||JAG Story, angst,
drama, some violence.
words; 104 pages (8 ½” x 11”)
||Everything up to Hero
Falls Church, VA
Mac closed another file folder and sat back with a sigh. Thank God it
was Friday and this week would finally be over. It looked like Bud had
gotten through his DOD without any serious damage. She had hated her
part in it but, fortunately, Bud had understood the difference between
friendship and duty. And she felt sorry for young seaman on the John
Cooper that she had prosecuted in the Article 32. Not so sorry as to let
him off the hook, of course. Rath had blithely cut corners and outright
ignored safety regulations until they had literally blown up in his
face. He was lucky he hadn't killed anyone; but still, he was just a
kid. She was grateful she wouldn't be handling the court-martial.
Well, Mac mused, at least she got to spend some 'quality' time with
Harm. That Squid - he was at his most passionate when he didn't have a
legal leg to stand on. What was that saying? 'When the facts are against
you, argue the law. When the law is against you, pound on the table and
yell like hell.' For a moment, she thought his playing the emotion card
during his closing might actually get the young man off. Rabb was good,
no doubt about it. "Truth, Justice and the American Way. I wonder if
he's wearing a Superman suit under that uniform of his? ... Hmmm, now
there's a visual..." Mac chuckled quietly to herself.
"So counselor, is that a Thank-God-Its-Friday smile or did you just
discover a bare spot on your desk?" The amused voice of her favorite
aviator cut into her thoughts. Mac looked up to see a relaxed Harmon
Rabb leaning against her doorframe with his arms folded across his
"Actually, Mr. Rabb, this is the smile of a Chief of Staff who has just
dumped her entire caseload on a certain Squid." She smiled sweetly at
With a look of mock horror, Harm solemnly intoned, "Oh my, poor
Laughing, Mac waved him into a chair. "Big plans this weekend, Sailor?"
"Nah, Sturgis invited Bud and I over to watch the basketball game
tonight." Harm grinned, "Boys Night Out. How about you?"
"Tonight, nothing more strenuous than a bubble bath, a box of chocolate
and a good book. If the weather stays this nice tomorrow, I thought I'd
put the top down on the 'vette and take a drive through the
"Want some company?" The words were out before Harm had a chance to
think about it. He tried to look nonchalant while watching Mac somewhat
Mac raised both eyebrows before her eyes took on a mischievous gleam.
"Are you talking about the bubble bath, or the drive?"
For a split second Harm sat perfectly still, and then leaned forward
twirling an imaginary mustache and waggling his eyebrows suggestively,
"My dear Colonel...," he purred in a truly horrendous French accent. The
rest of Harm's reply was lost when Tiner knocked on the doorframe and
stuck his head in the office. "Colonel, the Admiral would like to see
you as soon as possible."
"Thank you, Tiner." Mac groaned inwardly and looked wryly at Harm. "Why
isn't the Admiral asking for you on a Friday afternoon?"
Harm placed a hand on his chest and proclaimed sonorously, "It is
because, in my heart, I am pure..."
Mac rolled her eyes, "Give me a break. Why do I have this sinking
feeling that my plans are about to change?"
Harm smiled sympathetically as he stood up, "Hey, if you need help just
yell." He followed her out and watched her walk over to the Admiral's
office. Grinning to himself, he headed back to his office - the weekend
was looking up.
Admiral Chegwidden's Office
After hearing 'Enter', Mac walked in and came to attention in front of
the Admiral's desk. "Colonel MacKenzie, reporting as ordered sir."
"Have a seat, Colonel." Admiral Chegwidden said as he shuffled through
some papers on his desk. Finishing, he laced his fingers together and
regarded his Chief of Staff for a moment. Mac waited patiently, the
Admiral excelled at getting to the point. "Colonel, are you acquainted
with a Petty Officer Daniel Lattimer?"
"No sir, I don't believe so." Mac looked slightly puzzled.
"Well, apparently, he knows you. He's been arrested for drug possession
with intent to distribute. He is refusing to talk to anyone except you."
AJ sighed. "He is... was... Admiral Jacobs' yeoman."
Mac's surprise showed. "Admiral Charles Jacobs of Naval Intelligence,
"That's the one," AJ replied, "Lattimer is currently being held at the
brig in Quantico. Charlie's anxious to get this cleared up, one way or
the other. So, the sooner you get started, Colonel, the better."
"Aye aye, sir." Mac came to attention and at the Admiral's dismissal,
pivoted smartly and left his office. "Damn," Mac thought to herself as
she hurried back to her office to gather her things. Almost an hour
drive to Quantico, plus a couple of hours to interview Lattimer (that
name still didn't ring any bells), then another hour or so to come back
and start sorting through her notes. Well, maybe after she organized
things she would just take the whole mess home. That way, at least, she
would still get her bubble bath and box of chocolate. Continuing that
line of thought brought her back to the earlier conversation with Harm.
She smiled. She'd almost had him for a minute before he had countered
with his lecherous Frenchman imitation. God, that was the worst
"If you're smiling, I guess your plans didn't take too bad a hit." Harm
stood by her door, looking in.
"More like augmented," Mac said as she closed her briefcase and glanced
around the office. "I get a preview of this weekend's drive with a trip
down to Quantico and back."
"Anything serious? I could rearrange my afternoon schedule if you think
you'd like some backup." Harm offered. He and Mac had always worked well
together and after this past disastrous year, he welcomed opportunities
to get their friendship back on track.
"I don't think so, but thanks anyway. It's an alleged drug-dealing petty
officer, who apparently thinks I'm Super Lawyer. He won't talk to anyone
else." Mac grabbed her cover and purse and headed out the door. "I'll
give you a call tomorrow, if you're still interested," she said as she
headed for the elevators. "You WERE talking about the drive, weren't
you?" She laughed lightly, one eyebrow quirked. The elevator doors
closed, blocking her view of a slightly bemused but smiling Harmon Rabb.
"You're looking smug, Commander." Harm turned to find Sturgis behind
"Why not?" Harm replied, "I'll be caught up with my paperwork in another
couple hours. I've got the weekend off. By the end of tonight, I'll be
twenty bucks richer and now it looks like I've got plans with Mac
"You asked her for a date?" Sturgis asked, eyebrows raised in surprise.
"Uhhh, no, not exactly. She mentioned taking her 'vette for a drive
through the countryside and I sort of invited myself along. She didn't
say no." Harm added, a little defensively.
"I see." Sturgis smiled and started back to his office. Midway, he
stopped and turned around, "What do you mean you'll be twenty bucks
"That's what you're going to owe me when Kansas kicks butt tonight,"
Harm grinned at his friend.
