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Classification JAG Story, angst, drama, some violence.
Length Approximately 46,000 words; 104 pages (8 ½” x 11”)
Spoilers Everything up to Hero Worship
Rating GS

 

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5

 

 

 

JAG Headquarters
Falls Church, VA
1310 Local

 

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 chest.

"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 him.

With a look of mock horror, Harm solemnly intoned, "Oh my, poor Sturgis..."

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 countryside."

"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 anxiously.

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
1317 Local

 

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, sir?"

"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 accent...

"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 him.

"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 tomorrow."

"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 richer?"

"That's what you're going to owe me when Kansas kicks butt tonight," Harm grinned at his friend.

 

Quantico Brig
1427 Local

 

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 it."

"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... uh..."

"Snoop?"

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 the Palestinians?"

"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."
 


NIS
1735 Local

 

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 waiting."

"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 to help."

"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 convenience."

"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 leave, sir?"

"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.
 


JAG Headquarters
Falls Church, VA
1850 Local

 

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 ones.

"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 normal tone.

"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?"

"Yes sir."

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 personal life.'

"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.
 


Mac's Apartment
Georgetown
1940 Local

 

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.
 


Mac's Apartment
Georgetown
2053 Local

 

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:

'To Harm,

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 much?'

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.
 


JAG Headquarters
Falls Church, VA
2147 Local

 

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 solemnly.

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, Colonel."

"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 doing?"

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."

"What for?"

"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 find Rodreguiz?"

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."

 

JAG Headquarters
Falls Church, VA
2248 Local

 

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 to talk."

"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
2338 Local

 

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 replied.

"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 information.

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 waiting room.

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?"

"Yes sir."
 


JAG Headquarters
Falls Church, VA
0240 Local

 

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 attempt."

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."

"But sir..."

"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 Marine colonel."

Harm grinned in spite of himself, "Marines don't duck, sir..."
 


Mac's Apartment Building
Georgetown
0825 Local

 

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 apartment?"

"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 already open."
 


Mac's Apartment Building
Georgetown
0835 Local

 

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 then?"

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 was crazy.

"We need to call Admiral Chegwidden," Harriet stated firmly. Bud pulled out his cell phone.
 


George Washington Medical Center
Mac's Room
0855 Local

 

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...?"

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 overwhelming her.

"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 day."

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.

 

 

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