"If you've a story, make sure it's a whole one, with details close to
hand. It's the difference between a successful lie and getting caught."
--Tamora Pierce, “Workbook for a Young Spy”
3 November 2003
North of Union Station
Harm stuck one last shirt in his sea bag and zipped it up. He hauled it
out to the living room and dumped it by the couch before going to the
fridge to get a bottle of water. He grabbed the drink and twisted off
the cap as he heard a knock on the door. "It's open," he called.
Beth walked in and dumped her own sea bag next to his. "You ready?" she
"I guess," Harm said as he walked over to the couch and flopped on it.
"I hoped that I'd seen the last of this guy back in Paraguay."
"It stinks, doesn't it?" Beth asked. "I mean, you thought he was out of
your life for good, and now we're being sent after him to stop him from
blowing up a bunch of college kids."
"Yeah," he said with a sigh. "I thought that the SOB wouldn't be coming
back to bite me in the ass. I mean, Mac and I destroyed his weapons
stash, and I figured it'd take him a long time to rebuild it."
Before Beth could answer, a knock sounded at the door. Harm got up to
answer it. "Webb," he said with a tense nod.
"Rabb," Webb answered back. "This is my new senior partner, Jack Olsen,"
he nodded towards the graying man behind him.
"My condolences, Olsen," Harm said, extending his hand towards the
agent. "I'm sorry you're the poor SOB that got pulled to babysit the
FUBAR King here."
"Hey," Webb protested, "That's not--"
"Nice to meet you too, Rabb. I hear that you keep rescuing this
screw-up's sorry ass." Olsen ignored Webb and shook Harm's hand.
"Unfortunate side effect. I only went to save Mac... too bad our
relationship and my career ended up being blown to hell as a result.
Come on in." Harm motioned for Olsen to take a seat and briefly
considered shutting the door in Webb's face.
Olsen took a seat on the couch and winced. "Ouch. If it helps, I know
the feeling; my family was collateral damage from my career." He pulled
out two file folders and handed one to Harm and the other to Beth. "Sadik
is planning an attack on most of the major universities on the East
Beth examined the list and let out a slow whistle. "West Point, the
Naval Academy, Harvard, MIT, Yale, Duke, Georgia Tech... this is a long
Webb nodded. "Yes."
Olsen shot him a look that clearly said to shut up, then took up the
thread. "Georgia Tech even has an inactive nuclear reactor on campus;
blowing that up would probably take most of Atlanta with it."
"We have two tickets for you to go to Colombia, under assumed
identities, of course, because we have intel that he's hiding there."
Webb pulled a packet out of his briefcase and handed it to Beth.
"He's also stockpiling weapons, including some old Russian MiGs, and the
pilots to fly them. Word is that he's sending them to either kamikaze or
drop bombs. You two are to get in there, destroy the stockpiles, kill
Sadik Fahd, and get out." Olsen quirked a smile. "I'll make sure that
the kid here doesn't intervene."
"Thanks," Beth said with a grimace. "We might actually stand a chance of
surviving if you do."
"Wait just a second--" Webb began.
"Don't you know, Webb? You own the Company record of surviving the most
FUBAR'd missions." Harm dropped down on the couch and leaned back.
"Rabb is right," Olsen said with a smirk. "He has a better record than
you do and he'd only been TAD to the Company a few times before seven
Harm glanced over at Jack. "Jack, if you've got a girlfriend, keep Webb
away from her."
Webb grimaced and leaned back against the door. "What do you mean,
girlfriend, Rabb? Last I heard, Mac was just your friend."
"I wouldn't have gone haring off to Paraguay unless it was for her,
Webb. But you knew that, didn't you? You wouldn't have told Gunny to
expect me if you didn't think otherwise." Harm fixed Webb with a glare.
"You hurt her, there won't be a place on earth that I can't find you to
make sure you pay--and *that's* a promise."
Webb rolled his eyes. "Like you were actually going to say anything
after all these years. I gave you time, Rabb."
Harm folded his arms over his chest and glowered at the spook. "Suuure.
You waited until she was vulnerable and at her lowest point to say
anything, and you walked in on us just before I was about to kiss her to
make sure that nothing would happen."
Before Webb could answer back, Beth jumped in between them. "Hold it,
"Webb, you're even slimier than I was led to believe. From now on, kid,
you're going to be too busy to romance Rabb's girl," Olsen said with a
smirk. He grinned at Harm. "I like you, Rabb; you remind me of a very
young Jack Olsen."
"I never wanted to be a spook," Harm muttered, still shooting dark looks
"Neither did I," Jack admitted. "But it was the family business, and I'm
good at it--I made damn sure to keep my son out of it." He handed Beth a
card. "We'll get out of your hair; your plane leaves in an hour, and
that's my secure cell phone number if you need anything, including
"But that's not--"
"I'm *NSA*, not CIA, kid. I can save Rabb if I want to, and you *owe*
him for saving your skin so many times."
Webb stuffed his hands in his pockets. "Whatever," he mumbled, heading
towards the door.
"Thanks, Jack," Harm said with a smile. "Maybe you can teach Webb here
some things so that he survives to become an old spy."
Jack grinned. "That, I believe, is the reason why I'm his babysitter.
See you on the other side, Rabb." He got up and sauntered out the door,
pulling Webb with him.
