International Rescue: The Next Phase


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Re: Cold Front [message #822 is a reply to message #820] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:07 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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******Wednesday, November 7, Tracy Island, Common Room, around 6:20 p.m.******

Waiting for her laundry to finish drying, Callie turned on the professional wrestling to keep herself entertained. "Come on, come on! Slam him to pieces!" she yelled. "Put him into the headlock!"

Luke carried his own laundry towards the laundry room when he heard her screams. What's gotten into her? he thought. He looked through the door of the common room and saw her watching wrestling. I never knew she was into pro wrestling. I guess it's her way of relieving stress. He continued on his way to the laundry room.

About ten minutes later, her watch alarm sounded. "That's it, the last of the laundry's done." She stepped out of the common room to pick up her clothes.

When she got there, she was about to get to the dryer when she accidentally bumped Luke, who himself was loading laundry into the washer. "Oh, uh, hi, Luke," she said, her face suddenly blushing cherry red. "Sorry about that." She rushed over to the dryer to pull out her dark clothes.

He noticed she was mismatching socks, trying to fold a crimson red sock with a white sock. He also saw her folding her Alabama sweatshirt inside out. "Callie, are you getting ready for an Alabama game tonight?"

She looked down and realized it. "Oh, man, what's the matter with me tonight? Thanks." She fixed her clothes and finally finished gathering them in her basket.

Unfortunately, on the way out, she bumped her arm against the door side. "Ow."

"You okay?" he asked with some concern.

"Oh, yeah, yeah, I'm fine. Nothing serious." Her face turned another shade of red. "I'll...seeyoulater." She walked out the door and headed for her apartment as quickly as possible.

Luke shook his head. "Man, I have no idea how she works sometimes."

As soon as she reached her apartment, she quickly entered with her load of clothes and dropped them on her bed. She sunk into her sofa and held her face. Oh, brother, I would bump into Luke of all people. He's probably thinking how crazy I am, especially after I hit on him like that...


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Re: Cold Front [message #824 is a reply to message #822] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:08 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Dominic sat down at the video phone, cracked his knuckles, and dialled in a number. He breathed in and out slowly as he waited for the call to connect. He glanced over his shoulder briefly to check that Joshua's night-light was still on. It was, and he smiled. Finally the call connected, and Dominic smiled wider.

"Hi, Dad," he said, his tongue stumbling slightly over the second word.

Matthew Hawkins grinned tiredly, showing his yellowed teeth.

"Hello Dominic," he said.

"How are you?" Dom asked as his voice recovered.

Matthew shifted in his seat and leaned in closer to the camera.

"I'm getting on all right, son," he said.

Dominic gulped as he took in his father's appearance. His face was lined deeply in places it had never been before. His skin was greyish, and he looked haggard and drawn. Dom felt his heart contort as emotions twisted into a gnarled ball inside him.

"How are you? How's my grandson?"

"I'm grand, grand," Dom said. "I'm working away as always. Joshua's good. Getting bigger every day."

Matthew closed his eyes and smiled again.

"Thank you for the picture of the little guy," he said. "It's sitting right on top of the piano."

"It's a good one."

The two men looked at each other in silence for a short while.

"How are you doing without Elizabeth?" Dom asked at length.

Matthew closed his eyes and appeared to briefly grit his teeth.

"She's setting the lawyers on me, but fortunately I have some of the best in the business on my side. She's trying to sway the rest of the kids against me. I haven't heard from Tom in over a month. Arthur and Victoria have brains in their heads, thank God, and aren't taking sides. Paisley won't speak to her mother at all."

"Are you okay?" Dom asked.

Matthew remained silent for a while, before shaking his head.

"I miss her. I can't deny it. But...she's not the woman I thought she was, even after all these years."

"I'm... I'm sorry about the situation. I know how hard it can be."

"Thank you, son. I appreciate it."

The two men continued talking for over an hour, before they finally said good bye. Dominic walked to Joshua's bedroom and gently stroked the child's cheek, smiling, before eventually retiring to bed.


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Re: Cold Front [message #825 is a reply to message #824] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:08 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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Thursday, November 8, 10:30 AM

Work was progressing on Thunderbird Seven's cab, and Will thought the light at the end of the tunnel could be seen. He'd worked on it with some of the others for a few hours, then took a power nap when they went to get some parts out of storage. He was still beat; the previous day had been a long one.

When he woke, the others hadn't returned yet. He moved toward Seven, then turned when he heard a sound, to see a bleary eyed Luke walking toward him. "Man, you look as tired as I feel, Morel. Are you okay?"

"Will, next time you're extra tired, close your doors and windows before you hit the sack, okay? You even kept Rom awake."

"Was that you, Abbott?" They turned to see Gordon walking in, followed by Scott. They both had the parts they'd gone for. "I thought someone was using power tools over at Cliff House and couldn't figure out why."

"Right, Gordon. As if anything short of a clap of thunder inside your room could wake you." He turned back to Luke. "Sorry about that. It was so busy yesterday, I didn't get my usual power naps."

"Okay. Since I'm heading home for a vacation tomorrow, I need some sleep. And so does Rom."

"You're leaving tomorrow? That sure came up fast. I guess I've been so busy, I forgot when you were going," Will replied.

He moved toward the other redhead, and took a couple of items from him. "And for your information, I don't snore that loud under any circumstances."

"Don't be too sure about that," said Scott, as he handed a box to Luke. "I've heard you sawing logs down here a couple of times. I even felt the vibrations."

"Yeah, sure you did," Will replied sarcastically. "Hey, I never had anyone complain when I was in the Navy. And I got tired plenty of times there, too."

"That's because all the Navy boys snore loud. I remember when I was on the McCain for a couple of weeks during a combined services training exercise. The pilots found it very hard to get a good night's sleep. We finally figured that it wasn't the ship's engines that made the most noise." Scott grinned.

As if they could hear us over the sound of their own snoring, Will thought to himself. He turned once again to Luke, winked, and said, "We Navy men say that the main difference between a fighter pilot and his jet was that the jet quit whining when the engines were shut down." He then glanced at Gordon, who had let out a guffaw. Finally he looked at Scott.

"Well, you don't want to hear what we fighter pilots said about you sailors."

"I think I just did," Will responded with a grin. "But we'd better get back to work. The sooner we get this thing back in service completely, the better."

The four of them headed back over to the medical vehicle.


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Re: Cold Front [message #826 is a reply to message #825] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:08 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Thursday November 8th, 11:30 a.m. Tracy Island ( 12:30 p.m., Hawaii, previous day)

Aaron pulled the car up to the curb at the drop-off and pick-up area of the Honolulu International Airport. He put the vehicle in park and got out. Walking around to the back of the car, he opened the trunk and pulled out the wheelchair.

Lana had already opened the passenger side door. Aaron unfolded the wheel chair next to the car in the correct position for his mother to transfer from the car to the chair. Though he stood by in case she needed help, Lana expertly made the transfer. While she finished settling herself in the chair, Aaron went back to the trunk to get his mother's luggage.

Aaron handed the garment bag to his mom. She folded the bag on her lap while Aaron headed over to the sky cap for the airline that his mom was flying. After checking her suitcase, he went back to where she was waiting beside the car.

Lana started going over some instructions for Aaron while she was going to be gone. It wasn't long before her son interrupted her.

"Mom, relax, we'll be fine while you're away. You've left us so many lists, that even if we do forget something, it won't take long to find instructions listed somewhere. Dad and I are quite capable of looking after ourselves, Lea and the house for five days."

Lana smiled. Her husband had told her basically the same thing before he had left for work this morning.

"You're right," she consented. Still, the idea of leaving her family alone even for just five days made her nervous. Lana had become accustomed to taking care of them and making everything run smoothly. Not to mention, this was the first time she would be leaving Lea for an extended period of time. Even knowing the little girl would be well cared for between Vince, Aaron and her own parents, didn't take all the nervousness away. "It's just five days after all."

"Right. Have fun, and make all those people who read that sap you write, happy."

"Yeah, well, wait until you meet a girl, then you won't think it's just sap," Lana told him, used to her son's comments about her books.

"Don't count on it. Aaron leaned over to give her a hug. "Enjoy your trip," he told her before straightening up.

"Thanks," Lana said, as Aaron took a step back. With a quick final wave, she turned her chair toward the airport and started propelling it in that direction. She had agreed to meet Jean inside at the gate for their flight to Miami, Florida.


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Re: Cold Front [message #828 is a reply to message #826] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:09 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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Thursday, November 8, 2068, 11:30 p.m., Tracy Island

"Need a thumbprint on this one, Mr. Tracy." Juan held out the special delivery envelope with its thumb scanner lock.

"Who is it for? I can get them down here..." Jeff flipped open his phone; he couldn't use the wristcomm in front of the mail carriers. It might get back to someone in the media, who would tie its use to that of IR.

"No need, Mr. Tracy. It's for you."

Jeff took the plastic carrier, and slipped his thumb onto the tiny scanner. There was a soft beep, the scan pad turned green, and the package unlocked. Juan removed the contents and handed them to him. "I think that's it for today, sir."

"Thank you, Juan." Jeff sounded distracted as he looked over the thick envelope. "Have a good flight."

"See you again on Saturday!" Juan responded as he climbed back into his plane.

Kyrano kept his eyes on the switchback trail up to the Villa, but Jeff spent the time immersed in the fascinating letter he'd just received. About halfway up, he huffed and shook his head. "I can't believe it."

"Something wrong, Mr. Tracy?" the retainer asked.

Jeff started, as if surprised by Kyrano's voice. "No, Kyrano. Nothing's wrong. It's just... this! I can't believe it."

They pulled the small cart up to the Villa, where Lisa waited to help carry in any large packages. Jeff got out, looked at the letter in his hand again, and went bounding up the stairs to the lounge. Passing through the study, he opened the door to the classroom. "Dianne!"

Dianne looked up from where she was helping Alex with his history lesson. "Yes, love?"

"You have to see this." He waved the letter at her.

"Keep working on that timeline," she told her son, then crossed the room to join her husband. "What is it, dear?"

"Just look." He handed her the letter.

She skimmed it, and drew in a sharp breath. "Oh my!" She gave it another quick read, then asked, "Are you going to do it?"

"I don't know!" Jeff asked, drawing her with him to the lounge. "Do you think I should?"

"You're still fit, and have no chronic health problems -- though they might take that accident back in February into consideration. You were pretty beat up from that. It might make a difference to the flight doctors." She shook her head, and handed the letter back to him. "You won't know until you talk to them."

"I'm going to talk to John first; see how much he knows about this!" Jeff settled down behind his desk, and dialed a number from the vidphone. Ever since Anna had suggested using the vidphone to communicate with whoever was in Thunderbird Five, the phone calls had been more numerous and Alan had felt more in the loop during his last month. Now John was finding the same thing happening.

"Hello, John," Jeff said. "How are things up there?" The greeting was a bit of a code phrase; it let whoever was up there know that it was okay to pick up as he (or she) was, using the video portion without hesitation. No outsiders were around.

"Just fine, Dad," John said, grinning. "Hey, Mom!"

Dianne smiled at him. "Hello, John."

"Son, I just got a letter from the WSA..." Jeff began.

"Ah! So they finally got in touch with you!" John's grin grew wider, and more mischievous. "I was wondering when you'd hear from them."

"You knew about this?" Jeff asked, surprised. "And you didn't say anything?"

"Yes, I knew about the possibility that they might go ahead with their plans, but I didn't know for sure until I'd gotten a call from Svetlana. She asked if I thought you might be interested. I told her, 'Hell, yes!'." John leaned in a little further. "Are you going to do it? Because I wouldn't want to go to the moon without you."

Jeff shook his head. The letter was an invitation from the WSA to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first moon landing by dedicating a new moon base, and they wanted as many of the 21st century moon pioneers to be involved. The letter said that they particularly wanted Jeff, as the first man to step foot on the moon since the first moon expeditions, and also John, representing a second generation of space exploration.

"I'm just stunned that they want an old man like me," Jeff said. "I'm not even sure I'm fit enough to go. Dianne thinks that my accident might make a difference in whether or not they'll greenlight me. Besides..." He made a motion toward his desk. "I have different responsibilities now. The moon isn't as dangerous a place it was when I went, but it's still a risk..."

"It won't hurt to tell them yes, Dad," John said. "And you do have some time; you can use it to work out and bring yourself up to snuff." He smiled softly. "This would be such a great opportunity for both of us."

"What do you think, love?" Jeff asked, turning to Dianne.

"I already told you what I think, Jeff," Dianne reminded him. "You should talk to Svetlana and find out if you're fit enough to go." Svetlana Gagarin was a descendant of Yuri Gagarin, one of the earliest cosmonauts, and current head of the World Space Agency. "If you're strong enough, then you should take advantage of the opportunity." She paused, and sighed. "It's not that I don't think of the risks involved, it's just that... there are some things worth taking those risks for. This is one of them."

Jeff nodded, then took in a deep breath, and let it out slowly. "All right. I'm going to discuss this with your brothers first, John. I don't want them blindsided by this and I do want their opinions. Then I'll make my final decision."

"Good enough, Dad," John replied, nodding. He glanced at the clock on his computer. "Isn't it about time for lunch?"

"Yes, it is," Dianne said, glancing at her watch. She looked at Jeff. "Maybe we could discuss it then?"

"Sounds like a good idea. And after lunch, I'll talk with Gordon about hiring Brandon's replacement."

"Have you heard anything from him, Dad?"

"Not yet," Jeff said, shaking his head again. "He's on family leave for at least another week so he can get settled in and see to his parents. Then he should be back to work at his old job."

"I sure am going to miss him," John said. "He was a good teammate. I hope whoever we get next will be just as good."

"Me, too, son. Me too." Jeff smiled. "I'm going to let you go, John. Take care and I'll talk to you later."

"Keep me up to date on this new project, okay, Dad? And tell Tyler I'll call him later."

"Will do, John. Stay safe up there. Goodbye for now."

"Goodbye, John," Dianne echoed just before the call ended.

The couple held each other's gaze for a few moments, then Jeff stood and put his arms around his wife. "Are you really sure you're okay with this, Di? The risks are still pretty great."

"Jeff, you'd always regret that you'd missed an opportunity if you don't at least try for this," Dianne said. She laid a soft kiss on his lips. "And I'd feel the same way."

He tightened his embrace, and she responded; they held each other tightly for a few long moments. Then he eased up, and gave her a deep kiss. "I love you, Dianne."

"And I love you, Jeff Tracy." She returned the kiss with one just as deep, and just as passionate.

The sound of fake retching greeted their ears and they broke off, glancing over to the study where their youngest sons stood, at the grillwork door. Alex was doing a good impression of someone with food poisoning.

"Grandma sent us to remind you that lunch was ready," Tyler said, rolling his eyes at his older brother's performance.

"You can go tell her we're coming," Dianne said. "Just take Mr. Shigellosis along with you... before I get my hands on him."

Grinning, Alex got off the floor and fled the study, not wanting to be caught by his parents. But Tyler lingered, waiting for Jeff and Dianne.

"Wasn't that what we got when we had that bad fish?" he asked, his face puzzled.

"Yes, it was." Dianne replied as she intertwined her fingers with Jeff's and they headed, hand-in-hand for the door.


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Re: Cold Front [message #829 is a reply to message #828] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:10 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
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Thursday, November 8, 1:45 p.m., Tracy Island

"Let me read this again, and see if it sounds right," Jeff said, adjusting his reading glasses.

"Sure, Dad." Gordon was fidgeting a bit; he was supposed to be down in the vehicle repair bay, helping Brains and Will with Seven's cab. It had been difficult at first; his memories of the old cabin were still lingering. But it was therapeutic in a way now. He knew he was building something that would make sure that what happened before wouldn't happen again, and that made him feel good.

"Wanted: Marine specialist. Experience in piloting and navigating above-sea and/or sub-aqua craft, especially hydrofoils, required. Diving master and diving instructor certification a must. Prefer military training and experience, but will consider civilian training as well." Jeff read through it quickly, tweaking a word or two as he did.

Gordon shook his head. "I dunno, Dad. It still sounds so... like us, if you know what I mean. After that business with the EMT letter that Dom got, you know that the World Gov is looking for us. This would be a huge red flag, in my opinion."

"So, what do you think we should do? Do you have any other ideas?" Jeff sounded frustrated.

Gordon came behind the desk and nudged his father. "Let me at it." Jeff rose, shaking his head, while Gordon cracked his knuckles and sat up straight.

Ten minutes later, Gordon called to his father, who had been standing by the windows, looking out over the pool. "I think I have it."

Jeff strode over, while Gordon read his version aloud. "Wanted: Experienced helmsman for marine product testing. Multi-year experience needed in piloting hydrofoils and other marine craft. Current SCUBA dive instructor certification required; dive master certification a plus. Must be fluent in English, and willing to relocate." He glanced up at his father, who had joined him at the computer. "How does that sound?"

Jeff reached out. "Let's reword this last bit a little: 'English fluency necessary; ability to speak other languages a plus. Flexibility and willingness to relocate a must.'." He glanced at Gordon. "I'll agree it sounds less... military, and the business about the 'product testing' may put off any suspicions." He shook his head. "But I really want someone with military experience."

"Dad, can't we put a bug in the ear of whoever will be handling this in Human Resources?" Gordon asked. "They can fast track anyone with the military background and save the civilians for later."

"You're right; they can." Jeff now nudged Gordon out of his seat. "I'm tempted to have this go out of San Diego, seeing as that's where our main marine facility is, but I think Honolulu is better." He sighed. "Besides, this will be going out through the in-house listings, and I don't want to rub it in Brandon's face if I can help it. A change of venue might help ease things there."

"How do you think he'll explain his return to his old job?" Gordon asked, folding his arms.

"How would you? He was needed back home to care for his parents, and transferred back." Jeff was tweaking up the ad a touch more. "It's not hard to understand."

"No, I suppose not."

