previous evening in Silver Spring)

Brains sat down at his computer, and turned it on. He brought up a file and once again (probably for the fifth time) checked to verify that everything he wanted to send Lena was there. He started to reach for his phone when Tin-Tin walked in.

"Brains, it's Sunday, and it's beautiful outside. You're not going to spend the day working in the lab. I insist you take the day to rest and recharge."

He turned to reply, but instead his eyes lit up when he saw her in a swimsuit and robe. "How can I resist you when you look like that?"

She blushed and said, "Oh, Brains!" Quickly regaining her composure, she added, "But I'm serious. I know you have a lot on your plate, but you know you'd work more efficiently and quickly if you took some time off each week. And it's much too nice a day to spend it inside."

He grinned at her. "Actually, Tin-Tin, I was only going to be here for a short time. Will came up with an idea for our camera detection and fogger system. I'm sending the specs to Lena to see if she thinks it's feasible, and, if so, to work on it. I was just about to call her when you walked in."

"You were? In that case, I'm staying. I'd love to say hello to her, myself."

He reached over to dial Lena's number once more as he said, "Pull up a chair, then. Afterward, we'll head out to the pool."

Tin-Tin did as he suggested and sat next to him just as Lena answered. She had activated the video portion, after noting the caller's name.

"Hello, Brains. And Tin-Tin, too? Does dis mean dat you have some special news for me?"

Once again Tin-Tin blushed as Brains grinned and said, "If you mean what I think you do, not yet. You do know that Kyrano and Lisa are getting married, right?"

"Oh yes; Tin-Tin emailed me de news some time ago. Have dey set a date yet?"

"They're getting married here on December 28. That way Lisa's family can have their Christmas, fly out here, and have a few days to visit. They'll be able to adjust to their own time zones before their work and school week begins again. Plus, it'll be summertime here, so they can get away from the cold weather for a bit."

"Now dat'll be a nice change. And it'll give me time to send my gift. You give dem my best, honey."

"I will, Lena."

"And de rest of de residents on your island? How are dey?"

"All fine. We have a few new recruits, and working on getting more. We had them all with us for a Halloween party on Wednesday, and had a wonderful time," Tin-Tin replied. She then proceeded to tell Lena about the costumes and things that occurred. Lena laughed at hearing about Gordon's costume, and expressed her sympathy at Callie's plight. Finally, the catching up was done.

"Now, Brains. What's de real reason you called?"

He chuckled. Lena had come to know him pretty quickly. "I have a project for you. I'll be sending you a file with all the specs, but I wanted to tell you about it, instead of just emailing you."

"Sounds intriguing. Tell away."

"We have a camera detection system and fogger on some of our Thunderbirds. When we're at a rescue, if someone tries to take pictures or video of our vehicles or equipment, it sends a signal and the pilot broadcasts a warning after switching on the fogger. Our new mechanic, Will, suggested that it should turn on automatically when we're a certain distance from the rescue site, and the range might be increased."

"Dat sounds like a good idea to me. I presume de file is ready to be sent to me."

"It is."

"Well, I'm online, so go ahead."

Brains hit the "Send" button and said, "On the way, Lena. How've you been, by the way? Any trouble with your shoulder or concussion?"

"Not a bit, for which I'm very glad. I'm back to full time at work, and haven't had any side effects."

"And your family?"

"All well. De grandbabies and great-grandbabies are growing like weeds." She chuckled as she opened the file. "We're going to have Tanksgiving at Mattew's house; he has de largest TV I've ever seen; de men -- and some of de women -- are trilled dat dey can watch de football games on it."

"Sounds like he's going to have a house full."

"More dan you know; some of de in-laws will be dere, too. I haven't tried to count dem up; dat's going to be Amelia's job." Her face became more intent as she looked at the specs. "At first glance, I believe dat it's feasible to do what your mechanic suggests. I'll have to look it over some more, dough, before I'm sure. I'll get back to you in a few days, Brains."

"No hurry, Lena. I'll look forward to hearing from you, though."

"All right. Give my love to everyone, you two."

"We will," Tin-Tin answered. "And ours to you and your family."

Lena's smile was the last thing they saw as the connection terminated.


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Re: Cold Front [message #798 is a reply to message #796] Wed, 25 July 2012 16:59 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
Registered: July 2012
Location: Northern Ireland
Karma: 2
Field Commander
Switzerland

Sunday, November 4, noon; Tracy Island

Brandon was calculating the time difference between the island and San Diego for the fourth time when his phone rang. He saw who was calling, and answered, saying, "Hi, Sis. I was gonna call you, but it's too early. I'm glad you emailed me. . ."

"Brandon."

"... reminding me that Daylight Savings Time started this morning. I've been..."

"Brandon!"

"...calculating over and over to make sure I get it right. But you beat me to the punch. Didn't you..."

"Brandon!"

"What?" He suddenly realized that Shannon sounded upset. "What's wrong?"

"It's Mom. I had to go to the store. I wasn't gone for more than half an hour, but Dad fell, attempting to stand on his own. She tried to help him up, but she's so frail."

He heard the catch in her voice. "She's not..." He couldn't go on.

"No. She's alive. But she's in the hospital again. She had a heart attack, then, in the ambulance, she also had a stroke. It wasn't a severe one, thank God. The doctors say she'll recover, but not fully."

He couldn't say a word. He knew what was coming next, but he couldn't bring himself to say what he knew his sister wanted to hear. But as the silence lengthened, he finally found himself able to speak. "How's Dad?"

"He's at home with a nurse there. He's really broken up about this, and feeling guilty for allowing her to try to help him. Brandon..."

"I know, Sis. It'll be all right."

"Brandon, please. I need you. We need you. Here."

"I know. I just kept hoping... Well, there's no point indulging in wishful thinking. I guess this time it's gonna have to be permanent."

"I'm sorry, bro. I know how much you love your job. But I can't handle this myself any longer. Please come home."

He sighed. "I'll have to talk to my supervisor, first. There's a lot to arrange. I'll call you back in the afternoon on your cell phone, and let you know the what, when, and how."

There was a long pause. "Okay, Brandon. Somehow, I was wishing you could instantly come, that you'd be here in five minutes. But that can't happen, even if you could leave this minute."

"I'm sorry you have to bear all this alone right now. But I'll come home as soon as possible. Hang in there, Sis."

"I will, but the sooner you get here, the better."

"I'll talk to you later. Bye."

"Bye, Brandon."

He hung up, then sat with his head in his hands for several minutes. Damn! Just when everything's going okay, this happens. Why me? Why them? It's not fair!

Finally he called the Villa, and asked Jeff if he could come over and talk to him right away. He got an affirmative answer, and left his apartment, taking the monorail to the main house. When he got there, Kyrano was waiting for him. "Mr. Tracy is waiting for you in the lounge. Dr. Tracy is with him."

"Thank you, Kyrano." Brandon headed quickly up to the familiar room. As he walked in, Jeff looked up at him.

"Hello, Brandon. What can I do for you?" The smile on his face faded when he saw the expression on Brandon's. "What's the matter?"

"My sister, Shannon, called me. My mother's back in the hospital. She had a heart attack, trying to help my dad when he fell. On the way to the hospital, she also had a stroke."

"Oh no!" Brandon turned to see Dianne get up from where she was sitting and walk over to him. She put a hand on his arm. "How serious is it?"

"It wasn't a severe stroke. My sister says she was told Mom'll recover, but not fully." He paused, hating what he had to say next. "She also said she needs me to come home. Permanently." He sighed. "So I'm -- reluctantly -- tendering my resignation, effective immediately."

"I'm sorry to hear that. But, of course, your family needs you there. Please sit down." As Brandon obeyed, Jeff turned to his computer and Dianne moved around the desk to see what he was doing. A few minutes later, they looked at each other. Dianne smiled and nodded at her husband, then went back over to where Brandon was sitting.

"Brandon, I accept your resignation, on one condition. I want you to return to your old job at Tracy Industries. Do you think that will be acceptable to your family?"

The look on the young man's face went from sadness, to stunned, to joy. "If I can't work here any more, that's the only other thing I'd want to do, sir. I don't deserve it, though."

"Let me be the judge of that, young man. You'll do what you were doing before you joined International Rescue. In addition, should we come up with a new model of any kind of aquatic vehicle in the future that we can use in rescues, you'll be the one to test it, since you'd already know what we'd be looking for."

Brandon stood up and walked to the desk, hand held out to Jeff. "Thank you, sir. I accept."

Jeff shook his hand, then said, "Well then, what's needed is to get you packed and home again. Do you think you could be ready by tomorrow morning? I suspect your sister wants you there yesterday."

"Oh yeah. Too bad I couldn't transport myself there, like they did in those old Star Trek shows and movies." He grinned slightly.

There were chuckles from the others, then Jeff said, "Okay. I'll have a flight plan filed. And I think I'll have Alan go with you. You'll stop in Honolulu to refuel, then fly straight to San Diego. I'll let you know about times later, so you can tell your sister."

"Thank you, again. I'd better get back to my apartment and start packing my things."

"I'll talk to Kyrano and have him scrounge up some boxes for you. We'll bring them over later."

"Thank you, Doc. I'll appreciate that." Brandon headed out of the lounge and back to the monorail.

As he walked into the common area, Callie stepped out of the elevator. "Hi, Brandon. What's up?"

His face saddened. "I have to leave, Callie."

"Leave? Where are you going?"

"Home. I got a call from Shannon. My mom's had a heart attack and a stroke."

"Oh, that's terrible. Is she going to be okay?"

"They say she'll recover, but not fully. I have to go help."

