Original story idea by Veil Sixclaw and Alpha
Written by C.M.M.
Legal Disclaimer: I donít own the Burning Zone, nor the characters. I just want to play with them, put them in situations that Iíd like to see them get out of, and if I feel the need to, hurt them greatly. I mean, after all, they donít exist, right? Right? (Long, drawn-out silence) Okay, thatís it, Iím off to find these guys. (Footsteps running away quickly, a door opens, slams shut. A brief pause, then the door re-opens and footsteps come running back)
Before I forget, this is what I really mean to say: Donít sue me donít sue me donít sue me donít sue me donít sue me PLEEEEEASE donít sue me! Iím not worth it! And while Iím off on my adventure, have fun reading this fiction and e-mail me when youíre done with it. I want to know what people think. Be nice, though. If you arenítÖÖ..
Daniel Cassian pulled up to the curb outside of his apartment and turned off the lights and engine. He stepped out of the truck and straightened his rather wrinkled jacket, then stopped and turned off his cell phone. *No more for today. All Iím going to do is go in and go to bed.* Opening the door to his apartment, he was just in time to hear the phone ring. "Cassian."
"Dr. Daniel Cassian?" a hushed voice asked.
"Who is this?" he answered with a second question.
"We have something you may want," the voice replied, then in the background it spoke again. "Go ahead. Let her talk........ What do you mean, she wonít? Tell her itís Daddy," the voice mocked.
"Alright, what the hell is going-" Cassian started, but was stopped by a young girlís traumatized voice.
"Daddy?" Cassianís heart sunk to the floor.
"Yes, sweetie?" he replied, trying his best to hide the rush of emotions.
"All right, now that you know itís her-" the first voice started again, but was interrupted by Cassian.
"What the HELL is going on?!?" he demanded. "Is this your idea of some sick joke?"
"I can assure you, Dr. Cassian, that this is by far the truth," the voice said again. "We will e-mail you where we want to meet."
"Alright. Just tell me what you want, and Iíll be there," he agreed. "If I do everything, will you let her go?" he asked.
"But what do you want?"
"Weíll tell you when you get there." Before he could ask another question, the unknown person hung up. Cassian instantaneously hit the number for Hailey.
"Hailey," someone answered on the other end, surprisingly awake for that time of night.
"Yeah. I need you to trace the last number that was placed to this phone."
"I donít have time for questions, Michael. Just do it," he commanded, heading to his computer and turned it on.
"Alright. Iíll get back to you at the first word I get." Cassian didnít bother to say anything before hanging up.
"You have, fourteen, new messages," the computer informed him. He scrolled through them, recognizing all the addresses until the last message. He opened it, quickly reading through it. Rather than copy down the entire thing, he hit the "print" button. Just at that moment, the phone rang again.
"The trace was no good," came Haileyís voice from the other end.
"Let me guess. Forwarded through too many cell phones, right?"
"Yeah. Dan, what is this all about?"
"If I have to, Iíll call and let you know. Other than that, I canít."
"But-" Cassian stopped Hailey as he hung up the phone. Not bothering to turn off the computer, he headed back to his door, printout in hand.
What seemed like endless hours, Cassian drove in the direction instructed in the sheet of paper that lay on the seat next to him. He glanced to his radar detector, relieved to see no lights flashing at him.
"Dammit!" he yelled as he slammed on the brakes, backing up to the turnoff told to him in the directions. At that time, his cell phone rang.
"Yeah?" he answered it.
"Youíre not here yet. Youíre running out of time."
"Look, Iím going as fast as I can!" he shouted, gripping the steering wheel tighter as he hit a deep rut.
The voice ignored him. "At the present time, you now only have thirty minutes before-Oh, here you are."
Cassian stopped the car as he saw a set of head lights parked under a large oak tree. Stepping out of the car, Cassian was greeted by a face in a ski mask.
"Well. Looks like you made good time. I clocked it that you would take two hours, max speed." Cassian looked over to the other car where two figures were; one hovering over a smaller one.
"Renee!" Cassian cried out, watching as the figure spun around.
"Oh, how touching. Too bad you wonít get to see her again."
"What the he-" was all that Cassian managed to put out before the unexpected happened. Two shots rang out, one from the two figures over by the car and the other from the man behind him. "No-o-o!" he cried out. He thought they had shot Renee, but then noticed that it was he that was bleeding. The shot from the man standing in front of him hit him in the left side of his chest and went all the way through him. The second caught him at the nape of his neck. *Why?* he tried to say, only it stayed as a thought. He thought he heard Renee scream, but his mind was slowly clouding over. He couldnít even tell if he was still standing. Eventually he felt himself hit the ground face-first. A foot kicked him onto his back, allowing him to see a small area. He tried to move his head, but found this action unsuccessful. A figure stooped beside him and wrapped its arms around him, sobbing. *Renee,* he thought, wanting to pull his arms up and hold her. She was pulled away from him as two other figures stood over him.
"Is he dead?" a womanís voice asked.
"Not yet, but he will be." The manís voice, he recognized. The womanís figure left, but the man called out to her. "You take his truck and take the girl back home. We donít need her anymore."
"Do you have the keys? They arenít in here." The manís figure disappeared, and he heard shuffling sounds around him. Soon someone checked both of his hands, then his pockets. "Found them," the manís voice said as he heard the sound of his set of keys being tossed through the air. "Did you find his cell phone?"
"Itís in the seat of the car."
"Well, I guess it looks like weíre done here." The manís figure appeared over him. "Poor bastard," he remarked as he kicked him in the side.
"Daddy!" he heard Renee scream as she was ushered into his truck, the door slamming.
Cassian tried one last desperate attempt at getting up, but was only to raise his left hand a few inches off the ground, but dropped as he lost all cohesion with the world.