"There!" Jeff stopped typing with a flourish. "Now let's see what we've got."

"Wanted: Experienced helmsman for marine product testing. Multi-year experience needed in piloting hydrofoils and other marine craft. Current SCUBA dive instructor certification required; other undersea diving experience a plus. English fluency necessary; ability to speak other languages an asset. Flexibility and willingness to relocate a must. Contact Human Resources, Tracy Industries, Honolulu, HI, USA." Gordon finished reading and nodded. "Looks good."

"And I'll give our agent in Human Resources a heads up on the military experience preference." Jeff tapped a few keys. "There. Sent. I know Human Resources will spiffy it up a bit; they usually do."

"I always wondered how we were managing to get the word out about IR's needs," Gordon said, grinning. "So, we have an agent in Human Resources?"

"More than one, actually," Jeff replied. "I knew the day would come when we'd have to expand -- and I put these folks in place to help me evaluate possible operatives." He shook his head. "I just didn't think we'd need them as quickly as we did."

"You thought we could go longer with just us?" Gordon was frowning, and he folded his arms.

"I hoped we could, son." Jeff took in a deep breath through his nose, letting it out in a sigh. "But... the time came sooner rather than later. And a good thing, too. It didn't take losing one of you to make me realize it."

Gordon echoed his father's sigh, only louder. "Yeah, you're right. We had a few close calls, but..." He shifted his stance, dropping his arms, and with them, his melancholy air. He put a hand on Jeff's shoulder. "Thanks, Dad, for not waiting too long."

"Well, the old man knows what he's doing once in a while," Jeff said with a wry smile. "Now, you'd better get back down to the repair bay. Dianne's been itching to get into the simulator and you've got to get the bugs out of the software before she can."

"F-A-B!" Gordon gave his father a jaunty salute as he headed back across the room. "Let me know when we get our first candidates!"

"I will, Gordon, I will!"

Gordon disappeared through the study, and Jeff could hear the door to the hallway swish open and shut. Then Jeff got up and stretched, sauntering over to the windows again. The day was bright, and he knew that the children would soon be out of classes. "Maybe I have time for a swim today," he murmured.


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Re: Cold Front [message #830 is a reply to message #829] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:10 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
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Thursday, November 8th, around 5 p.m.

Trying to keep her eye on the Frisbee, Cassie reached out and tried to grab it. Instead, the plastic disc went through her fingers and landed in the sand behind her. With a sigh, Cassie turned and retrieved it. Picking the Frisbee up, she turned and tossed it to Elise. The blonde effortlessly snatched it out of the air.

"You make that look so easy!"

"It's called years of practice," Elise told her as she sent the Frisbee back to her dark-haired companion.

The two women tossed the Frisbee back and forth a few more times.

"I've about had it," Cassie said, as she walked over to retrieve the Frisbee from the sand again. "Ready to call it an afternoon?"

"Sure," Elise replied.

"Got any plans for dinner this evening?"

"No. Why?"

"How about joining me? It'll be nice to not eat alone for a change," Cassie said as she walked back in Elise's direction.

"Sounds great!"

The two women retrieved their sandals and water bottles from where they left them. After slipping their sandals back on, they started toward the cliff house. Reaching the patio, they ducked into the lounge to check the mailboxes.

"Yes, it came!" Cassie exclaimed, taking out a box. Leaving the other things in the box for now, she opened the package.

"What is it?" Elise asked, curious.

"A book I ordered, Coping at Home. It was released in the States on Tuesday. It's a new book by my favorite author, Chase Rivers. She hasn't released a book in more than three years so I've really been anticipating this one."

"She writes historical romantic fiction, doesn't she? I read one or two of her earlier books - A Civil War Rose was the name of one of them."

"That was her first book. Have you read the sequel, Rose Petals Among Ashes?" Cassie asked. Elise shook her head in response and Cassie continued. "I've got a copy of it if you want to borrow it."

"That would be great!" Elise said, as Cassie grabbed the other things in her mailbox. "I need a new book to read. So what's that one about?" she asked as they headed to the elevator to head up to Cassie's apartment."

"It's set during the WWII era. The main character, Erin Simmons, is eighteen and lives with her father and younger sister. When the war breaks out, both her father and her fiancée join the army. That leaves her at home to look after her younger sister."

"Sounds interesting," Elise commented. "Can I borrow it when you're done?"

"Sure," Cassie replied as the elevator came to a stop on the top floor. The doors opened and Cassie led the way into her apartment. She placed her mail on the table as she headed for the kitchen to get dinner started.

"What are you in the mood for?" Cassie asked her guest, following the question with a few choices.

Elise picked one. The two women continued to talk about books as Cassie prepared dinner.


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Re: Cold Front [message #831 is a reply to message #830] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:10 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Cassie had enjoyed her dinner with Elise. The pool game had been mentioned and Cassie had invited Elise to join them, but the blonde had declined, saying she wanted to dive into the borrowed book. So, while Elise left for her own apartment, Cassie had headed up to the Villa. Now, she stood by the wall in the game room, watching Scott take his turn. He had two striped balls left on the table compared to Cassie's four. Even with his help, Cassie wasn't having much luck getting the solid balls to go into the pockets. Right now though, the solid balls were in the way of Scott having a clear shot of the striped balls.

Not seeing any decent shot, Scott just tapped the cue ball softly. The white ball rolled a little ways and then came to a stop without touching anything. With the intentional foul, it was now Cassie's turn.

Stepping up to the table, Cassie surveyed the layout. Giving that she had more balls on the table it also meant that she had more options. Choosing a shot, she called it and then started to line it up. Scott gave her a minor correction on the angle with which she was hitting the cue ball. Cassie made the correction and lined up the shot again. Taking aim, she struck the cue ball with the stick. Instead of going the intended direction though the cue ball shot off at an unexpected angle. It missed the ball she had been aiming for and glanced off another one.

"You're jerking your hand slightly just before you strike the cue ball," Scott told her, walking toward the pool table. After a quick survey of the table he motioned her in his direction. "Here, take a shot at the four ball," he told her and then explained to her how to hit it with the cue ball in order for it to go into the far side pocket. "You want to make sure you keep the motion smooth through out the entire shot."

Cassie made another attempt. Again the cue ball didn't go the direction she had attended it.

"You're still jarring the cue stick slightly right before it makes contact with the cue ball," he told her, resetting the shot. "Let me show you," he told her stepping up behind her and reaching around her, placing his hands on top of hers so he could guide them. "You want a smooth motion even through the follow through," he told her.

"Now don't those two look cozy, Alan."

Gordon's comment startled both Scott and Cassie. The cue stick hit the cue ball sending the white ball slightly into the air. Its odd momentum carried it to the side of the table and over the edge.

"He was just helping me with my shooting technique," Cassie said, feeling her cheeks grow warm, even as she hopped no one else noticed.

"Oh, is that all," Alan teased.

"Don't you two have somewhere else to be?" Scott asked, as he retrieved the cue ball off the floor. Placing it on the table he looked in his brother's direction. Both of them were wearing grins.

"No, not really," Gordon said with a shrug.

"Hey, I know, why don't the four of us play a game?" Alan suggested.

"Yeah, what three on one, so you actually have a chance to win?" Scott replied, only half joking.

"I was thinking more like you and Cassie against Gordon and me," Alan told him.

"Yeah, Cassie should be enough of a handicap for you to even the odds up," Gordon commented without really thinking.

"Hey!" Cassie said, putting the cue stick on the pool table and resting her hands on her hips.

"Sorry. That didn't come out right," Gordon said sheepishly.

"So how about it?" Alan asked.

Scott looked over at Cassie. He had a feeling that Gordon's comment had made her determined to not only take the challenge but to win, too. Her nod gave him the answer he expected.

"You're on," Scott told his brothers. "One of you can even break," he told them putting the balls that had been pocketed back onto the table.

Gordon grabbed the triangular rack and started gathering the billiard balls.

"So, looks like I'm your chauffeur for your visit to the Christchurch branch of Tracy Island on Tuesday," Alan commented, while Gordon got ready.

"I'm looking forward to it. I've been an employee of Tracy Industries for a month now, and except for the initial interview, haven't set foot in any of the facilities," Cassie replied.

The balls set correctly within the frame, Gordon removed the rack. Picking out a cue stick, he rubbed the top with the blue chalk and walked to the opposite end of the table. With a crack, the cue ball hit the other balls sending them scattering. The three ball rolled into the side pocket.

"If you don't mind, I thought we could get dinner on the mainland and do some shopping after you're done at the plant," Alan said to Cassie, as he approached the table to make the next shot.

"That's fine with me," Cassie replied, as Alan lined up the shot.

"One ball in the far right pocket," he said, calling his shot. The room fell quiet as Alan took the shot. The cue ball rolled toward the yellow ball, glancing the side of it. The one rolled toward the called pocket, only to stop inches in front of it.

Alan groaned, and Scott motioned to Cassie to go first. Alan's failed shot had left her with two relatively easy shots. The cue ball was lined up well to put the ten ball in the corner pocket at the opposite end of the table from the one, or she could try to sink the one ball herself. As the three had already been pocketed, Cassie decided to go for the one.

She called the shot and lined it up. The cue ball rolled down the table, knocking the one ball into the pocket and then bounced off the cushion at the far end.

"Looks like we're solids and you guys are stripes," Scott said as he stepped up to the table for his shot. "Seven in the side pocket," he said, calling the next shot.

The game continued. The talking and joking dying down as the game got more intense. Finally, the only solid ball on the table was the eight, while one striped ball remained. The black ball was the only thing standing in the way of victory for Scott and Cassie.

"At least we'll get another chance," Gordon said jokingly to Alan.

"I heard that," the dark haired woman told him as she surveyed the table.

Determined to sink the ball, Cassie called her shot. She took her time lining it up and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. With a crack, the cue stick hit the white ball, which knocked the eight toward the corner pocket. The room was quiet as the ball rolled slowly toward the hole and then dropped in.

"Yes!" Cassie said, excitedly. She turned around and gave Scott a quick hug before turning to her two opponents. "Good, game."

"Yeah, it was close."

"We want a rematch sometime," Alan said.

"Anytime, little brother, anytime," Scott told him.


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Re: Cold Front [message #832 is a reply to message #831] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:10 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Thursday, November 8, Christchurch, NZ.

Cherie wasn't even sure that she wanted to go to art class after the previous week's events. But Virgil had gently suggested that she shouldn't give up -- and Scott had reminded her that, as Tracys, they never gave up! Her mother had hugged her tightly and kissed her on the forehead, then offered to be her pilot. On the way to Christchurch, Cherie had eyed Anna and wondered if she should bring the situation up to the counselor. She decided to see how things went and then she'd talk to Anna.

Airini was waiting, as usual, when Dianne dropped her off. As usual, she preceded Cherie into the building and into the classroom. Anneliese glanced up when Cherie walked in, then went back to setting up her drawing board. Cherie wasn't sure if she should say anything, but figured she should be at least a little bit friendly, so she murmured a quiet, "Hi," to Anneliese.

The other girl glanced her way, not really looking at her, and replied, "Hello."

Fortunately, Mr. Jernigan had them busy that night, working with mixing paints to match small swatches that he had passed out. Cherie, who had already done some of this work with Virgil, found it easy, except for the pale green, which she couldn't seem to blend quite to her liking. The teacher came around to give advice, and suggested a touch more yellow. "Just a drop or two should do it," he said.

Cherie nodded, and did as the teacher had told her. It got the color closer to the swatch, and one more drop made the match near-perfect.

Mr. Jernigan smiled. "Nicely done, Cherie. You have a good eye for color."

Cherie blushed slightly, and smiled back. "Thank you."

"Mr. Jernigan?" Aroha raised her hand, waving it a little. "Am I doing this right?"

"Let me see."

The teacher moved away, and Jen, who sat on the other side of Cherie from Anneliese, said in a quiet, sing-song, sarcastic voice, "'You have a good eye for color, Cherie.' 'You draw divinely, Cherie.' Crikey dick! Must be nice to have a da who'll pay the teacher to spew that load of codswollop to you, eh?"

Cherie's jaw clenched; she swallowed hard, but kept her eyes on her work. Anneliese glanced at her, and at Jen, then went back to what she was doing.

When class was over, Cherie packed up her things in silence. Jen was busy chattering to the girl on the other side of her, talking loudly about going on to the ice cream shop after class. "You coming, Liese?" she asked.

"Wasn't planning on it. Mum wants me home early tonight." Anneliese didn't look at Jen, but put her supplies away quickly.

"Tim? Aroha? Manjari? Coming for ice cream?" Jen called to the others in the group.

Manjari exchanged glances with Aroha, and shrugged. "Not me; I'm knackered," Manjari said.

"I'm coming." Tim's declaration was firm. He glanced over at Cherie, and gave her a sharp nod, which confused her.

"I guess I will, too," Aroha said, slinging her art bag over her shoulder.

"I'm sure Cherie doesn't want to come." Jen turned to Cherie with a sickeningly sweet smile and a faux-cultured accent. "She wouldn't want us bludging off her." Her smiled widened and she strutted from the room as if she were a stereotypical society grande dame, waving her hand just so. "Cheerio, dahlings!" Her neighbor, who was walking with her, giggled at her antics. Aroha hurried to catch up with the pair, while Manjari rolled her eyes and followed at a more leisurely pace. Tim stopped to speak with Anneliese, murmuring in her ear. He glanced at Cherie, gave her another brisk nod, then caught up with Manjari.

"He'll rark her up if she gets snarky, or goes off whinging about you." Anneliese still avoided Cherie's gaze.

"Thanks." Cherie pulled her bag over her shoulder.

"And... I..." Anneliese glanced up at Cherie, a troubled look on her face. Then she shook her head. "Never mind. See you next week."

"Right."

Airini was waiting outside the classroom door for her, and fell into step with her as they headed out to the parking lot. The body guard went first, and checked the parking lot. Dianne, who had been sitting in the car with Chase Rivers's new book, spotted her, and pulled out of her spot to meet both young women near the door. Airini didn't leave until her charge was safely inside the car with the door locked.

"So," Dianne asked, a few minutes after they pulled out into traffic. "How did things go?"

The girl sighed heavily, and shook her head.

"That bad, huh?" Dianne said, her voice sympathetic.

"Yeah," Cherie said with another heavy sigh.


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Re: Cold Front [message #834 is a reply to message #832] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:11 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Tracy Island, November 9th, around 2 PM...

Luke handed a bag up to Gordon, who stowed it in the back of the plane. "One more, then I'm done," he called out. He hefted up a large rectangular crate.

Gordon raised an eyebrow in question. "Do I want to know what this is?"

Luke chuckled. "My hunting rifles. Hard to go to camp without them. I checked with the airline and they said I could transport them as long as they were locked and crated and I carried no ammo. Plus me having worked for the Forest Service helped speed the background check. Apparently I'm not much of a security risk."

"Ah, if they only knew," Gordon teased.

"All set, Gordon?" Jeff called out as he walked towards them, Dianne, Scott and Virgil at his side.

"Yep. Thanks again for letting me take off, Dad. The gang was pretty excited when I called the other night."

Jeff smiled. "Not a problem, son. Have fun." He turned to Luke. "You have a good time with your family, too. And good luck in the office."

"Thanks, sir...I mean, Mr. Tracy. Though the possibility of facing down a grizzly is more relaxing than that presentation I have to give," Luke responded.

They all laughed. Dianne stepped forward and hugged Gordon. "Have a safe flight. We'll see you soon."

"Bring us back some elk," Scott said, slapping Luke's shoulder.

"I'll do my best," he told them.

"Try not to get arrested," Virgil said with a grin to his brother.

Gordon batted his eyes innocently. "Who, me?" With a jaunty wave, he stepped into the plane. Luke whistled to Rommel, who came running and they too boarded.

Everyone stepped back and watched as the jet taxied down the runway and took off. As soon as it had left the ground, Dianne and Jeff started back, hand in hand, towards the Villa.

Scott waited until the plane was a mere speck in the sky before turning to his brother, a sly grin on his face. "Virgil, how'd you like to give me a hand with something?"


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Re: Cold Front [message #835 is a reply to message #834] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:11 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Bozeman, Montana, Friday November, 9th, a little after 5:00 AM...

The plane landed on the runway with a soft bump, and began taxiing towards the terminal. Luke waited until it had stopped and let all the other passengers off before getting up. He groaned and stretched his arms over his head. "Well, boy, we're here." Rommel sat up, his tail thumping against his master's leg. Luke scratched the dog's head and glanced at his watch. "Man, I hate the date line. We're here before we left!"

They had traveled with Gordon as far as Honolulu where Luke and Rommel had then transferred to a commercial flight to Los Angeles and then on to Montana. The plane wasn't as comfortable and roomy as the Tracy's private jet, but traveling with the dog had some advantages. Luke was able to get a front row seat so he could at least stretch his long legs.

He grabbed his backpack from the overhead bin, thanked the flight crew, and together he and Rommel made their way off the plane, into the airport.

"Luke! Over here, son!" He turned and spied his father waving at him. Rom's ears shot up and he let out a low "woof" as they walked over.

"Dad!" Luke said, pulling his father into a hug. "It's great to see you!"

"You too, son," Richard told him. He eyed his son critically. "Nice tan you've got going there."

Luke laughed. "I've been working in Hawaii for the last few weeks. Hard not to get tan. And thanks for picking me up so early. The time change kills me." He yawned.

Richard draped his arm around his son's shoulders. "Not a problem. Let's get your stuff."

Forty-five minutes later, Luke and his father had gathered all the luggage and were walking out to the car. As they hit the outside, Luke let out a gasp. "Damn, it's cold! I'm not used to this anymore!" he said, pulling up the zipper on his coat. They quickly got into Roger's jeep, Rommel hopping into the back seat. Roger cranked the heat and within minutes, warmth spread throughout the vehicle. Luke closed his eyes and sighed in relief.

"You've gotten spoiled, son," Roger told him.