"Well, Hammer, old buddy," Beth said. "That was certainly interesting."
She picked up her kit and headed towards the door. "Let's get going; the
sooner we leave, the sooner you can talk to Mac."
"Yes, ma'am," Harm said, picking up his sea bag and following her.
"Since Olsen will be keeping Webb busy, I might actually have a chance
to talk to her."
"That's the idea, sailor," Beth said. "Let's go."
Harm nodded and locked the door behind them. Together, they left the
building, climbed into Harm's Lexus and headed for the airport. If they
were lucky, they might be able to be back within the week, but he wasn't
counting on it. The words 'lucky' and 'CIA operation' rarely seemed to
go together, and this assignment probably wouldn't be any different. At
least they had the chance to save the lives of thousands of civilians.
No matter what happened, this mission had the potential to make a
difference, and that was what really mattered.
6 November 2003
Sheffield leaned forward on his desk, looked at Kershaw and steeped his
fingers. "So how is Rabb working out?"
"Just fine," Kershaw replied with a smile. "He's a gifted pilot, and he
makes a better field agent than most."
Sheffield graced Kershaw with a smug smile. “I know,” he said. “I've
seen his unedited files; with the time he spent in Vietnam and Laos as a
teenager, he's suited for this kind of work.”
Kershaw leaned back in his chair, his smile mirroring Sheffield's. “Why
do you think that Webb tapped him for so many missions?" he asked.
"I'd wondered," Sheffield said. "I'm thinking that we can send him to
Quantico for some sniper training."
"A man who can move as quietly as Rabb does through thick undergrowth
could be useful as a sniper," Kershaw mused.
"Exactly. Now, when is Rabb expected back?"
Kershaw sat up and smiled again. "If everything goes well, next month.
If not..." he shrugged.
"Keep me informed?"
"Only of Rabb's return," Kershaw said curtly. "The rest is need to
Sheffield flipped his hand towards the other man. "I know, I know. My
security clearance isn't high enough to know about all the ongoing CIA
"Right. Now if you'll excuse me--" Kershaw stood up and smoothed down
Sheffield stood up and offered the other man his hand. They shook, then
he sank back into the embrace of his leather chair as Kershaw left the
office. The more he thought about it, the better he liked the idea of
training Rabb as a sniper. Perhaps they could send him for SEAL training
after that. He had a feeling that the man would prove useful to have
under his command.
After all, there were more places for a man with as... flexible talents
as the commander than the CIA. Perhaps he should reassign him to Naval
Intelligence after he got back. He was sure that Rabb could cause enough
damage to the other side to justify it, when properly controlled, of
9 December 2003
Falls Church, Virginia
Mac walked into the bullpen, scanning the room for her prey. Her mouth
curved into a smile as she found her intended target. "Bud," she said,
coming up to him. "Have you heard from Harm lately?"
Bud shook his head. "I'm sorry, Colonel, but I haven't--Harriet
mentioned that he started calling during the day quite some time ago,
you could ask her."
"Thanks, Bud," Mac said, then walked quickly towards her office. She
picked up the phone, called Harriet, and made arrangements to meet
somewhere for lunch. Perhaps he'd called to talk to little AJ. She had
all but been haunting his building, but so far, he hadn't been home
since she left the note.
Mac looked up as Coates poked her head into the room. "Ma'am, the
Admiral wants to see you."
"I'll be there in a minute, Petty Officer," Mac answered. She stood up
and hurried to the Admiral's office. "Colonel Mackenzie reporting as
ordered, sir," she said, bracing to attention.
The Admiral leaned forward, his elbows resting on his blotter. "At ease,
Mac--have a seat."
Mac sat in one of the chair in front of his desk and folded her hands in
her lap. AJ picked up a folder and handed it to her. "Mac, the
investigation on this one was handled by NCIS, and the accused has
retained civilian council. General Sheridan murdered his wife and child
two weeks ago, and he was found standing over the bodies. You're to
prosecute, and I want you to nail his ass to the wall. Is that clear?"
"Yes, sir," she replied automatically.
"Have you managed to contact Harm yet?" he asked, softening his voice.
Mac shook her head. "No, sir. Harm hasn't been home at all in the past
month or so."
"Do you know of anyone else he's still talking to?" he asked.
"Bud said that he sometimes calls to talk to Little AJ, sir, but he
doesn't know if he's called lately. I'm meeting Harriet for lunch today
to find out, and I'm going to dinner with Webb to pump him for
information, sir." Mac bit the inside of her cheek and tried not to show
how worried she was.
"Thank you, Colonel. Dismissed."
Mac stood up, braced to attention, and left his office. Coates stopped
her on the way out the door. "Ma'am, Beth O'Neil is waiting for you on
"Thank you, Petty Officer, I'll take it in my office." Mac hurried back
to her office, picked up the phone, and punched line two. "Lt. Colonel
Sarah Mackenzie," she said briskly.
"Colonel, this is Beth O'Neil, Harm's partner. I wanted to know if you'd
heard from him."
Mac drew in a deep breath, trying to quell the sudden surge of fear that
rose within her. "No, I haven't. What's the problem?"
"Harm is missing. Three days ago, we came back here, and the next
morning, his room was a mess, and he was gone. I've tried everything,
ma'am, but he's just... vanished. I was hoping that, maybe..."