"Are you sure you heard something last night?" Bill shouted over to Terry, who was searching a small grove of trees.
"Yes!" she yelled back. "Iím sure I heard two shots!"
"Probably just some damn poachers," he said under his breath. He pulled his jacket up tighter around his neck, trying to shut out the cool dawn breezes. "Look, weíve been at this for an hour and havenít found anything. Why donít we just head back and get something to eat?"
"No. Just because we havenít found anything doesnít meant there isnít anything." Bill tried to spot her, but she was too hidden in the thick grove of trees. Then he heard her scream.
"What! What is it?" he asked, wondering for the worst.
"Just a bunch of poison sumac!" she shouted back, quickly running out of the brush. "No body in their right mind would go in there." Bill just chuckled to himself as he headed up over the small knoll where the old oak was.
"*CHRIST!*" he shouted, feeling his stomach turn at the sight.
"What! What is it?!" Terry asked as she ran up the small incline. Bill tried to stop her, but with no prevail. "Oh my God," she whispered, not wanting to believe the sight under the small shade of the tree.
"Címon, Ter. Letís just get back to the house and tell ma aní-" He stopped as he noticed she wasnít listening. Out of curiosity, she walked to the unmoving mass. She tried her best to avoid the large puddle of blood that surrounded the body. She ignored it as she saw itís chest slowly and shallowly rise and fall.
"Heís alive!" she shouted, stooping down beside Cassianís body. "Give me your jacket aní shirt and go back to the house!" Billís jacket landed beside her, quickly followed by the long-sleeved sleeping shirt. She picked it up and proceeded to gob it up and placed it over the wound Cassianís side. The pressure she applied to it caused him to shift to his side slightly, revealing the wound to his head. "Címon, Bill. Where the hell are you?" she pleaded, wondering if the stranger could hear her. As she was waiting, she decided to check if he had any ID on him, yet found none. "Who are you?" she asked him, studying his face. He had a sort of mystery around him, other than that of his identity. She lost herself in thought, nearly not noticing the group from the farmhouse that had come to see.
"Step aside, sweetheart," her father said as he placed his arms on her shoulders to mover her aside.
"No. I have to keep his wound covered," she replied, remaining anchored to her place. Finally, the ranch doctor arrived, relieving Terry of her position.
"Oh, my," the doctor said, pulling away the shirt from the wound. "Let me check something." He rolled Cassian onto his side and cursed at the sight. "Thought so. We have to get him back to the house now," he commanded.
"How? The truckís screwed," Bill commented, somewhat dismally.
"Go back to the house and get some rope or something. Weíll make a stretcher," Terry suggested, expecting no one to listen to her.
"Alright. Dianne, go back and get one of the horses, some rope and some blankets. Bill, you, Terry, and I will go get some small timbers to splice together. Doc," Terryís father instructed, glancing at Cassianís unmoving body, "You just stay here, make sure heíll be okay." He looked up to both Bill and Terry. "Well what the hell are we just standing here for? Letís MOVE!"
Hailey paced around his living room, waiting for Cassian to call. "Whatís taking him so long?" he wondered to himself, glancing to the phone then to the clock. It read seven AM. "This isnít like him." He picked up the phone and dialed Cassianís cell phone number, knowing it was against his wishes.
"This number has been disconnected or is no longer in service," came a recording over the receiver. He quickly dialed Cassianís home phone number. Not even his machine picked up. Hailey bit the inside of his lip, wondering what was going on. He sat down, staring at the ceiling in thought. He was startled out of it by his phone ringing in his hand.
"Hailey," he answered it.
"This is Newland. Have you seen Cassian lately?"
"Great. Even youíre looking for him?"
"Yeah. Do you know where he might be?"
"No. He called me earlier this morning at about..." he glanced to the clock again, "two am. He asked me to make a call trace."
"Great. Iíve got the President asking for him and I canít give him to him." Hailey shook his head in disbelief.
"Newland, I havenít heard from him in five hours after asking me to do something and youíre worried about the President?" Hailey ridiculed Newland.
"Business is business," he replied blandly. Hailey could hear papers being rustled in the background.
"Iíll get back to you if I hear anything," Hailey said in disgust as he hung up the phone. Just as he did so, it rang again. "What?" he said, somewhat annoyed.
"Mr. Hailey?" a womanís voice asked from the other end.
"Yes," he replied, not recognizing it.
"I, I didnít know who else to call. Two strangers came into the house last night demanding for Daniel, and when they wasnít here they took Renee!" She paused, then continued. "A few hours later they brought her back, and she hasnít stopped crying since!" She stopped, breaking into tears. Hailey let her alone for a few moments, trying to remember her name.
"Shannon," he finally said, "he called me at about 2 this morning. He sounded a bit worried. Thanks to you, I think we may be able to get something done about this. Iíll call you as soon as we get anything, alright?"
"Alright, thank you," she said, hanging up. With that, Hailey picked up the keys to his car, then left for Cassianís apartment.
Terry walked beside Cassian the entire way back. She looked up, noticing the farmhouse growing nearer and nearer. Several of the farmhands had stopped what they were doing and came to see.
"Whatís going on?" asked Dean, one of the few she knew. No one answered, just cleared a way for the two carrying the stretcher. Soon, they had pulled the horse up beside the porch of the house. Dean and another of the farmhands quickly swooped in and help to carry Cassian into one of the rooms with Doc closely behind.
Although no one was allowed into the room, Terry waited patiently outside. Finally, Doc emerged, wiping his hands on a towel, staining it red.
"Is he going to make it?" Terry asked eagerly, feeling eyes watching her.