"Yeah, I have," Luke replied. He yawned again. "Sorry, Dad, I can't keep my eyes open. It's been a long day."

"And it's only six in the morning!"

Luke groaned. "Don't remind me. My internal clock is way off."

"We'll be home soon. Your brother isn't coming until this afternoon, so there'll be plenty of time for you to catch a nap. If you can get away from your mother, that is."

He laughed. "She excited to see me or Rom?"

"I don't think you want me to answer that question."

They continued driving, chatting comfortably, heading towards home.


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[Updated on: Wed, 01 August 2012 00:31] by Moderator

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Re: Cold Front [message #836 is a reply to message #835] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:11 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Saturday, November 10th, 9:30 a.m. Tracy Island( Friday November 9th, 10:30 a.m., Oahu, Hawaii)

Vince scanned the tag on the teddy bear, which had on a T-shirt with the shop's logo on it, and then handed it to the little girl standing next to her father. The curly haired brunette smiled back at him as Vince went back to ringing up the customer's purchases. It wasn't long before he had completed the transaction and was handing over the receipt.

"I'll see you tomorrow morning then," Vince told Mr. Johnson, who had just booked a sight seeing tour for the following morning.

The Johnson's would join another group of five on the flight. Vince didn't know much about the group other than that it was a group of former and current WASP officers getting together.

"We're looking forward to it," Mr. Johnson told him, taking his daughter's hand and heading toward the door. His wife and son were already waiting outside.

Jim opened the door to the dive shop as the father and daughter reached it. He stood aside, allowing them to exit before coming into the shop. He looked around the shop for Aaron. The teenager was in the back of the shop restocking.

"Hey, Aaron, can you give me a help unloading the boat?" Jim called, having just come back from taking out a group of teenagers from a nearby aquatic center.

"Yeah, sure. Just let me put this stuff back in the storeroom," Aaron said, placing the dive mask that he had in his hand on the shelf. He then picked up the box and headed toward the store.

As Aaron disappeared into the store room, Jim walked up to the counter. "So, find anything that interests you for your new career?"

"I sent in applications to both The Bedford Institute of Oceanography and the Maui Aquarium and Research Institute."

"So I guess you're not too particular on location then?"

"Lana and I talked about it, and as long as we can settle as a family near where I work, the location isn't the most important thing."

"Well then in that case, I saw an ad that might interest you," Jim told him, coming behind the counter and walking to the computer. Vince joined him, curious. It didn't take long before Jim had brought up what he wanted to show his boss. "I was looking to see what places were hiring in Hawaii and I came across this. I obviously don't have the necessary requirements but you do and product testing would definitely be a change from this place."

"That it would," Vince said as he read over the want ad for Tracy Industries. It definitely looked like a job to at least check out. "Thanks, I think I'll send them my resume and see what happens."

"You're looking for a job, Dad?"

Vince and Jim turned to see Aaron standing near by. Jim shot Vince an apologetic look, realizing that his boss hadn't broken the news to his son yet.

"Yes."

"Are we going to move?" Aaron asked, not giving his Dad a chance to elaborate on his first answer.

"I'm not sure, but chances are we will," Vince told him, not about to sugar coat anything. "Look, we'll discuss this at home tonight. Why don't you go start unloading the boat."

"Yes, sir," Aaron replied, the look on his face saying that he wasn't happy with the situation.

"Sorry about that," Jim said, as Aaron left the shop.

"Don't worry about it. I had to break the news to him sometime, though this wasn't the ideal way. It'll work out," Vince said looking at the door his son had walked through. He turned back to his friend. "So, you're looking at ads. Find anything of interest?"

Jim smiled as he walked out from behind the counter. "Don't worry, I'm not going anywhere anytime soon. Just weighing my options. I mean what if you sell this place to someone I can't stand. Was actually hoping I might be able to put in an offer for the place myself but after talking with my accountant that just isn't an option quite yet."

Vince nodded. Jim had mentioned plenty of times about wanting to own his own drive shop someday and Vince knew he had been saving money toward it.

"I should go and give Aaron a hand," Jim said, heading for the door. The wind chime above the door making noise again as he opened the door.

Alone in the shop, Vince turned back to the computer and reread the ad for Tracy Industries again. It wouldn't hurt to at least check the position out, he thought. With nothing else pressing to do, Vince sat down on the stool and brought up his resume. He was wondering why knowing other languages would be an asset if he was only testing products, though it didn't concern him. If his ability to speak a couple other languages put him above other candidates than that would be a good thing.


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Re: Cold Front [message #837 is a reply to message #836] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:12 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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[size=2]Saturday November 10th, Honolulu Hawaii, around 11 am...

Gordon walked through the hotel lobby, heading for the pool. He stepped out onto the patio and smiled, then tossed his towel on a nearby chair. Walking over to the diving board, he gathered himself and dove off. He surfaced midway down the pool and swam cleanly through the water.

"Yo, Tracy!"

Gordon paused, mid-stride, and looked around.

"Over here!!"

He spied a tall blond waving to him from the opposite end of the patio. He hoisted himself out of the water and hurried over.

"Mike!!!" He grabbed his friend in a bear hug.

"Dude! I'm not in dressed for the water!" The young WASP officer, Mike Perkins, grinned.

"You won't melt. How've you been?"

"Pretty good. How about you? Still hanging out on that island of yours?"

"Yeah. This is just a vacation," Gordon said, grabbing his towel and drying off. "Where are the rest of the guys?"

"Inside at the restaurant. They sent me out to get you," Mike replied.

"You mean Pat sent you!" Both men laughed and went out one of the gates that led to the hotel bar.

Mike led Gordon to a table near the back. "I found him. In the pool. Big surprise there!"

"Ha-ha." Gordon stepped forward. "Cap! Good to see you!" he said to a tall, dark haired man.

Captain Patrick Murphy stepped forward and shook Gordon's hand before hugging him. He was only a couple of years older than the others, and over the course of serving together, had grown close to this group of young men, often spending his leave time with them. "How are you, Lieutenant?"

"Not too bad, sir. Keeping out of trouble anyway." He glanced at the others gathered around the table. "Which is more than I can say for this motley crew."

"Hey, you're included right there with us! Glad you could make it, Gordon." Another former ship-mate, Ernie Dunning, took over Pat's place. "Still swimming, huh? Aiming for another Olympics?"

Gordon chuckled and shook his head. "Not at the moment. I've got enough going on in my life for the time being."

Lieutenant Jerry Yankowski raised his beer glass. "I hear ya. Living on your own island must be really rough!"

They all broke out laughing and gathered around the table. "Man, it's been too long," Gordon mused as he looked over his friends. "What, a year or so since the last time we all got together?"

"Yeah, I think so," Mike said. "Though Cap'n here couldn't make it the last time."

Pat raised an eyebrow at his friend. "Some of us do have to work, you know."

"Or pretend to, anyway," Mike quipped back.

Gordon waved a waitress over and ordered fruit drinks and appetizers for everyone. "So, what do you guys want to do while we're here? Not just bar cruise, I hope."

Ernie shook his head. "Nah, we're not cadets anymore; let's really do something."

"What about an island tour? There's a place across from Pearl that does air tours. They run a SCUBA shop too, so we could see if there's any dive boats open," Jerry said.

The others nodded. "Works for me," Gordon said. "Are you all staying on base?"

"Well, Jer and I are," Ernie told them. "The Cap here and Mikey managed to get full off-base passes."

"I had my people call his people," Mike said with a grin.

"The only people you have tend to run when they see you," Jerry threw back and they all laughed again.

"What that really means is that Mike and I are free to stay on base or choose other accommodations," Pat told him.

"Well, you're welcome to crash here with me. Plenty of room. I rented a car for the weekend, too," Gordon said.

"Great idea, Tracy!" Mike threw his arm around his friend's shoulders. "We can head over to the beach and--"

"I don't think I want to hear this," Ernie muttered.

"You'd better stay with them, Cap," Jerry said, turning to Pat. "Someone has to keep them out of the brig."

"Ernie, you wound me." Mike pressed one hand to his chest, the other to his forehead.

"I'd like to," Ernie retorted.

"So, we'll meet at the dive shop tomorrow?" Gordon asked. "Around nine-ish?"

Jerry nodded. "Sounds good. I'll call and set us up on a tour. It's called 'Blue Waters Dive Shop' over on Ewa Beach. You can't miss it."

"Great." They all looked up as the waitress brought their drinks and food. After she left, Gordon raised his glass and took a sip, then leaned back with a wide grin. "So, fellas, tell me what you've been up to."


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Re: Cold Front [message #838 is a reply to message #837] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:12 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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5 p.m. Hawaii, 4 p.m TI . . .

Vince stood off to the side in the hangar at the private air field not far outside of Ewa Beach. He was supervising the work Aaron was doing on the engine of the floatplane. Though he had been more hands on in the beginning of the project, now that the bulk of the work was done, he was allowing Aaron to do the actual work and giving his son more guidance than anything else. This was after all Aaron's plane and he didn't want to completely take over the project.

"That should do it," Aaron said, putting the tools he been using back into the toolbox.

"Go ahead and see if she starts," Vince told him, picking up the toolbox and moving further away from the plane.

Aaron climbed up into the cockpit of the plane. A few moments later the plane's engine came to life. Vince knew the grin on his face was as big as his son's. Aaron shut the engine down again and climbed from the cockpit.

"I'll get Jack to look it over for us, but we should be able to take her up for her first flight sometime next week," Vince told his son, clapping him on the shoulder.

"Yeah, first and maybe last," Aaron said, his smile fading.

"Now what's that supposed to mean."

"Well, what if you get a job somewhere where we can't take the plane. There wasn't much point is restoring it in that case."

"No matter what, we've got the time we shared restoring this plane together for our efforts. That's something isn't it?"

"Yeah," Aaron said. "It's just... I don't know, I guess with you not in the service any more I thought we wouldn't have to move again." Aaron paused, thinking of how to phrase what he was feeling inside. "And I know I probably shouldn't care too much, as I'll be going away to college in less than a year but well, this place feels like home. Going away scares me some and knowing I had our home here to come back to makes that idea a little less frightening. I was also hoping that Lea wouldn't have to go through all the moves that I did growing up."

Vince sighed as he led his son toward the hangar's open door. Vince sat down on the edge of the cement outside the hangar, motioning for his son to sit down beside him.

"I know that moving around while you were growing up couldn't have been easy. It wasn't for me. The things that I took most comfort in though was knowing that wherever we were living at least we were together. I hated the times when my Dad wasn't stationed at a base and I know you did too when I was away. I still have every letter you ever wrote me."

Aaron smiled and looked down at the ground, slightly embarrassed. He had written his Dad quite a few letters even when he was little and 'I miss you Daddy' was about the only thing he could write.

"I've enjoyed being around more these past three years."

"Then why change jobs? Keep running the shop!"

"I need a change, son. Someday I'm sure you'll understand this better but for now let me put it to you simply. I'm not happy with where I'm at with my career right now. I need something more. Your mother and I have discussed this. We know it isn't great timing for you, that you'll miss the friends you made here but there is also Lea to consider. She's at the age where we'd like to get her involved in activities with kids her own age. Your mother and I feel that it would be better to relocate before doing that then to get her involved in activities and then turn around and uproot her."

"What about my birthday party?" Aaron asked. His eighteenth birthday was in February and plans for a luau to celebrate had already been started. Aaron's swim team as well as a couple of other friends were on the guest list as well as some family and friends.

"You can still have it. Your grandparents are looking forward to it. I can't promise I'll be able to get time off, though I will try, but there is no reason your mother, sister and you can't come back."

Aaron sighed. He still didn't like the idea of moving. Still, if his Dad wasn't happy at the shop then maybe it would be better for the family.

"I guess the important thing is for us to be together," Aaron finally said, sullenly. Depending on when they moved, he'd miss several surf competitions. Then there was the swim team. They were doing well this season. He'd miss being a part of their success. And last but not least, he was going to miss his friends. Sure, they would all be going their separate ways come June but he hadn't expected to be saying good-bye before then.

Maybe, they'll let me stay with Grandma and Grandpa, Aaron thought. He dismissed the idea immediately. As much as he loved his grandparents he knew he'd miss his parents and Lea more.

"Look, Aaron, I can understand you being upset about this but I need you to try and make the best of it. Hopefully, they'll be another swim team you can join and if it's at all possible, we'll make arrangements to move your plane to wherever we settle. Who knows, we may not even leave Hawaii," Vince said, thinking of the application he had put in at the institute in Maui.

The teen nodded. "I'll try," Aaron told his father. "We might want to finish up here and head home before Grandma comes looking for us. You know she hates it when people are late for dinner," he added not wanting to discuss the topic further right then.

"You're right," Vince said, thinking of his fiery mother-in-law.

Father and son got to their feet and headed into the hangar to secure things before leaving.


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Re: Cold Front [message #839 is a reply to message #838] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:13 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Saturday, November 10th, 4:30 p.m., Tracy Island, (8:30 p.m., Colorado, US previous day)

Outside the rain was pouring down from the storm that was blowing across the island. Hiding from the rain, Scott had retreated to his room to check out some of the web sites he regularly frequented. He wasn't on long when an alert told him that one of his contacts had signed in. Looking down to the corner he saw the alert saying that FlyingAce35 had signed on.

It's been awhile since I've talked with Bill, Scott thought. The last email he had gotten from his old friend had been when Bill had been promoted to Major. Scott had sent a quick congratulation email then and had intended to write a longer response later but had never gotten around to it.

There are a few other people I should probably get around to sending an email to, he thought, getting ready to send a message to Bill. Before he got a chance though, another box popped up on the screen.

FyingAce35: Hey there! Is the old man keeping you too busy to even drop your friends a line?

Scott smiled as he typed his reply.

Birdman: You could say that. Tracy Industries doesn't exactly run itself, you know. What about you?

FlyingAce35: I've been busy myself. Missy finally got over you and got herself married to a lawyer in NYC.

Birdman: Hey, your sister dumped me, remember!

FlyingAce35: I know. I just like giving you a hard time.

FlyingAce35: Of course being the big brother, I had to take Dad's place and give her away.


Birdman: I'm glad she found someone who makes her happy. Tell her congratulations for me.

FlyingAce35: Will do. Hey, have you heard from Ted lately?

Birdman: No. Why?

FlyingAce35: Just wondering. He sent me an email about two weeks ago. He got married himself. Went to Las Vegas and eloped to get out of having the big Catholic wedding his mom would have wanted.

Birdman. That's great! I didn't think he'd ever find a woman crazy enough to marry him.

FlyingAce35: Me either, actually. So, it looks like you're the last single man of our old group. Any special girl in your life?

Birdman: No.

The answer was a simple thing but the feelings behind it weren't as simple. This wasn't the first time he had thought about the topic, but hearing about other people he had known getting married made him aware of how long it had been since he had even been out on an actual date.

Birdman: I'm starting to think maybe I'm destined to be single my whole life.

FlyingAce35: I'm sure you'll meet someone eventually.

Birdman: I guess.

Scott definitely didn't want to continue the current line of conversation so, he decided to switch topics.

Birdman: So are you still stationed at Hanscom?

FlyingAce35: Actually, no. I'm out west now. I got an instructor position at the Academy.


Birdman: Well, there's a nice cushy assignment.

FlyingAce35: Cushy!? You do remember what we were like when we were that age, don't you?

Scott smiled. Bill, Ted and himself had gotten involved in quite a few "extra curricular" activities when they had been at school together.

FlyingAce35: Jen's happy about my current assignment. Especially as she's expecting our third child in January!

Birdman: Really? That's great! Congratulations.

FlyingAce35: Thanks! It's going to be a little girl this time!

Birdman: She's going to be spoiled. Got a name picked out yet?

FlyingAce35: No. Jen and I are still trying to agree on one we both like.

Jokingly, Scott threw out some names that he knew his friend would reject. The conversation then moved on to other things as the two friends continued to catch up with each other. Scott wasn't sure how much time had passed when he heard a knock on his door.

"Come in," he called out, turning to look toward the door to see Cherie there.

"Grandma sent me to get you for dinner," the girl said.

Scott looked toward his clock, finding it hard to believe it was that late. Sure enough, he had lost track of time while chatting with his Bill.

"Okay. Tell them I'll be down in a few minutes," Scott told her.

Cherie nodded, leaving the room. Scott turned back to his computer to end the conversation. After promises from both of them to stay in touch better, they said good-bye. Scott closed the IM box and then shut down the computer before standing up to join his family for the evening meal.


Dom plainclothes heartbeat Luke plainclothes
Re: Cold Front [message #840 is a reply to message #839] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:14 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 11th, morning, Tracy Island( Saturday, November 10th, morning, Oahu, Hawaii)

Gordon eased the rental car into a parking spot underneath a sign reading "Blue Waters Dive Shop".

"About time we get here. Tracy, you drive like an old woman," Mike quipped from the backseat.

"Yeah? Well, at least I don't dress like one," Gordon shot back with a grin.

"Don't you two start, you hear me?" Pat ordered as he got out of the car.

"Aww, somebody's grumpy," Mike said, stepping out and looking around. "Man, Jerry was right. This place is sweet!"

Gordon walked to the front of the car and followed his friend's gaze. The shop was moderately sized, the front being made up of two large windows filled with diving and snorkeling equipment. The cement walls were painted an azure blue, the same color as the water off the dock. There was a large mural on one side, consisting of various ocean life, whales, dolphins, and fish. Virgil would appreciate that, Gordon thought to himself.

They spied a man, with curly dark hair, waving from near the windows. "There's Jerry. He and Ernie beat us here," Pat said, quickly walking towards the shop.

Mike nudged Gordon. "I say we throw him off the dock."

Gordon laughed. "He's just being a good captain. C'mon." They all made their way to the shop and stepped inside.