"How long do you think you'll be gone?"

Brandon grew sadder. "Permanently, I'm sad to say. And I'm going to miss you all."

"Oh no! We'll miss you too. When are you leaving?"

"Tomorrow."

"Tomorrow!? Can you be all packed and ready by then?"

"If I have to stay up all night, I will be."

"No; you won't have to do that. I'm gonna go back into my apartment and make a couple of calls. Then I'll come help you. And I think I won't be the only one."

Gratitude swept through Brandon, and he reached out and hugged Callie. "You're a good friend. Thank you."

She returned the hug, then disengaged and gave him a gentle push toward the elevator. "Go on, now. I'll join you, soon."

She headed back into her apartment, and he headed up to his. Another chapter in his life was ending, and a new one was about to begin.


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Re: Cold Front [message #799 is a reply to message #798] Wed, 25 July 2012 16:59 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
Registered: July 2012
Location: Northern Ireland
Karma: 2
Field Commander
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"That was delicious, Cass!" Luke said, as Cassie picked up his empty plate.

"Thanks," she replied, heading to the sink with the plates and silverware they had used. She rinsed things off in the sink and placed them on the counter to be washed later. "Do you want some more ice tea?"

"No, thanks."

Cassie grabbed the dish rag from the sink, and walked back to the table.

"Is the stuff to do the invitations somewhere that I can get it?" Luke asked, as Cassie wiped down the table.

"Everything is in that pile there on my desk," Cassie replied, nodding in that direction. "Thanks," she told him, as her friend got up and went to retrieve the things.

Luke found the pile she was talking about and picked it up. "Hey, Cass, I've got a favor to ask you," he said as he headed back to the table.

"What is it?"

"Well, Elise's birthday is on Tuesday and I was wondering if you would bake a cake for me to give her. You know how limited my cooking skills are."

"Sure, not a problem. What flavor - chocolate?"

"Well, if it was for me, of course," Luke replied, grinning. There was a short pause. "You know, I'm not sure what Elise's favorite flavor is. "

"Well, I've seen her eat chocolate so maybe we should just play it safe. I'll bake it tomorrow."

"Thanks!" Luke said, reaching the table and placing the things down.

Luke sat back down and it wasn't long before Cassie joined him. Cassie had slid her chair over closer to Luke. She picked up one of the invitations she had made out of pale blue card stock. She had put the same Japanese characters on it as were on the tea cups.

"This is what I came up with for the outside. What I need help with is printing the information on the inside."

"These are really good, Cass."

"I was also going to put one of these in each one," she said picking up a small piece of paper off the top of a pile. "It explains a little bit about the Japanese Tea Ceremony."

Luke skimmed it over. It was basically a quick overview of the history behind the ceremony as well as etiquette for such an event. Luke found it very informative.

"This will give everyone a good idea about what to expect and give them an idea if they'll enjoy it or not."

"That's what I was going for," Cassie replied.

"However, it says that guests can take cues from the Shokyaku, but what exactly should the Shokyaku do?"

"Don't worry, I'll fill you in later," Cassie told him, patting his shoulder.

"You better."

Cassie pulled out the piece of paper where she had written out the information for the inside of the invitations on, and placed it on the table between the two of them. They each took one of the invitations, and started printing the information onto it.

Cassie was just about to start on a second one when her cell phone rang. Standing up, she walked into the living area, where the phone was sitting on the end table. She picked it up and saw Callie's name on the screen.

"Hey, Callie! What's up?" she asked, answering the phone. She listened as Callie told her about what was going on with Brandon.

"So, I was thinking," Callie continued, "that a group of us could get together and help him pack up tonight."

Cassie was surprised to hear that Brandon was leaving and felt bad for the aquanaut. She had an idea of what he was feeling and knew how hollow words of sympathy would sound. Showing support by helping him get ready to leave would mean more than anything that could be said.

"Count me in," Cassie told her.

"Okay, thanks. I'm going to call some of the others and let them know what's going on. How about we all meet at Brandon's in about a half hour."

"I'll be there. Luke is here with me, so I'll fill him in."

"Okay, and thanks Cassie."

Cassie ended the call and then turned to Luke who was looking at her curiously. Sitting back at the table she started telling him what she had just learned.


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Re: Cold Front [message #800 is a reply to message #799] Wed, 25 July 2012 16:59 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
Registered: July 2012
Location: Northern Ireland
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Field Commander
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Sunday, Nov 4th, 12:30, Tracy Island( 1:30 p.m. previous day, Hawaii)

"That was so neat!"

"I loved seeing the coral reef. I'm so glad you convinced me to go scuba diving, Phil," Sara commented, her voice conveying her excitement.

"I'm glad you went! I definitely wanted to share this experience with you," Phil replied, putting his arm across his new bride's shoulders.

Behind the wheel of the boat, Vince Crenshaw listened idly to the talk going on around him. This group wasn't much different than the other groups he had taken out in the last three years of running Blue Waters Dive shop. For the most part, everyone enjoyed the dive trips, even those who hadn't been scuba diving before, like Sara. Like all the groups who had a lot of beginners, Vincent had gotten to know a little bit about the five people on his boat, having taught them the basics in a couple of sessions leading up to this trip. Phil and his friend Derek had both been diving previously but the three women had not.

Vince remembered the excitement of his first dive, though it had been a long time ago. Despite the overcast day, at sixteen he couldn't think that anything could look any more amazing than that underwater world he had discovered. It had been with the scuba class he had joined at the Y, and he and his friends in the class had talked about the trip for the next couple of weeks. It was at that point that he had fallen in love with the ocean. Nowadays, dives all seemed routine, though when he went with his son, he did enjoy the time it gave the two of them together.

I wonder where I lost that excitement, Vince thought as he slowed the boat down, the dock now in sight.

Vince docked the boat and assisted his customers off, thanking each of them for coming. As they headed up the dock and toward the parking lot, Vince started gathering the shop gear that had been used. He did so at a faster pace than usual, wanting to leave for the Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center in Waipahu. With any luck, he'd be able to catch his son's last race for the day.

"Hey, Vince. Just leave the stuff. I'll get it," Jim told his boss, making his way down the dock. "Get going, so you can catch the end of the swim meet."

"The shop?"

"Adam's watching the shop and we can manage closing. Now scram."

Vince didn't need to be told again. He knew his employees were capable of handling the shop. Though with the shop closed tomorrow he would be able to attend the second day of the meet, he still wanted to try and catch one of his son's races today.

"I'm going! Thanks, Jim," Vince said, climbing off the boat and heading quickly up the dock, passing Jim on the way.

***

The main pool of the Aquatic Center was packed when Vincent walked in. As no one was in the pool, Vince figured they were between races. He glanced around for his wife and in-laws. It didn't take him long to spot them as Lea had already spotted him and was waving from where she sat on her mother's lap. Waving back, Vince headed in their direction.

"You made it in time for Aaron's last race," Lana told him as he approached. "It'll be after this race."

"Great," Vince replied. He leaned down and gave his wife a kiss and then picked up Lea, who was reaching out to him. "How's your brother doing?"

"He's won twice!" Lea replied, excitedly.

"Have a seat, Vince," Anela said, having slid over on the bench to the spot behind her daughter's wheelchair, giving her son-in-law some room to sit down.

"Thanks, Ma," Vince commented, sitting down. Lea settled in her father's lap as the swimmers began taking their places for the start of the race.

After the 15-16 year old division swam the 200 meter backstroke, it was time for the Open division swimmers. The crowd cheered as the swimmers approached the starting end of the pool. Vince spotted his son in lane six.

"Go, Aaron," Vince yelled.

Hearing his name, Aaron glanced over to where he had spotted his family earlier. He was happy to see that his father had been able to join them. Aaron gave a quick thumbs up before jumping into the pool.

Moments later the gun went off, signaling the start of the race. Like most of the crowd, Vince and his family were cheering. Aaron took the early lead, though several others were easily keeping pace with him. As the swimmers took the final turn, Aaron starting pulling out in front of the others.

Lea had abandoned her father's lap. She was standing in front of him, hopping up and down while cheering for her brother.

Aaron easily won the race. The surprise came with the next announcement.

"Ladies and gentleman, we have a new record! Aaron Kanekalau-Crenshaw has beaten the Hawaiian Swimming record for the 200 meter Backstroke with a time of 2:06.22!"
[/size][/color]


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Re: Cold Front [message #801 is a reply to message #800] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:00 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
Registered: July 2012
Location: Northern Ireland
Karma: 2
Field Commander
Switzerland

Sunday, November 4, 2068, 7:45 p.m., Tracy Island.

The noise at the dinner table subsided when Jeff tapped his glass with a spoon. All of the recruits were there, necessitating a second table, where the children and the elder folk sat.

He stood. "Thank you all for coming and having dinner with us this evening. I know it's not our usual big spread, but it was short notice, and Kyrano did a stellar job in preparing enough food for us all."

There was a murmuring of assent from those around the table, and several raised their glasses to salute Kyrano.

"We're gathered together for a sad occasion. Tonight, we say goodbye to one of our own. Brandon is leaving our crew tomorrow morning and returning home. For good."

Now the some of the murmurs were confused and concerned, and Tyler asked outright, "Why? Why are you going home?"

Brandon coughed a little, clearing his throat. "I... I got a call from my sister today. My mom -- she's had both a heart attack and a stroke." There were sounds of surprise and consternation from family members around the table. He continued. "She's in the hospital, but it's going to take a long while for her to recover from this. My sister -- she's been pulling the freight, but this is beyond her. I need to be home to help out. I want to be home to help. So, I'm leaving tomorrow morning, bright and early. I'm going back to San Diego, and my old job."