Mac's legs gave out, and she collapsed into her chair. She heard Beth's
voice in the background saying her rank but she didn't pay attention.
Her last words to Harm echoed in her ears, and if he didn't survive,
she'd never get to apologize. She'd never get to tell him the truth;
that he was the *most* important person in her life.
"When able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we
must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we
are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near."
--Sun Tzu, “The Art of War” (fl. 400-320 BC)
18 November 2003
Harm sauntered into their temporary quarters and set his bag down.
"Honey, I'm home," he called, smirking.
Beth came out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on a towel. "Honestly,
David, do you *have* to be so corny?" she rolled her eyes.
Harm winked and moved further in the house. "Me, corny? Surely you jest,
Lynn." He leaned in and made a show of kissing her.
Beth reached for his hand as the kiss ended and they walked into the
kitchen. She turned on the water, handed him a potato, and picked up
another to scrub. "Find anything out, sailor?"
Harm shook his head. "They're still being cautious. I guess we burned
him badly enough last time that he's being more thorough than ever
Beth wiped her mouth on her t-shirt. "No offense, but why'd you have to
kiss me? I know we're supposed to use our cover names, but..."
Harm grinned. "I guess I forgot to tell you--the foyer is bugged; video
and sound. I talked to Jack as soon as I found them, and he says that
it's better to leave them there so that they don't know that we're on to
Beth groaned. "Remind me to never end up playing a live-in girlfriend
again. Mac can do it after we get you two together."
Harm's entire body stiffened. "Who says *that'll* ever happen," he
Beth flicked water at him and grinned. "*I* do. Remember, Harm, you
*promised* me that you'd talk to her when we get back, and I've got a
feeling that she didn't mean what she said back in Paraguay."
Harm concentrated on getting every speck of dirt off of the potato as if
his life depended on it. "I'll believe that if I can ever convince her
to marry me," he grumbled. "And that's as likely to happen as Mac
actually *enjoying* a ride in a Tomcat."
Beth leaned against the sink and looked at him curiously. "What do you
mean?" she asked.
A tiny smile flitted over Harm's face. "The one and only time she rode
in one, she got sick."
"Couldn't take the Gs?"
"The two of you are gonna have some interesting kids; they'll either be
natural pilots, or they'll get seasickness every time they step on a
"Hey!" Harm protested. "She's not *that* bad; I've never once seen Mac
Beth poked him in the side and grinned. "See? You still love her, and
I'm betting that she loves you back. If she's held on this long, those
feelings aren't gonna disappear overnight."
"Thanks," he said. "I think we need to go put on another show for our
"Well, *David*, I think that we'd better cook dinner first."
"Yes, honey." Harm answered, rolling his eyes.
"We're supposed to meet up with our backup tomorrow at the safe house,"
she reminded him.
A smirk crossed his face. "Sounds like fun," he said. "We can help Jack
give Webb a hard time again."
"Never was there one so deserving," she said with a wink. "One of these
days, I'll have to get my girlfriend to paint a target on his
back--she's an artist, so I'm sure she'll oblige."
Harm snickered. "I'd pay to see *that*"
Beth grinned. "Wait 'til it gets warmer... My apartment complex has a
pool, and I'm sure we can convince Webb to come for a party and fall
asleep by it... You can bring Mac with to watch."
"I look forward to it."
"You'd better. C'mon sailor, we've got dinner to cook." With that, Beth
turned toward her pile of vegetables and started chopping.
Harm finished washing the rest of the vegetables and turned off the
water. Perhaps Beth was right; perhaps Mac hadn't meant it. Perhaps Mac
still cared and he actually had a chance. He grabbed a frying pan, put
it on the heat, and splashed a bit of oil into it.
It was as if Beth had shown him that he still had a chance for his
dreams. He still had time to gain what had become his greatest desire
over the last few years; a family with Sarah as his wife and the mother
of his children. Thanks to Beth, he had more hope than he had thought he
would ever have again that he could make things work between himself and
the woman he loved.
Their deal would be coming due soon, and perhaps he could convince her
to both love and marry him to complete it. The baby part could come
afterwards, but he wanted more than just a baby with her; Harm wanted
Sarah to be his home, his wife, his everything. Despite everything, it
was what he'd wanted the most for years--he just had been too afraid,
and he also hadn't quite figured out how to go about it. His feelings
for her were deeper than the feelings he'd had for anyone else,
including Diane. If he lost her, he didn't know how he'd manage to
survive. If Beth was right, then he'd be able to obtain his greatest
18 November 2003
Jack read the final page of the report, then threw it in the fire.
"Rabb and O'Neil will be able to take out Sadik soon, because the SOB is
buying the cover story," Webb replied, leaning back against the plain,
Jack rested his elbows on his thighs and leaned forward, his blue eyes
staring into the fire. "Very good, kid. Now, what would be their best
course of action?"
Webb rubbed his hand over his eyes. "Stay put, do nothing suspicious,
raise no questions."
Jack shifted his weight in his chair. "And should Rabb kill someone on
the suspicion that he's ratting him out?"
Webb sighed. "No. A spy you know is always better than a spy you don't
Jack grinned and mockingly handed Webb a chocolate bar. "You're
learning, kid. Now if you can just remember to keep backup on hand, and
to stick with simple lies seeded with truth that are easy to prove, you
might survive to make some little Webbs for the Company to turn into
Webb groaned and rolled his eyes in disgust. "What did I ever do to get
a babysitter like *him*?" he mumbled.