There were several other customers in the store. A man in his early twenties was helping two middle-aged men out by the display of wetsuits. A teenager was standing behind the register, ringing up some purchases. A blond-haired guy was talking to a gentleman and his wife, two kids close by.

At the sound of the door chime, the blond looked toward the group that just walked in. The Blue Waters logo was emblazoned on his polo shirt.

"Hello, may I help you?"

Jerry stepped a little bit in front of the others. "Yeah, my name is Jerry Yankowski. I set up an air tour for my friends and I earlier this week."

"Of course. We've been waiting on you guys, actually. I'm Vince Crenshaw, owner and tour guide for this morning. This is Mr. and Mrs. Johnson. They'll be joining us for the tour today."

"Great," Jerry replied. "Are we ready to go, or do we have time to look around for a bit?"

"Why don't you take a few moments to look around, while I go pull the van around to the front. I'll drive everyone down to the plane. If you'll excuse me," Vince replied, nodding to both Jerry and Mr. Johnson. He headed toward the rear exit of the shop, calling out to Jim that he was leaving as he did so.

Gordon meandered over to the rack containing the diving masks. He eyed the price tag on one and nodded thoughtfully.

"See something you like, rich-boy?" Ernie teased.

Gordon grinned up at the blond. "As a matter of fact I do. I left my mask at home and need a new one. The prices are pretty good."

Jerry walked over to them. "It's more than pretty good; this is top of the line stuff."

"I can see that." Gordon looked up and scanned the shop. The equipment was displayed neatly and aesthetically, giving the shop an efficient yet friendly atmosphere. "You know, if you guys were serious about going for a dive, this is the place to get gear."

"Guy probably has some good spots earmarked, too," Pat added. "Want me to ask?"

"No, I'll do it," Gordon replied.

"Then you're paying!" Mike called out as the others chuckled.

Gordon didn't answer, but walked over to the counter and waited for the owner to return.

Having finished with the customer he had been helping, Aaron turned to the copper-haired man standing nearby. There was something familiar about him, but the teen couldn't quite put his finger on it.

"First time on Oahu?" Aaron asked. Making small talk with the customers had been one of the first lessons he had learned when he started helping out at the shop.

Gordon smiled. "No, I used to be stationed here during my WASP days." He glanced around here. "Nice place you have here."

"Thanks! My Dad will be happy to hear that; he's the shop owner," Aaron told him. "You used to serve in WASP? That's cool. Dad used to be Navy and I'm hoping to join the Air Force myself."

Gordon shook his head good naturedly. "You own a dive shop like this and you want to go Air Force? Kids nowadays..."

"Hey, stop heckling the help!" Mike walked over to lean on the counter. "Well, can they help us out?"

"Haven't asked yet. We were wondering if you had any equipment available for this afternoon, and could give us some good places to go. We're thinking of SCUBA, but snorkeling would be fine too," Gordon said.

"And he'd like to take that mask," Mike added, pointing. Gordon nudged him in the ribs.

"That's a good dive mask. Own one myself," Aaron replied. He turned around and logged onto the computer. "The SCUBA equipment shouldn't be a problem. I'll have to check if there is a boat available, as we only have three," he told him. "Would you need a guide or would you want to take the boat out on your own?"

Gordon looked over at his friends. "We could take it ourselves. That shouldn't be a problem."

Pat joined them at the counter. "No, not at all."

"OK, renting a boat and equipment, if you have it available."

Aaron turned from the computer. "We've got a boat available at two thirty, is that okay?"

Gordon looked over at his former captain. Pat nodded his assent and Gordon handed Aaron his credit card. "We'll take it," he said as Aaron took the credit card from him.

"I'll also need to see SCUBA certification from everyone in the group," he said almost apologetically, feeling weird requesting the proof from WASP officers. "Standard procedure," Aaron added as the wind chime rang gently. Aaron looked up to see his father walk back inside.

"Is everyone ready?" Vince asked addressing those who were going on the air tour.

"We will be in a second," Pat answered for his group, as he and his friends got out their certification cards. "We're just arranging to rent some equipment to do some diving this afternoon."

"Great. I'll get the others settled then and come join us as soon as you're through. Van's right out front."

Vince left the shop with the Johnsons as Aaron started checking out the certification cards. Ernie placed the mask Gordon was looking at on the counter as he handed the teenager his certification. When he was done, Aaron rang up the transaction on the register and swiped the credit card he had been given. As he looked at the name, the realization hit him.

"You're Gordon Tracy! You won Olympic gold in both the freestyle and butterfly! I'm a huge fan of yours!" Aaron shook his head. "Man, my friends on the swim team will die when they hear I got to meet you!"

Gordon blushed bright red and stammered something as Mike draped his arm over his shoulders. "See, Gordo, you're still famous!"

"Great. Terrific. Can we go now?" Uncomfortable, Gordon turned and headed outside.

Mike grinned at Aaron. "He's a bit shy. Thanks," he said as he took Gordon's credit card and followed his friends out.

Vince was standing by the open door of the van as the group walked out of the store. Gordon and his buddies climbed in, joining the Johnsons who were already occupying one seat of the van. The little boy was crying as they took their seats. Ernie, who was sitting in front of the boy, made a funny face and the boy's cries started dying down. Pat opened the front door and climbed in next to him, Mike and Jerry settling themselves in the way back.

His customers in the van, Vince shut the door and walked around to the driver's side. He climbed in behind the wheel and started heading for the dock where the plane was moored. He began to tell his customers a little about the plane they were going up in.

"Your son mentioned you were in the Navy. Are you sure you know how to fly a plane, what with the water being more you're domain?" Gordon, sitting in the front, joked. His good humor was back now that he was out of the shop and away from Aaron's idolization.

Vince smiled slightly, not really amused. The guy didn't seem to take much seriously but as he was a paying customer, Vince wasn't about to criticize him.

"I was actually a Navy fighter pilot for two years before I was able to switch over to submarines," he replied.

"Really?" Gordon said, impressed. "My oldest brother was a pilot in the Air Force. He flew fighters, too. What made you decide to switch to subs?"

"Honestly, subs were my first choice but the Navy had more of a need for fighter pilots when I graduated. As I was flying planes in high school and they've always been a hobby of mine, that was my second choice. When the opportunity came up to switch over, I took it."

"That's cool," Gordon said. "We all served together on a sub, too. And in a bathyscaphe, doing some marine farming. Later, I did some work with hydrofoils." He shivered despite the warm air.

Pat placed a hand on his shoulder. "Easy, Gordo," he said quietly.

Gordon merely smiled, and turned his attention back out the front window as Vince began to speak again.

"I'll give you all more detail about the sights you'll be seeing while on our flight," Vince said, speaking to the entire group. The two kids were now both looking out the windows not paying attention to the shop owner at all. "We'll be taking off from Mamala Bay. We'll head south-east first, giving you a chance to see Pearl Harbor from the air. Our path will take us across the Kaiwi Channel and over the island of Molokai."

"A bit of trivia for you, Hawaii is the only state in the US not to have a straight line in its border, as it's made up of several islands. This tour won't take you over the southern islands though Lani and Maui will be seen when we fly over Molokai."

Vince parked the van in a parking spot near the dock, where several seaplanes were moored. As he lead the group down to the dock where his plane was, he continued. "Next, we'll head back north, over Oahu. I'll point out some of this island's more spectacular sights, which you may want to check out from the ground if you have the time. To our north-west are the islands of Kauai and Nihau which we'll fly over before landing. Any questions before we get on board?" he asked, glancing around the group. He saw several head go back and forth. When no one spoke up he added, "Then let's get started!"

They all boarded the plane, and a few minutes later the plane was moving across the surface of the water before soaring into the sky.

Gordon Goes Sightseeing by Lillehafrue and Icarus1982


Dom plainclothes heartbeat Luke plainclothes
Re: Cold Front [message #841 is a reply to message #840] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:14 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 11th, about 1:30, Tracy Island( Saturday, November 10th, about 2:30, Oahu, Hawaii)

Vince had pulled the shop's gator around to the front of the store. He was currently loading the tanks of air for the group of WASP officers' dive. The former naval officer had just placed the tenth tank of the gator when his cell phone vibrated. Taking it from its clip, he looked at the screen and smiled.

"Hey, honey. How's LA?" he asked, answering the phone. Lana had been calling daily just to check up on things and talk to her family. Their conversation last night after she had talked to the kids had been a long one, as Vince had filled her in on his conversation with Aaron.

"Rainy," came the reply. "We're going to get soaked going from the hotel to the book store."

"Sorry to hear that," he told her. The two chatted for about five more minutes before saying good-bye after confirming her arrival time for the next day. All of them were looking forward to having her home.

As he put the cell phone back on the clip, he noticed two familiar cars pulling into the parking lot. It appeared as if Pat and his group had returned.

"Welcome back," the shop owner called out as the group got out of their cars. "Did you enjoy lunch?" Vince had recommended that they go get something to eat at the Saltwater Cafe.

Gordon nodded. "Fantastic. Thanks for sending us there. Hope we're not late," he said, glancing at his watch. "We swung by the hotel and base to grab our equipment." He nodded at Mike and Ernie who were pulling a couple of large duffel bags out of the trunks of the cars. "Where do you want us?"

"Glad you enjoyed it," Vince replied. "Just load the gear on the gator and I'll get it down to the boat for you. I've got two tanks ready for each of you, just in case. You didn't specify if you were planning one dive or two."

"We hadn't really thought about it." Gordon looked up at his friends, who shrugged. "I guess we'll play it by ear." He grabbed a bag from Pat and they loaded them in the back of the small tractor.

"Are we all set?" Mike asked.

"Can we change into trunks on the boat, or should we do it here?" Pat asked Vince.

"Well, there is a place on the boat you could change or you could change here. Depending on what dive site you go to, really. There are areas out there that the water is choppy and you'd be best having everything ready to go before you leave dock. Any of you know the area well?"

Jerry nodded. "I've lived on the islands for the past ten years. Done a fair amount of diving."

"And with our jobs, we'd rather have something a little challenging, right guys?" Mike said to the rest of his friends. They nodded.

"Something challenging, but where we can see something too. Besides just fish," Gordon added.

"Oahu has quite a few old shipwrecks and a few plane wrecks that are interesting to dive to. To the West there is the Mahi shipwreck. Along the south shore you have the Yo-257 and Sea Tiger wrecks. A Little further east there is the Kahala Barge, though you need to watch the currents in that area," Vince told them. He paused debating on whether to mention the other popular wreck. Though he had taken several groups of advanced divers there, he didn't feel comfortable suggesting it to a group going out by themselves. The last group who had gone on their own had required assistance when one of the divers had gotten separated from the others trying to return to the boat after the dive. He sighed. These were WASP officers after all. "I don't usually suggest this to groups going out by themselves, but there is the Corsair Plane wreck. Definitely an advanced dive and surface conditions are not the best. I usually prefer to supervise groups going out to the site."

Jerry nodded. "I've heard of it. Sounds like that's what we're looking for."

Gordon's eyes lit up. "Then what are we waiting for!" The five men went inside and changed, pulling their dive suits over their swim trunks. Pat was finished first and while he waited for the others, headed back out front, where the shop owner was making sure gear was secure on the Gator.

"I can tell you kind of reluctantly suggested Corsair to us."

Vince turned from his task to look at the WASP captain. "I've had some bad experiences out there, that's all. I'm sure you are all quite capable divers but things happen. You may want to keep an eye on that red-haired fellow in your group. Doesn't seem to take much seriously from what I've seen and conditions can be rough out there."

Pat smiled. Gordon could come off that way, though the captain knew he could also be quite serious when the situation required it. "He'll be okay. If it'll ease your mind you can tag along with us, if you're not busy."

"My group for later this afternoon cancelled, actually," Vince told him. "If you really don't mind, perhaps I will join you." That settled, Vince headed inside to make arrangements. It wasn't long before they were heading down to the boat and were soon skipping across the waves.

On the way to the site, the men joked good-naturedly with each other, swapping stories of their time together in WASP, and telling Gordon about the latest talk on base.

Vincent raised an eyebrow in surprise. "I thought you were all stationed together?"

Mike shook his head. "Gordo here decided to leave us for...golden pastures!"

Gordon elbowed his friend in the ribs. "Jerk. You know that's not true."

"Oh, so you're denying it?" Mike teased.

"Well, there was also that little incident with the hydrofoil," Jerry piped up.

"Right, we can't forget that," Ernie added with a grin.

"You know, I just might feed you guys to the sharks when we get downstairs," Gordon told them sternly.

The men laughed and continued on with their light-hearted teasing, Gordon giving back as good as he got.

Vince watched them thoughtfully, having turned the seat next to Pat, who was driving, around to face the back of the boat. He was trying to put his finger on why the Gordon fellow seemed so familiar. It had been bothering him most of the day. Suddenly it dawned on him. "Wait a second," Vince said, as it finally clicked. "You're that Olympian swimmer that my son is so enthralled with. I was trying to figure out why you seemed familiar and it's because I've seen that poster Aaron has of you winning the Olympic gold medal for the past six years or so."

Gordon groaned and blushed as the others burst out laughing. He smiled thinly. "Yeah, that would be me."

Vince looked around trying to figure out why the others were laughing.

"Your son already made the connection this morning," Ernie said, getting control of his laughter.

"Yeah, and Gordon here high-tailed it out before he could ask for an autograph," Jerry added.

"Knowing Aaron he probably would have gotten around to it before long, too," Vince commented. "You're probably lucky he was up at Pipeline for a surfing competition when you came back."

Vince looked over his shoulder to see where they were at. Seeing as they were approaching the area of the Corsair, Vince decided it was time to give the guys a little bit of information about the site.

"We'll be at our destination soon," Vince told them. "As you can see, surface conditions are rough out here and almost always are. Currents on the surface can be tricky so be careful. One thing I want to stress, hang onto your fins until you are on the boat. You don't want to toss them on board and then find yourself separated from the boat and need them."

Vince then started telling them about the location they were headed to. "The Corsair has been here since 1946. Story has it, the pilot ran out of fuel on a training mission and had to abandon the aircraft. Amazingly, the plane settled intact 107 feet below the surface," Vince told him. Gordon and his pals had grown quiet and were all listening to the shop owner. Vince explained what they could expect to see and then started going over more safety instructions as Pat slowed the boat near the mooring above the wreck.

He watched as the men checked their own equipment, then each others'. Gordon walked to the edge of the boat and sat down, grinning up at his friends. "All right, gang. Let's dive."

Gordon Goes Diving by Lillehafrue and Icarus1982



Dom plainclothes heartbeat Luke plainclothes
Re: Cold Front [message #842 is a reply to message #841] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:14 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 10, 2068, 4 p.m. Tracy Island. (10 p.m. the previous day, Boston)

The phone in the study rang, and Kyrano, who was sifting through the magazines and culling the older issues, moved to answer it.

"Hello. Tracy residence."

The viewscreen flipped on, and a man in his forties looked back at Kyrano. "Hello... uh, it's Mr. Kyrano, right?"

The retainer smiled. "Yes, Mr. Parkhurst. I am Kyrano."

"Jared," the man hastened to say. "Call me Jared, please." He paused. "After all, we're going to be, uh, related soon."

"This is true, Jared. And you may call me Kyrano, for now. I look forward to seeing you and your family again."

"I look forward to it, too. My kids are excited about coming to the island for the wedding." He paused again, clearly a little nervous to be speaking to his future step-father. "Are my mother and my sister around?"

"Yes, they are. Please hold for a moment."

"Sure."

Kyrano pressed the "Hold" button, replacing Jared's image with a sign that said, "Caller on hold". He pressed the button for Jeff and Dianne's quarters, where both women and Cherie were watching a previously recorded skating exhibition. "There is a call from Boston for both of you."

"Thanks, Kyrano," Dianne said. She muted the televid, making Cherie frown, and pulled a chair over to the built in desk, where the vidphone was. Lisa settled herself in the chair that was already at the desk, while Dianne sat in the one she'd brought. "You can transfer the call now."

The vidphone snapped on, revealing Jared's pensive face. It brightened when he saw his sister before him, and cleared further as his mother leaned in to say, "Hello, Jared! It's been a while since we've heard from you!"

"Hi, Mom! Hi, Di! How are things in the tropics?"

"Tropical," Dianne said with a grin. "Rain yesterday, rain today, likely rain tomorrow... it's spring and heading into summer!"

"How's Boston?" Lisa asked.

"We had our first snow yesterday. Only a couple of inches but the kids were so excited! Weatherman says we should get a little more on Monday night."

The conversation went on like this for a little, with the women asking after Patricia and Jared's twins, and Jared asking after Dianne's kids, Jeff, and any of the other Tracys he could think of. Finally, Jared cleared this throat.

"I didn't just call to chew the fat with you both, though that certainly has been great. I called because..." Jared looked very uncomfortable. "Because Dad called me."

Lisa drew in a sharp breath, and Dianne began to scowl. "So, what did he have to say for himself?" she asked, her tone sharp.

Jared took in a deep breath. "He wants to visit me and the family. To make amends, he says. He told me he's in Alcoholics Anonymous and is on step... I don't remember the step."

"Step nine," Dianne replied quickly. "Step nine is to make amends -- unless it would hurt the people you're trying to make amends to."

"Yeah, step nine." Jared cocked his head to one side, a questioning expression on his face. "How do you know...?"

"Doctor, remember?" Dianne's scowl turned to a wry expression. "I became familiar with AA's tenets so I could recommend it if I thought someone needed it." She paused, and sighed. "So, he's on step nine. What are you going to do?"

Jared shrugged. "I'm not sure yet. He's supposed to be going to Dougie's for Thanksgiving, and suggested he come visit me for Christmas. I told him it wasn't a good time." Now Jared's shoulders slumped. "I'm sorry, Ma. I kinda let the cat out of the bag about the wedding."

Dianne groaned, covering her eyes with a splayed hand. Lisa sighed and shook her head. "You didn't tell him more than that, did you, Jared?"