He glanced around the room. "You've all been great to me, teaching me, working with me -- a man couldn't find a better family, or a better organization to serve. But my own family needs me more now. Sure, I could be out there saving the world, but what is that if I can't save my own folks?" He turned his gaze to Jeff. "Thanks, Mr. Tracy, for giving me this chance. It meant so much to me."

He turned to Scott. "Scott? Thanks, man, for teaching me how to fly. I never would have done it if not for you pounding it into my head."

His eyes focused on Gordon next. "Gords, you rock! That little sub of yours -- I am so jealous of you, because Four is yours. I borrowed her for a while, but her heart belongs to you. I'm only sad that I didn't get to see the hydrofoil built, but I understand that, sometimes, priorities change. Just like they're changing with me now."

"Callie, you've been a great friend. You all have been. No one could find better friends than I found here." Smiling, with a touch of sadness in the smile, he looked around the rest of the room. "I consider it an honor to have known you and served with you all."

Gordon rose to his feet, and raised his glass. "To Brandon, a better hand at scuttling a Cunard and cutting out a P and O, never shipped a hand spike."

There were groans around the table, and Alan even went so far as to throw a balled up linen napkin at his brother. Gordon grinned, then sobered. "Seriously now, to Brandon. A good friend, a fine sailor, a better submariner, and a man who embodies the spirit of International Rescue."

Glasses were raised around the room. "Hear, Hear!"


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Re: Cold Front [message #802 is a reply to message #801] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:00 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
Registered: July 2012
Location: Northern Ireland
Karma: 2
Field Commander
Switzerland

Sunday, November 4, 2068, 8:30 p.m., Tracy Island

Brandon stacked some of his books on the coffee table. Callie was still working with him; Dom had been there and gone, needing to put a fractious Joshua to bed, and Nikki was going to see if she could scrounge some boxes from her room. Elise and Cassie were down in the laundry; to his chagrin, Brandon had let his laundry go a little too long.

"We need more boxes," Callie said, passing her hand back through her hair.

"Maybe Luke has a few," Brandon suggested. "Why don't I go ask him?"

"Uh, yeah. Sure." Callie sounded less than enthused. Even the mention of his name brought the memory of Halloween night, and made her squirm internally. In fact, when Luke came down to offer his help, she made an excuse to leave, and didn't return until after dinner was over.

There was the sound of the door buzzer, going off in the cadence known as "shave and a haircut, two bits".

"I'll get that," Callie said, hurrying over to the elevator door. She knew that Luke, being right next door, wouldn't take the elevator up.

She pushed the button to open the door and found both Will and Gordon standing there, a stack of boxes next to them. "Hey, Callie!" Gordon said. "We come bringing gifts."

"Oh, great! Just what we needed!" She reached out to take some of the boxes, but Gordon and Will were there before her, and toted them inside.

"Hey, guys!" Brandon smiled widely. "You came just in the nick of time."

Will looked around the room. "Looks like you got a lot done. I'd have been back up sooner, but Gordon asked me to give him a hand hauling the boxes up."

"Not that they weigh too much or anything," Gordon exclaimed. "They're just awkward to handle when they're empty and stacked."

"So, what do we need to pack next?" Will asked.

"Books," Brandon said, taking a box for himself. "There shouldn't be too much else after that; bedding, clothes and kitchen stuff, mostly."

"Tell you what," Gordon said. "I'll start in the kitchen; I'm good at packing things so they don't break."

"I bet you are!" Callie said. "With your practical jokes and all."

Gordon grinned. "Nothing spoils a joke faster than an element that breaks before its time." With that, he took two boxes into the kitchen.

"I'll start folding and packing the bedding," Callie said, disappearing into the bedroom.

"Looks to me like you'll be done well before midnight," Will said as he sealed the box of books he'd been packing.

"Yeah." Brandon sighed. He glanced around the room. "Plenty of time to spare."


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Re: Cold Front [message #803 is a reply to message #802] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:01 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
Registered: July 2012
Location: Northern Ireland
Karma: 2
Field Commander
Switzerland

Monday, November 5th, just after 8 a.m., TI . . .

Checking to make sure she had everything, Cassie picked up the containers and the two bags and headed for the patio doors. She balanced everything in one hand long enough to unlock and open the door. Outside the sun was shining and a gentle breeze blew across the patio. It didn't take her long to walk the short distance to Brandon's apartment.

"Come on in," Brandon told her upon sliding the door to his apartment open.

"As promised, one omelet breakfast," she commented, stepping inside. Even though she had helped with the packing the night before, the bare apartment seemed strange.

The two of them made their way over to the table. Along with the omelets, Cassie had brought orange juice and blueberry muffins as well as the dishes and utensils they needed.

The meal was a quiet one. Brandon wasn't much in the mood for idle conversation and Cassie wasn't sure what to say. Most of the things that came to mind seemed inadequate given the situation.

"This is really good," Brandon commented, after swallowing his first bit of the blueberry muffin. "Did you make these yourself?"

"Yes and I'm glad you like them because I brought some for you to take with you," she replied, indicating the second bag she had brought with her. "There's something else in there for you too."

Curious, Brandon pulled the bag closer to him. He looked inside and saw an object wrapped in tissue paper. Pulling it out he unwrapped it.

"Though you might like something to remember us all by," Cassie said softly. She had printed out a five by seven of the photo of the recruits at the party. As she hadn't had time to get a new frame, she had taken one of her pictures out of its frame and put this one in.

"Thank-you. You didn't have to go to the trouble though."

"It wasn't any trouble. Besides, it's the least I could do after the scuba lessons you gave me."

"I was just doing my job."

"You did more than that. You made it fun and your enthusiasm for it was contagious. I know I'm definitely not going to forget my first dive."

"I wish I could be here to finish your training. I guess Gordon will take over now."

Cassie nodded. She had figured the same thing though nothing official had been said yet.

"It won't be the same though," she told him.

"Make sure you write and tell me how it goes."

"I will."

Cassie glanced toward the clock. It was ten after nine. Brandon followed her gaze.

"Callie should be here soon. She's going to help me take things down to the airstrip."

"Then I should probably start cleaning this stuff up."

"I'll help."

"Nonsense. The only thing you need to worry about is finding a place for those muffins and the picture. I'll clean up."

"Yes, ma'am," Brandon said lightly, holding his arms out for a hug. Cassie took the few steps necessary to give him one. "Thanks for everything. I wish we would have had more time to get to know each other."

"Me too," Cassie replied, as she pulled away.

As Cassie started gathering her things to take home with her, Brandon headed toward his belongings piled near the door.


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Re: Cold Front [message #804 is a reply to message #803] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:01 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
Registered: July 2012
Location: Northern Ireland
Karma: 2
Field Commander
Switzerland

Brandon brought the last box over to the door, then took one look around his apartment, checking for anything he might have forgotten. He felt miserable, wanting to stay, yet knowing he had to leave. I've been here less than a year, yet it's felt more like my home than any place I've lived in, except when I was a kid.

He punched the button for the elevator, and the doors immediately opened. Callie was there with a cart on which to load his things. She smiled and said, "We might as well do it more easily, and not waste time. Not that we want to get rid of you or anything."

He smiled wanly at her, and they got his things loaded quickly, then headed down to the ground level. Then they headed off to the air strip, where the jet waited to take him not back to my old life, not exactly. When they got there, he was surprised to see how many people were waiting to say goodbye to him. The ladies were first, hugging him and whispering things to him like, "Don't forget us.", "We'll never forget you.", "I'll miss the SCUBA lessons.", and, from Callie, "Keep in touch. We're only an email, IM, or a phone call away."

The male recruits interspersed themselves with the Tracy brothers and shook his hand and/or gave him clouts on the shoulder, along with more words of encouragement. Even Kyrano was there, giving Brandon messages from Lisa and Emily, who were "otherwise occupied and regretted being unable to tell you themselves."

Then Jeff and Dianne said goodbye, the doctor giving him a hug. Jeff shook his hand and said, "You have a week to get settled, then you can return to work. I'm sure you haven't forgotten where it is, have you?" He grinned.

"No sir. And thank you again."

"If you need longer, let them know -- in advance," Jeff continued.

"And I know the doctors at that hospital are good ones, but if you want a second, or even a third opinion..." Dianne added with a twinkle in her eye.

"I'll know who to call. And I will. I'll keep in touch, I promise," Brandon said earnestly.

"C'mon, Brandon. Everything's loaded up, and we'd better be going."

"Okay, Gordon." Brandon turned and headed over to the plane. He climbed in and stopped at the entrance. He turned, looked back at everyone one last time, then waved and disappeared inside.

A few minutes later the jet was airborne, and International Rescue was minus a second aquanaut.


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Re: Cold Front [message #806 is a reply to message #804] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:01 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
Registered: July 2012
Location: Northern Ireland
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Field Commander
Switzerland

Monday, November 5th, Tracy Island, 11 am

Cassie sat patiently across the desk from Jeff as he skimmed through a new Emergency Procedures Policy for the Kabul, Afghanistan plant. During her review of the information sent to her, she had noticed contradictions in the current policy. Though not the only one, the conflicts in the existing procedures were the most extensive there. Cassie felt the correcting and updating the current policy would not be time effective and had set about fleshing out a new set of guidelines for the plant.

"Looks like you put a lot of work into it. I remember from the report you submitted on Friday that Kabul was last in emergency drill response times. Do you think the conflict in the policy has something to do with that?" Jeff asked, looking up from the proposal and gazing across the desk at Cassie.