Mac turned away from the window as the guard brought PO Lattimer in.
"Thank you, Corporal. Please wait outside." She waited until he had
stepped out before turning to Lattimer. "Well, Petty Officer, let's hear
your side of the story. And then perhaps, you can tell me why I was the
only JAG you would talk with."
"It's not what it looks like, Colonel MacKenzie!" PO Lattimer blurted.
"I was set up!"
Mac contained the urge to sigh. "Petty Officer, according to the arrest
report, they found crystal meth in your locker and small bag of
amphetamines taped to the back of one of your desk drawers."
"Honest, Ma'am. I don't do drugs and I don't deal." Lattimer glanced
around the room and lowered his voice. "I don't know who to trust
anymore, Colonel, that's why I asked for you. I saw you on CourtTV last
year. I know you're only interested in the truth."
Mac's face kept its calm facade while she silently cursed that miserable
TV show and the SecNav who had gotten her into it. "Exactly what truth
are we talking about?"
"I've been Admiral Jacobs' yeoman for almost two years," Lattimer began.
"About 7 months ago, I was reorganizing data on the computer when I came
across an odd file. Well, actually it was a partial file, like there had
been a system glitch and a copy was generated without someone realizing
"Lattimer," Mac interrupted, "Is there a point in here somewhere and
what does this have to do with the drugs?"
PO Lattimer flushed, "Ma'am, the thing is I'm kind of a computer geek
and this file made me curious. I started trying to reconstruct it in my
spare time. ...Have you ever heard of 'Archangel'?"
Mac shook her head, "Is there some reason I would?"
"Well, no, but neither had I. Colonel, almost everything that goes on in
Naval Intelligence is cleared through Admiral Jacobs and comes across my
desk. Not details or anything, mostly overviews and general memorandum.
'Archangel' had been going on for a while and apparently not within
channels. Once I had figured out what to look for, I started to...
PO Lattimer winced and if possible, looked even more nervous. "Yes
Ma'am." He paused for second and then said in a rush, "Ma'am, did you
know that Admiral Jacobs hates people of Arabic descent and especially
"That's enough!" Mac was on her feet and leaning over the table towards
the Petty Officer. Coldly furious, she continued in a deadly quiet tone,
"You called me down here so you could accuse a senior officer, a highly
decorated, widely respected, senior officer of being a bigot? Do you
somehow imagine that this would mitigate the drug charges? Or are you
going to threaten to make this public in order to gain leverage? Either
way, you've picked the wrong attorney!"
"No, Colonel! Please, you've got to listen. Someone else has know.
Someone has to stop them. They know I know, they're going to kill me!"
It was the desperate fear on the Petty Officer's face that made Mac
slowly sit back down. "Go on."
"Ma'am, 'Archangel' is not only a covert operation but also a network.
Admiral Jacobs is part of it, but there's more and they're scattered
across the services and the government agencies. They think the only way
to stabilize the Middle East is for the United States to control it and
the first step is the eradication of the Palestinians. They're trying to
manipulate the Israelis into doing it for them. Every time a peace
initiative looks like it might have a chance, they sabotage it. That
ship the Israelis grabbed that was filled with weapons? That wasn't
Arafat, it was 'Archangel'."
"Lattimer, no one's going to believe this without some sort of evidence.
I'm not sure I believe it." Mac stared at the Petty Officer. "You're
telling me this Archangel network has people throughout the intelligence
community, as well as the military? And they're out to overthrow the
Middle East? Can you prove any of this?"
"I can't prove everything, but I've found enough files to substantiate a
lot of what I told you. It's all copied on a CD that I've hidden."
Lattimer wiped a nervous hand across his face. "Last week, I made a
mistake. I mentioned an incident in front of Admiral Jacobs that I
should have had no way of knowing. He didn't react and I thought, maybe,
he didn't realize what I'd said. Three days ago, I became aware I was
being followed. I got really scared; I figured that at some point soon I
was going to have a 'lethal' accident. So, I contacted a guy I knew from
college and bought the drugs. Then I paid him extra to call in an
anonymous tip to the military police. They showed up yesterday, found
the drugs and arrested me. The Admiral stood and watched the whole thing
and then went back in his office. He never said a word."
Disbelief washed across Mac's face. "Now you're telling me you set
yourself up? These are felony charges, Petty Officer. They're not going
to go away. What were you thinking? Do you realize that your credibility
just went into the toilet? This story is already unbelievable and now it
will look like a drugged-out sailor trying to shift attention away from
himself and get revenge against a superior officer."
"Oh God," Lattimer slumped down in the chair with his head in his hands.
"I was terrified, I still am. I don't want to die. I didn't know where
to go and then I thought if I was in the brig, at least I'd have guards
around me." He looked up, "Please Ma'am, tell me you believe me. These
people have to be stopped."
"I don't know," Mac answered frankly. "I think I need to see evidence
before I make any decisions. Where do I find this CD?"
Lattimer looked undecided for a moment and then sighed. "I guess I can't
ask for more at this point. There's a hardcover book about Napoleon
Bonaparte in the bottom right hand drawer of my desk. Peel the paper
away from the inside back cover, it's in there."
Mac stood up and began gathering her notes. "Alright, Lattimer. I'll
stop by your office on my way back to JAG. If anyone asks, I'll just say
you asked me to bring you something to read and mentioned the book. Then
I'll see about transferring you to the brig in DC. I would guess you'd
rather I didn't try to get you released?"
"No thank you, Ma'am," Lattimer said as Mac walked to the door to summon
the guard. "Oh, and Colonel? Please be very careful."
It took twenty minutes of "No-I'm-Not-An-Enemy-Spy" before Mac was
(reluctantly, she thought) escorted to PO Lattimer's desk. She sat down
for a minute to try and get feel for the Petty Officer and his work
habits. Besides, it so obviously annoyed the arrogant, young Lieutenant
who was accompanying her. Well, patience was a necessary skill for
someone in Intelligence; he might as well start learning that now. After
waiting another minute, she reached down and opened the right hand
drawer. It contained a number of books and CDs, as well as a portable CD
player. Deciding it would draw less attention; Mac grabbed three books,
a handful of CDs and the player.
"I don't think you're allowed to remove any of that," stated the
Lieutenant, somewhat pompously. "This is a crime scene."
"Why, thank you Lieutenant," Mac calmly replied in a tone she usually
reserved for elderly dogs and small children, "But I believe the MPs
have already secured the evidence."
"Well, I'm pretty sure none of this is supposed to leave the building.