Jack simply grinned and leaned back in his chair. "You messed up one too
many times, so they had to call me in kid, because they didn't want to
tell your mother that her only son had managed to get dead."
"I know, I know," he said.
"You'd better, kiddo. You're going to learn your lessons *right* this
time and you're not gonna screw up as badly as you have in the past."
Jack glanced at him and grinned. "So what did your messages from the
"Mac wants to talk to me again," Webb said with a groan.
"And what did you tell her?" Jack prodded.
"That I wanted to be friends, and of course I'd give her any news of
Harm that wasn't classified."
"Good boy." Jack put his feet up on a low stool. "You shouldn't be
playing on a girl's sympathies to get a date, kiddo. Especially when you
know that a friend of yours is in love with her."
"Yes, sir," he said. "It won't happen again."
"It had better not. You lose control, you die. It's about time you
learned that, kid. If you have a relationship, keep it out of this
business as much as you can; distractions will also get you killed."
Jack stood up, stretched, and put his hand on Webb's shoulder. "Find
yourself a nice girl who's in a profession like teaching or something
and settle down in the suburbs somewhere."
"It didn't work for you, *Jack*."
"No, it didn't, because I let the job get in the way of what was really
important. I still regret that. But at least I had the sense not to go
after a girl who had the skills to come after me and kick my ass if I
pissed her off." Jack walked over, leaned against the mantle, and stared
into the fire. "I didn't try and throw a wrench into it when probably
the two best friends I've got are finally getting around to admitting
that they've been in love for years, either."
"I've been attracted to her for years," Webb murmured. "I'd have to be
dead not to be--and I'm not sure why I did it."
"Figure it out. I saw the pictures in his apartment, and I'm surprised
that she doesn't know; he loves her." Jack walked over and flopped back
on his chair. "That man would do *anything* for her. Hell, I think he'd
walk on water or drown trying."
Webb chuckled sadly. "He almost did, once."
"What do you mean?" Jack asked.
"Well, a few years back, she was engaged to this Australian sailor." A
smile flitted across his face. "Mic Brumby was a Harmon Rabb-substitute
if I ever did see one, and an inferior one at that." Webb went on to
tell the story, and Jack listened with one ear as he tried to figure out
how he would ever manage to get Webb up to snuff. He was just getting
too old for this kind of shit.
It was long past time he took up a training position at Langley, Parris
Island, West Point, or even at the Naval Academy. He'd heard of
positions opening up in all of them, and he was ready to take one. With
his long and distinguished record, one of them would take him, and then
maybe he could get down to the business of getting to know his son. He'd
started in the military, after all, and had only resigned his commission
to join the NSA.
Perhaps there was even hope that he could try and patch things up with
his ex-wife now that his career wouldn't be a problem. After all, they'd
stayed in touch, and he still loved her. Stranger things had happened,
that was for sure.
6 December 2003
Harm leaned back against the bed and turned another page absently. He'd
hoped to be back in Washington by now, but the operation had stretched
on and on without signs of ending. Just when they thought that Sadik
trusted them, he always started to back off, forcing them to revise
their plans. He supposed he shouldn't be so impatient with it, because
these types of deep cover operations could go on for years but damn it,
he wanted to go home.
Beth had been pushing him towards talking to Mac for weeks, and it was
high time he did it. If he couldn't have anything more, he at least
wanted her friendship. There was a Mac-shaped hole in him that needed to
be filled. The months away from her had only proven to him, once more,
how much he needed her in his life. Working for the CIA wasn't *that*
bad, but at the same time, he hated it because Mac wasn't there.
With a sigh of disgust he threw the paperback down on his bed; he hadn't
really been reading it, anyway. Maybe he should've returned her calls.
Paraguay hadn't entirely been her fault, he had contributed to the
demise of their relationship, too. He just hoped that Mac would assist
him in the resurrection process, and he had a feeling that it would
require lots of groveling on his part. At least, that was the way it had
worked in his last relationship.
Harm laid his head against the wall and closed his eyes. It had been a
long week, and he was tired. He smiled as images of Mac began to parade
around his eyelids. Perhaps soon he'd have a chance to tell her the
truth, marry her, and find out where the infamous tattoo was located.
He'd had several fantasies over the years of playing find-the-artwork on
her... with a quiet sigh, he started to drift to sleep.
As soon as Harm's breathing evened out, three men in form-fitting,
charcoal-gray outfits slipped out of the closet and walked soundlessly
up to the bed. One pulled out a soft white cloth and a vial and dumped
the substance on it. He pocketed the vial and held the cloth over Harm's
mouth and nose. The other two men began meticulously searching the room,
leaving destruction behind them. When Harm's breathing finally deepened,
the first man gestured to the other two. Silently, they picked up the
package they had come after, walked out the door, and vanished into the
Unreality of Time
"Each of us is all the sums he has not counted: subtract us into
nakedness and night again, and you shall see begin in Crete four
thousand years ago the love that ended yesterday in Texas. . . . The
seed of our destruction will blossom in the desert, the alexin of our
cure grows by a mountain rock, and our lives are haunted by a Georgia
slattern, because a London cutpurse went unhung. Each moment is the
fruit of forty thousand years. The minute-winning days, like flies, buzz
home to death, and every moment is a window on all time."