"From the information I've been given, I believe it is. Employees seem confused when asked questions about the procedure. Doing some research, I found out that the fire protocols for Afghanistan were changed about a year and a half ago. That seems to coincide with the conflicts getting introduced into the policy as well as a decline in the results from drills. I think whoever was in charge of updating the document did so in a hurry."

Jeff glanced at his notes he had made on Cassie's previous reports. "I notice you've been making some changes to other policies. Why create a brand new procedure for Kabul?"

"I think it's necessary in this situation. The edits would be so numerous that there is a chance they would only cause more confusion. By presenting a whole new procedure you're basically telling the employees to disregard all previous policies and learn the new one. Yes, it'll take some effort on the employees part to learn the new procedure but any confusion that exists can be cleared up in the training process."

Jeff nodded, and placed the data pad on his desk. "I can look it over more thoroughly on my own time. I'll get back to you with any questions or clarifications that I may need."

"Okay, sir."

"You mentioned there was something else you wanted to discuss," Jeff said, breaking the silence that had fallen between them.

"There was. With your permission, I'd like to visit some of the Tracy Industry plants and observe a drill for myself. I was thinking maybe three of the sites with the lower times: Kabul, for one. I might see something that is getting missed or can't be relayed in the reports. I'd also like to visit some of the higher ranked sites. Something that is working there might also be able to be implemented at another site."

"You mentioned Kabul already. I'm assuming you'd like to visit there after the new policy gets put into effect?"

"Yes, sir."

"Which other places did you want to pay a visit to?"

Cassie looked down at her note card that she had written her information on. "Well, Havana and Dakar are two of the other plants on the low end while Tokyo and Christchurch are two of the higher ranked sites. I was also thinking Sydney, Australia as its one of your office only sites."

Jeff nodded. "Sounds reasonable. Getting you to Christchurch shouldn't be a problem. I can have one the boys fly you to the mainland. We should be able to arrange business trips so you can visit the other plants, too. If we arrange one per month it shouldn't leave us short with IR if a rescue were to come up while you were away. Any preference in the order of the visits?"

"Not really. I did have a thought about arranging the visit to the Tokyo plant, though it also involves a personal request," Cassie said, hesitantly. She felt awkward about requesting time off having just started but she had promised her mother she would see what she could do.

Sensing her uneasiness, Jeff smiled. "I'm always willing to listen to anything my employees have to say, work related or personal. The worst I can tell you is no, right?" he said trying to lighten the mood.

Cassie smiled slightly at Jeff's attempt to lighten the atmosphere. With a little more confidence, she started to present her request. "My grandmother has been ill. My parents went over there recently and between my mother and her siblings they finally got my grandmother to get checked out at a hospital in Tokyo. Turns out she has pneumonia. She's still in the hospital but she's doing much better. The Japanese have a holiday known as Labor Thanksgiving Day that falls at the end of November. My grandmother has asked my brothers and me to join the rest of the family in Japan for the celebration this year."

"When exactly is this holiday?"

"November twenty-third. I was thinking that maybe I could combine the trip to the Tokyo plant along with a visit home. My Mom's family lives in Kozushima, which is a small island off shore from Tokyo. Once I got to Tokyo, I could meet my family. The holiday would fall on a Friday so if I flew in middle of the week I could pay a visit to the office, then spend a few days with my family before coming home."

"I think that can be arranged," Jeff said jotting down the dates so he could finalize the arrangements. "I definitely don't want to be the one keeping your grandmother from seeing her granddaughter," he said with a smile, thinking about his own mother and what his kids meant to her.

"I really appreciate it, Mr. Tracy," Cassie replied, relaxing some.

"I'll work out the arrangements, and let you know the details but you can tell your family that you can join them for the holiday. Is there anything else you can think of that we need to discuss?"

"Not that I can think of."

"Okay. Keep up the good work, Cassie," Jeff told her, as he shook her hand.

Cassie said a quick good-bye and then left the lounge.


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Re: Cold Front [message #807 is a reply to message #806] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:02 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
Registered: July 2012
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Field Commander
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Monday, November 25, 2 p.m., Tracy Island

Jenny looked all around her as she rode up the steep switchback trail at Alan's side. She was surprised to be picked up at the airport by a private jet, and even more surprised to find that her final interview would be with Jeff Tracy, the former astronaut. There was a knot in her stomach, and it seemed to pull tighter as they got closer to the top of the cliff. Finally, they reached the end of the switchback, and she risked a glance back down the way they'd come. The height to which they'd climbed made her happy she was securely belted in.

"And here we are!" Alan's cheery voice announced. "Looks like Dad and Grandma are waiting to meet you. I'll just pull up to the steps and you can get out."

He did just that, and Jenny tried to exit the little cart gracefully, smoothing her blue skirt as she did so. Mr. Tracy stepped down to greet her, offering her a firm handshake.

"Thank you for coming, Miss Finch. I'm Jeff Tracy, and this is my mother, Emily."

"Hello, Mr Tracy, it's a pleasure to meet you." Jenny grasped his hand warmly, inwardly hoping that she looked her best. She turned to Emily Tracy with a bright smile, hoping to dispel her sense of unreality. Meeting the Tracys had been the last thing she expected and her stomach fluttered nervously.

"Welcome to Tracy Island, my dear." Emily was her most cordial self. "Please, come inside. The heat is very intense today, and we have some refreshments in the lounge." With that she turned and led the way to the curving staircase that went from the patio surrounding the very inviting-looking pool to a cool, airy lounge.

Jenny silently let out a breath and followed gratefully, beginning to take note of her surroundings. It was certainly very impressive. She desperately hoped her chef skills were good enough for them. Evidently the job was fairly important. She took a deep breath to steady herself and tried to concentrate on remembering all she knew about making a good impression.

"Please sit down." Mr. Tracy indicated a seat. His mother sat to his right, and an Asian man came up quietly, carrying a tray of lemonade and iced tea. He put it down on the table, served each person their choice of drink, then took up a seat at Mr. Tracy's left.

"Miss Finch, this is Kyrano, our majo domo. He and my mother are both integral to the kitchen here, and that's why they're both here as part of the interview."

"Welcome, Miss Finch." Kyrano gave a small bow. "Thank you for coming." He glanced at Jeff. "Shall we proceed?"

Mr. Tracy took a swallow of his lemonade, and smiled at Jenny. "So, Miss Finch, I see you've been working for the Australian government, as an aid worker. What made you leave that position?"

"I took the job in order to help the victims of the tsunami this year. I left because I spent more time negotiating with government officials and making empty promises to those I was trying to help, and that frustrated me. I'm no diplomat, sir. I'm afraid I got rather impatient at times with the delays."

"Hm." Jeff looked at the data pad he had before him. "I see that your education has been in cooking. I'm puzzled as to why you would take on an aid position when your skills and - I assume - talents, lie so clearly in other directions?"

"I wanted to try something different, and to help people." Jenny took a deep breath, something she felt she'd be doing all day. "I saw there was a need for aid workers and went for a job. And I got one." She swallowed, wondering what he thought of her answer, but she quickly turned her attention back and concentrated on what Mr Tracy was saying.

"Is that why you've held so many positions over the past two years?" he asked. "I see you worked three years as a cook for a children's home, then a year with the Red Cross, six months as a hotel supervisor, five months for Australian Missing Persons, and less than a year with this last position." He paused, looking at her frankly. "I can see by your choice of employers that you want to help people, but you don't seem to have much loyalty to those organizations that employ you, or to those you volunteer for, either." He sat back. "How do I know that, should you be offered this position, you won't decide six months down the road that it's not for you?"

"Because I intend to settle down. Now I just want a job where I can use my skills and bring satisfaction to others." She hoped she sounded convincing, and tried to look calm and confident as she looked steadily at her interviewer.

Grandma frowned. She had seen Jenny's resume, and she thought Jenny seemed flighty, ready to run off in search of the next great thing. Settling down seems out of character for this girl, but stranger things have happened. Jeff, too, looked less than convinced, but Kyrano spoke up.

"Perhaps it is time to show Miss Finch our facilities."

"Do you think so?" Jeff asked, sounding uncertain.

"Yes. I do."

"Well, then. Miss Finch, Kyrano and my mother will show you our kitchen and dining room facilities." And put you to the test as well.

"If you would please follow me?" Kyrano rose, and Emily stood as well. Together, they led Jenny from the room, leaving a bemused Jeff behind.

Jenny felt her answer had not impressed anyone, and it was with a sinking feeling that she followed Kyrano and Mrs. Tracy to the kitchen.

Kyrano led the way through the dining room, hoping to impress on this young woman both the scope of their work and the standards she would be held to. Then he led her, with Emily following, into the kitchen proper.

"As you can see, Miss Finch, we have all the most up-to-date appliances. Everything here is to make cooking for the Tracy family as pleasant and easy for us as possible. However, there is a standard we must maintain." He went to the cryofridge and pulled out a bowl of eggs. "Let us start with something simple. Please, make us an omelet."

Jenny silently let out the breath she had been unconsciously holding, and stepped forward, feeling confident. Omelets were easy, and she swiftly reviewed all her skills as she reached for the eggs, a growing sense of relief filled her. She may not have been great during the questioning, but she had a feeling that she would do well in this test.

The interview by scuppy3 and Tikatu


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Re: Cold Front [message #808 is a reply to message #807] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:02 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
Registered: July 2012
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Field Commander
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Monday, November 5th, about 5pm, Tracy Island (Previous day, Hawaii, around 6 pm)

The Crenshaw's were gathered in the lobby of the Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center waiting for Aaron to join them. The meet had gone well. The Ewa Beach Swim team had scored the most points out of the teams there and Aaron's worst finish had been a fourth place in the 100m breaststroke. The relay teams from Ewa Beach had even set new 4 X 200m freestyle relays in both the 15-16 yr old division as well as the open division, in which Aaron had swum anchor.