It's a matter of security," the Lieutenant persisted with a slight edge
to his voice. As far as he was concerned, there were too many
chair-warming, paper-pushing, SOB lawyers in the service. He didn't
think of them as being real military; they'd probably cry or wet their
pants if they ever heard a shot fired in anger. No doubt they received
their commissions based on the number of military personnel they
railroaded into Leavenworth. Now here was this female, pseudo-Marine
light bird taking up his valuable time.
"I see," Mac gazed at the Lieutenant for a long moment. Then standing
up, she continued, her voice becoming colder. "I presume that you'll be
able to show me the regulation that states that an attorney can't
collect a client's requested personal items after a crime scene is
released? Then perhaps you can show me the policy change here at NIS
that allows a junior officer to ignore military courtesy? I would hate
to think that you took it upon yourself to be disrespectful. ...
Although, I suppose I could excuse your behavior due to a lack of
intelligence. So which is it, Lieutenant? Policy or stupidity?" By now,
Mac was in the Lieutenant's face and he was braced at attention. "I'm
"My apologies, Ma'am. No excuse." Tightly controlled anger was evident
in the Lieutenant's face. 'Who the hell did SHE think she was?'
"Lieutenant," Mac said, quietly, looking him in the eye, "If you're
hoping for a long and successful career in Intelligence work, I would
suggest you forego making snap judgments based on personal prejudices.
It will someday get you, or those around you, killed. Then find a master
chief who would be willing to teach you how to play poker. You're too
easily and obviously provoked."
"I agree completely, Colonel."
Mac turned to find Admiral Jacobs standing in the entryway. She popped
to attention, "Lt. Col. MacKenzie of the Judge Advocate General, sir."
"As you were." Admiral Jacobs said, walking into the room. "Lieutenant,
why don't you bring me a cup of coffee? Black, two sugars - take about
five minutes. So, Colonel, I assume you've agreed to defend Danny... PO
Lattimer? What are his chances?"
"Yes sir." Mac replied. "Sir, at this point, I'm still putting all the
facts together but I'd have to say, at the very least, he's probably out
of the Navy."
"Damn. I suppose he told you he's been my yeoman for the last two years?
I have to admit, I didn't see this coming." The Admiral regarded Mac
solemnly. "If you need me as a character witness, I'd be more than happy
"Thank you, sir. I still need to review all my notes before I formulate
a strategy. Then, perhaps, we can arrange an interview at your
"Just give me a day's notice, Colonel. So, was there a reason for your
visit to NIS or did you just feel the need to put some arrogant young
pup in his place?" The Admiral's craggy eyebrows lifted in amusement.
Mac flushed slightly. "I apologize Admiral, if I overstepped my bounds.
PO Lattimer asked me if I would bring him something to read. He said he
kept some books in his desk. I just went ahead and grabbed the CDs and
the player, too."
Admiral Jacobs waved a hand in dismissal and smiled. "Everything you
said was true, Colonel. Besides, hopefully it will do the young man good
to realize that some... ahhh... 'legal weenies'... have teeth." He
walked to the desk and glanced over his shoulder. "Are these the books?"
"Yes sir." Mac carefully maintained her composure.
The Admiral casually fanned through the pages of each book and looked at
the CDs. "I've read the book on Napoleon. Fascinating, are you
interested in military history?"
"I lean more towards paleontology, sir." At the questioning look by the
Admiral, Mac continued, "I grew up out west, not far from some fossil
beds. I was hooked at an early age."
At that moment, the Lieutenant returned with the Admiral's coffee.
Thanking him, the Admiral turned back to Mac, "Tell Danny I'm thinking
of him and give my regards to AJ, he tells me you're one of the best."
"Thank you sir, I will." Mac popped to attention again, "Permission to
"Granted. Lieutenant, after you've escorted the Colonel to her car, come
back up to my office."
"Yes sir." Mac gathered all the items and followed a chastened
Lieutenant out of the building.
Falls Church, VA
Mac sat in her office and contemplated her notes. She had closed her
door as soon as she had returned; it was her 'Do Not Disturb Without A
Damn Good Reason' sign. She had given the whole matter a lot of thought
on the drive back. After giving Lattimer the benefit of the doubt, she
had decided that a healthy dose of paranoia would be a good thing. At
the moment, all the notes and briefs on her desk and computer dealt only
with the drug charges, everything else was back in her briefcase.
Glancing out at the bullpen, she saw that it was nearly deserted. Harm
and Bud were both already gone when she returned. They had actually left
on time so they could get over to Sturgis' by tip-off. Mac smiled and
picked up the note she had found attached to her computer screen. It was
a cartoon of a 'vette zooming down the road and the words: 'Wish I was
here.' Definitely Rabb's handiwork, she'd call him in the morning and
roust him out of bed.
Sighing, she returned her attention to her desk. "Stop stalling," Mac
chided herself. She knew once she looked at the CD, there would be no
turning back. Mac tried to suppress the uneasy feeling that she was
already irrevocably caught up in this; her instincts were telling her
that Lattimer was indeed telling the truth. Inadvertently, she scanned
the bullpen again. 'Stop it!' Picking up the book, she opened it to the
back and ran her hand down the inside cover. The Petty Officer had done
a good job; there was no way to tell that a CD was secreted there.
Staring at it for a moment longer, Mac came to a quick decision. She'd
do this at home on her laptop. As long as she stayed off the Internet,
there was no way for anyone to hack into her files. Stuffing the book
into her briefcase, she gathered everything else, left her office and
nearly jumped out of her skin when the Admiral suddenly appeared.
"Easy, Colonel," Admiral Chegwidden said with a slight smile, the SEAL
in him was always pleased at successful ambushes, even the unintentional
"I thought you had left for the day, sir," Mac managed to get out. Her
heart was beating wildly. 'Pull it together, Marine!'
"No rest for the wicked," AJ wondered at the reaction that remark
caused, then continued smoothly, giving his normally unflappable Chief
of Staff time to recover, "How is the Petty Officer's case looking?"
What in the world had her so flustered? Rabb had left hours ago...
"Not that good at the moment, Admiral. It looks like the prosecution
will have a pretty solid case." Mac replied in what she hoped was a
"Is everything all right, Mac?" AJ asked carefully. He didn't want to
leap to any conclusions, not after his last brilliant attempt when he
ran off her appointment and then accused her of matchmaking. She hadn't
exactly dressed him down - Rank Hath Its Privileges - but he wasn't
anxious to repeat his mistakes.