"No. I didn't." Jared shook his head. "He asked how to get in touch with you and I told him straight out that you had asked the family not to give out any addresses or phone numbers."

"That's a relief." Lisa sat back a little. "Please remind Tricia and the boys of that."

"I will," Jared said.

"Hope Dougie doesn't tell him during Thanksgiving," Dianne muttered. "I know Angie wouldn't."

There was a pause in the conversation, then Jared swallowed and asked, "Ma, wouldn't it be best if you let him make amends? I mean, he doesn't have to know where you live or anything, but next time you're in the States..."

Lisa shook her head. "No, Jared. It might sound like I'm being stubborn, but I'm just not ready." She wrapped her arms around herself. "Last time I saw him, he'd followed me into a store when I had Dianne's kids with me. He caught me off-guard and I felt... I felt powerless, like I did when we were married. I swear I will never feel that way again, Jared. Not with him. Never again."

They could see Jared's fingers as he brought his palms up. "Okay, Ma. I see your point." He turned to his sister. "What about you, Di? Will you let him make amends to you?"

"Truthfully, Jared, I don't think there is anything he could do to make amends for what he did to me," Dianne stated. "How do you say, 'I'm sorry' to someone you beat up like that? How do you say it as if you mean it? Sure, it was a long time ago, and I healed from it, but it haunted me for years afterward." She shook her head slightly. "I could never trust that anything he said or did was sincere. Especially now."

"What do you mean, 'especially now'?" Jared asked.

"Now that I'm married to Jeff." Dianne's response was prompt. "Jeff did a background check on him; he's in quite a bit of debt because his wife likes to gamble. I could never trust that he wasn't trying to get close to me so he could touch Jeff for funds."

"I see." Jared's tone had a touch of disapproval to it. "Well, I'd better get going. It's getting late here."

"If you do see him, let me know how it goes." Lisa's request was soft. "I did love him, once. I'd like to know if he is sincere. And if you want him in your life, Jared, that's... that's okay. It's your choice."

"Thanks, Ma. Talk to you two again, soon. Give my love to the family."

"And give Tricia and the twins love from us," Dianne said, her tone softer. "Bye, Jared."

"Bye."

The vidphone clicked off, and Dianne pressed a button to end the call from their phone. She turned to her mother, and sighed.

"Why did he have to come back now?"

"I don't know, Di," Lisa replied, putting a hand on her daughter's shoulder. "But I'm not going to let him ruin the rest of my life."

Dianne reached out, and the two women embraced. "I'm so glad, Ma," Dianne whispered. "I'm so glad."


Dom plainclothes heartbeat Luke plainclothes
Re: Cold Front [message #843 is a reply to message #842] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:15 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

Tracy Island, Cliff House; 5 PM Sunday, November 11

"Damn!"

Will was in his bedroom. He'd just come in from a swim and was going to take a shower, get into some pajamas and settle back with a movie. He went to his dresser to get some clean ones. . .

. . . and found none. He checked his other drawers, and saw he was out of underwear, socks, and other essentials. Even his work clothes were soiled.

"I hate doing laundry!" He sighed. "Well, there's nothing to do but take my clothes downstairs and get them washed. Man, I don't even have something to wear while I'm doing that. I guess I'll have to keep my swim shorts on. At least I have a terrycloth top."

Gathering all the dirty clothes he could find into a basket -- and there was a large pile of them when he'd finished -- he headed to the elevator and to the common room. Once there, he went into the laundry area and began putting his clothes in.

"Good thing there's more than one washing machine." He looked around. "And dryer. Maybe this won't take too long."

He finished and added the detergent and softener, then started the machines. Sighing again, he went over to a chair, sprawling into it. He leaned back and watched the clothes going round and round in the front loader washers. Not the greatest show, but at least there aren't any commercials. He grinned to himself.

The next thing he knew, someone was shaking him awake. "Hey, Will," he heard Nikki's voice say. "Your laundry's done. Mind transferring it to the dryer? I need to do some of my own."

"Sorry. I'll take care of it right away." He stood up and went over to the machines. Pulling his things out, he transferred them quickly to two dryers and got them started. Nikki looked curiously at the amount of laundry he had, then questioningly at him as she began loading one of the machines with her own.

He grinned sheepishly at her.

"I hate doing laundry."


Dom plainclothes heartbeat Luke plainclothes
Re: Cold Front [message #844 is a reply to message #843] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:15 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 11, 5:30 pm TI, (11:30 pm, previous day NYC)

Cassie was in her apartment playing her guitar. She had a new music book she had received in the last mail delivery open on the music stand in front of her. The book had some of the latest country songs in it.

Over the notes coming from the guitar, the dark-haired woman heard her satellite phone ring. Stopping in mid chorus, she placed her guitar up against the wall and stood up. Crossing the living area, she picked the phone up off of the table and glanced at the screen.

"Hey, Mark! What's up?" she said, answering the call.

"Not much. Just wanted to check in on my favorite sister! I was hoping you'd still be awake."

"Yeah, I'm wide awake. I guess I worked the evening shift too long to be able to turn in early."

"I know what you mean. So how's everything with you? The job working out okay?"

"I'm doing good. Making some new friends here. As for the job, its keeping me busy but that's okay. I've got a business trip planned actually."

"Yeah, where are they sending you?"

"The Tracy Industries facilities in Christchurch, NZ. Hoping to see the city a little bit while I'm there," Cassie told him as she settled herself on the couch.

"So, you're finally getting a chance to travel. That's great! Hey, speaking of traveling, were you able to get some time off to make the trip to Japan with the rest of us?"

"Yes, I was able to get a few days off though it is part business trip for me. I'll be making a visit to the Tokyo facilities on Thursday while I'm there. That will leave me all day Friday and Saturday with the family though before I fly out on Sunday."

"Great! Can't wait to see you. Seems like you've been gone longer than a month and a half."

"Then that means you're coming too, I take it," Cassie said. It was something she had been wondering about. Given the strained relationship between Mark and their parents she had been wondering if they would even extend the invitation to him and if they did if Mark would want to go.

"Yeah. I kind of want to see Grandma, Grandpa, Saicho and the others. Figured I can endure the coolness from the folks for their sakes."

"Do they know?"

"Yeah. I told Saicho and he told his parents as well as Grandma and Grandpa. They're a little bit more open-minded than Mom and Dad on the whole subject. It was actually Grandpa who called to invite me for the holiday. From talking with Jordan, seems like our folks called everyone except me."

"Don't let them get to you. It's not worth it. With any luck they'll come around eventually."

"For the first time, I actually think you may be right. Jordan did after all, with a little nudge from you I hear."

Cassie smiled as she replied. "Yeah, well someone has to be the peacemaker in the family. How are the two of you getting along?"

"Pretty well actually. We're flying over to Japan together. We should get there on Thursday evening."

"Good. I should be done with work by that time," Cassie told him.

The two siblings continued to talk for awhile more. Finally, Mark said good-bye so that he could climb into bed. After disconnecting the call, Cassie returned to her abandoned guitar and the song she was practicing.



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[Updated on: Wed, 25 July 2012 17:15]

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Re: Cold Front [message #845 is a reply to message #844] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:15 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Monday, November 12, 10:00 a.m., Tracy Island

"Damn!" Dianne slammed her fists down on the console before her.

Virgil poked his head into the simulator, which had been set up with the new Thunderbird Seven controls. "That didn't go well, did it?"

Dianne shook her head, scowling. "No, it did not. The controls are so touchy! I move my hand the least little bit -- or have it moved for me..." Her scowl deepened at she looked at her stepson. "...and Seven is just jerked away from where I want it to go."

"You have to learn to work with these controls under any circumstances," Virgil cautioned. "That means in high winds, on bumpy terrain... you know that most rescues are under the worst conditions possible."

Dianne held his gaze for a few moments, then snorted. She released her straps and stood up to stretch. "I need a break."

Virgil stepped out of her way. "Not too long. Ten minutes."

She nodded. "I'll be back soon."

Leaving the simulator, she caught the waiting monorail car and rode it down to the lab. The lights on the side of the doors were green, so she let herself in.

"Hello, Dianne," Brains said, looking up from the electronic drawing table. "What brings you here?"

"Taking a break from training." Dianne sighed. She moved over to the window that overlooked the repair bay and folded her arms.

Brains went back to what he was doing, adding some dimensions to the plans of the long-overdue Thunderbird Eight. He looked up again when she said quietly, "They're painting her."

He smiled, and joined her at the window. "Yes. They're on the first coat of white. Three coats, the decals, lights and sealer, then we calibrate all the systems inside. I estimate it should be done by the end of the week."

Dianne shot him a look. "So soon?"

He nodded wordlessly, and she let out a deep sigh. "Well, then, I have a lot more work to do in the simulator." Running a hand through her hair, she gave him a small smile. "I'd better get back to it."

"Good idea."

Going back to his drawing table, he nevertheless watched from the corner of his eye when she left. When she was gone, he turned his attention back to his task.

Dianne took the monorail car back to the simulator, where Virgil waited. He glanced pointedly at his watch.

"Sorry if I'm late," she said as she stepped back into the cockpit and began fastening herself in again. "Did you know that they've started painting her?"

"Yes. I'm supposed to help out after the simulator sessions are over." He prepared to enter the programming and viewing booth. "Are you ready?"

Dianne nodded. "Yeah, I guess so. Let's try it again." She paused as she grasped the padded, rubberized handles. "Whose bright idea was this joystick business anyway?"

"I believe it was Dad's." Virgil's voice came over the intercom.

She huffed, and smiled slightly, a wry expression, muttering under her breath. "Well, Mr. Tracy, this had better work, or you'll be sleeping on the couch tonight."


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Re: Cold Front [message #846 is a reply to message #845] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:16 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Sunday around 3:00 pm, Montana, (Monday 11 am, Tracy Island) somewhere along the Absaroka Range...

"I can't believe she got one before I did."

Luke grinned up at his older brother. "You're just jealous."

"You bet I am," Roger replied, grinning back. "Means we're still stuck out here while she and Dad are back at the cabin!" He gestured to the snow-covered woods surrounding them.

"Maybe if your aim was better, your daughter wouldn't have gotten the first deer of the season," Luke teased.

His brother glared. "My aim is just fine."

"Whatever you say, old man." The two brothers continued through the woods, softly throwing jabs at each other. They both paused as they heard gunshots in the distance. Luke shook his head. "Remember when we were kids and we'd be out here for days without seeing anyone?"

Roger nodded. "When the government opened up the land a few years ago, the tourists really started piling in."

Luke sighed. "I know." The wind picked up momentarily and he pulled his neon orange cap down further over his ears. "There's nothing this way, not even tracks. Let's head over towards the hills. We might find something over near the rocks, there's more browse there." They moved out.

Nearly an hour later, the terrain had changed from pine trees to tall brush and shrubs surrounding a large outcropping of rock. Another shot rang out, this time closer. "Damn, they're going to spook everything. Where are they?" Roger asked, his eyes scanning the area.

"No idea," Luke replied, following his gaze, but not seeing anyone. Then his attention was caught. "Rog, here." He squatted down and pointed. "Fresh tracks. And he's big from the size of the prints." He looked up and grinned wolfishly. "Bigger than Sarah's."

Roger nodded. "Let's get him." The two hunters started out, pausing occasionally as they heard muffled voices in the distance behind them. Finally Roger stopped near the rock face and shook his head. "Tracks disappeared here in the gravel. And I'd bet that with all the noise that group behind us is making, we're out of luck for today."

Another shot rang out. "Yeah, I think you're right." Luke sighed. "This sucks. I only have another day here before we head in so I can spend some time with Mom before going back to LA."

"Yeah? Got somebody lined up that you're missing?" Roger asked with a smirk.

"Don't I wish." They turned and started skirting the rocks. "There is someone I might bring home for Christmas though."

"Oh?"

"Yeah, she doesn't have any family so rather than spend the holiday alone, I thought I'd drag her along with me."

Roger looked at his younger brother in surprise. "She? You switching teams on us there, bud?"

"Ha-ha." He shrugged. "She might not come though. She's kinda dating a guy in the...office and who knows, she might decide to do Christmas with him."

"Her loss. Especially if Mom makes meat pie."

Luke grinned. "That's one of the only times I'll eat red meat! What do you think--" His sentence was cut off as the sharp "crack" of a rifle went off, even closer this time. He heard a ping as something ricocheted off the rocks then felt a burning sensation in his back and chest. He staggered forward, suddenly finding it hard to breathe.

Roger glared across the forest. "Idiots. They're going to get someone killed." He turned to his brother, frowning at the expression on Luke's face. "Hey, you OK?"

Luke didn't answer, but stumbled to his knees.

"Luke!" Roger flew to his side, throwing his arm around his brother's shoulders. "What is it? What's wrong?" Something warm and sticky seeped onto his hand and he pulled back to find it covered in his brother's blood. "Oh God!" He peered down at the hole in the back of Luke's jacket, then carefully lowered him to the ground. Looking over his brother, he didn't find an exit wound. Roger quickly pulled out his cell phone and began dialing. "Luke, you stay with me, do you hear me? Hello? Yes, I need a med-evac immediately; my brother's been shot!" He rattled off their GPS co-ordinates.

Luke was feeling numb. Strangely, there was no pain, only a sense of weightlessness. His brother's voice was becoming a pleasant buzz in the background. He closed his eyes.

"No! Luke! God, I think I'm losing him! Luke! LUKE!!"

The voice disappeared and Luke let himself fall into the beckoning darkness.


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Re: Cold Front [message #847 is a reply to message #846] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:16 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Monday, November 12th, Tracy Island, before dinner . . .

The sun had finally found its way to peek out from among the clouds. The sunshine made a nice contrast to the rain that had plagued the island for the last couple of days. As a result of those two things though, raindrops sparkled on the petals and leaves as Tin-Tin and Brains strolled leisurely through Kyrano's garden. The two had spent most of the day indoors working, and after a little bit of convincing, Tin-Tin had managed to convince the scientist to take a walk with her before dinner.

"The rain sure has a way of making everything seem so fresh and clean after it has passed through," Tin-Tin said, letting her thoughts break the silence of the garden. "Like the water is washing things away and given the whole world a clean slate to work with."

Brains took in the young Malaysian's words and thought them over. It was a way of looking at the rain that he had never considered before. She's opening my eyes to a whole lot of things here lately, though, the scientist thought with a smile.

"I never thought of that before, but I think I see what you mean," he told her, as he held his arm out to her. The young woman beside him quickly slipped her own arm through his and the couple continued their stroll through the flowers.

"I've been meaning to ask you, are you going to attend Cassie's tea ceremony at the end of the month?" Tin-Tin asked after they had walked a few more paces.

"To tell you the truth, I haven't really considered it," Brains admitted. He had opened the invitation, looked it over, and then put it aside, intending to make a decision at a later date. That was almost a week ago and quite honestly he had forgotten about it. "The RSVP date is next Tuesday, isn't it?"

"Yes. I already told her I was going to come. I've enjoyed the times I've had tea with her and she's told me about the tea ceremony but I'm looking forward to actually participating in one. It would be more enjoyable if you came with me."

"I'm not really sure it's my type of thing," Brains told her. "I'd probably feel out of place there."

The black-haired girl nodded, having expected an answer along those lines. She briefly considered trying to convince him otherwise but decided against it. Even if the attempt was successful, if he didn't enjoy the evening, she would feel bad about talking him into going.

"I'll be looking forward to hearing your account of the evening though," the scientist told her.

Tin-Tin smiled. "I'll be sure I can remember the details." There was a slight pause in the conversation before she continued. "I was considering getting a kimono for the event. I thought it would be nice to dress for the occasion however, even the cheaper garments are still costly. I can't justify spending so much for a article of clothing I will probably only wear once. I was also looking at patterns, thinking I'd make my own, and there is no way I could complete one by the end of the month."

"How much do they run?"

Brains was surprised by the price that Tin-Tin told him. Still, an idea was forming in his head. For now though, he wasn't going to say anything about it. If he couldn't pull it off, he would prefer that Tin-Tin knew nothing about it.

The talk continued as the young couple continued their walk through the garden.


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Re: Cold Front [message #848 is a reply to message #847] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:18 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Tracy Island, Tuesday November 13th, around noon...

Gordon smiled as he saw Tracy Island come into view. "JT-1 to Tracy Island. Requesting landing instructions."

A moment later his father's voice answered. "Tracy Island here. You're good to go. Welcome home, Gordon."

Gordon banked the jet, lining it up with the runway. A few minutes later, he was taxiing down the pavement. He brought the jet to a stop in the hangar and ran his post-flight check, then grabbing his bag, hurried out the door.

He made his way to the Villa and into his father's office. "Dad!"

Jeff looked up from his desk and smiled warmly. "Gordon, how was your trip?"

"Fantastic. It was great to see the guys again."

"Glad you had a good time." He glanced up at the clock. "And you're back just in time for lunch."

Gordon grinned. "Why do you think I planned it this way? I'm going to go put my stuff away. I'll see you in a few minutes." He made his way to his room. Once inside, he tossed his duffel bag on his bed and idly flipped on the light of his aquarium before going into the bathroom. In the doorway, he froze and turned slowly.

"What the hell?!" he exclaimed, rushing over to his tank. Instead of it being filled with his brightly colored fish and corals, it contained what looked like goldfish crackers floating in blue jello. He snarled and marched out the door.

He stalked into the kitchen, his expression mutinous. His grandmother looked up from the stove. "Gordon! You're back!"

Scott smiled from where he was sitting at the table. "Hey there, bro. How was your flight?"

"My flight was fine," Gordon growled.

Virgil waved from the counter. "Then why the grumpy face?"

Gordon ignored the question. "Who touched my fish?" he demanded.

"What fish, dear?" Emily replied.

"My aquarium. Someone messed with my fish." He glared at his brothers.

"No idea what you're talking about, Gords," Scott said as he picked up a morsel from the plate in front of him. "Sit down here with me and tell us all about it." He waited until Gordon was sitting across from him, then smiled. "Sushi?" He nudged the plate towards his brother.