Looking at his feet, then back up to her, he replied, "Itís hard to tell right now. Heís lost a lot of blood, and it looks like the ride here was a bit rough on the wounds. But, I am surprised heís still alive. Both bullets missed any vital organs." Terry heaved a sigh of relief. The Doc continued, glancing at Terry. "Listen. Someoneís going to need to keep an eye on him-"
"I will," Terry spontaneously volunteered, feeling eyes on her once again.
"Are you sure youíre up to that?" she heard her mother ask from behind her. Terry looked to her mother, then father, and then back to Doc.
"Yes, I think I am," she replied. Without saying anything else, she quickly cut behind Doc and into the room. She shut the door except for a small crack, looking upon Cassian. His shirt had been removed, revealing the bandage that was wrapped around his lower chest. She could also barely see the one covering the wound to his head. She turned as she heard the door open, her mother entering with a pitcher of water and several towels.
"Child, are you sure youíre going to be able to handle this?" her mother asked again, setting the items down on the small bed stand. Terry walked over and hugged her mother from behind.
"Yeah, Iím sure." She paused, thinking. "I donít know what it is. I feel...obligated to make sure heís alright. I mean, I was the only one who heard the shots last night." Her mother turned around, looking at her.
"Oh, Terry, I donít know what to think about this. We donít know what went on out there. But I do know this; he was probably here for a reason." Terry looked to Cassian again.
"Hmm. You really think so?"
"Hey, Edward," Hailey said as someone answered the phone.
"What is it, Hailey? Iím sleeping in for the first time since I canít remember," Marcase complained.
"Weíve got a problem. This morning Cassian called me at two asking me to do a call trace. He hasnít called back since," he informed him, ignoring Marcaseís mood.
"And?" Edward said, still not liking what he was foreshadowing.
"Shannon called me earlier-" Marcase interrupted him.
"Wait. Whoís Shannon?" he asked, not remembering Hailey or Cassian speaking of her.
"Cassianís ex. As I was saying, she said two people came to her home last night demanding she tell them where he was. When she didnít give them the answer they wanted, they shot her with some sort of tranquilizer and took his daughter."
"So what are you thinking?" Marcase asked, his manner suddenly turning serious.
"Iím not finished yet. Later, they returned her unharmed except for the fact that she hasnít stopped crying."
"Oh, God. You donít mean," Edward didnít finish what he was going to say. Sure, there were times when he wouldnít have minded never meeting Cassian, but no one deserves what he was thinking.
"Assassination? I hope not," Hailey finished, not liking the way things were falling into place. "Iím on my way over to Cassianís apartment right now. Iím hoping I can find some clues over there."
"Iíll come too," Marcase volunteered.
"Alright," Hailey agreed. "You know where he lives?" he added.
"Iíll pick you up, then. Hopefully we can get this thing figured out." Hailey turned off his cell phone just as he turned onto the street leading to Marcaseís house. Once there, he pulled up beside the curb only to find Marcase waiting on his porch.
"So he didnít give any clue as to where he was going?" Marcase asked.
"No. It sounded like he wasnít even sure what was to happen, either," Hailey confirmed, stepping on the gas to make a yellow light.
"Thatís illegal, you know," Marcase remarked, trying to make conversation.
"What is?" Hailey asked, really wanting to avoid any unnecessary talk.
"Speeding up before a yellow light," he replied, noting the lack of enthusiasm in his voice. Marcase soon observed the increasing speed of the car and looked over to the speedometer. It read sixty. "Jeez, Michael, slow down! Itís only supposed to be forty-five through here!"
"Oh, sorry," he said, easing the car down to fifty. Marcase noted an edge to his friendís voice, one that he had never heard before.
"Whatís wrong, Michael. Somethingís been eating at you since you called me. Now what is it?" he started, not expecting Hailey to open up as soon as he did.
"When I was signed onto this team, I was told I had two goals. To gather information and to protect the team, Cassian especially."
"Thatís comforting," Marcase remarked under his breath, knowing full well that it was completely inappropriate at the time. He let Hailey continue.
"If anything has happened to Cassian, Iím held responsible, especially since he had called me right before...whatever it is, happened." Marcase looked to him, noting that he was hiding more.
"Thatís not all, is it?" Marcase pried, wanting to know all he could.
"No. A month ago, I found out Cassian paid to send me to college." He looked to Marcase who was about to say something. "And you."
"WHAT!?" he exclaimed, not believing what he was hearing. "You mean to tell me that ĎAnonymousí, the guy who was sending me hefty amounts of cash, was *Cassian*?" He looked at Hailey, who simply nodded. "What, did he put Shiroma through college, too?"
"Not to my knowledge," he remarked dryly. They continued the rest of the drive in silence, Marcase contemplating what Hailey had just told him.
*Why didnít he ever tell me?* Marcase thought to himself, careful to hide his feelings on his face. This stunning new revelation really changed his mind about this man. He felt a bit guilty about how he first acted to Cassian when he became their superior after Reinhardt was "permanently reassigned", as Cassian had put it. He was so lost in thought that he didnít notice as Hailey pulled up to a curb and turned off the engine.
"Hey, weíre here," he said as he tapped Marcase on the arm, then opened his door to get out. Marcase followed suit and allowed Hailey to take the lead as he rounded the car.
Marcase was dually impressed as he stepped into the apartment. "Jeez, Iíve gotta find out how much this guy makes," he said as he looked around his surroundings. He looked to Hailey, who was currently using some sort of scanner wherever he thought may have been important. "Whereíd you get that?" Marcase asked.
"I picked it up on the way here," Hailey replied. He opened Cassianís briefcase only to have papers come tumbling out. He picked up a few and skimmed over them, noting nothing of importance. As he was doing that, Marcase walked over to the answering machine on a table. He pressed the button to listen to the three messages that were left.