"Fine, sir. It's been a long week, I'm tired and, apparently, a little
jumpy." Mac said with a small smile. She couldn't quite bring herself to
mention the bombshell PO Lattimer had dropped on her - not yet anyway,
not without proof. 'For god's sake, MacKenzie, this is one of the few
people you trust implicitly. Straighten up or he's going to think you
belong in the psych ward at Bethesda.'
"Then I assume you've decided to call it a day?"
They walked over to the elevator together. "You aren't planning to work
through the weekend, are you? Or do I need to make that an order?" AJ
said with an amused look on his face.
"That won't be necessary, sir. Actually, Commander Rabb and I are
planning to take a drive in the country if the weather holds." Mac
winced mentally, 'Good move, now you're babbling to your CO about your
"I... see," AJ kept the laughter out of his voice with difficulty. He
looked over at his Chief of Staff who was staring stoically at the
elevator, apparently trying to make the doors open with willpower alone.
Deciding to give her a break, he added, "Charlie... Admiral Jacobs
called me this afternoon. You made quite an impression on him. He said
if you ever got tired of being a 'legal weenie', he'd be happy to have
you over with NIS." AJ glanced at the elevator as the doors opened and
missed Mac visibly tensing at Admiral Jacobs' name.
Forcing herself to relax, Mac replied, "That's flattering, sir, but I
don't think I'm cut out for the cloak and dagger business." Stepping
into the elevator, she turned and looked at the Admiral, "Good night,
sir. I'll see you Monday."
Walking across the parking lot, Mac got into her corvette and dumped
everything in the passenger seat. She started the car and then sat there
for a minute. That uneasy feeling was back, the same one she used to get
in the desert just before a thunderstorm... or late on Friday nights
when her father was due home. Shaking her head, she decided to make a
few stops on the way home.
Entering her apartment, Mac put her briefcase and various packages on
her desk. Stepping into the kitchen, she stuck the Chinese take-out in
the microwave and put the teakettle on the stove to boil. Then, stopping
in the bedroom and getting out of her uniform, she pulled on some
comfortable sweats and walked back to her desk. Opening her briefcase,
Mac pulled out 'Napoleon Bonaparte' and placed it to the side. She
started up her laptop and then removed the rest of the files. Hearing
the kettle start to whistle, Mac grabbed the book and headed for the
kitchen. She had decided to try to steam the back inside cover off.
Holding it gingerly over the teakettle, Mac smiled wryly. She had no
idea if this would work - her only reference was that it always did in
the movies. Hopefully, it wouldn't damage the disk (wouldn't that be
perfect...). Five minutes later, still somewhat amazed, she was holding
the CD. It had been enclosed in a thin, vinyl envelope. With
considerable trepidation, Mac walked over and sat down at her laptop.
Leaning back in her chair, Mac rubbed her eyes. She had been going
through the CD's contents for little over an hour (73 minutes, according
to her internal clock) and still hadn't read everything. However, what
she had read had confirmed Lattimer's story. The whole thing left her
angry and terrified at the same time. 'Archangel' was pretty far-flung
and had enlisted the help of a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, as
well as several Congressmen. Well, perhaps, 'blackmailed' was a better
word than enlisted. The rest of the network was identified only by
codenames. 'Gabriel' was the leader and judging from various bits and
pieces, Mac was pretty sure Gabriel was actually Admiral Jacobs. It was
the other codenames that bothered her. How could you conduct an
investigation spanning the services and government agencies, not knowing
if one of the investigators was part of 'Archangel'? And, God help them,
what if Congress found out and wanted to get involved? She'd be a little
old Marine before they made their first decision about seating
arrangements! 'Okay, slow down MacKenzie. You're trying to climb onto
the roof and you haven't put the walls up yet.'
She'd copied the CD's contents onto her laptop and had already decided
that the safest hiding place for the CD itself would probably be the
book again. She also needed to organize the mountain of information into
a recognizable form and finally, she needed to contact the two people
she trusted most: Harm and the Admiral. Standing and stretching, Mac
decided to take care of the CD first. Grabbing several of the packages
she had purchased on the way home, she went into the kitchen. The
problems, she thought, were threefold: First, to hide the CD where it
wouldn't be found; Second, get it into the hands of someone she trusted
without arousing suspicion; and finally, compose an innocent-sounding
message that would cause that person to look for the CD should something
happen to her and Lattimer. 'My, aren't we being dramatic.'
Actually, the first two problems weren't that hard. Placing the CD back
in its envelope and then back into its hiding place in the book, Mac
carefully began re-gluing the inside cover paper. Finishing, she sat
back and critically examined her work. The care she had taken both in
removing the CD and replacing it paid off. Emperor Napoleon was once
more keeping secrets. Going to the first package, she unwrapped another
copy of the book. After exchanging dust covers, Mac put the new book in
her briefcase. Then she pulled out the contents of the second package:
silver wrapping paper, bows, a gift bag and card. Opening a volume of
case law, she began scanning. Six minutes and 43 seconds later, Yes! She
sat for a minute, thinking, then opened the original book and wrote on
the inside front cover:
Happy Anniversary of our first case together. Admiral Jacobs recommended
this and I thought you might like it - thanks for being there. -- Mac
P.S. Who would have thought the Montgomery case would have led to so
Looking over the message, Mac nodded to herself. That was innocuous
enough. He wouldn't understand it at first but her Squid ('Her Squid?'
Mac thought about that for a minute, then decided, 'Hell, yes, he's my
Squid.') was nothing if not tenacious. Once he realized what Montgomery
was about, he'd put two and two together.
For good measure, Mac repeated the message on the gift card, wrapped the
book, added a bow and placed it and the card in the gift bag. After
straightening the kitchen, she picked up the bag and walked into the
living room. She put it on the table next to the front door. 'That
should do it, I hope - hidden in plain view.' Going back to her desk,
Mac began organizing her notes. A short time later, she stared at the
papers in exasperation, where was the page outlining Gabriel/Admiral
Jacobs' probable involvement? Damnation, she was sure she had seen it!
She went through the papers on the desk again, then searched her
briefcase and finally checked the floor. Nothing. Mac sat for a moment
and resisted the urge to throw something breakable against the wall.
Damn it to hell, it was 2130 on a Friday and now she had to go back to
the office. Well, there was no point wasting time whining, she thought
as she stomped towards the bedroom. Pulling on some jeans and throwing a
t-shirt under her sweatshirt, she stopped long enough to grab her
license, JAG ID and car keys and headed out the door.