"Hey, everyone!" Aaron said, greeting his family as he made his way through the crowd to them. His gym bag was slung over his left shoulder, and he was wearing his team's warm-up outfit.

"Nice job today, son," Vince said, letting his hand come to rest on Aaron's shoulder.

"Thanks. Glad you were there to see it," Aaron replied. Having his Dad at most of his swim meets and surfing competitions was one advantage to his father no longer being in the military. "The team is going to go out for pizza. Is it okay if I join them?"

Vince looked to his wife, who nodded her consent. "I don't see why not. Have fun!"

"Can I come?" Lea asked, bouncing up and down slightly.

"Not this time, Poppet," Vince said looking down to his daughter, figuring his son would want enjoy this time with his friends, not keep tabs on his baby sister.

Lea's enthusiasm disappeared as she puffed her bottom lip out. Both Lana and Vince worried about how their daughter was going to react to Aaron leaving for college next spring or fall, depending on where he got in.

Aaron shot his Dad a grateful look even as he knelt down in front of his sister. "You and I can go spend some time on the beach together tomorrow afternoon, okay."

"Can we build a sand castle?" she asked, her pout fading a little bit.

"If that's what you want to do."

"Okay," Lea said, though her voice didn't carry too much enthusiasm. Aaron knew that would change tomorrow though when they left the house.

He ruffled her hair a little, and stood up.

"Have fun," Lana told her son. "Be home by ten and if you're going to be late..."

"I'll give you a call," Aaron finished for her, familiar with the drill. Lana smiled.

Aaron gave his mother and grandmother a hug and then turned to go find his swim team. Picking up Lea, Vince lead the others toward the main entrance of the aquatic center.


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Re: Cold Front [message #809 is a reply to message #808] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:02 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Messages: 1228
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Monday, November 5, 8 p.m. Tracy Island

"So, which one? Or do we look further?"

Jeff sat in the study with Emily, Lisa and Kyrano, going over the three interviewees they'd had. None of them had truly struck a chord with the trio, and Jeff was trying to draw them out on who, if anyone, would be chosen.

"The first man... I don't know," Emily said, shaking her head. "He seemed awfully picky about his hours, and days."

"Don't forget his salary," Jeff said sourly. "He kept trying to bring the conversation around, but I wasn't going there." He picked up a a data pad. "He also left us with a sizable hotel bill, complete with several room service meals and lots of liquor."

"I do not think he would have the flexibility that we would require," Kyrano said. "His eye is to the prestige, and the money."

"He doesn't even make a good omelet," Lisa said, as if that were the deciding factor.

"All right. He gets a rejection letter. What about the first of the women?" Jeff asked.

Kyrano frowned. "Her omelet was good; simple is always the best way to go, and her technique was excellent. But... there was something about her -- as if she were trying not to seem too eager for the position, and working too hard to create that impression."

"I was under the impression that she was more interested in the facilities than in the position," Emily said. "But I understand what you mean. She acted in a very calculating fashion." She paused. "Not to mention that her pastry was tough, and her filling too spiced."

"Tyler told me she is a smoker," Lisa said. "He wasn't impressed."

There was laughter around the table. "Well, then Tyler's vote carries the day," Jeff said, chuckling. "I'll have Human Resources tell her thanks, but no thanks." He picked up the final data pad. "Now, about this Finch girl. I don't like her bouncing from job to job, nor the fact that so much of her experience is in areas other than cooking."

"But, Jeff, she does have experience in hotel management and in cleaning," Emily reminded him. "That was something we were looking for." She paused. "I did think she was rather flighty though."

"Her omelet was very passable, and her pastry flaky and light, so her culinary skills have not suffered in her search for 'the perfect job'." Kyrano held out his hand, and Jeff passed the data pad to him. "It is commendable that she wants to help people."

Lisa frowned, thoughtful. "We did say we needed someone flexible, and it seems that this Jenny Finch is that if nothing else. And, I think she is also teachable, which was another of our criteria. It was clear to me that the other two were not." She sighed, and looked toward Jeff. "Isn't there a way to make her stick? Perhaps with a contract for a certain number of years?"

"I had planned on that in any case, Lisa," Jeff said. "A contract for three years, with heavy financial and legal penalties for breaking the contract -- without a good reason, that is." He shook his head. "I hope to God that we don't get another situation like Heather's or Brandon's, but these things do happen. I'd consider that a valid reason to break the contract, but not just because she got an itch to do something else."

"If I may, I suggest that Miss Finch not be told about IR right away," Kyrano said, handing the data pad back to Jeff. "She wants to 'help people'. What better way than to work with International Rescue? I feel that such an opportunity would outweigh any other considerations for this particular young lady, and I do not want her to accept the position with that as a reason."

"That was my thought, too, Kyrano. We'll tell her, eventually, but not at first." Jeff lined up all the edges and corners of the pile of data pads. "Hopefully she won't do what Dianne did, or have the same reaction as Kat when we do tell her." He glanced around the table, making eye contact with each person. "So, you're sure you want to hire this Jenny Finch? We could look further, you know."

The trio exchanged looks, and nods, and finally, Kyrano spoke up. "She is not perfect, but who would be? She has a soupçon of each attribute we desired; I think we can train her in the way we would like her to go."

"All right then, if you're sure..." Again, Jeff looked around, and this time, got firm nods as his gaze met each of those around the table. "I'll have Human Resources bring her in for a final, terms-setting interview. If she signs the contract, then you'll have a new helper in the kitchen."


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Re: Cold Front [message #810 is a reply to message #809] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:03 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Monday, Nov. 5th, 9 p.m., Tracy Island (Sunday, November 4th, 10 p.m, Hawaii)

The Crenshaw house was quiet. Aaron was in his room working on schoolwork, listening to music via his headphones. Vince had stayed in the room long enough to answer a couple questions about his latest Calculus assignment before saying good night. Lea had long ago been read her bedtime story and was tucked into bed. Vince and Lana had both retreated to the home office and were working on separate tasks.

Lana was finishing autographing copies of her latest book, Coping At Home. It was the first book to be published since her accident. Part of its promotion, were that all copies pre-ordered by Oct 23rd were being sent to the buyer autographed. Lana had long ago lost count of how many books she had already signed. The books in front of her, thirty in all, were the last batch of those. Her publicist, Jean Harper, would be by in the morning to pick them up so they could be shipped. There had also been several book signings scheduled, two of which were on Tuesday when the book was to be released.

Vince was at his desk, balancing the books for the dive shop from the week before. He liked to get it done before going in on Monday morning so he didn't have to do it at the shop. It seemed as if his week started out better if he started the day out knowing things were in order.

Finishing the task, Vince sent the document to the printer so he would have a copy to file. He stretched his arms over his head, getting rid of the kinks. He then glanced across the room at his wife.

"How is it going?" he asked, seeing her set one book aside.

Lana added the signed book to a pile on her right before replying. "Five more to sign, and then they'll be ready for Jean to pick up in the morning."

"Can we discuss something while you finish up?"

"Sure, Honey," she replied as she reached for another book. The authoress flipped the cover open and glanced over at her husband. She noticed the serious expression he wore. "Is something wrong?"

"Not wrong, really. It's just that, well how would you feel about selling the dive shop."

"Selling? But I thought the shop was doing better than ever?"

"It is, which means I could get a good deal for it."

"And what do you want to do instead?" Lana asked, as she set aside the book she had opened. She knew her husband well enough that he wouldn't be talking about selling, if he hadn't thought things through.

"I'm not completely sure. I just know I'm not happy with what I'm doing. I used to love diving and being out on the water. Now, I've taken so many groups out diving or on an air tour that it's just routine. That spark of wonder is no longer there. I need a change."

"Do you want to go back to the service?" Lana asked, turning her chair so she could face him. The last few books sat abandoned on the desk top.

"I did consider it actually, but I think I've gotten so used to civilian life that going back would be hard. Not to mention it would take me away from you and the kids too much. I want something that I can come home every evening to my kids. Watch Lea grow up. I missed too much of Aaron's childhood. Having this time with him these last few years showed me that." Vince paused before speaking again. "I was actually contemplating looking for a job with a research institute actually. Put to use that oceanography degree I've got."

"If that's what you think will make you happy, then go for it."

"What if it means relocating?"

"I was a military wife for how long? The prospect of moving doesn't bother me as long as we're together."

"Are you sure? I mean you just got back into writing five months ago. I don't want to disrupt that."

"I can write anywhere and any promotion trips I do will always involve travel, though Jean doesn't think that a real extensive book tour is going to be necessary, as we first thought. Seems despite my three year absence, my fans are still anticipating my next novel," Lana told him. She had been shocked when Jean had given her the pre-order numbers when she dropped the last batch of books by the day before.

"That's great. I know how much you enjoy writing."

"Exactly, and I'd like you to find something that makes you just as happy."

"What about the kids?"

"What about them? Aaron has been through moves before. He'll adjust, not to mention he'll be leaving for college within the year. As for Lea, we wanted to start getting her involved in some kind of group activity soon. Moving before she got involved in something would be better."

"You've got a point there," Vince said thoughtfully. "It won't hurt to at least see what's out there."

"Exactly! There's no need to stay with something you're not happy with. You've always looked after me and the kids. Do something for yourself for a change."