"Find anything yet?" Hailey asked after picking up several of the papers and stuffing them back into the case. Marcase held up a finger to silence him. The first two were of no importance to their investigation; one from Newland, then directly from the President.
"When do I get to Cassianís level?" Marcase joked, seeing it had no effect on the other man standing it the room. Finally, after that one was over, the third one sounded somewhat suspicious.
"-achine. What should I do?" a manís voice said. Marcase concentrated, willing that he could hear something in the background. He thought he heard a child, but he couldnít make out fully what she had said.
"Waituminute, rewind it," Hailey instructed. Marcase complied, then played it again. "That sounded like Renee."
"How can you be sure?" Marcase questioned him, highly doubting any normal human would be able to detect something that faint.
"I just am." He hushed him, waiting for the message to end.
"Hang up, you ass," a womanís voice instructed him. Then there was a click, then a beep from the machine.
"Great. That helped us a lot," Marcase said sarcastically. At that moment, Hailey whipped the cell phone out of his jacketís inner-pocket and dialed a number. "Who are you calling?" he asked.
"Shannon? Yes, this is Michael." He nodded a bit, then spoke again. "Do you think it would be alright if I talked to Renee...Mm-hmm...Alright, Iíll be over there soon." He ended the call, then looked to Marcase.
"Iím going over to Shannonís house, see if Renee will say anything. She says she still hasnít said anything since she was brought back, but you never know."
"Iíll go ahead and stay here, see if Iím able to come up with anything else," he told Hailey, sitting down on the couch. Hailey didnít even nod as he left the room.
Marcase slouched into the couch and looked around the room again, observing all the objects he could. There was a vase that looked like it was from India or some Asian country. There were several paintings from different cultures, both near and far. Many of them looked like they had come from Central and South America. His eyes fell upon the baby grand piano sitting near a window. It was wooden and looked antique. *But the question is, does he actually play.* He laid his head back and closed his eyes, his intent thinking. He soon fell asleep.
Terry watched as the sun slowly began to set, trying to fight the urge to fall asleep. Her stomach was now the only thing that was doing that for her; she hadnít eaten at all that day. She watched the panorama until the sun poked through a hole in the trees, hurting her eyes. Instead of shielding her eyes, she looked to the stranger lying in bed. The waning sunlight made the white sheets upon which he laid glow, even look afire. She sighed, knowing there was something else behind her willingness to take care of him, that of which she didnít want to tell anyone. She watched him, willing him to wake up. She wanted to know who he was, what he did, where he had been. She shook her head of these thoughts, telling herself they were ridiculous. But something drew her back to them, not knowing why. *Listen to yourself, Ter. For all you know, he could be a professional hit-man that screwed up.* she told herself in another attempt to be rid of them. *"Thereís no such thing as love at first sight,"* her mother had told her in eighth grade at the announcement of her first crush. *Yeah, right.* She now fully disagreed with her mother. She smiled, laughing at herself. For all she knew, he could be married.
"Ter?" she heard Bill ask through the closed door.
"Come in," she replied, watching as her brother entered.
"You should go to bed," he told her, walking around behind the chair in which she sat. She shook her head. "Címon, sis. I donít want you getting worn out."
"Me? All I have to do is sit here and keep an eye on this guy. If anyone should be sleeping, it should be you. Donít you have to get the equipment set up to milk the cows?" she asked him, although it was more of a statement.
"Iím tough. I can handle it. Iíve been doing this for twenty years now," he scoffed, not believing it had been that long.
"I donít care. I said Iíll do this, so Iím going to do this," she stated, bending her head back to look at her brother. She was amazed that he still treated her like a child although she was twenty-five.
"Alright, suit yourself." He didnít bother to argue with her; even if he won, she still wouldnít move. He left quietly, shutting the door behind him. Terry watched him go and smiled. Nothing would change their feelings for each other. They had been best friends since she was born. She turned her head to look out the window and catch her favorite part of the sunset. The sun was hitting the few clouds that hung in the sky just right to turn them a deep purple on a background of florescent pink. She lost herself in the sight, not noticing as the stranger tried to stir.
Marcase stepped out of the car into the night, spinning around as someone screamed.
"Whoís there?" he asked, not seeing anyone. He stepped forward, only to trip on a large mass on the ground.
"You know well who it is," a voice mocked him. He tried to see through the darkness to find who the voice belonged to.
Marcase pulled himself to his feet and dusted himself off. "Then who is it?" he queried, playing along.
"Why donít you look for yourself? Turn around to what you just tripped on." Marcaseís stomach churned at the thought of tripping over a body. He spun in the direction told. "Now bend down." A small amount of light fell on the figure, giving the white sheet over the figure an orange glow. "Pull back the sheet." Marcase did as he was told. He was paralyzed at the sight.
Marcase woke with a start and felt beads of sweat on his face. He looked around to find himself still at Cassianís apartment.
"ĎBout time you woke up," he heard Hailey comment from behind him.
"I take it you had no luck talking to Renee?" he asked, running his hand over his hair, trying to rid his mind of the dream.
"I donít like the looks of things. That girl is in some state of shock," Hailey replied, shaking his head. He waited for Marcase to say something. When there was no response, he asked, "Did you find anything?"
"After you left, I fell asleep." Marcase looked out the window, noticing that the sun had already set.
"But there is something, isnít there?" Hailey questioned, knowing his friend was hiding something. He watched him as he shook his head.
"I donít know what to make of this. I stepped out of a car, heard someone yell, asked who it was, stepped forward, tripped on something. There were at least two other people there, if you could call it that. Someone there told me I knew who it was and they told me what to do. It was to look at someone. It was Cassian, and he was dead." He could even hear as Haileyís face fell.