--Thomas Wolfe, “Look Homeward, Angel”
Harm came awake slowly, his head pounding. The inside of his mouth
tasted like a dirty sock, and his stomach roiled in nausea. He attempted
to look around, but the complete absence of light prevented him from
seeing anything. Light didn't exist where he was. He felt around him,
trying to discover where he was being held. The floor was packed dirt,
with a ceiling that was too low for him to stand upright and a pile of
slightly moldy straw was under him. He started to shiver as the cold
seeped through the earthen walls and made its way into his bare skin.
Luckily, he'd been wearing pajama bottoms when he'd been taken; they
were doing a decent job of protecting his skin from the prickly straw.
Harm frowned and felt for his watch. He hadn't taken it off before he
lay down, so he should still have it. Gone. It was gone, so time no
longer existed in his new reality. He felt the area around him once more
and found a scratchy blanket near him. Snippets of Stryker's
almost-forgotten advice flitted through his mind. 'If they get you, kid,
lie. Tell the tallest tales you can think of, because anybody can be
broken by pain. By the time that they finally get the truth out of you,
they won't recognize it anymore because you've lied so much.'
"Yes, sir, Colonel," Harm muttered. He didn't know where the hell he
was, but it was obvious to him that his cover had been blown. He just
hoped that Beth was okay--whoever was holding him must have put her in
another hole nearby. He curled up as tightly as he could in the corner
and covered himself with the itchy blanket. They'd have to come for him
sooner or later. He'd find out exactly how his cage opened then, and he
could start planning his first duty--escape.
Harm knew that he was privy to far too much classified information to
let whoever had him get any of it, so he was determined not to tell them
anything that he knew. He grimaced, and hoped that whoever had him would
be impatient; he was CIA now, and there was no hope of rescue...
especially since they probably didn't know where he was or who had taken
him. Hell, *he* didn't even have that information yet.
Harm leaned back against the cold wall and closed his eyes. Mac. He
started to smile as he called up old memories of the good times between
them. It was probably a good thing that he'd resigned--otherwise, she'd
be with him and would probably have ended up hurt. At least she had Webb
to comfort her. The knowledge that she had the inept spy was
bittersweet; on one hand, he might try and be there for her, but on the
other hand, Webb had a penchant for almost getting her killed. He looked
up as he heard the grating of a key in a lock. Slowly, a door opened out
of the wall and two large men entered.
Without speaking, the men jerked his arms and legs forward and tied them
tightly with wire that cut into his skin. They grabbed hold of him and
dragged him out into the light beyond his door, making him blink
furiously to dispel the spots in front of his eyes. They pulled him down
a hall, pushed him into a room, lifted him onto a table, and strapped
Harm didn't say anything, because he knew that if he started talking
now, it would set a bad precedent for later. His eyes widened in
recognition when the man he'd last seen leaving Paraguay by train walked
into the room. "Commander Harmon Rabb, Junior, United States Navy,"
Sadik said with a smile. "You have a lot to pay for."
7 December 2003
Beth knocked on Harm's door. "Morning, Harm, ya decent?" She walked in
and looked around the ransacked room. "Oh, shit," she muttered. "Harm?"
She walked into the bathroom, but it was empty. Quickly, she made a
circuit around the house hoping to find him. Empty. She was currently
the sole occupant, and considering the state of Harm's room, it was
possible that their cover was blown, and Sadik had taken him.
Beth took a deep breath before heading into her room to get the SAT
phone. Luckily, they'd hidden it with her, otherwise whoever had taken
Harm would have found it. Quickly, she dialed the number for their
backup's secure line and waited.
"Jack, this is Beth," she said.
"Beth, where's the fire?" he asked. "Our check-in isn't until day after
"I know, but Harm's room has been ransacked, and he's gone."
"Shit," was the response. "We're lucky that they didn't take both of
you--very sloppy on their part."
"I guess. Suggestions?" Beth really didn't know what to do next; in this
operation, she was the rookie, and Harm was the experienced agent.
"Get out, and meet us at the rendezvous point." Jack answered
immediately. "I'll do some reconnaissance, and find out who has him;
there are bound to be rumors among Sadik's men if the SOB took him. I'm
the only one that he hasn't seen, and I can disguise myself more
effectively than you can."
"Thanks, Jack," Beth said, glad that someone else could take over the
mess she found herself in.
"Be careful, Beth, and we'll see you in an hour."
Beth hung up, grabbed the essential equipment, and hurried out the door.
They *had* to rescue Harm; leaving him behind was unthinkable.
Sadik loomed over Harm and smiled. "Hassim, Mohammad, you may begin."
The two hulking brutes that had carried him in began to administer a
thorough and professional beating. He clenched his jaw and refused to
show how much it hurt--he'd seen this kind of thing before; the blows
were meant to cause the most pain possible without inflicting permanent
It seemed like forever before Sadik's thugs finished their work. With a
gesture, Sadik dismissed them, then leaned over Harm's prone body.
Bruises were beginning to form, the dusky black and blue marks stood out
against his pale skin in the dark room. "So, a simple beating has no
effect," he began conversationally. "I suppose I shall have to resort to
more... imaginative means of settling your debt."
Harm watched the terrorist in stony silence. He knew better than to say
anything; it would only encourage the man. "I know where young AJ
Roberts and his brother, Jimmy, go to daycare."