"I knew there was a reason I married you," Vince said, as he stood up. He crossed over to his wife and leaned down for a kiss.


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Re: Cold Front [message #811 is a reply to message #810] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:03 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
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Tuesday, November 6th, Tracy Island, afternoon . . .

"Have a good evening, Cherie!" Cassie called, as the girl headed across the Cliff House patio to the other lounge.

"You too, Miss Cassie."

Cassie had waited for Cherie to come by with the afternoon's mail delivery, so that she could give her the Tea Ceremony invitations for the Tracys and the others up at the Villa. The invitations for the recruits she had placed in the mailboxes herself. She now had one other task she needed to do before heading home.

Walking to the patio entrance of Elise's apartment, Cassie knocked. It wasn't long before Elise appeared and opened the door.

"Hi, Cassie! Come on in."

"I only stopped by for a minute. I know you have that dinner with Virgil tonight," Cassie said with a bit of a smile. Elise had mentioned it to her when Cassie had asked the blonde how she was celebrating her birthday. "I just wanted to drop in and give you this," Cassie told her, holding out a small, gift-wrapped box. "Happy Birthday, Elise!"

"You didn't have to get me anything," the blonde replied, a huge grin on her face. She took the box from Cassie. "I'm glad that you did, though."

Elise tore the gift wrapping off the present, revealing a dark-blue velvet box. She flipped it open. Inside was a pin, in the shape of three fall leaves. The one leaf was red, another orange, and the third golden. The three leaves overlapped in the center of the arrangement a diamond shaped citrine, the November birth stone, was set.

"Oh wow! It's lovely! Thank you!"

"You're welcome. I was hoping you would like it."

"I do!" Elise exclaimed, then gave Cassie a hug.

"I guess I'll be leaving. Hope you enjoy the rest of your birthday," Cassie told her, as she took a step toward the door.

"Thank-you. Thanks for stopping by and for the gift."

"You're welcome," Cassie told her as she left the apartment, leaving Elise to get ready for her birthday dinner.


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Re: Cold Front [message #812 is a reply to message #811] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:04 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
Registered: July 2012
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Will sat on the bed of his extra bedroom, a box of greeting cards in his lap - another thing his mother had included, along with a list of family birthdays, addresses, etc. He was looking for a birthday card for Elise. I wonder if there's a site that has everyone's birthday, so we could know when one is coming up. I'll have to ask around.

While he'd been working, Virgil had come in to talk to Scott for a few minutes. Will had overheard part of the conversation - it was hard not to - and learned about today being her birthday. He figured that some, if not all, of the others would be giving her something, and felt he should, too.

He finally found a card that he felt would be right for Elise, Not that I really know her. It's hard to get to know a bunch of people well in just a - how long have I been here? He stopped what he was doing and thought for a minute. It's been a month. Exactly one month today. It doesn't seem like I've been here that long, though. And yet, in a way, it does. I've slipped into a routine very easily, much more so than when I worked for Dad.

He laid the card and envelope on the bed and put the box away, then walked out into the living room. "I just wish I knew what to give her. I have no idea what she likes," he said to himself. He sat down on the sofa and began to think.

About ten minutes later, he suddenly remembered a story he'd read - or had he been told about it? - where a poor family tried to celebrate Christmas. The mother was ill, the father was trying to work to make ends meet, and the two children - a boy and his older sister - were helping the best they could. The kids had put their heads together, and came up with a way to have a tree, and decorations, that didn't cost them anything. But there were no presents to wrap, no gifts to give. Then one of them - the sister, I think - had an idea. They'd make promises, write them on slips of paper, and hang them on the tree. They were simple things, like I promise to get good grades in school, I promise to help with the dishes every night, and so on.

"Now that's an idea. I could write up a promise, and slip it into the card," he told himself. It took a little more time to come up with something, but since he knew that he was the tallest person on the island, he could use that to his advantage. He found paper and a pen and wrote, Any time you want your upper cabinets cleaned out, I'm your man to help remove whatever you store there, and put it all back.

He slipped the paper into the card, which he'd already signed, and put them into the envelope, then wrote Elise's name on it. He took the elevator down to the ground floor and made his way to the other lounge. He walked over to the mailboxes, pausing to admire his and Luke's workmanship on them once again, then slipped the envelope into Elise's slot, and left.


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Re: Cold Front [message #813 is a reply to message #812] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:04 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
Registered: July 2012
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Luke paused in front of Elise's door and adjusted the box in his hands. He glanced down at his dog, who held a gift bag in his teeth. "Ready, Rommel?" He pressed the chime and a few moments later, Elise answered the door.

"Hey there! Come on in." She led them inside.

Luke placed the box on the table, then turned and winked at her. "Close your eyes."

"What? Why?"

"Just do it." He waited until she wasn't looking then turned. A minute later he took her hand. "OK, open. Happy Birthday, Elise."

She opened her eyes and gasped. "Oh, Luke, you didn't have to do that."

On the table lay a small birthday cake. It was covered in chocolate frosting and decorated with pink roses. Luke had lit half a dozen candles and stood next to it, smiling. "It wouldn't be a birthday without cake. Make a wish."

Elise closed her eyes, then opened them and blew out the candles. "There. Now I wait and see what happens."

"What did you wish for?"

"You know I can't tell you!" She looked down at the cake again and her eyes got misty. "I haven't had a birthday cake in years."

"Aw, don't cry. I can't handle women in tears." Luke took her into his arms and held her tight.

She smiled up at him. "God, what a mess I am." She took a napkin and dabbed at her eyes. "Did you make this yourself?"

Luke shook his head. "Way beyond my cooking capabilities. Cassie made it with pointers from me. This however..." He snapped his fingers and Rommel trotted forward, the bag still in his teeth. "Here you go. Your real present is still in Montana. I'll bring it when me when I get back."

Elise raised an eyebrow. "Are you going to tell me what it is?"

"Nope. Open this one."

They sat down on the couch and Elise carefully took out a small object wrapped in tissue paper. She unwrapped it and gasped. "Luke! It's beautiful!" She carefully turned the small mermaid statue over in her hands. "You made this?"

He shrugged self-consciously. "Yeah. It just reminded me of you somehow."

"I can't believe the detail." She peered down at the tiny figure, spying sea shells, kelp, even a starfish carved into the statue's base. She smiled up at him. "Thank-you, so much."

He held up his hands. "Don't get all weepy on me again."

She laughed as she placed the figure down on the table. "I won't. I don't want to ruin my make-up!"

Now Luke chuckled. "All ready for the big date?"

She nodded. "I've made a salad and you brought dessert. Virgil told me not to fuss, that he'd handle dinner."

"Then I'd better get out of your way. The mutt and I are going for a quick run." He turned and hugged her again. "Happy Birthday, honey." At the door Luke paused and turned. "Don't stay up too late." With a wink and a wave, he and Rommel left her to finish getting ready.


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Re: Cold Front [message #814 is a reply to message #813] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:05 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
Registered: July 2012
Location: Northern Ireland
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Field Commander
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Scott shifted the boxes and gift bags in his arms as he stepped out of the elevator. "Why are you guys eating in? Why not go out for Elise's birthday?" he asked as he accompanied his brother to the monorail.

Virgil, walking in front of him, glanced back. "We went out a few weeks ago. Besides, this was Elise's idea," he responded. He shifted the large basket in his arms. "She wanted something simple so I told her I'd bring dinner."

"And she gets to be dessert? Very romantic," Scott quipped and grinned as he saw the flush appear on Virgil's face. They got on the train, and were soon speeding towards the Cliff House.

They paused in front of Elise's door, and Virgil rang the chime. A moment later, Elise answered. "Hello! I was wondering when you were going to make it." She stepped aside to let him pass.

"I would have been here sooner, but I got cornered," Virgil told her.

Scott followed him in and placed his parcels on the table. "By the folks who wish you Happy Birthday, by the way."

Elise's eyes widened in surprise. "What's this? I thought you were just bringing dinner?"

"You can't have a birthday without presents," Scott told her. He grinned and handed her a large flat box. "Happy Birthday!"

She frowned. "Do I want to open this?"

"Just get it over with so he can leave," Virgil muttered, heading towards the kitchen with his basket.

Elise opened the box and laughed. "Where did you get this?" she asked, holding up the white Frisbee emblazoned with the "International Rescue" logo.

Scott grinned. "There's a whole bunch of stuff out there. Want me to get you a real, authentic copy of their uniform?"

"Thanks, but I've already got one." She laughed again. "Thank-you, Scott."

"You're welcome." He pulled her into a hug, resting his cheek on top of her head.

"Ahem." The both looked up to see Virgil glowering in the doorway.

Scott chuckled. "I'd better go." He placed a soft kiss on her cheek. "Happy Birthday," he said again then waved and went out the door.

Elise turned to Virgil, one eyebrow arched upwards. "Don't you have a present for me?" she teased.

"I don't know. You seemed pretty content smooching with my brother." His tone was gruff, but there was a twinkle in his eyes.

"Well then, I guess I'll have to eat all the chocolate cake myself." She turned away from him, heading towards the presents on the table.

Suddenly Virgil had his hands around her waist, twisting her around. He smiled down at her. "You'd pick cake over me?"

"It's not just cake. It's chocolate."

"Brat," he said as he pressed his lips to hers.

A few minutes later, they pulled apart. "Well, that was nice," Elise said her cheeks flushed.

"Nice? That's all you can say?"

She smiled. "We'll see after I eat dinner. What did you bring?"

Virgil took her hand and led her into the kitchen. "Nothing fancy, like you said. C'mon, let's set the table. I'm starving."