Falls Church, VA
Gunnery Sergeant Rudy Walters looked up from the log in time to see the
brunette come striding in the front doors. He smiled. He had to admit he
hadn't been thrilled when he wound up assigned to guard lawyers, of all
things, but it hadn't been as bad as he feared. For a bunch of squids,
the officers were okay (most of them anyway). The head man himself was
tough as an old boot. He'd also been leery of Col. MacKenzie, but
gradually he had come around (he was a second-generation Marine and had
grown up listening to his father rail about the Corps going to hell in a
hand basket ever since they let women pretend to be Marines). The
Colonel had a no-nonsense, squared-away attitude that met with the
Gunny's approval. She didn't treat the enlisted like some sort of
sub-species and she made a point of getting to know him and his security
detail. He realized that as Chief of Staff, she considered it part of
her duties, but he also got the feeling she occasionally preferred the
company of Marines. She jokingly referred to it as 'the Navy blues' and
would cadge a cup of coffee while listening to his overview of current
security. Walters' good opinion was cemented over a couple of beers with
Gunny Galindez after the latter's return from the Guadalcanal.
"Good evening, Colonel. I didn't expect to see you until Monday."
"That makes two of us, Gunny. How did you wind up on the late shift?
Piss off the-powers-that-be?" Mac asked as she signed in on the log the
Gunny had politely proffered.
"Ma'am, I'm shocked. It is well known throughout the Corps that without
the personal attention of the gunnery sergeants, chaos and calamity
would ensue. I would humbly remind you that my sterling qualities are
legendary and therefore, indispensable." Gunny Walters answered
Mac laughed, "I stand corrected, Gunnery Sergeant." She continued, "I
just need to run up to my office and pick up a file that I forgot. I
should be in and out of here in ten minutes."
"Yes, Ma'am." The Gunny looked over his shoulder and crooked a finger at
a PFC behind the CP desk. The young man hurried over and snapped to
attention. "I'll have Rodreguiz accompany you."
"That's not really necessary, but thank you, Gunny." Mac said and strode
towards the elevators, trailed by the PFC.
Stepping off on the Ops floor, Mac noticed the PFC scanning the
corridor. As she started for the bullpen, she heard him say, "Excuse me,
"Yes, Rodreguiz?" Mac said as she turned back to face him.
"Ma'am, I noticed that the stairwell door is ajar. Would it be all right
if I went and checked it out?"
"Of course, Private. If I don't see you in my office, I'll meet you here
at the elevator." Mac watched him walk towards the stairs and then
turned and entered the darkened bullpen. Deep in thought, she was in the
doorway of her office before she realized her computer was on and a man
in coveralls was sitting at her desk. Mac stopped in surprise and said
the first thing that popped into her head, "What the hell are you
Mac noted the startled look on the man's face almost as an afterthought.
All her attention was focused on his hand coming up from below the desk
as he swung towards her. It was gripping an automatic pistol with a
black, bulky tube attached to the muzzle. 'Silencer,' Mac thought in an
oddly detached way. Everything was happening so slowly, then the moment
of shock passed and the adrenalin kicked in. 'MOVE!!' She threw herself
sideways as the man fired. By the time he made it out of her office, Mac
was crouched three desks away.
Keeping a wary eye on him, Mac silently berated herself, "Stupid,
Stupid, Stupid!" She kept her right hand firmly clamped on her left arm.
She was pretty sure the bullet had gone right through - which didn't
make the pain any less and her sleeve was slowly becoming soaked with
blood. Damn, she'd forgotten how much this could hurt. 'Focus, Marine!'
The man was cautiously continuing his search through the bullpen. Mac
did her best to keep as many desks between them as possible. 'Where the
hell was Rodreguiz?' She couldn't keep this up forever and she would
need some sort of a weapon if she were forced to take this guy on.
'Never a howitzer when you want one...' Mac carefully watched her
adversary while looking around the bullpen. 'This might work...'
Waiting until he ducked into a side office to search, she maneuvered
herself as close as she dared. He seemed to have developed a pattern to
his search; her plan depended upon anticipating where he would go next.
'Yes! Three... two... one...' Mac yanked on a wire and sent a phone
crashing to the floor behind him. As he spun towards the noise, she
popped up from the other side and slammed a second phone into his head.
Leaning against a desk, Mac looked down at the unconscious man.
Carefully lowering herself to the floor, she picked up his gun. She was
starting to get light-headed, definitely not a good sign. 'Where the
hell was Rodreguiz?'
Hearing a sound behind her, she spun towards this latest threat. Her
vision blurred and she tried desperately to focus. Finally, her eyesight
cleared enough to take in the uniform of a Marine corporal. He was
standing stock-still, holding his hands up, palms out. Mac lowered the
pistol, "Thank God, Corporal. I surprised this man in my office and he
shot me." She glanced down as the man groaned, "Call Gunny Walters and
get him..." She looked up in time to see the barrel of the Corporal's
sidearm swinging towards her head.
The Corporal stepped over her prone body and hauled the man
unceremoniously to his feet. "You okay, Aiken?"
"Yeah, yeah," Aiken held his head gingerly as he bent down and retrieved
his pistol. Straightening up, he kicked Mac in the side. "Bitch!"
The other man grabbed him by the shoulder and pulled him roughly away.
"We don't have time for that, you idiot! Did you find it?"
"No. It's not on her computer and I didn't have the chance to finish
searching her office. Why didn't you stop her before she got in here,
hotshot?" Aiken hissed angrily.
"Because I was taking care of her escort. Dammit, we're running out of
time." He fished in his pocket and pulled out a pair of handcuffs.
Tossing them to Aiken, he said, "Put those on her."
"Because she's already proved she can take you on one-handed," the
Corporal retorted, sarcastically. "Do it. We don't have time to search
anymore, so we'll ask her."
"What makes you think she'll tell you anything?" Aiken demanded.
"If she doesn't, I'll let you ask her."
Gunny Walters checked his watch again and drummed his fingers on the
desk. Corporal Meyers looked over at him, "Something wrong, Gunny?"
"Maybe. Colonel MacKenzie said she'd be back down in ten. It's going on
twenty." The Gunny rubbed his chin.
"She probably just lost track of time," Meyers offered, he never wasted
his time trying to figure out how an officer's mind worked.
"That's probably the one thing that didn't happen," replied the Gunny.
After a number of beers, Galindez had told him about the Colonel's
particular talent. Walters was sure his leg was being pulled and,
somewhat triumphantly, pointed out that she always wore a watch.
Galindez had laughed and said it kept her from having to spend all her
time explaining. Afterwards, Walters had kept a surreptitious eye on the
Colonel long enough to discover that Victor had been telling the truth.
He thought about it a moment longer and then got to his feet, "Corporal,
come with me."