Hailey knew Marcase well enough not to take his dreams for granted. "That could mean nothing," he tried to assure him. "We should probably try looking again," he suggested, thinking they may have missed something, and to try and get his mind off the dream. Marcase didnít like the way this was sounding.
"You donít mean papers? Why would he keep something that could lead to his..." Marcase bit his lip, knowing that couldnít be the answer to Cassianís disappearance.
"We have to consider everything," Hailey informed him, getting up to retrieve Cassianís briefcase. He took it to Marcase and set it down in his lap. "Iíll give you the easy job." It was his job to try and lighten the mood this time. He then headed off in search of the piles of files he knew Cassian kept.
Cassianís mind slowly opened, allowing him to hear the end of the conversation in small room.
"I donít care. I said Iíll do this, so Iím going to do this," a young womanís voice stated, making sure her point was known.
"Alright, suit yourself," a manís voice said, then heard footsteps and a door open then shut. He tried to get up, but this sent waves of pain coursing through his body. He wanted to scream, but only a small moan escaped his lips. He tried again, but someone was there to restrain him.
"Shhhhh, donít try to move. Youíll just hurt yourself more." It was the same womanís voice. She held his hand, rubbing her thumb in a circle on his palm. He concentrated on it, finding that it started to quiet the pain to an almost tolerable level. His eyes slowly fluttered open, letting him see the plain wooden planking of the ceiling. This sparked questions in his mind, spinning until he found what seemed to be an appropriate one to ask.
"Wh-where am I?" he managed, the action sparking a pain from the back of his head, almost enough to send him back into unconsciousness. He remembered his hand and focused again on it. It brought him back.
"Youíre on a small farm a few hours outside D.C.," she answered. Her voice was soft and soothing.
"What happened to me?" He waited for her to answer. He used the short time to pinpoint where the pain was coming from, other than his head. It came from the left side of his lower rib cage, probably right below or beside his lung.
"You really shouldnít be talking," she told him, thinking of calling for Doc.
"No, I want to know," he asked finding that talking was getting easier to do.
"As far as we can tell, you were shot. But as for who and why, we were waiting to see if you could tell us that." He managed to turn his head to look at her. She was smiling slightly and her eyes twinkled in the low illumination from the lamp that sat on something behind her. The light caught in her dark hair, making her look like an angel. He opened his mouth to say something, but someone entered the room.
"Thought I heard talking," Doc said as he entered, rubbing early sleep from his eyes. "Howís our guest?"
"Fine, I guess," Cassian replied, almost laughing. The action he attempted sent pain through his body again, so he bit his lip against it and managed a weak smile. Doc walked up to the side of the bed and knelt down beside it, sweeping Terry to the side.
"Let me check on this real quick," Doc said as he gently rolled Cassian onto his right side.
Cassian had never felt such pain in his life before now. He screamed on instinct as the world seemed to spin out of control. His mind echoed with the sound, ringing in his ears until he thought it would drive him insane. The pain in the back of his head returned again, intensifying the sound in his mind. He thought he heard talking from one of the two he knew was in the room, but couldnít make out what they were saying. He wasnít even sure if he was still screaming. Finally, after seeming what was forever, he was rolled onto his back again, waiting for the searing pain in his chest to cease. He noticed as Terry picked up his hand again, rubbing his palm with her thumb in a circular motion. He soon felt a quick prick on his arm. It stung mildly, but much more bearable in comparison to what he had just previously experienced. Someone spoke again, but he couldnít understand what was said. Not because of the ringing in his head, but everything was slowly turning soft and white. He gently drifted to sleep in peaceful quietness.
Cassian awoke the next day, surprisingly alert. Blinking against the afternoon light, he noticed that he breathed easily, unlike last night. He looked about the room, noticing that the young woman from last night wasnít there. Against his better judgement, he eased himself into a sitting position. He was surprised again that this action caused very little pain. He pulled back the light sheet that covered the lower part of his body and swung his legs over the side of the bed, slowly placing them on the floor. Standing up, he used the nightstand for support, leaning heavily to keep from passing out and falling over. His head thundered with pain as he shakily made his way over to a chair with his shirt hanging over the back of it. He picked it up and examined it, deciding he shouldnít wear it. The once white shirt was now stained brown with day-old blood. He tossed it back, noticing the bureau of drawers. *Couldnít hurt to check.* He opened the top drawer, pulling out a plain white tee shirt. He raised his arms up to put it on, but stopped himself as pain bristled through his side. *Slower this time,* he told himself, repeating the action but at a deliberated pace. Finally, after pulling the shirt over the thick bandage covering his wounds, he inspected his pants and decided he should change those as well. Rummaging through the drawers once more, he pulled out a pair of jeans and pulled them on. By the time when he was done with that, he was ready to lay back down and fall asleep. Instead, he slowly walked toward the door, ignoring a voice in his head nagging at him that he shouldnít do this. He just shrugged it off as he slowly opened the door, hoping it wouldnít announce his entrance. He stuck his head out into the hall and looked about, noting that no one was out there. *Must be all out working.* Proceeding down the hall, holding his left arm tightly over his side, stopping at the top of a flight of stairs. He sighed heavily, wishing he hadnít done so. He leaned against the wall, fighting his bodyís want to pass out and be out of pain. He slumped to the floor, biting his lip until he tasted blood. Closing his eyes, he told himself, Just put the pain someplace else. He focused on that thought, finally feeling the pain subside. Rising to his feet, he turned again to the stairs and gripped the banister as tightly as he could with his right hand. Each step down sent a short wave of agony through his side. Finally, after what seemed like forever, he found himself at the bottom of the stairs. He looked about, still finding no one. He heard sounds of tinkering to his left and followed them. He soon came upon a large dining room, obviously meant to house several hungry farm hands. He had to stop again and lean against the door frame. *Shouldnít have done this.* He chided himself for not listening to his better judgement. He was rapidly growing tired, but he also wanted to show that he could manage to move around to keep from being stuck in that little room. After he had closed his eyes momentarily, he opened them to find someone sitting at the end of the table closest to him. She was stirring a mug of coffee, and obviously hadnít touched it in a while. He didnít quite know the way to catch her attention, so he rapped on the door frame.