A short time later, they were enjoying their meal. Elise took another bite of Seafood Newburg and sighed in contentment. "This and mushroom caps for appetizers, then lobster for dinner? You call that nothing fancy?"

He smiled back. "Nope. Fancy was that place we went to a few weeks ago."

"This is true."

Henry wandered into the room, the smell of the fish attracting him. He spied Virgil and arched his back, hissing. Virgil glared back. "He hates me."

Elise snapped her fingers and the kitten trotted over to her, giving Virgil a wide berth. "No; he doesn't he just doesn't like strangers." She pulled a small piece of lobster off and held it down to him. The kitten gobbled it up and mewed for more. She laughed and obliged.

"You're not feeding that cat all your lobster," Virgil stated firmly.

"No, I'm not." She gave Henry one last pat. "You know, you really shouldn't be jealous of a kitten."

"Who says I'm jealous?"

She merely smiled and pulled another piece of meat from the shell. She dipped it in the bowl of melted butter and leaned close. "Is this better?" she said softly, placing the lobster gently in Virgil's mouth.

Virgil's eyes went dark with emotion. "Much." They continued their meal, each feeding the other until the lobster was gone.

"Do you want cake now?"

Virgil nodded. "Sure, let me get it. It's your birthday. Go get comfortable, I'll be right back."

Elise took her wine glass and sat down on the couch. A moment later, Henry hopped up into her lap. She sat there staring out at the sea, idly stroking the kitten, waiting for Virgil. She didn't have to wait long.

Virgil returned with the cake, complete with half a dozen lit candles. He placed it on the coffee table and sat down next to her. "Go ahead, make a wish."

She closed her eyes and thought a moment, then blew them all out. Opening her eyes again, she smiled. "Guess I get my wish. Which is to hurry up and cut that! It's been driving me crazy since Luke delivered it this afternoon!"

Virgil's hand froze in mid-cut. "Luke made this?" he asked, trying to keep the irritation out of his voice.

She giggled. "Are you kidding me? He had Cassie make it and brought it down." She stuck her finger in the frosting. "Mmmm, this is delicious."

"Yeah, it is." Virgil settled back on the couch, listening to Elise, but not really hearing her. Luke, always Luke. Would she rather be with him or me? We should talk about this, but now's not the time. "So, would you like your present now?"

Elise frowned in puzzlement. "There's more? I mean, you made dinner, I thought that was it?"

"Nope." He pulled a narrow flat box out of his pocket. "Happy Birthday, Elise."

She carefully ripped the paper to find a velvet box nestled inside. She opened it and gasped. "Oh, Virgil..." She looked up, her green eyes filled with tears.

"Do you like it?"

"Like it, I love it!" She started down at the necklace. It was a deep green emerald pendant, surrounded by tiny diamonds and hung from a delicate gold chain. The emerald caught and held the light, making it match her eyes. "Help me?" She turned so Virgil could fasten the clasp.

"There," he said, placing a soft kiss on her neck. "All set."

She melted into his arms. When they broke apart, some time later, both were breathless. "We could...you know...move this to somewhere more...comfortable," she said, not taking her eyes of his.

Virgil felt his heart, pounding in his chest. "Elise, much as I would love to do that...This might not be the right place."

She smiled. "That's true. I mean, if we were to...you know, well, I wouldn't want you to leave. And that would make things difficult to explain to your family."

He nodded and kissed her hands. "We're both adults and should be able to do...what we want, but..."

"But circumstances being what they are," she smiled up at him. "We'll wait."

Virgil got up and paced the room, coming to a stop in front of the doors overlooking the ocean. "Elise, I have feelings for you. Strong ones. I've never felt this away about anyone before. If I didn't feel that way, well..." he turned to look at her. "Let's just say we'd already be in your bedroom."

She walked over to stand next to him, taking his hand in hers. "I have feelings for you too, Virgil," she said, kissing him softly.

"Then why don't we wait until a more...opportune moment." His fingers brushed her cheeks. "We'll take our time." He bent and kissed her temples. "Savor the moment." He moved to her lips.

"Virgil..."

He pulled her close into his arms, and together they watched the sun set across the sea.


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Re: Cold Front [message #815 is a reply to message #814] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:05 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
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Wednesday, November 7th, mid-morning...

Gordon whistled as he walked down the hallway towards his father's office. The door was open so he strolled in. "Morning, Dad. Morning, Mom."

Dianne looked up from her newspaper and smiled. "Hello, Gordon."

"What's up, son?" Jeff asked, glancing up from his computer.

Gordon sat down on the couch. "Nothing much. I gave Four a look over this morning. There are a few new upgrades Brains has been working on and I'd like to take her out later, maybe this afternoon for a quick dive."

"I remember Brains telling me about that," Jeff nodded thoughtfully. "Good plan. And I'll want a full written report when you're done."

"FAB," Gordon saluted smartly.

"Of course, wanting to play in your sub has nothing to do with it," Dianne drawled.

Gordon grinned. "Of course not!" He paused a moment. "Dad? I need to ask you a favor."

His son sounded so serious that Jeff looked up. "What is it, Gordon?"

"Well, I got an email last night. Some of my former WASP crew are all on leave from their various projects. They're meeting in Honolulu for an impromptu reunion. They'd like me to come. I know it's short notice, so I'll understand if I can't go."

Jeff frowned. "First Luke, then Cassie, now you. What is this, a mass exodus?" Gordon merely shrugged. "When is this happening?"

"This weekend. I thought maybe I could take Luke as far as Hawaii then he could catch a flight to Montana from there. We're all meeting up on Saturday and I'd be home Monday."

Dianne watched her husband as he thought. Finally Jeff nodded. "I don't see a problem."

Gordon jumped to his feet. "Great! Thanks, Dad!"

Jeff pointed to his son. "Just stay out of trouble, do you hear me?" he said sternly.

"Me? Get into trouble?" He batted his eyes innocently. "Gotta go and email the guys back, then get to Four. Thanks again!" With a jaunty wave, Gordon dashed from the room.

Dianne waited until he was gone before turning to her husband. "I'll bet you a dollar that boy gets into some sort of mischief."

Jeff shook his head and turned back to his work. "No bet. You'd win too easily."


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Re: Cold Front [message #816 is a reply to message #815] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:05 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
Registered: July 2012
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Field Commander
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Tuesday, November 6, 9:15 p.m., London, England (Wednesday, November 7, 10:15 a.m., Tracy Island)

Giles sighed. "Thank you, Antonia. I will pass the word along." He folded his satellite phone, and placed it on his night stand. Then he ran a comb through his hair, and headed downstairs.

In the lounge, Jacques was reading the Daily Mail, the scotch he was nursing on the small table at his elbow. Dez sat in an equally overstuffed leather chair directly across from Jacques. She had her feet up, a mini-player in her lap and ear buds in her ears. She glanced up as Giles came in, scowled, and edged the screen away from him. He shook his head slightly; his sister's tastes in entertainment were more than risqué, and though he occasionally found her choices interesting, Jacques did not. She was feeling particularly bold if she was watching that while in the same room as their straight-laced older brother.

He went over to the sideboard and poured himself a brandy. While he did, Jacques spoke up without lowering his paper.

"So, what kept you?"

Giles breathed in the bouquet of the brandy, swirling it around in the snifter before taking a sip. "I received a message from Antonia, the woman we sent out to infiltrate Tracy Industries. She received a rejection letter today. By old-fashioned surface mail, in fact."

Dez swore. "I had hopes that she would be able to get in."

"I did as well," Giles said as he took a seat on the long divan, picking up the book he had left on the end table. "Especially when I found that they weren't hiring for the company, but for Tracy's household."

Jacques put down his paper. "You didn't tell us that, Giles."

"I didn't know until just now," Giles returned mildly. "They kept that little tidbit quite tightly under wraps." He took another sip. "The good news is that she was taken to Tracy's home, and will write up a report on what she saw there."

"As if that will help us," Dez said, snorting. She turned her attention back to her entertainment.

"It might help, should they decide to look farther afield," Jacques said, his tone thoughtful. "We would have specifics on what they were looking for and how they were making their selection." He nodded at Giles. "Be sure I receive a copy of the report. We may have the opportunity to try someone else."

Giles nodded, and opened his book. Dez sighed, and turned off the player, taking out the ear buds and closing the player's lid. She rose and stretched languorously. "The night is still young, and I think I will go to town and enjoy myself."

"Say hello to Enid for me," Giles said without looking up, a slight smile on his lips.

Dez gave him a dirty look as she stalked from the room.

"Really, Giles," Jacques said from behind his paper again. "Poaching is so gauche... and dangerous where our sister is concerned."

"Dangerous for who?" Giles asked. "Me or her paramours?"

Jacques looked over his paper and caught Giles's gaze. He raised an eyebrow. "Both," he said. "But then, that's your look-out, isn't it?"


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Re: Cold Front [message #818 is a reply to message #816] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:05 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Wednesday, November 7th, 12 pm Tracy Island(1 pm, previous day, Hawaii)

Saltwater Café was a small, family-owned diner not far from Vince's dive shop. It was to here that Adam and Vince headed after turning the shop over to Aaron.

"Hey Vince!" Sally, one of the regular waitresses said, as they walked into the diner. "How many?"

"Three Sally," Vince replied. "Jim will be joining us shortly."

"Okay. Right this way," Sally told them, leading them to a back corner booth away from the rest of the customers. She knew that when Vince showed up with his employees, it was usually a business lunch and she tried to give them some privacy if the diner wasn't crowded.

Adam and Vince made small talk while waiting. Sally had dropped off their normal drinks. It wasn't long before Jim had joined them.