"No," said Gordon, sulkily.

"More for me then," Scott said, popping another piece into his mouth. "Mmmm. Who'd ever thought clownfish could taste so good."

Gordon shook his head. "You can't make sushi out of clownfish. You... HEY!"

Scott smiled. "Yes?"

"My fish! You're eating my fish!!!"

"Oh, is that what this is?" Scott batted his eyes innocently.

Gordon snarled and leapt up, his fists clenched. "I'll kill you."

Jeff walked in at that moment. Spying his middle son, he frowned. "What is going on here?"

"Scott ate my fish!" Gordon shouted.

His elder brother shrugged. "Grandma probably has more. I don't know what he's getting so worked up about."

Over at the counter, Virgil choked back a laugh.

Gordon whirled. "You're in on it, too?!" he demanded.

Virgil sauntered over to stand next to Scott. "In on what, Gordon?"

"Someone want to explain this?" Jeff asked sitting down. "Scott, is that sushi?"

"It certainly is. Want some?" Scott pushed the plate over to his father.

"THAT IS NOT SUSHI! THOSE ARE MY FISH!!" Gordon exploded.

Emily got another platter out of the refrigerator and set it on the table. "There's plenty, dear. Eat up." She patted Gordon on the shoulder.

Scott leaned forward, fearlessly meeting his brother's angry glare. "You want them back, you take down the pictures."

Gordon took a step back. "What pictures?"

"You know what pictures." His gaze didn't waver. "And I want all the copies, too."

"I don't know what you're talking about," Gordon said warily.

"I think you do."

Gordon was silent for a moment. "Wait a second, this is because of that? You already got me back with those crazy swimsuits."

Scott shook his head. "I had nothing to do with that. I merely helped Anna acquire them. That was all her doing. I want the pictures."

Gordon turned to his father. "Dad? Don't you have something to say about this?"

Jeff shrugged. "I think Scott summed it up rather nicely. I'd give him those pictures if I were you."

Gordon scowled. "Fine. Consider it done. Where'd you put my fish?"

Scott leaned back and shook his head. "Uh-uh. You think I'm that stupid? Pictures first, then you get your guppies back."

Gordon turned and marched out of the room, muttering under his breath. Virgil clapped his brother on the shoulder. "Nicely done, Scott. Man, did you see the expression on his face?"

"It's a sight I won't soon forget. They're right when they say revenge is a dish best served cold. And this sushi is cold!" They burst out laughing.

"Is this over now?" Jeff asked with a smile.

"It will be as soon as I check the website," Scott replied.

"Good." Jeff buried his nose in the newspaper.

Scott got to his feet. "C'mon, Virg, let's go make sure the little weasel makes good on his promise. See you later, Dad."

Emily watched them leave, shaking her head. "Those boys of yours make me glad I only had you!"

Jeff chuckled as he put down his paper. "Aw, Mom, I was a saint of a child."

His mother arched her eyebrow up. "Saint? Are we talking about the same boy who helped kidnap and paint the opposing school's mascot donkey blue?"

Jeff laughed. "That was a good time! And it wasn't a donkey, it was a mule." He shook his head. "But the boys don't need to hear about that," he warned her. "No use giving them any ideas."

Emily smiled, her expression eerily familiar to Scott's. "Then you'd best get up and help me with the dishes."


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Re: Cold Front [message #849 is a reply to message #848] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:19 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Tuesday, November 13th, 1:00 p.m. Tracy Island ( Monday, November 12th, 2 p.m., Oahu, Hawaii)

Jim Mahina was sitting behind the counter of Blue Waters Dive Shop with the radio playing in the background. It was a typical Monday for the shop - slow. The last customers he had seen were the Noe twins, who were regular customers. The two brothers often stopped by to rent a boat and get air for their dive trips.

The phone rang. Jim turned the radio off and then picked up the phone. "Blue Waters Dive Shop. Jim speaking. How may I help you?"

"Hello. I'm looking for a Vincent Crenshaw," the voice on the other end said. Jim hadn't missed the slight pause before the name and figured that the man had consulted something.

"He's out of the shop right now, though he should be back shortly," Jim replied, glancing at the clock. The local schools were off for teacher conferences and Vince had taken the opportunity to schedule a dive for his dive class from the Ewa Beach YMCA. It was the class's second trip, and they had been excited. His boss had said to expect them back sometime between two and two-thirty. "Can I take a message?"

"Yes. This is Sam Kent, Human Resources director for Tracy Industries. Can you have him call me back in reference to the application that he sent in."

While Mr. Kent was giving Jim the phone number, the shop worker heard voices from outside. Looking out the window, he saw the six teenagers from Vince's class making their way up from the dock.

"Excuse me, sir," Jim said interrupting the man on the phone. "Vince has just got back. If you'll hold on for a minute I can have him on the phone."

"That's fine. Thank-you."

Jim put the phone on hold and picked up the two way radio off of the counter. "Hey, Vince, you read me?" Jim asked, hoping his boss had the radio turned on again. The two-ways only worked in the area around the shop but all of them almost always carried them when they were on duty.

"Yeah, Jim. I read you. What's up?"

"You've got a phone call here at the shop. It's from Tracy Industries."

"Okay. I'll pick it up on the phone in the boathouse. Keep an eye on the kids, will you?"

"You got it, Boss," Jim said, clipping the radio to his belt and heading outside to deal with the returning dive class. The teens all had shop equipment which would need taken care of. Vince required the kids in his class to do the after use maintenance on the equipment as part of their education.

Down by the water, Vince placed the gear he was carrying on the dock and headed for the boathouse. He made his way to the desk and picked up the phone to answer the call on hold. "Blue Waters Dive Shop. Vincent Crenshaw speaking."

"Good afternoon, Mr. Crenshaw. I'm glad I caught you. I'm Sam Kent, Human Resources Director for Tracy Industries in Honolulu. I'm calling about the resume you sent in for the Marine Specialist position. From your resume it looks like you have all the qualifications that we're looking for. I'd like for you to come in for a preliminary interview if you're still interested in the position."

"Yeah, I'm still interested. When do you want me to come in for the interview?"

"Well, we'd like to fill the position as soon as possible so preferably sometime this week if you can make it?"

"I'd be free anytime Wednesday," Vince told him, as the shop was closed on Wednesday. There just wasn't enough business to justify keeping the shop open on that day though he and Jim did take groups out on dive trips from time to time. Nothing was scheduled for this Wednesday though.

"Great. How about ten a.m., then?"

"That's fine."

"Great. I look forward to meeting you. Good-bye."

"Good-bye Mr. Kent," Vince said before hanging up the phone. He quickly made a note of the appointment on the calendar on his cell phone before leaving the boathouse to catch up with his class.


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Re: Cold Front [message #850 is a reply to message #849] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:19 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Tuesday, November 13, Christchurch, NZ, a little after 3 p.m.

"If there is anything else I can help you with in the future, feel free to get in touch with me," Aidan Lester, the head of security for Tracy Industries Marine and Research Facility of Christchurch, told Cassie as the two walked from his office to the elevator.

"I will. I appreciate your time and cooperation today," Cassie told him.

Aidan Lester had given her a complete tour of the facility, which included the docking facilities where the craft currently being worked on were located, pointing out where fire extinguishers, maps showing the nearest exit, and other safety features were located. A surprise evacuation drill had also been conducted and had given Cassie the chance to time the process herself as well as observe the emergency plan in use. With the exception of a few minor deficiencies, the drill had gone smoothly. The former NY firefighter had written down some of her observations as well as making note of several things that could possibly work in other facilities.

"Glad to be of service, Ms. Kishi," the security man replied as the two of them stepped onto the elevator.

The two continued the conversation as the elevator made its way to the ground floor. It wasn't long before the car came to a stop and, with a ding, the doors slid open. Both Cassie and Aidan stepped off the elevator into the lobby of the building. Cassie spotted Alan waiting for her in one of the chairs near the entrance.

With a final good-bye, Aidan retreated back to the elevator while Cassie made her way across the lobby to where Alan was seated. Having seen her approach, Alan got to his feet.

"Well, you're still smiling so I guess that means you didn't work too hard," Alan said, as she reached him.

"No. This part of the job is a lot less stressful than what I'm used to doing."

The two of them made their way out of Tracy Industries and into the parking lot. Once outside, Alan headed in the direction he had parked the car.

"So, what did you decide to do today while you were waiting?" Cassie asked. On their flight from the island this morning Alan had been debating about a few possibilities of how to spend his time.

"I decided to go mountain biking in Bottle Lake Forest. It was nice to get out and be able to feel the wind on my face and stuff. Not to mention the scenery is enjoyable."

"I'll have to take your word for it. The only time I've been to Christchurch before this was with your mother when we got the things I needed for my apartment. Sightseeing was limited."

"Well, we can change that. I'll show you some of the sights of the city before we head over to the mall. I was thinking we could find a place to eat over in New Brighton. Thought you might like seeing the pier over there. We can do our shopping afterwards. Those shoes going to be comfortable to walk in the rest of the day?" he asked, looking down at the black pumps Cassie wore with the slacks, blouse, and blazer she had worn.

"No, but I've got loafers to change into in the car."

The two continued idle chat as they walked across the parking lot. It didn't take them long before they had reached the car. The talk continued as Alan pulled the car onto the Christchurch streets. Driving toward the center of the city, Alan found a place to park the car so they could walk around for awhile, Cassie taking some pictures. They visited the Botanical Gardens for a little while before heading back to the car. Cassie now had a mental list of things she wanted to come back and do in some spare time.

Visit to Christchurch pt. 1



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[Updated on: Tue, 21 April 2015 01:38] by Moderator

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Re: Cold Front [message #851 is a reply to message #850] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:19 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Tuesday, November 13, 4 p.m., Tracy Island.

Cherie scowled, muttering a quiet, "Damn." She scribbled over the pad she had in her hand, and threw the pencil down, breaking it in half.

"Language, young lady."

The teenager started, and glanced up to find her mother behind her. Dianne had come up quietly, intending on a swim and had been heading for the lounger next to her daughter when Cherie had her little fit.

"Sorry, Mom."

Cherie's tone told Dianne that the girl wasn't terribly sorry. She held out her hand for the pad, and with a heavy sigh, her daughter offered it.

"Hm." Dianne looked from the pad to the high board, which was what the girl had been trying to sketch. "Looks okay to me. What do you think is wrong with it?"

Putting her hand out, Cherie wordlessly asked for the pad back. Dianne gave it to her, and the girl looked at the ruined picture. "I dunno. I thought my shading was off..."

"I don't see it, but I'm no artist." Dianne dropped her towel onto the lounger.

Cherie shrugged. "I've ruined it anyway." She sighed. "Now I have to come up with something else for art class."

The older woman thought about this for a moment, then reached out a hand. "C'mon. Time for a mother-daughter conference."

Cherie looked at the outstretched hand, then at her mother's face. "Where are we going?"

"To the beach. For a little talk -- away from bothersome brothers."

The girl shrugged again, and took her mother's hand. Dianne helped her lever herself out of the lounger, and the two of them walked off toward the trail leading down to the beach.

They walked in silence for a while, the only sounds the scuffing of their feet and the gulls wheeling overhead. When they got down to a point where they were level with the Cliff House, a shout and a wave turned their attention to the patio. Dom was there, Joshua sitting high on his shoulders. He was encouraging his son to call and wave, and the boy did, shouting, "Serry! Serry!"

"Hi, Josh! Hi, Dom!" Cherie shouted back, a smile coming to her face. The two continued to wave at each other until the women got to a point below the Cliff House where they couldn't see the patio anymore.

At last, they reached the bottom, and turned to the right, away from the airstrip. The sand was soft and white and still moist from days of rain. Cherie tucked her hands into the pockets of her jean shorts as they walked.

"Now, tell me," Dianne began, "what's going on with art class?"

Cherie shrugged. "Not much. It's been made perfectly clear to me that I'm no longer welcome."

"In the class itself?" Dianne probed. "Or with the little group of kids who you thought you were becoming friends with?"

The girl sighed. "With the group. I... I don't know if I want to go back, Mom. I mean, I don't think there's anything Mr. Jernigan can teach me that Virgil doesn't know..."

"I'm sure there are things that the teacher can show you that Virgil hasn't. But the purpose of you going to this class was to make friends," Dianne reminded her. "There are other kids in the class, aren't there?"

"Yeah." Cherie sighed again. "But... I don't feel like starting over. Plus they've all heard Jen making fun of me."

Dianne put an arm around her daughter's shoulders. "You have to remember that you're the outsider there, as far as not being native to the town or even the country. That will make it harder to connect with these kids."

The girl sniffled. "I thought I had connected with them. Then they found out that I was a Tracy... and it all went down the tubes from there." She glanced up at her mother, her eyes moist. "Is that what it's going to be like for the rest of my life?"

Blowing out a breath, Dianne shook her head slightly. "No, it isn't. You'll likely find that lots of people want to be your friend -- because you're a Tracy, and rich, and have a powerful father. It's not going to be easy to separate out those who want to be friends because of who you are from those who are friendly because of who your family is." She paused, then asked, "Do you think these kids are like that?"

Cherie shook her head. "I don't think so. It's more like they're jealous of me -- well, at least Jen is. Probably Aroha, too. I'm not so sure about Anneliese or Manjari... and I can't figure out Tim at all." She gave her mother a small wry smile. "Here I have seven brothers, and I can't figure out one teenaged guy."

Dianne chuckled. "Well, the fact that none of your brothers are teenagers might account for it."

They both laughed a little, then Dianne continued. "I think, love, that you have to focus on the ones that still seem friendly. Ignore the girls who are being snarky and reach out to the ones who aren't. And while you're at it, see who else in the class might be good to know. This is already a tight-knit little group; there are likely others outside of it who could use a friend."

The girl's shoulders drooped, and she sighed again. "It's so hard!"

"Making and keeping friends is always hard, Cherie, at any age. This whole situation is reminding me that I have a few people to nudge and say hello to, too." Dianne smiled. "And as Tracys, we never..."

"Never give up." Cherie finished her mother's sentence. "I already got that lecture from Scott."

"Then put it into practice. And try to enjoy the class for the class's sake, too. I'm sure there are things you'll learn that Virgil hasn't had time to teach you."

Cherie nodded. "Okay. I'll keep going."

There was a pause, and Dianne looked up at the sky. "We should head back. I would like to get in a bit of a swim before dinner."

The girl agreed, and they turned to retrace their steps. "So," Dianne ventured. "How is that mural project going?"

Cherie brightened. "I think it's going well. I need to talk to Ms. Cassie about it soon, though, and show her what I have."

"So, tell me about it," Dianne suggested as they walked back, her arm around Cherie's shoulder, drawing her close.


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Re: Cold Front [message #852 is a reply to message #851] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:19 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
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Field Commander
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Tuesday, November 13, Christchurch, NZ

Cassie stood with her arms leaning on the railing of the New Brighton Pier, gazing out over the water. Some surfers were using the last moments of the fading light to get a few more rides in.

After grabbing dinner, Alan and Cassie had come over to the pier. Cassie had taken pictures of the library and the clock tower and had continued snapping various pictures as they had made their way down the wooden walkway. Alan had wandered down to the end to see what the fishermen were catching. Instead of going with him, Cassie had opted to wait for him at a midpoint on the pier.

Hearing footsteps approaching, Cassie took her gaze away from the ocean. She saw the blonde Tracy walking back down the pier. The dark haired woman moved from her leaning position. She retrieved the couple of bags from the ground containing purchases she had made in one of the shops near the restaurant.

"They catching anything down there?"

"Nah, not really," Alan replied as he reached her. As they started walking back toward shore, Alan glanced over at the surfers in the water. "Been awhile since I've come to the mainland to surf. I think I'll see if I can't get Gordon to come with me some weekend. You ever tried surfing?"

"No and I don't think I want to," Cassie told him, looking toward the surfers. "Not sure it's my type of sport."

"You don't know what you're missing. If you want, I was thinking we could split up at the mall, seeing as you have some of idea of what you're looking for and I just plan on browsing. We can pick a time and place to meet."

"That's fine."

"I still can't believe you're doing your Christmas shopping this early."

"Yeah, well, as I'm going to be seeing everyone over Thanksgiving, I figure it'll be easier giving the presents to people to take back with them than to try and mail everything later."

"Yeah, but how are you going to keep people from finding out what you got them ahead of time?"

"I've got that figured out. I plan on giving the presents for everyone in New York to Mark and give Mark's gift to Jordan. I'll give Lisa the gifts for her family and give Phillip hers. Get the picture?"

"Yeah. Sounds like too much planning. Think I'd just rather mail everything if I had to make that choice."

Cassie just shrugged. Not only would this method save her from having to mail things but it also saved from having to wrap everything herself. She had always hated wrapping gifts.

The two of them reached the car. They got in and were soon headed for the mall.


Visit to Chrischurch end


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Re: Cold Front [message #853 is a reply to message #852] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:20 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
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Field Commander
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Tuesday, November 13 mid-morning/noon, Tracy Island


Oh, man! Oh, wow!

For goodness' sake, Jenny, she said to herself, calm down. You're only working as a housekeeper and doing the cooking.

But I'm helping International Rescue!

She peered out of the window at the sea far below, each moment bringing her closer to the island where she was to work.
She'd got the job!

I can't believe it. When I applied for that job, I never expected this!

Her mind flew back to the incident a few days ago.

*********Flashback**********

Mr Tracy had called her to his offices in Sydney. He was unable to meet her in person, so Kyrano had met her instead. In a private office he informed her that Mr Tracy was offering the job of housekeeper/chef to her, and showed her the contract. She read it carefully. The terms stated that if she took the job, she could not leave it for a year. That was fine - or maybe not. What about Wendy and her baby?