Terry spun around as she stood, startled at the sound behind her. "What are you doing up?" She walked towards him, starting to guide him in the direction of the stairs. "You should-"
"No, Iím fine," he said, shrugging her off. He stepped around her just wanting to sit down and rest. He plopped down in the chair she had once occupied, wishing he wouldíve gone slower. He clenched his jaw and shut his eyes, hoping she wouldnít notice the pain on his face.
Terry stood there, staring at him, not knowing what to say. Finally, she asked him, "Um, are you hungry? I can get you something to eat, if you like."
"Yes, that would be nice. Thank you," he replied, glad to soon have something to fill the empty void in his stomach. While he was waiting, he concentrated on breathing slowly and steadily so as to not disturb his throbbing side. He rubbed the back of his neck to try and loosen it, carefully avoiding his wound. Soon, Terry appeared from the kitchen carrying a large turkey sandwich and a glass of milk and set them down in front of Cassian. He eagerly picked up one of the halves, taking a large bite out of it and set it back down.
Just as he finished that bite, Terry asked him, "So, do you have a name or are you just going to remain an enigma?" Just as he had raised the sandwich up to his mouth again, he slowly lowered it. He paused, thinking.
"You know, I guess itís something you never really think about until youíre asked."
Terry could hardly believe what she just heard. "Oh my God. You mean-" she whispered, but never finished. He shook his head.
"I donít know what it is. Itís just, my mindís a complete blank. I donít have any memories. I mean, the first thing I remember is waking up here." He looked at the sandwich, suddenly having lost his appetite. Right now there were more important things on his mind. Like who he was.
Hailey stared at the woman standing in front of him, crumbling the paper in his hand. "What makes you think we wonít be able to find him?" he said, hatred seething through his clenched teeth.
"Itís not me, Mr. Hailey. I had no jurisdiction in this decision. Now, if you would allow me continue...." Dr. Lynn Bindefeld looked to Hailey as if for approval. "Good." She pulled a copy of the paper out for her own observation, ignoring Haileyís reaction. "With Dr. Cassian missing, I have been assigned to take over your unit, or at least until by the slim chance he is found. Now, as for the matter at hand, this isnít an outbreak that normally wouldnít have come to your level so fast, but Mr. Newland decided it would be a good idea for my first assignment." Marcase wasnít exactly thrilled with the situation, either. From the sounds of it, this woman had no experience in what they were dealing with. He looked to Shiroma, who wasnít pleased as well.
"So what youíre saying is youíre already giving up hope on finding him?" Shiroma confirmed.
"Thatís not what I said. Youíve been searching for him for twenty-four hours with no leads. Since the government would rather keep this out of the publicís eye, there is little hope of getting any." Haileyís clenched his jaw to keep from lashing out on her. He knew none of this was her fault, but he felt she could at least do something.
"As soon as were done with this, weíre going to begin searching for him again," Hailey commented, making sure Bendifield knew he was already unhappy with the situation.
"Donít act like I donít know you will," she shot back in return. "Iím hoping I will have no problems from you. Iíve read that you didnít take well to your last director reassignment. Now, the sooner we get moving, the sooner weíre done and the sooner you can get back to your search." She turned off the VanAlden shield and left without saying anything else. The three just stood there, watching as the new, younger director climbed into the black limo and watched it pull out of the warehouse.
"What do you think?" Marcase asked Hailey and Shiroma, wanting their opinions.
"I donít know. She seems like she means business, but anyone could put on an act if they wanted," Shiroma replied.
"If you want me to check up on her, I can," Hailey offered, already turning to leave. "We already have flights booked to McChord Air Force Base. Just come to my place and weíll head to the airport together," he said as he stopped and turned to the group. He took one last look and left. Marcase and Shiroma followed behind him, all following Hailey to his apartment. Once there, they transferred into Haileyís car, heading for the nearest Air Force base.
"So whatís the story behind Cassian?" Shiroma asked from the back seat on their commute.
"Yesterday, Cassian called Michael at about two in the morning asking for a call trace. At about seven the same morning Newland called asking if he knew where he was. Then Shannon, Cassianís ex, called him. The night before, two masked men came and took his daughter after they didnít find Cassian. We went over to his apartment to see if we could find anything. There was a message on his machine from who weíre guessing are the people who were looking for him."
"So what are you thinking?" Shiroma interrupted.
"Iím not done yet. When Shannon called, she also told Michael that they had returned his daughter unharmed, but in some state of shock. She hasnít spoken since. Weíre not sure what caused it, but whatever it was, itís looking pretty grim," Marcase finished. He looked in the rear-view mirror, watching Shiroma as she stewed over the information.
"I donít like the sounds of this," she said finally, shaking her head. The two men silently agreed, not wanting to talk the rest of the way.
Hailey sat at the vidlink, waiting to be connected to the terminal in Newlandís office. He listened to the quiet hum of the private jetís engines as he waited.
"Hailey? Whereís Bindefeld?" Newland asked as the connection was finally established. Hailey ignored the question as he asked his own.
"Why did you send us on this assignment? It wouldíve been easier just to bring in the CDC on this one." He paused, then asked another question. "Has there been any progress on finding Cassian?"