Harm closed his eyes. He knew that Sadik had to be lying. It was
standard to threaten loved ones to get results. "And that woman you
saved--Sarah, her name was? I know where she lives, and so do my
lieutenants. She's beautiful, yes? Perhaps not so much in a little
while. Perhaps not so much after we finish with her. Her heritage makes
her one of us, you know." Sadik smiled and smacked one of Harm's
bruises. "She can easily belong to us if we wish."
Harm shivered as much as his restraints would allow, but still said
"Your mother owns an art gallery in La Jolla, California... She and your
stepfather live in a very nice house due to his substantial salary. It's
too bad that the wiring is going bad. It would be such a shame if it
burned down one night while they were sleeping."
Harm bit his lip and still refused to speak.
"Now, Commander Harmon Rabb, Junior, tell me, what were you doing in
Leticia? Why did you come to Colombia?"
Harm shook his head slightly.
"No? Your grandmother lives all alone on a farm in Belleville,
Pennsylvania, and old people are *so* frail."
Sadik smiled and ran his hand up Harm's bare arm. "There are always
Renee Peterson's children, all three of your godsons, and what was the
name of the little girl you saved? Oh, yes... Darlyn Lewis. By the time
I finish, Commander Harmon Rabb, you will have told me everything you
ever learned, and you will have paid me back in full; one piece of flesh
at a time."
Harm shivered again. He would die here. He knew that. At least his
presence would keep the terrorist busy. Perhaps busy enough to not kill
the students. At least his death would serve a purpose.
Two different guards walked back in the room and stood, waiting for
their orders. "Hang him up in the other room, and wait for my orders."
Sadik watched as they dragged Harm to yet another room and hung him from
his wire-bound wrists.
Harm closed his eyes and focused on happy memories as the wire cut
deeply into his wrists. Dimly, he heard Sadik start speaking. "We were
in a hurry with Clayton Webb, but I think I shall not hurry with you.
You, my dear Commander, will be with us for a very long time."
9 December 2003
Falls Church, Virginia
Mac walked into Coates's office. "Coates, is the Admiral free?" she said
Coates smiled, then hit the intercom button. "Sir, Colonel Mackenzie is
here to see you."
"Send her in," was the immediate response.
"He'll see you now, ma'am," Coates said cheerfully.
"Thank you, Petty Officer." Mac drew on every bit of military discipline
she had to keep from falling apart, then turned, walked into the
Admiral's office, and came to attention in front of his desk.
"At ease, Colonel." The Admiral paused long enough for her to relax,
then gestured towards one of the chairs. "Have a seat. Now, what is it
you wanted to see me about?"
Mac drew in a deep breath. "I just got off the phone with Beth O'Neil,
Harm's CIA partner," she said, her voice shaking. "Harm has been...
The Admiral's hands closed around the sides of his desk. "Please
explain, Colonel," his voice barely audible.
"She said that he went to bed, and the next morning, his room had been
ransacked, and he was missing." Mac clasped her hands together, barely
noticing when her knuckles turned white. "That was three *days* ago,
sir. Ms. O'Neil called to see if I'd heard from him; she said that they
were hoping that he'd been able to get away."
"Do we even know where they were?" he asked.
Mac shook her head. "No, sir. She said it was classified. Admiral, I
have some contacts within the Company, and I'm sure I can find out where
they were." She bit her lip, wanting nothing more than to rush to Harm's
rescue. "I was hoping that you'd let me take leave to go find him, sir."
The Admiral shook his head. "I'm sorry, Mac, but I just can't let you do
that. Rabb is *CIA* now, and as much as I want to, I can't let an active
duty officer run off to save a CIA agent."
"Permission to speak freely, sir?"
"Sir, if you hadn't cut Harm loose and chewed him out like that, he
wouldn't *be* in this position now." Mac reached up and shoved her hair
behind her ear. "If I'd been there to watch his six, *none* of this
would be happening, and we all know the CIA's non-existent track record
for rescuing operatives when things go south."
"I was under orders, Mac," he said gently. The Admiral got up, walked
around his desk, and patted her shoulder awkwardly.
"Under *orders*, sir? But *why*?"
The Admiral dropped into the other chair. "The SecNav wanted Harm to use
in special operations, and that's all I know."
"The SecNav, sir?" she questioned. "Does that mean that Harm is still
Navy, and we can try to rescue him?"
"The rescuing part, no, and as for the other, I'm not sure," he
admitted. "I'm sorry, Mac, but we're now playing a waiting game. If his
partner and her back-up are looking for him, then we'll just have to
hope for the best."
"I'm sorry, Mac," he said. "Take the rest of the day off, and *don't* go
haring off to find him. I'll see if I can find out what's being done."
"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir." Mac stood up, came to attention, then left
the room, and headed towards her office. She wanted Harm back. It was
even worse this time, because now he was *missing*. How many lives could
he use up before death finally caught up to him? How many times could he
survive these kind of situations?
Mac grabbed her things and headed out to her car. She needed time to
drive and think; perhaps she could figure out *some* way to help without
Through Dangers Untold
"No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the
reward for what he gave."
-- Calvin Coolidge
Harm drew in a shuddering breath, and curled himself into a tighter ball
in his corner. He didn't know how long it had been since he’d been
taken, but he'd been keeping track of how many times he'd fallen asleep.