But then, this was a job she felt she'd enjoy. She doubted it would be very stressful, (although she sensed that Emily Tracy didn't entirely approve of her) and she'd be working in such a lovely location, it seemed a pity to pass up such a chance. Quite probably she'd never have an opportunity like this again. She reached for a pen.

"Um, there's something I have to ask about first," she said, remembering Hiss and laying down the pen. "I own a carpet python. Would he be able to come with me, or not?"

Kyrano looked surprised. "Well, I am not exactly sure what Mr Tracy would say to that. There are people on the island who are frightened of snakes. I shall call him and find out what he thinks. He intended to speak to you anyway."

He picked up a vidphone and dialled a number. Jenny held her breath anxiously as she waited.

"Mr Tracy? This is Kyrano."

"Ah, Kyrano. Is Miss Finch there also?"

"Yes, I am with her now. She tells me that she owns a carpet python, and would like to bring it with her to the island, if you permit her to do so."

Mr Tracy's voice could be heard clearly in the room. "Well, there are people on the island who are afraid of snakes. But if she kept it in a safe place where it couldn't get out, I don't see any problem."

Jenny looked relieved. Kyrano gestured her to come closer.

"There is also something else which I need to speak to you about," Jeff Tracy continued. "I must insist you never to tell anyone about what I am going to tell you, for privacy and security reasons. Is that clear?"

Kyrano was looking very serious, and Mr Tracy's voice was quite stern.

Oh dear, I hope this is all right, she thought, as she answered, "Yes."

Mr Tracy's face peered at her from the vidphone. Apparently satisfied about something, he announced, "My family is International Rescue."

Jenny froze, stunned, her mouth slightly open.

"I hope you understand the implications of this knowledge."

"Yes, sir," Jenny answered soberly, recalling how much the media and others would pay for information like this. "I'd never betray you, sir," she added fervently.

Jeff Tracy smiled slightly. "I hope not. Well, then. Welcome to the island."

"Thank you, sir," she answered, reaching for the pen again.

Kyrano spoke a little while longer, then turned his phone off.

Jenny rose, extending the signed contract, suddenly aware that her palms were sweating.

"Here's the contract, Mr Kyrano. I've signed it."

Kyrano smiled slowly. "Thank you. And welcome, Miss Finch."

***********End of flashback***********

"Nearly there, ma'am," a voice came through on the intercomm.

Jenny straightened herself and glanced at Hiss in his travelling container. She'd bought him a new container for living in, where the temperature and humidity were regulated. A big cooler filled with frozen mice and rats stood in the far corner, enough to last a couple of months.

"We're nearly there, Hiss," she whispered, "nearly there."


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Re: Cold Front [message #854 is a reply to message #853] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:20 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
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Tuesday, November 13, late afternoon/early evening

Two boyish faces peered around the kitchen door while Jenny, Emily, Kyrano and Lisa prepared dinner.

"You can come in, you two," Emily said, chopping parsley vigorously, "but only if you've done your homework."

"We've finished it, Grandma," the elder boy replied, watching Jenny as she fed onion into a chopper.

"Jenny, these are my grandsons Alex and Tyler," Lisa informed her. "Alex, Tyler, this is Jenny."

Jenny turned off the chopper and greeted the boys enthusiastically.

"Do you really have a snake?" Tyler asked excitedly.

"I do," Jenny confirmed, smiling.

"What species is it?" Alex asked.

"Southwestern carpet python. He's called Hiss."

"Could we see him some time?"

"Yes, but not now. I have to help make your dinner. You do want dinner, don't you?" She turned the chopper on again, a twinkle in her eye.

"Of course we do! Will there be plenty?"

"There will be quite enough, Master Tyler," Emily answered, in stern tones, but with a smile lurking in her face. "You know there's always plenty."

Lisa filled a bowl with bread crumbs.

"What is for dinner?" Alex asked curiously.

"Never you mind," Lisa answered mysteriously. "Why don't you two go play foosball until dinnertime?"

Jenny continued chopping, deep in thought. She was delighted with her apartment in the Round House. It had an excellent view of the ocean and she was feeling as though she had stepped into paradise. She imagined her apartment with pretty floral curtains, a matching sofa, and a nice homey rug on the floor. Add a few framed pictures, some little antique ornaments, and she would have the home of her dreams.

She had only arrived that morning. It seemed as though she had been here longer than that. And she had been promised a tour of the villa and island tomorrow. Maybe she would meet some of the International Rescue workers. She'd hardly seen anyone that day, even Jeff, who had met her when she arrived, but had work to do and couldn't stay around. Maybe one day she might even see the Thunderbirds!

"Jenny? Pass the onion over here, will you?" Lisa asked, breaking her out of her reverie.


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Re: Cold Front [message #855 is a reply to message #854] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:20 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
Registered: July 2012
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Field Commander
Switzerland

Tuesday, November 13, after dinner

She had gone back to the kitchen ostensibly to get herself a cup of tea, but she wanted to have a good look around without Mrs Tracy somewhere nearby. She inspected all the cupboards, noting the contents for future reference. Really, the kitchen was in excellent condition, and she hadn't seen such a well organized area since her first waitress job.

Suddenly she was aware that she wasn't alone, and she spun around. Alex and Tyler were standing in the doorway watching her eagerly.

"Hello," Jenny greeted them.

"Hello. We wanted to know whether we could see the python," Alex answered.

She glanced around the kitchen. "Well, it looks as though I've nothing to do right now, so I might as well show you. Come and meet Hiss, then."

She led the way to her apartment, listening in amusement as the boys started arguing about snakes. She was quite surprised at the range of Alex's knowledge. Obviously there was little he didn't know about animals. He would probably become a fine wildlife carer when he grew older.

"Here we are," she announced finally, opening her door.

Hiss's new enclosure had been set up in a corner of the room. He was curled up on the floor of it, sleeping. The boys walked closer to have a good look.

"He's beautiful!" Alex whispered, eyeing the snake rapturously. "This colouring is quite rare, you know. It's olive green, isn't it?"

"Yes," Jenny answered, leaning against the dresser to watch.

Tyler looked up eagerly. "Could we hold him?"

"Not today, because he's tired out, and not without your mother's permission. She might not like it."

"Ok," Tyler answered.

"What does he eat?" Alex asked.

"Mice and rats, mostly. I only have to feed him once a fortnight. I keep them frozen and thaw them when needed."

"When was he last fed?"

"Two days ago."

"Could I help you feed him some time?"

"I don't see why not, if your parents don't mind."

"How old is he?"

Jenny leaned her head against the wall and thought. "About two years, I think. I've had him for nearly that long."

Tyler asked, "How did you get him?"

"I bought him from a pet shop."

"Are there many snakes around where you used to live?"

"Plenty! The most poisonous is the tiger snake, though. There's even a rare black snake that only lives in the area. It's endangered."

"Wow! Have you ever seen one?"

"No. There's a story in my area, though, about a farmer who jumped over a fence one day into a paddock full of high, thick grass. A great big tiger snake reared up and looked him in the eye, in the eye, mind you. He was a big guy, about six foot tall, and this dirty great big tiger was as tall as him!"

"Whoa!"

"Not to mention that the snake must have been about three times as long as that to be able to rear so high. Anyway, his son came up behind the snake and knocked it down."

"Did you ever see the snake?"

"No. It was told to me by a friend who'd heard it from her cousin. So I don't know whether it's true or not. But there are plenty of rumours of really big snakes around the area."

"Have you ever seen a crocodile?"

Jenny shivered involuntarily. "Yes, at a zoo, and I wouldn't like to meet one in the bush!"

"Neither would I," Tyler agreed.

Just then there was a knock on the door.

"Come in," Jenny called.

A girl of about fourteen entered. "Hi, you must be Jenny. I'm Cherie Tracy. Are Alex and Tyler here? Mom says they should be getting ready for bed."

There were simultaneous groans from the direction of Hiss's enclosure and Jenny repressed a grin.

"Hi, Cherie; nice to meet you. Well, boys, you'll have to come back tomorrow, won't you?"

"Will we get to hold Hiss then?"

"Ask your mother," Jenny replied, ushering the Tracy children out with a smile.


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Re: Cold Front [message #856 is a reply to message #855] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:21 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
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Field Commander
Switzerland

Wednesday, November 14, 8:30 p.m., Tracy Island

"...Happy birthday, dear Bra-ains! Happy birthday to you!"

The song ended in a cacophony of sounds, as Brains blew out the candles. Gordon lifted his voice into a near wolf-howl on the final syllable. Alan joined him, adding a drum roll on the table with his hands. Virgil, who had been trying to "conduct" the impromptu chorus, brought his hands down emphatically, and in the microsecond of silence that followed, Josh could be heard to say, "Happy burfday!" Then the group collapsed into laughter. Jenny and Kyrano took the cake away to be sliced.

"Speech!" Scott started the cry, which was quickly taken up by Will and Elise, then Nikki, Cassie and Callie added their voices. Soon nearly everyone was calling for Brains to say something, until finally he stood at his seat and put up his hands for quiet.

"Knowing this family as I do, I prepared a little something for this eventuality." Brains smiled and took out a small data pad. "The man of science may be a poor philosopher, but he's usually a pretty dry speaker if left to his own devices."

Callie, Tin-Tin and Jeff all chuckled at Brains's appropriation of Einstein's quote. Brains continued. "In all my years -- though they are admittedly fewer than some of us can claim..." There were laughs and groans from some of the diners, and a couple of sharp expressions of "Ha!" from the head of the table. "...I have never met another group of people who love to celebrate birthdays like my family does -- because you, the Tracys, are my family." He swept a hand to include all the recruits present. "And you, my new teammates, are my friends."

There were a few soft smiles and nods of agreement around the table as Brains paused. "I can't express how much I appreciate these celebrations because for many years of my life, such were few and far between. To know that I am important enough for you to throw a party just for me... it still boggles my mind sometimes." He smiled. "And you all know that my mind is not easy to boggle."

"It doesn't Scrabble well either!" came a comment from somewhere in the group, setting off a small burst of laughter. Jeff gave his wife a nudge, and a raised eyebrow; she smirked back at him.

"Too true, too true -- words are not my forté. I'll take numbers any day..."

"Forty-two!" "One hundred and twenty-seven!" "Nineteen-ninety-nine!" A few other numbers were shouted out, to accompanying laughter, until Brains put his hands up again.

"Now you've managed to totally derail my little speech -- which may be a good thing, as I see a few of you are waiting eagerly for cake, and I have presents to open."

"Gotta love them presents!" Gordon chimed in, waggling his eyebrows. Elise socked him lightly on the shoulder; he frowned and rubbed his arm in an exaggerated fashion.

"So, thank you all for celebrating the day with me. I couldn't have asked for better."

Those around the table burst into applause as Brains sat down, his face flushed. Then Jeff stood, and took up a wine glass, holding it out. The others around the table, including the children, whose glasses were filled with sparkling grape juice, followed suit.

"To Brains." Jeff's smile was wide as he made the toast. "An intellect unequaled, a passion to create, a heart undaunted -- we are blessed to have you on our side, and to count you as one of our family." He dipped the stemware a touch. "Happy birthday and may you have many, many more."

The others echoed, "To Brains!" or "Happy Birthday!", clinking glasses together and drinking their wine.

Jenny came up, smiling. "First piece to the birthday boy!" she said as she put a huge piece before him.

He glanced up and returned the smile. "Thank you, Jenny."

"Cake!" Joshua cried, clapping his hands.

"You'll get yours, wee man," Dom said, wiping his son's hands. "Though I'll wager more will get on you than in."

"That's what makes cake so fun at this age," Emily said. "It's squishy and it's sweet -- the perfect food!"

As Jenny served a piece of cake to Jeff, he put up a hand to keep her for a moment. "Everyone, this is our new support crew member, Jenny Finch." There were a few calls of , "Hello, Jenny," and "Welcome, Jenny!" which made her blush a little. Jeff glanced up at her, and nodded, indicating that she could continue serving. "She'll be helping out in the kitchen and with housekeeping. I'll leave it up to you to introduce yourselves; we'll be here all night if I have to."

"So, who has the first present for Brains?" Scott asked, grinning.

"Mine!" Gordon said emphatically. He handed over a thick, square package. "Just what you need, Brains, to help you out with Braman."

Brains gave Gordon a dubious look, then tore the paper off. That was followed by second layer of paper, then a third.

"Gordon!" Tin-Tin said reproachfully.

The redhead just grinned at her and shrugged.

Brains peered at the black and yellow cover then gave Gordon a look of surprise. "Computer Programming.... for Dummies?"


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Re: Cold Front [message #857 is a reply to message #856] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:26 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
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Wednesday, November 14, Following the celebration, Tracy Island

"So, what movie do you want to watch?" Scott asked, as he proceeded Virgil into his room. The two brothers had decided to spend some time relaxing together as it had been awhile since they'd had the opportunity to do so.

"Do you even need to ask that question?" Virgil asked, as the two of them shared the same favorite movie.

"Just making sure," his brother replied as he headed toward the entertainment center to retrieve the movie.

Virgil made his way over to the couch and sat down. As he did so, he noticed the invitation to the tea ceremony sitting on the coffee table. The reply card was sticking part way out of the invitation.

"I see you haven't sent your reply back to Cassie yet. Are you planning on going?" Virgil asked, curious.

"I don't know yet," Scott replied, putting the vid disc in the player. "It would probably be the polite thing to do, but I'm not sure its how I want to spend my Friday evening."

"You should go. It's a chance to experience an important tradition from another culture."

"I guess that means you're going, then?" Scott asked as he sat down next to his younger brother.

"Yes. Looking forward to it," the younger Tracy replied. He paused and then continued. "You know, it wouldn't hurt for you to try something new for a change."

"I try new things!"

"Name the last new thing you tried," Virgil told him. He waited a few moments for Scott to name something. When an answer wasn't forthcoming, the younger brother continued. "Trying something new would be good for you and who knows, you might even enjoy yourself."

"I don't know..."

"Oh, come on. Hey, if you go, then I'll sneak to the kitchen and sneak out apple pie for us the next time Grandma bakes one."

"I don't know. That will take you all of what - five minutes? Doesn't seem like a fair exchange for having to sit through a couple hours of Japanese ceremony."

"Okay, then. I'll do that and help you with maintenance on Thunderbird 1 following the next rescue."

Scott looked down at the invitation still sitting on the coffee table. Cassie would appreciate it if I showed up, he thought. And who knows, I might even enjoy myself. Even if I don't, having Virgil's help with the maintenance would be a nice change.

"You're on," Scott said, reaching out and picking up the invitation and a nearby pen. He checked the appropriate spot on the reply card. "I'll see that Cassie gets it tomorrow. Now, are we going to watch this movie?"

Instead of replying, Virgil reached out and retrieved the remote from the coffee table. He pressed play and the two brothers settled back to enjoy the movie.


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Re: Cold Front [message #859 is a reply to message #857] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:28 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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"Tin-Tin, this is a very funny book. I wonder where Gordon found it."

"Trust him to give you a book called Computer Programming for Dummies," she replied. "And watch out," she added, grabbing his arm just before he walked into the wall. "Don't forget, the hallway turns before we get to your room."

"Thanks, Tin-Tin. This is just too fascinating. I wonder how long ago this was written." He turned to the front pages, searching for the copyright years.

"Brains. We're here."

"Oh." He looked up. "So we are." He opened the door and walked inside. She followed him, more of his birthday gifts in her arms.

"Where do you want me to put these?"

"Here, on the table," he replied as he placed those he'd been carrying, including the book, on it. He turned to take the rest of them from her, but she was already laying them beside the others.

Then she turned to him and said shyly, "I still haven't given you my gift."

"You haven't? I thought. . ."

"Shh," she interrupted, moving closer and placing her hands on either side of his face. Gently she moved his glasses up to the top of his head, then pulled his face toward hers.

He had barely enough time to realize what was about to happen when her lips touched his. He was still for about a second, then he reacted. Returning her kiss, he put his arms around her, pulling her closer to him. She put her arms around his neck, and the kiss deepened.

It seemed like an eternity had passed before they parted. Tin-Tin's eyes were wider than he'd ever seen them, with surprise and... passion? Could she really feel that much for me? As she pulled away, he let his arms fall to his sides, although he found himself shaking, and breathing somewhat heavily. "Wow."

She backed away, said, "Happy birthday, Brains," then turned and rushed out the door. The moment she disappeared, his paralysis left him, and he hurried after her.

He reached the end of the hallway where it turned, and saw her about to enter her room. "Tin-Tin?"

She stopped and slowly turned her head to look at him.

"Thank you." He smiled.


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Re: Cold Front [message #860 is a reply to message #859] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:29 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
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Field Commander
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Thursday, November 15, just before 10 a.m. Oahu, HI(9 a.m. Tracy Island)

Vincent Crenshaw stepped off the elevator on the second floor of the Tracy Industries building in Honolulu. Following the receptionist's instructions, he turned left, checking the door plates for the Human Resources office. It didn't take him long to reach it. Opening the door, he stepped inside and held the door for a gentleman on his way out.

"Vince, is that you?" the gentleman exclaimed as he drew near.

Vince took a good look at the man, trying to place him. It didn't take him long. "Eddie! This is the last place I thought I would run into you. I thought you were still stationed at Ingleside?"

Vince took a few more steps further inside the office and let the door shut behind him.

"I am, at least until the end of this month. I've decided to retire when my current contract is up. I got a pass to come on this job interview, which I assume is the reason you're here."

"Yeah," Vince said with a shrug. "I've decided it's time for another career change."

"Seems like no matter where life takes us, I'm destined to be competing against you. How are Lana and the kids?"

"Doing well. Lana's started writing again. Aaron's waiting to hear about acceptance to the Air Force Academy."

"Couldn't convince him to go Navy, huh?" Eddie commented, giving his old buddy a wink.

"Didn't even try. I want him to do what he wants to do, not just follow in my footsteps."

"Well, I don't want to make you late for your interview. Stay in touch, man."