Bypassing the elevator and main stairwell, Walters headed for a
little-used service stairway. Seeing Meyers looking at him askance, he
just said, "Humor me." Something wasn't right, he could feel it.
Reaching the Ops floor, Walters motioned to the Corporal for silence and
carefully opened the door. Looking down the corridor, he saw it was
deserted. Quietly, they started down toward the main office. Almost
there, Gunny put up his hand and stopped. He glanced back at Meyers and
got a confirming nod. They could hear low voices, both male and neither
sounded like Rodreguiz. Drawing their sidearms, Gunny gestured to Meyers
to stay put and keep watch. Staying low to the floor, he crept
cautiously to the bullpen entryway and peered in. Backing away, he
quietly returned to Meyers. Putting his mouth close to the Corporal's
ear, he said in almost inaudible tones, "Two male intruders: one dressed
as a Marine guard, the other as maintenance. The Colonel's in a chair,
bleeding like a stuck pig. Can't tell if she's conscious, and there's no
sign of Rodreguiz. Get back to the CP and shut this building down.
Notify the gate and call for reinforcements - tell them to come quietly,
it's a hostage situation. Call for an ambulance and paramedics, then
grab the corpsman on duty and whatever backup you can find and get the
hell back up here."
Gunny Walters waited until Meyers had disappeared into the stairway,
then he turned and crept quietly back to the bullpen. Cautiously, he
looked in again in time to watch the maintenance man grab the Colonel by
the hair and slap her across the face. Clenching his jaw, Walters
gripped his weapon a little tighter and waited. The fake Marine said
something to the maintenance man, who reacted in an angry undertone.
Seeing his chance, the Gunny moved quickly to one of the desks. When he
saw the maintenance man start to point his pistol at the Colonel's head,
Walters decided he had run out of time. Steadying his elbows on the
desktop, he aimed his sidearm at them and barked, "Freeze!"
The fake Marine whirled and fired, his shot going high over the Gunny's
head. Walters returned fire, hitting the Marine twice in the chest and
sending him crashing to the floor. Maintenance Man didn't waste any
time. He ducked behind the Colonel, grabbed a handful of sweatshirt and
hauled her backwards out of the chair to her feet. Using her as a
shield, he shoved the pistol muzzle up under her jaw, "Drop your gun or
I'll kill her!" Walters remained silent; his weapon still trained on the
Maintenance Man. "I mean it! I'll kill her!"
Finally, Walters spoke, "Fine. As soon as you do, I'm gonna blow your
goddamn brains out."
The Maintenance Man looked at him in disbelief. "Are you crazy?! She's
the Chief of Staff!"
"You think I care? Officers are a pain in the ass." Walters replied,
taking careful aim. He smiled coldly, "I never pass up the chance to
blow away some pissant white honky." He saw the Colonel's eyes upon him;
she didn't look quite as dazed as she did a minute ago.
Suddenly, her head lolled to one side and her knees buckled. Caught by
surprise, Maintenance Man tightened his grip and tried to keep her
upright. He was off-balance and when the Colonel suddenly reversed
direction and threw herself backwards, they both crashed to floor.
Walters was out from behind the desk and moving as they started to fall.
He reached the man's side almost as soon as they landed, his foot
immobilizing the gun hand and the muzzle of his sidearm a half-inch from
the bridge of Maintenance Man's nose. "Just twitch," Walters said
softly, "Give me a reason." He reached over with his free hand and
picked up the pistol.
"Gunny?" It was Meyers and the cavalry.
"Over here, Corporal." Walters kept his attention focused on Maintenance
Man until he felt Meyers come up behind him. "Take this piece of crap
into custody and get the paramedics up here now." He waited until Meyers
and one of the PFCs hauled Maintenance Man to his feet and cuffed him,
then turned toward the Colonel. Corpsman Faust had gotten the handcuffs
off her and was starting to administer first aid. He squatted down next
to her. She was unconscious and looked like hell, blood was everywhere.
Walters glanced up when Meyers came back to stand beside him. "Did you
Meyers grimaced, "Yeah, he was in the main stairwell. Stabbed to death."
"Son of a bitch." The commotion near the elevator told them that the
paramedics had arrived. Walters stood up and he and Meyers stepped out
of the way. "Is the rest of the building secure?" At Meyers' nod, he
sighed and walked to a phone, "I need to call Admiral Chegwidden."
Falls Church, VA
AJ roared into the JAG parking lot, he had made the trip in record time.
An ambulance was pulled up to the front entrance, its emergency lights
flashing. He hurried to the building. What the hell was going on? A
security breach at JAG? None of this made any sense. They didn't deal in
sensitive material. They were just a bunch of damn lawyers! Now he had a
member of the security detail dead and an injured Chief of Staff. What
was Mac doing back at JAG at this time of night? He had more questions
than answers, but by God, that was going to change!
Gunny Walters rode down with the paramedics. They exited the elevator
just as Admiral Chegwidden blew through the front doors. Watching
personnel scatter out of his way, Walters almost smiled. It looked like
Moses parting the Red Sea. Meeting halfway down the corridor, the Gunny
started to come to attention only to be waved off by the Admiral.
AJ changed direction and walked beside the gurney. He couldn't see a lot
of Mac, but what he could see didn't look good. He turned his attention
to a paramedic, "How is she? Where are you taking her?"
"We've got her stabilized for now, sir. She's lost a lot of blood and
has been in and out of consciousness. GW is closest, unless you'd rather
we took her to Bethesda."
"No, GW is fine," answered AJ. He and the Gunny followed them out to the
ambulance and watched until it drove away. AJ turned and looked at
Walters. "Gunny, I need to make some phone calls and then you and I need
"Aye aye, sir. I'll wait for you at the CP." Gunny came to attention and
at AJ's dismissal, turned and marched back down the hallway.
AJ pulled out his cell phone and dialed. He listened to it ring and then
heard the answering machine pick up. 'Damn.' After hearing the beep, he
said, "Rabb, this is Admiral Chegwidden. It's 2250. There's been a
security breach at JAG. Mac was injured; she's being taken to George
Washington Medical Center. Call me on my cell phone." Hanging up, he
dialed the next number.
Harriet picked up on the second ring, "Roberts' residence. Oh, hello
Admiral. No, Bud is at Commander Turner's. He and Commander Rabb are
over watching the basketball game. Is everything all right, sir?"
Harriet's hand flew to her mouth in disbelief, "Oh my God! What
happened? Will she be okay, sir? Do you want me to call Bud? No sir,
it's not a problem. Yes, sir. Thank you for calling, sir." Hanging up,
Harriet sat and stared at the phone. This couldn't be happening. Pulling
out the phone directory, she looked up a number and dialed.