If that was any indication of how many days it had been, then Sadik had
been keeping him for almost a month. After so much time, he found the
complete darkness of his cell almost comforting. At least he was left
alone in there.
Pain and darkness were his constant companions. Sadik seemed to take a
perverse pleasure in telling him that everyone he loved was dead.
Sometimes, Harm even believed him. Every time Sadik's men came for him,
there was fresh mental torture or physical punishment on the agenda.
Harm looked up as the door opened, and dim light trickled into the
lightless room. He half expected the thugs that he privately called
Larry and Moe. Those two were usually the ones who came to take him to
Sadik for more interrogations. A plate containing thin gruel, a hunk of
dry bread, and a bucket of water was pushed inside, and the door closed
Harm moved slowly towards the plate, ignoring the twinges from the
half-healed cuts on his back as he reached for the food and water. He
picked up the plate and carefully began to chew the dry, hard bread,
cognizant of the two or three loose teeth that Larry and Moe had given
him. He dipped the bread in the unappetizing mush. The watery gruel
helped to soften it a little, but if he bit it wrong, it still made his
teeth hurt. He was getting to the point where he'd almost kill for a
Beltway Burger. He'd sworn to himself more than once that if he ever got
home, he'd never tease Mac about her diet again. *Anything* was better
than this. He finished his meal, carefully scraping as much of the
tasteless mush from the dish as possible before drinking as much water
from the bucket as he could hold.
Harm leaned back against the wall for a few minutes and wished that he
were home. He sighed deeply, and, ignoring the pain from his injuries,
started doing pushups. There wasn't much he could do by way of exercise,
but he had to keep himself ready to run. They'd been careful so far, but
it was only a matter of time before one of them slipped up and gave him
the opportunity. He grimaced as the scabs on his wrists broke
open--every time Larry and Moe came for him, they wrapped wire around
them, breaking open the wounds so that they never actually got a chance
Harm looked away as the door opened, and let his eyes adjust gradually
to the light. He'd tried fighting Larry and Moe about the restraints,
but he'd learned his lesson after they'd beaten him so badly that it had
taken three days, by his calculations, to be able to move without
Submissively, he allowed them to bind his wrists with wire again;
wincing as the old cuts reopened from the tightly wrapped bonds. Larry
and Moe dragged him down to the interrogation room, and strapped him
down to the table yet again before leaving the room. Harm relaxed as
much as he could against the cold surface; knowing that the rounds of
questioning would begin soon.
Sadik walked into the room, carrying a small bundle of cloth. Harm
watched as the terrorist opened it and pulled out a syringe filled with
a milky white liquid. "This, my dear Commander, is called Starlight," he
said conversationally. "I'd hoped to have it earlier, but my... contacts
He smiled at Harm, then started to flick the syringe to get the air
bubbles out of it. "I would think, my silent companion, that you would
want to know what this little concoction does. Commander, this lovely
cocktail causes extreme pain as it makes you relive every horrible thing
that has ever happened to you." Sadik's smile grew wider. "You *will*
break your silence, Harmon Rabb. You will tell me *all* of the secrets
that you have ever been privy to."
Harm shivered, and tried to move away, but the straps stopped him.
"You're wrong," he said, his voice rusty from disuse. "I'm not Navy
anymore; I switched branches of service and did a retred as a Recon
Sadik gave him an amused look. "You insult my intelligence, Commander."
He stepped forward and started tying a tourniquet around Harm's arm. "My
information is better than *that*."
"What? Don't think I've got the training?" Harm asked, trying to stall.
Sadik jabbed the needle in his arm and pushed down the plunger. "You
*will* talk, Commander. If you don't manage..." he shrugged. "I have
other sources of information, but you will suffer greatly for what you
did to me and to the cause." He yanked the syringe out of Harm's arm,
and tossed it to the side, smiling. "Have fun." He walked over and sat
down to watch.
Harm closed his eyes, wincing as liquid fire began to flow through him,
while some of his worst memories paraded before his eyes. Sadik called
for the guards. "Toss him back in his cell," he said, gesturing towards
Harm. "Perhaps Starlight will make him more... compliant."
The two burly men undid Harm's restraints, pulled him off the table, and
hauled him back to his cell. They threw him inside, and shut the door.
Harm clenched his hands into fists, then blacked out from the
excruciating pain that tore through his body.
1 December 2003
Conference Room, Pentagon
"Our next candidate for promotion is Commander Harmon Rabb, Jr. He's
been recommended for accelerated promotion by his last CO, Admiral
Chegwidden, the SecNav, and also the CNO. Gentlemen, please consider the
file in front of you." Admiral Miller sat down, and pulled the
commander's file closer to him. One of the captains let out a low
"Top of his class at the academy, Top Gun, *and* a JAG with three DFCs
and a Silver Star? Admiral, how has this one managed to see so much
combat in a noncom position?"
"According to his last CO, Commander Rabb manages to attract trouble
without much effort." Admiral Miller allowed himself a small smile. "It
seems they decided to make use of his... talent, so he's currently TAD
to the CIA, where he earned that third DFC last month when he saved the
lives of a dozen or so civilians by landing a C-130 on a carrier."