"So what's up, Boss?" Jim asked after all three of them had given Sally their orders.

"I want to discuss something with you guys, as it's going to affect you guys, too," Vince said, looking at Jim first and then Adam. "I've been thinking lately that it might be time for a career change for me."

"Career change, as in not as involved with the shop?" Jim asked. His boss tended to be an hands on shop owner, unlike some of the other people he had worked with over the years. It wasn't too often that Vince didn't spend at least a little time at the shop whenever it was open.

Vince shook his head. "Change as in finding something entirely else to do and selling the shop."

The conversation at the table hit a lull. Jim and Adam looked from their boss, to each other, and then at their boss again.

"Sell the shop, why?" Adam asked, the surprise evident in his voice. "Business is going better than when you hired me."

Jim, who had been with Vince since he opened the shop, wasn't as surprised. He had noticed that his boss didn't have the same enthusiasm at work as he did when they started the shop. Still, he hadn't expected to hear the news this fast.

"It doesn't has to do with how business is going and it doesn't have to do with you guys. It's me. I just haven't been happy at work. Things have gotten too routine for me. Even getting out on the sky tours and dive trips doesn't seem to break up the monotony."

"Maybe you just need to take a vacation," Adam suggested. "Other than taking a day here and there to travel for one of your son's swim meets or surfing competitions, I don't think you've taken a vacation since I started."

"I think it would only postpone things. Sure, a vacation might recharge me for awhile but it would be a fix to the symptoms not the problem."

The talk ceased as Sally came back with their orders. The waitress put their plates in front of each of them. After asking them if they needed anything else, she headed off to another table.

"Then let's change things up some," Jim said, picking up the conversation again now that they were alone. "We only do air tours of Oahu right now. We could expand that to include tours of the neighboring islands. Instead of just doing diving, we can also add snorkeling to it. Get some of the younger kids involved in things. You've got kids, Vince. You know how much they can spice things up."

Vince smiled, knowing the Jim was thinking of his own two little boys. Jake and Jeremiah were twins and at four years old, quite a handful. Adding Lea into the mix always kept the parents running.

"Or we could even add something entirely new," Adam said, picking up on Jim's train of thought. "We're heading into the months where the humpback whales will be down this way. I bet we could get some business with whale-watching tours. Or, what about offering kayaking trips? I've got experience kayaking and could actually help out with those." As he only had basic scuba diving certification and no pilot's license, his duties were limited to manning the store and helping with equipment.

"I appreciate both of your ideas," Vince told his employees. "I still think it would only delay the inevitable. I think a complete change of direction is what I need right now. I don't plan on putting the shop up for sale until I find something. Even then my hope is to find someone interested in keeping it running as a dive shop."

"But you can't guarantee that," Jim commented.

"Right, which is why I wanted to let you guys know what is going on. I want to make sure that there is plenty of time to decide what you want to do."

"How soon do you think you'll put the shop on the market?" Jim asked.

"I can't be sure," Vince told him. "I plan on starting the job search as soon as possible, but I don't know how long it will take me to find something. I'll definitely let you know when I do, though. You guys are free to look for other opportunities whenever you want. I realize the uncertainty might not be something you want to deal with. If you need time off for a interview or a recommendation, I'll do what I can."

"I think I might start looking myself," Adam admitted. "If I don't have a definite source of income I may not be able to pay tuition."

"I understand," Vince said, not surprised to hear Adam say that.

Vince had hired Adam about a year ago after his last full-time employee had quit. He was working his way through college and Vince knew his budget was tight.

"I'm not sure what I'm going to do," Jim commented. "Guess for now, I'll see how things go."

"I'll make sure I keep you both updated on developments. While I want to do what is best for me and my family, I also want to make this transition as easy as possible. You're both good, hard workers and I appreciate everything you do."

The three continued to discuss the situation and other shop related business as they finished their lunch. When they were done, Vince paid the bill, leaving Sally a generous tip, and then they headed out of the diner.

"Four o'clock for the lesson, right, Boss?" Adam asked as they stepped out of the sidewalk. He had been working on getting his instructor certification so that he could help out with the dive trips.

"That's right. I'll see you then, Adam," Vince replied.

As Adam walked to where he had parked his moped, Vince and Jim headed for their own vehicles, both driving to Blue Waters Dive Shop.


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Re: Cold Front [message #819 is a reply to message #818] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:05 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
Registered: July 2012
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Field Commander
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Wednesday, November 7th, 1:30 pm Tracy Island(2:30 pm, previous day, Hawaii)

The table had been set up in the front of Shelton Books, in the Honolulu Mall. Lana sat behind it, Jean sitting on her left, signing the copies of her book that customers had just recently bought. As this was the hometown crowd, all parties had anticipated a big turnout. Shelton Books had stocked Coping at Home well and put extra employees on. A few of the store employees were keeping busy with controlling the line, which stretched down the side of the store toward the back. From her vantage point, Lana couldn't see the end of the line.

Lana closed the cover of the book in front of her, and thanking the customer for coming, handed it back. With a smile on her face, she greeted the next customer. Between the book signing this morning and the current one, she couldn't remember when she had smiled so much. Jean and she had flown to Hilo on the Big Island for the first event and then, after having lunch there, had flown back to Oahu to come here.

The next person in line stepped up to the table. A girl, about nineteen, handed over her copy of the book.

"Could you make it out to Patricia, please? It's a Christmas present for my mom."

"I'd be happy to," Lana told her, opening the cover of the book. She wrote her standard message in the book and closed the cover. "There you go. Thank-you for coming," the authoress said, handing the book back to the girl.

"Thanks," she said, taking the book and heading out of the store with it.

"Gee, seems like quite awhile since we were that young, doesn't it?" the next customer said as he stepped up to the table.

Lana looked up to see who it was. She instantly recognized her old high school friend, Steve Martin. She hadn't seen him since there ten year high school reunion.

"Steve! It's nice to see you again! I thought you were living in Chicago."

"I do. I'm here visiting my parents. They told me about the book signing and I thought I'd stop by and get an autographed copy of your book for my wife's birthday. She loves your books, though I didn't realize until I saw you here that you were Chase Rivers," he told her, handing over the book he had bought.

Lana took the book from him and opened the cover. "Yeah, well, I started using the pen name to keep my writing secret from my father and it just stuck."

"Are you in Honolulu by yourself or did Vince and the kids come with you?"

"We're actually living on Oahu now, back in Ewa Beach. Vince runs a dive shop. If you're not doing anything tonight, come by for dinner at six."

"I'll do that. Where are you living?"

"The brick house next to my parent's house, actually," she told him, handing back the book.

"Great, I'll see you tonight then," Steve said, taking the book back. "Don't tell Vince I'm coming. I want it to be a surprise."

"You got it," Lana told him, as he walked away. The impromptu reunion having boosted her mood a little, she greeted her next fan with a more genuine smile.


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Re: Cold Front [message #820 is a reply to message #819] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:06 Go to previous messageGo to previous message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
Registered: July 2012
Location: Northern Ireland
Karma: 2
Field Commander
Switzerland

Wednesday, November 7; approximately 5 PM; Brains' lab

Tin-Tin gazed at the information on her computer screen, but her mind wasn't on what she was seeing. A vague thought had been percolating in the back her mind for the past three days, and only now was surfacing. Mulling it over, she decided that the idea was a good one. She began turning toward the other person in the room.

"Brains, I have an idea." "Tin-Tin, I have an idea."

He was facing her.

They both smiled, and he said, "Ladies first."

Her smile got a bit wider, then she grew more serious and said, "Ever since we talked to Lena, I've been thinking. . ."

"...that she should come to Tracy Island. . ."

"...for the wedding." She paused and looked at him, realization suddenly dawning. "You too?"

He grinned. "Sure. Why not? In fact, I think we should go see your father and Lisa and suggest that they invite her."

"I agree. The worst they could say is 'no'. Since you seem to be finished for the day, also, why don't we go see them now?"

"Just what I was thinking." They both turned back to their terminals, to save and shut down for the day. Then he stood up and held out his hand. "Shall we?"

"We shall." Smiling mischievously, she took his hand and stood up. They headed to the monorail, and the Villa.

When they arrived, they found both Kyrano and Lisa in the kitchen, along with Emily, who looked up as they entered and smiled at them. "It's not often you two arrive together, and both before dinner. It won't be long before it's ready."

"Actually, we came to suggest something to my father and Lisa," Tin-Tin replied.

"Really?" Lisa put down the dishes she'd just gotten out and walked over to them, joined almost immediately by her fiancé. "And what would that be?"

"We'd like to suggest one more guest for your wedding," Brains said.

"Who?"

Brains and Tin-Tin looked at each other, then back at the couple and said, "Lena."

Kyrano and Lisa looked questioningly at each other for a moment, then she smiled and nodded. He turned back to his daughter and said, "We think that's a wonderful idea. I am somewhat ashamed that I didn't think of her before now."

"I'll see to it that an invitation is sent to her right away," Lisa added. "It'll be so nice to see her again."

"That's a wonderful idea!" exclaimed Emily. "If she accepts -- and I have no reason to think that she won't -- she can stay in the guest room here, while the others will be in the Round House. I'm so glad you two thought of it."

"So are we," Tin-Tin replied. As she and Brains turned to go, she added, "We'll see you at dinner."

As they walked out the door, the others heard Brains say, "We'll be able to introduce her to her namesake. What did she say when you told her that we'd named a kitten after her?"

"Me? I thought you told her!"

The rest of the conversation was lost as the door closed behind them.


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