George Washington Medical Center
Harm burst through the Emergency Room doors with Sturgis close behind.
Hurrying up to the front desk, he caught the attention of the
receptionist and said, "I'm looking for a friend of mine. She was
brought in a half hour ago or so. Her name is Lt. Col. Sarah MacKenzie."
As the receptionist slowly scrolled down her computer screen, he shot a
harried look at Sturgis.
Exasperated, Harm was just about to say something to the receptionist
when she looked up with a saccharine smile, "Found her. The multiple
GSW, they've taken her up to surgery. It's on the sixth floor, use the
elevators at the end of this hallway and then just follow the signs.
There's a waiting room up there." As the two men hurried down the
corridor, the receptionist leaned over the desk and admired the view.
Arriving on the sixth floor, Harm quickly scanned the signs. He strode
rapidly down the hallway, forcing the shorter Sturgis into a near-jog in
order to keep up. Arriving at the station desk, he said to the nurse,
"My name is Harmon Rabb. They told me downstairs that Sarah MacKenzie
had been brought up here. Can you tell me if she's going to be okay?"
The nurse picked up a chart, "Oh yes, she was brought up a little while
ago. Dr. Mikos is handling the case; I'll page him so he can answer any
questions. Are you family?"
"No, we're friends. She doesn't have any immediate family in the area. I
do hold her medical power of attorney, if that's any help." Harm
"Great," said the nurse, handing over a thick stack of papers attached
to a clipboard. "We need you to fill out the paperwork. Just have a seat
in the waiting room and I'll locate Dr. Mikos."
Fifteen minutes later, Harm finally finished the forms. ‘Where was the
doctor?’ he thought irritably. Sturgis had taken to staring at a
painting on the wall. Both looked up quickly when a small, round man in
surgical scrubs walked into the waiting room. "Mr. Rabb?"
"Yes." Harm surged to his feet, "Are you Dr. Mikos?" At the man's nod,
Harm continued, "This is Sturgis Turner, another friend of Mac's. How is
she? Will she be alright?"
"Well, Mr. Rabb..." Dr. Mikos paused as three more people came hurrying
around the corner.
"Admiral, Bud, Harriet," Harm said as they stopped next to him, "This is
Mac's doctor, Dr. Mikos."
Dr. Mikos looked at Harm, "Is this everybody?" At Harm's affirmative, he
continued, "As I was about to tell Mr. Rabb and Mr. Turner, Ms.
MacKenzie is currently in fair but stable condition. She is suffering
from two gunshot wounds, one through the upper arm and one in her side.
She also has a mild concussion, several cracked ribs and numerous
contusions and lacerations. I know it sounds like a lot, but none of the
injuries themselves are life threatening. Right now, we're trying to
prevent the onset of shock and dealing with substantial blood loss. She
was fortunate to have received such prompt treatment; if she'd gone into
shock at the scene, we might not be having this conversation." Dr. Mikos
stopped for a minute to give everyone a chance to digest the
AJ cleared his throat, "Will she recover?"
"Oh yes." Seeing the group visibly relax a bit, Dr. Mikos smiled,
"Sorry, I wasn't trying to scare you. I just wanted to apprise you of
the seriousness of the situation." He continued briskly, "We have Ms.
MacKenzie scheduled for surgery at 1:45 this morning. By that time, she
will have received several units of blood and her condition will be
stable enough to permit surgery. We don't think the bullet wound in her
side hit anything vital." Dr. Mikos paused and scanned the group, "I
think you should all go home, rest and come back in the morning. She'll
be in recovery right after the surgery, so you won't be able to see her
until the morning anyway."
"Thank you, Doctor." AJ said, forestalling Rabb's automatic protest.
"That's probably a good idea."
Dr. Mikos glanced at his watch, "I'm sorry, but I have to get back. If
one of you will leave a number at the station desk, I'll call if there
are any changes in Ms. MacKenzie's condition." He walked out of the
They stood for a moment in silence and then Sturgis asked, "Pardon me
Admiral, but what the hell has been going on?"
AJ swept his gaze across the group. They all looked concerned and
worried; except for Rabb, he looked angry as well. "I wish I knew. I
talked to Gunny Walters, he said Mac came in a little before 2200 and
said she was going up to her office to retrieve a file she had
forgotten. When she didn't come back down, he became concerned and went
up to check. He discovered two intruders, they had Mac and she had
already been shot at least once. He implemented the security Opplan and
waited for backup. When things started to go south, he went in alone.
Wound up killing one intruder and capturing the other. He had medical
personnel standing by for the Colonel and then he called me."
"I think the Doctor was right," the Admiral continued, "Everybody go
home and we can meet back here in the morning." The Roberts and Sturgis
nodded their assent and left the waiting room, murmuring quietly among
themselves. AJ looked over at Rabb who was stubbornly keeping his place,
"Commander, don't make me order you to leave."
Harm stared back at the Admiral before there was an almost imperceptible
slump to his shoulders. He stared at the floor for a moment and then
looked up, "All right, sir. Let me give this to the station nurse." He
lifted the clipboard with all the paperwork attached. Together they
walked out of the waiting room, Harm dropped off the papers and they
made their way to the elevators. The two men stood silently, waiting for
the doors to open. Finally, Harm spoke, "You're going back to JAG
tonight." It wasn't so much a question as a statement of fact. At AJ's
nod, he continued, "Sir, I'd like to accompany you if I may. I need to
do something, I don't think I'll be able to sleep tonight anyway."
AJ sighed, "Okay, Harm. On one condition: when I tell you to leave, you
leave. Is that clear?"
Falls Church, VA
AJ took off his glasses and rubbed his tired eyes. The amount of
paperwork generated by an incident like this was astonishing.
'Incident.' He snorted in disgust. An 'incident' was denting a fender in
a parking lot. He had a young man in his command that had been stabbed
to death and Mac in the hospital. AJ had a guilty moment when he
remembered the brief feeling of relief that things hadn't been reversed.
Then there'd been the shock when they walked into the bullpen for the
first time. There seemed to be blood everywhere... Hearing a knock, he
looked up and saw Harm standing in the open doorway with a thick sheaf
of papers in his hand. Motioning him in, AJ leaned back in his chair.
Rabb looked like hell.
At the Admiral's nod, Harm settled his tall frame into a chair. "I just
got off the phone with GW, sir. Mac just came out of surgery. They're
going to wait a couple of hours to make sure there are no complications;
then they'll upgrade her condition and move her to a regular room.