"Understandable," another officer said. "But Rabb's name is written all
over a lot of the major cases in the past few years; he's even
*authored* some of the case law that JAGs use. Is there any indication
*why* he's been sent to the spooks? Wouldn't he be of better use to
"SecNav's orders," Miller said with a grimace. "Admiral Chegwidden would
give his eye teeth to get Rabb back. Are there any more questions or
concerns?" His question was met with a resounding silence. "Good. Let's
put it to a vote, gentlemen."
The room was quiet for a few minutes as the officers sitting on the
promotion board considered the service record of the man in front of
them. There were a few black marks, true, but it was the record of a man
who did his duty with honor and served his country to the best of his
ability with an initiative that would serve him well in a command post.
His medals spoke of heroism, but the rest of his service record spoke of
an unwavering devotion to the principles they all lived by and a
dedication to truth and justice. It wasn't what he had received that
spoke of his service; it was the sacrifices that all of them knew that
he had made for honor, duty, and country that best epitomized it.
A contemplative silence settled over the room as the embers of the
promotion review board each came to a decision and voted. "And the votes
are in," Admiral Miller's voice rang out quietly. "It's unanimous.
Captain Rabb will be receiving notice after the undercover mission he's
currently on. Now, moving right along..."
Rabb's file was closed for now, with his new promotion assured. It was
simply too bad that he didn't even realize that he was still Navy, but
of the people who really knew him and the Navy at large, only the
SecNav, Kershaw, and the CNO really knew the truth about that.
9 December 2003
Falls Church, Virginia
Coates walked quietly towards Lieutenant Roberts's office. She had news
that she knew that they'd want to hear. While it was true that the
Admiral might make an announcement, in the eight months that Commander
Rabb had been gone, much of the staff had rotated out. There were some
that remembered him, but none that cared about him as the Roberts and
Commander Turner did.
Coates stopped next to Harriet's desk. "Lieutenant Roberts," she began
quietly, "I have news about the Commander."
Harriet looked up in surprise. "Is he all right?" she asked with
"I don't know, ma'am," she replied. "What I do know, I'd like to tell
you, Commander Turner, and Lieutenant Roberts at the same time." Coates
hesitated, "Since the two of them are in Lieutenant Roberts's office, I
was wondering if you could come with me?"
Harriet nodded. "Sure," she said as she put down her work and stood.
The two of them walked over to Bud's office, then Coates knocked on the
doorframe. "Enter," Bud's voice said.
"Sirs, Ma'am, I overheard news about Commander Rabb."
Sturgis put down his case file and looked at her, his eyes darkening
with concern. "What is it, Coates?" he asked. "I haven't heard from him
"Is he hurt or something?" Bud asked.
"Or something," Coates murmured. "Commander Rabb is missing... he was
taken three days ago, and they think it was Sadik Fahd."
Harriet's eyes widened. "Isn't that the man who Commander Rabb had to
save Colonel Mackenzie from and who almost tortured Agent Webb to
Coated nodded. "Yes, ma'am."
"Goodness," Harriet caught the back of one of the chairs for support.
Sturgis cleared his throat. "I'll tell my father, so he can get Harm on
the prayer chain. I'm sure that Harm can use all the prayers he can
"Are they going to mount a rescue operation?" Bud asked.
Coates bit her lip before answering. "I heard the Admiral say that he's
CIA now, so we can't do anything."
Tears began to trickle down Harriet's face. "I can only imagine what
he's going through," she murmured.
Bud walked over and put his arm around his wife. "That's not *fair*," he
said. "All of us *owe* Commander Rabb for *something*."
"Do they even know where he is?" Sturgis asked.
Coates shook her head. "No, Commander Rabb's new partner called Colonel
Mackenzie to see if she'd heard from him, because they can't find him."
Silence reigned in the office, only broken by the occasional sound of
Harriet catching a breath as she tried to quell her tears. She
straightened up and accepted Bud's handkerchief with a nod of thanks.
"Colonel Mackenzie must be devastated," she said softly.
"But she says that she doesn't miss him at all," Sturgis pointed out.
Bud gave him a skeptical look. "She keeps pumping Harriet and me for
information because he's been calling Little AJ."
"You didn't see her when she went to see the Admiral, sir. The Colonel
wasn't happy at all about the Commander having gone missing." Jen
fiddled with the cuff of her blues. "She looked awful--as if her last
hope had been taken away."
"As if she'd lost her best friend?" Harriet asked.
Jen nodded. "Yes, ma'am. I owe both Colonel Mackenzie and Commander
Rabb--maybe you and I should try and talk to her?" she asked
"I think that's a good idea, Petty Officer," Harriet said with a smile.
"We want to help, too," Bud said.
Sturgis nodded, agreeing with him. "We're her friends, too."
"No offense guys," Harriet began, "but you're..."
"I think that the Lieutenant is trying to say is that you're *men*,
sirs, and, well..." Coates trailed off.
"Colonel Mackenzie doesn't need all of us barging in on her at once,"
Harriet pointed out. "And I think that she'd be better off with Jen and
me right now."
"Oh, all right," Bud grumbled. "Why don't you invite her for dinner?" he
asked. "Some time with AJ and Jimmy might be good for her." Harriet
nodded and barely noticed as Sturgis added his assent before turning
towards the door.
Coates and Harriet headed towards Mac's office, determined to help their
friend. Their hands were tied with bringing him home, but at least they
could comfort the one left behind. As they walked, Coates wondered
briefly how you could truly comfort someone who had just lost half of