"No. Iím stopping the search in forty-eight hours. Before you complain, youíre lucky that youíre still searching for him and not the FBI or even the CIA."
"Cassianís a very important man. Even more important than you can imagine. Now, if youíll excuse me," Newland said as he disconnected the link. Hailey turned off the viewer and pulled out a laptop, hooking up to the CDC files to look up their new director.
"Find out anything?" Marcase as he appeared from the sleeping quarters. He looked tired, and obviously wasnít getting anywhere trying to get some rest.
"Not much. Bindefeld joined the CDC in Ď81 after finishing internship at a large hospital somewhere in California. Nothing stands out on her profile other than graduating med school two years ahead of schedule."
"Any word on Cassian?" he asked grimly.
"Nadda. Theyíre going to end the search in forty-eight hours."
"What? They canít do that! There hasnít been enough evidence to show that heís dead."
"Exactly. I read Newlandís face. We all know it. Thereís not even a trace of circumstantial evidence to keep this going."
"How do you know that? For all we know, it couldíve been at his apartment the entire time and we didnít even know it." Marcase rubbed the bridge of his nose, walking over to the small drink cooler and pulled out a bottle of water. "Think back to when he called you." He removed the cap and took a long drink as he waited for an answer.
"Okay. He called me at two am asking for a call trace. He sounded a bit worried."
"I did the trace, no exact location could be pin pointed. Forwarded through too many cell phones. I called him back, telling him the results. He sounded more worried when I did. I asked him if there was anything I could do, he told me he couldnít say."
"Sounds like a typical ransom demand," Marcase commented, draining the rest of the bottle. "Wait a minute. His truck wasnít outside his apartment, right?" Hailey thought back.
"All we have to do is use the satellites to pinpoint where the license plate is!"
"Itís worth a shot," Hailey said as he pulled out the laptop again, punching in a chain of codes. A dialog box came up with several options as Marcase peered over his shoulder. He selected one saying "Find License Plate". Another box came up asking for the plate number, state and country. Hailey entered the information, waiting for it to comply. The satellite he was using began to reposition, then scan small areas at a time. Quickly it began zooming in on a selected area as it narrowed down each area one by one. They soon had a picture of Cassianís truck parked out in the middle of nowhere on a backroad. It was at the base of a small cliff surrounded by brush, scrub, and small trees. "This is about five hours west of D.C.," Hailey informed him.
"Are you able to scan for heat?"
"Hold on." Hailey punched in another set of commands and quickly the screen was a colorful array of blues, blacks, greens, and yellows. "Nothing much but wildlife," he said, clenching his jaw.
"That doesnít mean someone else drove it there to throw us off," Marcase suggested. "Look. We know where his truck is. When we land, we can search it and see if thereís anything that will help us."
"As far as I can tell, the only thing that was affected was your memory. It couldíve been either the injury itself or a traumatic experience, or even both," Doc said, making sure he was completely honest with Cassian.
"But will it return?" Cassian asked cautiously, wanting desperately for all of this to be a dream. He waited patiently for Doc to answer.
"Thatís hard to tell at this point. It could all come back to you in a few hours, or when you wake up tomorrow. It could come back to you gradually over weeks, months, or years, or," he paused, not wanting to say the last possibility. "Or, never."
Cassian swallowed hard, nodding his head. "So all I have to do is wait?" he confirmed, knowing the answer.
"At this time, yes. For now, though, I want you to take it easy, get plenty of rest. Your wound is still very fresh, and Iím not sure how much strain it can take before it could start bleeding again." Doc didnít know what else to say, so he left the room. Terry entered upon his departure, sitting down on the bed next to Cassian.
"So, what happens next?" he asked. He ran his hand back through his hair, not knowing how to take this situation. He tried to think of anything he couldíve to bring back memories. When he learned to talk, walk, any friends or family he mightíve had, a career, but nothing came to mind.
"I donít know. Bill has to ride into town tomorrow to get the truck fixed. While heís there, heíll talk to the police, see if anyoneís missing you. Other than that, I donít know." She looked at him; watched the expressions on his face, wishing there were something she could do for him. "Since we really donít know why you were shot, we think the best thing to do is keep you here. If we took you into a hospital......." She trailed off, not wanting to finish what she was thinking. After a few moments of silence, Cassian spoke.
"Do you think I could have a while to think about this, alone?" he asked her softly, not wanting to hurt her feelings after all that she had been doing for him.
"Yes, of course. You need it." She got up and left the room quietly, shutting the door behind her. Cassian laid on his back on the bed, staring at the ceiling, trying to think. *But how can you think, truly, if you donít even know who you are?*
Marcase waited impatiently as several uniformed men dusted the outside of Cassianís car in search of finger prints. He could hardly believe this was all happening. They had just been discussing cases that day, which was, *How long has it been? Only 2 days.* He looked up as he heard sounds that they were done, and walked over to where Hailey was asking the officer in charge questions.
"We didnít find anything in or around the car. The only finger prints were those of Dr. Cassianís and his daughter. There werenít any fibers from clothes, no hair, nothing. Iím sorry that we couldnít find anything," he informed them, trying his best to hint some sort of sorrow in his voice.
Marcase walked past them to the truck, peering his head into the open driverís side door. He climbed in, sitting in the seatís comfy upholstery. He looked about, only seeing a set of keys.
"Theyíre done here, and theyíre going to tow the car back to Cassianís place," Hailey said as he appeared at the still-open door.
"So where do we go from here?" Marcase asked, staring straight ahead, yet looking at nothing.
"Newland is expecting us back at his office to answer some questions about this, then he wants us to fill out all the paper work that weíve skipped from past assignments," he informed Marcase dryly. "If I didnít know any better, Iíd say he knew something else about all of this."