Visiting hours begin at 0800." His relief was evident.
"Well, that's one good thing." AJ nodded toward the papers still in
Harm's hand, "Where are we?"
"You mean besides being up to our necks with every Tom, Dick and Harry
from practically every news bureau in the area, sir?" Harm said dryly.
The Admiral grunted in agreement. When they had arrived at JAG, there
had been the expected police officers and detectives, as well as a
surprising number of reporters. Apparently, even a whiff of possible
terrorism brought them out in droves. They were milling about the
parking lot, having met with an immovable object in the form of Gunny
Walters. AJ had sent them packing, flatly stating that this was a
military incident and the Navy's jurisdiction. JAG would investigate and
then notify whomever they deemed appropriate if and when it became
necessary. Harm gave a weary sigh, "Right now, we don't know what the
intruders were looking for or if it pertains to a current or past
investigation. A number of computers were on, including Mac's, so we
don't know whose files they were after. We don't know if Mac was the
target, or simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. According to the
Gunny, they wasted valuable time in an apparent attempt to interrogate
her. That could mean she was the target except that there was no way
they would have known she was coming back in. Another possibility is
that they thought as Chief of Staff, Mac would have the information they
wanted. How they got in shows careful planning, which would suggest an
ongoing investigation. It also suggests that these two did not act alone
and because they were unsuccessful, it's possible there will be another
Harm looked grim and concluded, "Whoever planned this took a helluva
chance. He either has an incredible amount of confidence that his people
won't rat him out, if caught; or, he's buried so far in the background,
that they don't know he's involved. Whatever these people are after must
be pretty big to justify the amount of risk they're willing to take."
"So, basically, all we know is that two men breached security, killed
one person and wounded another. We don't know why they did it, we don't
know what they were after and we don't know who is involved." AJ said in
frustration. He stood up, "Okay, that's it. We'll tackle this again in
the morning. Go home."
"Go home. Get some sleep and I'll meet you at GW later." AJ gave a small
smile, "Then we can discuss the fine art of ducking with a certain
Harm grinned in spite of himself, "Marines don't duck, sir..."
Mac's Apartment Building
Bud followed his wife down the hallway to the office of the building
superintendent. "Harriet, I don't know if this is such a good idea. I
mean, shouldn't we have asked the Colonel first before going into her
"Bud," Harriet turned and looked at her husband, "We're not planning to
ransack her place. I just want to throw together an overnight bag for
her. She's going to need something to wear when they release her and
until then she'll be much more comfortable with her own clothes and
things." Harriet resumed her march to the office. Five minutes later,
they were all on the way to Mac's apartment. The super had tried to
argue, but Harriet had overcome every objection. Bud trailed along
behind, once more amazed at his wife's ability to herd people in the
direction she wanted them to go.
When they arrived at Mac's door, the super pulled out a large key ring.
It took him a few moments to sort through it and then he reached over to
unlock the door. He stopped and looked back at Bud and Harriet, "It's
Mac's Apartment Building
Bud and Harriet looked at each other in consternation and then motioning
Harriet and the super back, Bud cautiously opened the door. Scanning the
room quickly, he turned back to the super and said quietly, "Call the
police." Gesturing to Harriet to stay by the door, Bud carefully entered
and began checking through the apartment. Harriet peeked in and gasped.
The Colonel's normally neat home looked like a bomb had gone off inside.
Furniture was overturned, cushions were ripped and shelves had been
cleared. The floor was covered in a jumbled mess of papers, books and
broken knickknacks. Bud came back to the door and looked at Harriet,
"The whole apartment is like this. It doesn't look like vandalism,
someone was searching for something."
Harriet frowned, "This has to do with the security breach at JAG,
doesn't it?” Bud nodded and she continued, "That means they were after
the Colonel, but how could they know she was going to be at JAG right
Bud thought for a moment, "Maybe both happened at the same time and
whoever did this was expecting to find the Colonel here, not at JAG." He
shivered, "They could have easily killed her here, no one would have
known for hours." He left unspoken the thought that if they were looking
for something, they might not have killed her quickly. This whole thing
"We need to call Admiral Chegwidden," Harriet stated firmly. Bud pulled
out his cell phone.
George Washington Medical Center
Harm sat slumped in a chair, chin in hand, lost in thought. He had
arrived a few minutes before 0800 and talked to the attending physician
about Mac's condition. Dr. Allen had pulled her chart, grunted as he
read over it and told Harm not to expect much; Ms. MacKenzie would
probably sleep most of the day. So far, he'd been right on the money.
Harm looked over at the sleeping Marine; he knew Mac probably looked
better than she did when they brought her in and he was halfway grateful
he hadn't seen her before. 'I would've gone straight to the brig and
tried to pull the arms and legs off the SOB who did this to her.' The
intensity of his feelings surprised him and he automatically avoided
analyzing the reason behind it. Instead he concentrated on uncovering
the reason for the break-in, something big had found its way to JAG and
he was going to find it.
Harm's head snapped up to find a bleary-eyed Sarah MacKenzie looking at
him. He got up and moved to the side of her bed. "Hey, Marine."
"Where...?" Mac tried to fight the lethargy that seemed to be
"You're going to be fine, Mac." Harm said reassuringly, he had captured
her hand while leaning over the guardrail. "You're at George Washington
Med Center. Gunny Walters got the guys that did this to you." He stopped
speaking as her eyes closed and she drifted off to sleep again.
"How is she, Commander?" Harm turned to find the Admiral and Sturgis
entering the room.
"She was awake for a little while and pretty groggy, then she drifted
off again," Harm replied. "The doctor said she'd probably sleep most of
The Admiral nodded and started to speak when his cell phone rang.
"Excuse me, gentlemen." He turned back to the doorway and answered the
phone, "Chegwidden... Yes, Mr. Roberts... I understand... What? When?
Have you called the police? All right, I'm on my way. Thank you, Bud."
AJ turned around to find Harm and Sturgis staring at him. "Bud and
Harriet decided to stop by the Colonel's place on the way here. Harriet
wanted to put together an overnight bag for Mac. When they got there,
they found the place ransacked. They're waiting for the police."
Harm and Sturgis stood in shock for a moment, then Harm stepped forward
and said, "Admiral, I'd like to... " He stopped and glanced back,
clearly torn about what to do.
Sturgis touched his shoulder and said, "I'll stay with Mac, Harm. Go
ahead and go." He acknowledged Harm's grateful smile and watched the two
men hurry from the room. Pulling the chair around so that he had a clear
view of Mac and the door, Sturgis settled down to wait.