"I will. It was good to see you," Vince replied, shaking hands with Eddie.

As his friend left the office, Vince walked up to the secretary and let her know who he was. She told him to have a seat. It wasn't long before she was telling him that Mr. Kent was ready to see him. He stood up and headed to the door she indicated.

"Come in," came the reply to his knock. Vince turned the knob and walked into the office. The man behind the desk stood up as he entered. "Mr. Crenshaw, good morning! I'm Sam Kent," he said, holding out his hand.

"Glad to meet you," Vince replied, shaking Mr. Kent's outstretched hand.

"Please, have a seat and let's get started," Sam said, indicating the chair across the desk from him. He sat down and glanced down at the file before him before looking back up. "Your resume says your current place of employment is Blue Waters Dive Shop. What kind of activities do your responsibilities there currently involve?"

"I've owned the shop for a little over three years now. Besides selling and renting dive equipment, we also take group outs on dive trips and air tours. As a certified dive instructor, I handle the classes we do for beginners as well as take some of the groups out," Vince told him, shifting his weight in the chair a little as he tried to get comfortable. "I also take some of the groups up for the air tours."

"How long have you been a dive instructor?" Sam asked, looking up from the file on his desk.

"I've been a dive instructor for about eight years. I received my instruction as part of my training in the Navy SEAL training."

Sam nodded, writing notes on the pad of paper sitting on the desk. As Vince had mentioned his training with the SEALs, the HR director chose to ask the question he had about that training now. "What other skills did you have instruction for during the Professional Development Phase of SEAL Platoon Training?"

Vince paused a moment, thinking about what courses he had taken during that part of his training. "Along with Diving Supervisor, I participated in Leadership School, Advanced Weapons Training, Advanced Climbing/Rope Skills, Advanced Special Operations and Sniper Training."

Sam made a note of the specific training areas, knowing the information would be of interest to Mr. Tracy should Vincent Crenshaw make it to the second interview. Taking another glance at his list of questions, the interviewer looked back to Vince. "What specific marine vehicles have you had experience with?"

Again, Vince thought back to his Navy days, trying to recall what vehicles he had operated in his almost eleven years of service. The interview continued. Vince found some of the questions harder to answer than others but none of the questions were unexpected. Then came a question that caught him a bit off guard.

"If you were an animal, what animal would you be and why?"

Getting over his surprise, the dive shop owner thought the question over. "I guess if I were an animal I'd like to be a dolphin. They're intelligent, friendly, very loyal and protective of members of their pod. They aren't aggressive but can hold their own in a fight if they have to."

"That's an answer I have heard before," Mr. Kent said, making his notes. The interviewer looked up from the paper and across the desk to Vince. "Well, Mr. Crenshaw, that's all the questions I have for today. Is there anything you would like to ask?"

"Well, the ad mentioned relocating. Exactly where would I be relocating to?"

"Well, Tracy Industries has several marine facilities, like our facility here in Honolulu. If you were to take this position, you would be working from our facility in Christchurch, NZ. Being in a different country isn't a problem, is it?"

"No. My wife and I just want a place where the whole family can be nearby," Vince replied. He and Lana had a conversation about relocating before sending in an application for a research position in Australia.

"That's good to know," the interviewer replied.

Vince asked a couple more questions pertaining to health insurance and other benefits related to taking a position with Tracy Industries. Afterwards, Mr. Kent thanked him for coming and the two shook hands before Vince left.

That went pretty well, Vince thought as he made his way to his car.

Confident that he had made a good impression, he started his drive back around Pearl, to spend the rest of his day off with his family.


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Re: Cold Front [message #861 is a reply to message #860] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:29 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Tracy Island, 10:00 am, (2:00 pm previous day, Billings, Montana)...

Scott read the report in front of him and paused to enter some data into the computer. He sat at his father's desk, doing paperwork. Hmmm, productivity is up at the Kabul and Istanbul plants, but down in Seoul. We should send someone to look things over. He made a mental note to speak to his father, and moved onto the next task.

The ringing of the phone startled him and he looked at it in surprise. Checking the caller ID, he smiled and answered. "Hey, Luke. How're things in the States?"

"Hello?"

Scott frowned. That wasn't Luke's voice. "Who is this?"

"My name is Roger Morel. I'm Luke Morel's brother. I found this number in his cell phone."

"This is Scott Tracy. Can I help you with something?" He shuffled his papers into a pile.

There was a brief pause. "I'm calling for Luke. There's been an accident."

Scott turned his entire attention to the phone. "What kind of accident?"

"He...my brother was shot."

"Shot?! What happened? Is he all right?"

"We're not sure yet. He's back in surgery." Roger sighed. "We were out hunting and Luke got hit by a stray shot. There were a group of drunks out fooling around. They were just firing at random." He took a shuddering breath. "Luke was hit in the back. We had to have him med-evaced out by helicopter."

"Where is he now?" Scott asked, grabbing a pen and paper.

"St. Vincent's Healthcare Trauma Center in Billings."

"How is he?" Scott asked, dreading the answer.

"Stable, for the moment, though he hasn't regained consciousness. Luckily the bullet ricocheted off some rocks before hitting him. It went through his back, puncturing his right lung, bounced off his sternum and lodged near his heart."

"My God!"

"They had to crack his chest to remove it. He's back in the operating room now, having the lung repaired. When he gets out, he'll be on a breathing tube and they don't expect him to wake for at least another day or so." Roger's voice cracked.

"Is there anything you or your family need?" Scott asked, scribbling down the information.

"I don't think so. We're just waiting. And praying," Roger replied.

"We'll be doing the same. What about the men who shot him?"

"They're in custody. The sheriff's department picked them up a couple of hours later. They didn't even realize what they had done." Roger sounded bitter. "They ran tests on their guns and confirmed the rifle that shot Luke."

Scott swore to himself. "Please, do not hesitate to call us with any change in Luke's condition. Any time of the day or night. We'll be sending someone shortly," Scott told him.

"Thank-you, Mr. Tracy, but that's not necessary."

"It's Scott, and I know it's not. But we're doing it anyway. Are you sure you don't need anything?" Scott asked again.

"No, we're just waiting. The rest is up to Luke."

"He's a strong man, he'll pull through this." Scott tried to sound convincing.

"I hope so. I'd better get back to my family."

"Take care of yourself, Roger. And take care of Luke, too." Scott signed off. He ran his hand over his face, then got up and went in search of his father.


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Re: Cold Front [message #862 is a reply to message #861] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:30 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

The Cliff House, shortly before noon...

Virgil stepped off the monorail and walked over to Elise's door. Taking a deep breath, he pressed the buzzer, then stuffed his hands in his pockets and waited. A few moments later, the door opened and Elise stood smiling at him. "Hi, Virgil! This is a surprise. I was just making some lunch before heading back to work. Come on in." She led him inside.

Henry sat on the couch in a patch of sunlight. The kitten merely glanced up at him before turning to wash his tail. Virgil rolled his eyes before turning. "Elise?"

She was back at the counter, putting together a sandwich. "Want me to make you one?" she asked, not looking up but pulling out a few more slices of bread. "I'm hoping I can get some time in on the new Thunderbird Seven. That joystick control is tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it, it's not too bad." She turned and put two plates on the table. "Here you go. What would you like to drink?"

He shook his head. "Nothing, I'm fine. Elise, I need to talk to you."

She motioned for him to sit down. "Then sit and eat. We can talk at the same time." She finally looked up and noticed his serious expression. "Virgil, what's wrong?"

He took a deep breath. "It's Luke. His brother called a little while ago and told us he'd been in a hunting accident."

Elise gripped the top of the chair. "What kind of accident?" Her voice warbled.

"He was shot by another group of hunters. They were drunk and fooling around. He's in surgery. The bullet went through his chest and got lodged near his heart. That's really all we know right now. Mom said she'd see if she could find out more information." He paused. "Dad's getting everyone together at the house to tell them. I wanted you to know to kind of ease the shock a bit."

Elise turned and walked to stare out the French doors, her arms wrapped around herself. Virgil walked over and placed his hands on her shoulders. "Elise?"

"I want to go see him."

"Honey..."

She turned to face him, her green eyes bright with tears. "I want to go, Virgil. I have to."

He bit back what he wanted to say. "Elise, I know Dad'll probably send someone, but..."

The tears trickled down her cheeks and she began to shake. "He's one of my best friends. My family! I can't lose him! I have to go!" She broke down and he took her into his arms.

"Shhh...it'll be OK," he said, stroking her hair. Somehow, I'll make it OK...


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Re: Cold Front [message #863 is a reply to message #862] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:30 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

Cliff House, a little after noon

Will walked into his apartment to get a bite to eat before heading over to the boat pen to give the Lucille a "once over" (and secretly to check out Gordon's new catamaran). He went to lay some "mail" he'd found in his box on one of the shelves that he had persuaded Luke to help him make. We sure had a good time building things together. I wonder what we could make next.

He then noticed a card that he'd gotten several days previously, still sitting there. Oh rats! The invitation. I need to let Cassie know I'm coming.

He hadn't planned on going, but when he let it slip to his mother that he'd gotten the "invite" during his last weekly call, she asked him if he'd accepted. When he told her that he wasn't planning on going, she nearly came through the telephone.

"William Abbott. You're passing up a rare opportunity here."

"Mom, I just don't think it's my cup of tea, no pun intended."

"How do you know, unless you try it? You have a chance to broaden your horizons, and you're passing it up?"

"My horizons are broad enough, Mom."

"No one's horizons are broad enough, young man. You know what your father always says."

"Yeah, Mom. 'If you stop learning, you're probably already dead'." He paused, looking at her on the screen of the vid-phone. He recognized the look on her face. She wasn't going to give up until he agreed to go. "Okay, Mom. I'll accept the invitation."

"And do it sooner rather than later, Will." Her face lit up, which made her older son feel good. "That's my boy."

He hadn't sent the RSVP and now he realized he'd better get it done, before I forget again. He picked it up and took it into the kitchen with him. Making himself a sandwich and getting a beer out of the fridge, he took food, drink, and invitation to the table. He marked his acceptance, and put it into the envelope provided. Then he quickly consumed his meal, cleaned up after himself and headed out the door.

A moment later, he was back in his apartment; he'd forgotten the acceptance. Mom, he thought, I'd better really enjoy myself at this shindig, or you're gonna owe me big time.

With that thought, he headed down to put his RSVP in her box, and get back to work.


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Re: Cold Front [message #864 is a reply to message #863] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:31 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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Cliff House, Lunch time ...

Cassie sat at her table, a salad in front of her and flight manual open on the table beside the bowl. She was supposed to have a lesson with Scott after lunch and she was using the lunch break to review some material. Though she had been behind the controls of the plane once up in the air, this was going to be the first time that she would handle take off and landing too.

Cassie stabbed a slice of cucumber, piece of tomato, and some lettuce with her fork, as she reviewed takeoff procedures. The sound of the buzzer interrupted her.

I wonder who that could be, Cassie thought, putting her fork down and getting to her feet. She walked the short distance to the door and opened it.

"Dr. Tracy!" Cassie exclaimed, when she saw who had rang the buzzer. The only person that would have been more of a surprise to find on her doorstep was Mr. Tracy himself. "Come in," she said, quickly getting over her surprise.

Cassie stepped aside, and Dianne stepped into the apartment.

"Cassie, there's something that I need to tell you," Dianne said, wanting to get right to the point. "Perhaps we should sit down."

Cassie simply nodded, unsure of what kind of news Dr. Tracy was bringing her. Whatever it was, she knew it couldn't be good, just from the older woman's expression.

Cassie led the way into the living room area, and the two women sat on the sofa. Cassie sat silently, waiting for Dianne to tell her why she had come to the Cliff House.

Dianne took a deep breath before speaking. "Cassie, we received a phone call from Luke's brother, Roger, this morning. There was a hunting accident and Luke's at St. Vincent's Healthcare Trauma Center in Billings, Montana."

"No," Cassie whispered in disbelief. Part of her didn't want to believe it but the rational part knew that Dr. Tracy had no reason to lie to her.

Cassie stood up and started walking toward the kitchen area. "What's his condition?"

As Dianne filled her in on the details, Cassie paused in front of the pictures she had hung on the wall across from the elevator. Her eyes fell on the picture taken out in California. Luke was smiling back at her just as he had been the last time they had talked the morning before he left to see his family.

He was really looking forward to seeing his family,
she thought. And I was looking forward to hearing his hunting stories when he got back. Now that may...

She let the thought trail off, not able to even think about not seeing her best friend again.

"When we hear more, I'll let you know," Dianne said softly.

Cassie turned to find Dianne looking at her with an expression of concern and sympathy. "I'd appreciate that," she replied, her voice steadier than she had expected it.

"Is there anything I can do?"

Cassie shook her head. "I think I just need some time alone right now. I don't think I'm up for my training sessions this afternoon. I know I wouldn't be able to concentrate."

"I understand. The training can be rescheduled. I know this is quite a shock to you. For all of us really," Dianne said, getting to her feet. She walked over to where Cassie was standing and gave the younger woman a hug. "Luke's strong. He'll pull through."

Cassie couldn't find the words to respond. As Dianne stepped back, all the dark-haired woman could do was nod.

Without another word, Dianne left herself out. Alone now, Cassie walked back to the sofa. She just felt numb. Felt as though she should be crying but the tears refused to come. Picking up one of the throw pillows as she sat down on the sofa, hugging the pillow close.


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Re: Cold Front [message #865 is a reply to message #864] Wed, 25 July 2012 17:31 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

Thursday, November 15, 2068, 12:45 p.m., Tracy Island

"Dad?"

Jeff, who looked preoccupied, glanced up. "Yes, Alex?"

"Where's Mom?"

"Here I am," Dianne said as she hurried into the dining room. Virgil followed close on her heels. She frowned a bit as she saw the empty plates. "You didn't have to wait on lunch for me and Virgil."

Jeff took her hand and kissed it as she sat down. "I wanted you here before we told everyone what happened."

"Did something important happen, Dad?" Alan asked, a perplexed look on his face.

"Whatever it is, it sounds serious." Gordon sat forward so he could see his father.

"It is." Jeff motioned toward his oldest son. "Scott, tell them about the call."

Scott put down his water and took a deep breath. "A couple of hours ago I got a call from Roger Morel, Luke Morel's brother. There... was an accident while they were out hunting. Luke was shot..."

There were gasps around the table. "Shot!" Emily exclaimed, a wide-eyed look of horror on her face. "How is he?"

"He's alive," Jeff said, putting up his hands for quiet. "According to what we've been able to learn, he's in surgery to repair his lung."

"The bullet ricocheted around a bit, landing near his heart," Dianne took up the explanation. "Even nowadays, getting a bullet out of such a sensitive area is still a very tricky thing. He'll have a lengthy hospital stay and it will take time to recover."

"But he's not dead?" Tyler's voice quavered a little.

Dianne gave him a soft smile. "No, Ty, he's not dead. He's going to live. But he won't be back for a while."

"What will happen to Rom?" Alex asked, his face showing his distress.

Jeff and Dianne both exchanged glances with Scott, who shrugged. "I don't know, Alex. I suppose Luke's family will take care of Rommel."

"We'll ask next time we call," Dianne assured her son.

"Hey, Virge?" Alan asked, as the food began to be passed around. "Where were you? You're not usually late for lunch."

Suddenly put on the spot, Virgil started. "Oh, ah," he stammered. "I... I was over at Elise's. She and Luke were close... she thinks of him as family. I thought she should know... privately."

Scott raised an eyebrow at this, but gave Alan a quick dig in the ribs before the younger man could say anything stupid. Alan glared back, but kept his mouth shut.

"Do the other recruits know?" Anna asked.

"Cassie does," Dianne said, taking a sip of her iced tea. "She and Luke were such good friends, we thought it would be wise to give her the news personally."

"I'm going to call a quick meeting with the rest once lunch is through." Jeff took a bite of chicken from his salad and chewed. When he'd swallowed the bite, he sighed. "You may want to be on hand for that, Anna; let people know you're available."

"I will," Anna said, nodding.

Tin-Tin, looking troubled, suddenly asked, "Should someone tell Lena? After all, he helped her out during that plane crash..."

"Of course, we should," Emily said briskly.

"Would you please do that for me, Tin-Tin?" Jeff asked.

"Yes, Mr. Tracy," Tin-Tin replied. "Of course. Right after lunch."

"Or as soon as the time zones are favorable," Brains added.

Jenny, who was taking an empty bread tray back to the kitchen, stopped Lisa as the older woman was on her way out to the dining room. "Excuse me for asking, but who is Luke?"

Lisa smiled softly. "Luke is one of our newer recruits. He was a forest ranger before he joined us, and has a rescue dog named Rommel. Very nice young man."

"Oh," Jenny said, nodding. "Thanks for telling me."

The rest of the meal was quiet, and Jeff was again preoccupied, thinking of how to break the news to the rest of the team. He finally had it in his head when he glanced down the table and remembered that one son was missing. Sighing, he shook his head.

"Scott, when lunch is over, will you please tell John about Luke. He should know sooner, not later."

"Sure, Dad, I'll call him and let him know."

Jeff gave Scott a half-smile and blew out a breath. "Well, I'd better call that meeting." He glanced at each of his older sons. "Scott, Virgil, Gordon, Alan?" When he had their attention, he continued. "This will be a blow to the team. Use your best judgment in dealing with any fallout when it comes to training sessions or craft maintenance." He paused. "However, the recommissioning of Thunderbird Seven will proceed as scheduled tomorrow, so keep that in mind." He caught Anna's eye. "Half an hour from now, on the Cliff House patio. Dianne can guide you there."

He stood, and after giving Dianne and Emily each a kiss on the cheek, left the room, ascending to the lounge. Sighing deeply, he put his headset in, and dialed an all-call on the wristcomm frequency. "To all new team members, please meet me on the Cliff House patio in twenty-five minutes. There's something important we need to discuss."


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