"I think you may be right," Marcase agreed, stepping out of the car. "Well, we have some questions to answer, as well as some to ask."
"Youíre calling off the search plans like we asked for. Good," the dark figure commented to Newland, quickly snapping the blinds on the window shut as someone began walking past.
"Well, when you threaten the lives of me and my workers, you donít give me much of a chance, do you?" Newland sneered back. The unwelcome guest had obviously sneaked into the office while his secretary was off making copies or some other errand. But how he had gotten past other security precautions eluded him.
"And thatís the way we like it, Mr. Newland," the man sneered. "Youíre also keeping your other people busy, correct?"
"Yes, of course. You asked for it. Why wouldnít I?" Newland threw at him with a slight sarcasm. "Itís going to get harder as fewer and fewer cases come up, you know."
"You should realize that if you get smart with us, it could inevitably lead to more deaths. And as for keeping busy, we have enough resources to do just that."
"I still donít see why youíre doing this. Dr. Cassian is a-" The other man in the room cut Newland off.
"Ah, was an important man. He may have been important to you alive, but more important to us dead." The man paused, looking at his watch, then began again. "I really need to be going now. Just remember, no telling anyone. You know. The clichťs they always use in the movies. And you really should get a new secretary. The one you have now has no idea how to keep her priorities straight." The man laughed as he exited the room. Newland shuddered as he did, hating himself for following this manís orders. He could hardly believe that Cassian was actually dead.
Cassian stared at the ceiling for as long as he could without breaking concentration, which was hours. Even once he had to shake his head, just to make sure he wasnít in some self-induced trance. He laid there, listening to the sounds outside his room both in and outside the house as people went about their day. Every once in a while Terry came in to check on him to see how he was doing. He just waived her off, telling her he was fine.
After some time, he began hearing people turning in for the night. Up until now, he hadnít been aware of the time passage. He just then realized that he had spent the entire day thinking about nothing. *No, not nothing. You canít think about nothing. Itís impossible. So what had he thinking about? Listen to this, youíre talking to yourselfÖ yourself...* Who was he?!
Cassian ripped the pillow from behind his head and flung it against the wall in front of him, then immediately doubled up in pain. He was getting frustrated. Curling up into a tight ball, he let the hot tears he was holding back stream from his eyes.
*Who am I? he thought desperately, the question racing through his mind over and over again. I canít take this any more. I have to get out of here.* Rising quickly from the bed, he ignored as his body screamed at him in pain. Quietly, he sneaked out of the room and down the hall, the stairs then out the front door. He had no idea where he was going, just, an unknown force, pulling him away from the house. His side screamed at him as did his better judgement.
Without knowing how long he had been walking, he found himself under a giant oak tree, the two on top of a grassy knoll. Here, he had felt he needed to stop. He looked around a bit, finally noticing the near full moon that hung high in the sky. It helped him to notice the dark spot on the ground in front of him. No closer inspection was needed to tell him exactly what it was. It was blood. His blood. *What happened here?* he demanded of himself to try and remember. Closing his eyes, he leaned up against the trunk of the tree, trying to picture what had happened that night.
In a bright flash of light, Cassian heard someone scream. A girl, young. The sound made him flinch, as did two shots being fired. He doubled up in pain and fell to the ground, clutching his wounded side. Rolling onto his back he opened his eyes, staring up at the sky. But not the one from that night. This one was illuminated with the artificial glow of car headlights. Someone ran up and threw themselves upon him. The girl he'd heard scream. She cried on him, saying something he strained to hear. No, she was just crying. Suddenly, she was pulled away from her. He heard two voices that he couldn't understand. Not that they weren't talking loud enough, but he didn't know what they were saying. He felt someone check his hands and his pockets, then shortly after a sharp kick in his side.
Cassian jolted awake with a start. He looked around himself to see that he was still outside sitting up against the oak tree, Terryís hand on his shoulder. "Wha, what-"
"Shhh, donít talk. Weíve been looking for you everywhere. Are you all right?"
"Yes, Iím fine. I, I think I may have remembered something."
"Not now. Doc said he wanted to see you as soon as we found you."
"But, I want to tell someone before I forget." Terry nodded and listened to him tell what he remembered from last night. "I think I may have a daughter that was there the night I was shot, and I think I need to get to her as soon as I can. Iím not sure how I know, but I just have this feeling about it."
Marcase looked up from one of the cases that heíd been busy filling out for the past two hours and started tapping his pencil on the thick stack of paper. Newland looked across his desk at him with a raised, perturbed eyebrow.
"Do you mind?" he finally asked, no longer able to tolerate the incessant rhythm.
"Oh, sorry Newland. Iím just trying to figure something out." In the seat next to him, Hailey recognized Marcaseís technique for setting a trap. One to get the information from Newland that he wanted.
"Whatís that, Dr. Marcase?"
"I was just wondering how it is that weíre calling off this search for Cassian after only a few days."
"I told you. Thereís not enough evidence to support any theories-"
"Even if there are obvious signs of foul play?!" Marcaseís anger sparked. "What other possibilities could there be? That heís run off? Cassian wouldnít do something like that. He was too devoted to his work to just drop everything and run off. And if that is the case, why leave his car out in the middle of nowhere?"
"Iím sorry, Edward, but I have my orders."
"Orders from who?"
"Iím not allowed to tell you."
"Heh, thatís a likely story. You know, if I didnít know any better, Iíd say you do know whatís happened to him." Marcaseís eyes narrowed. "You do, donít you?"
"Dr. Marcase, if I knew I would tell you. Until we find out, you know as much as I do." Marcase glared at him. "Now, are you going to finish these filling out these reports or not?"
Marcase sighed and flopped back into his chair. "Guess I donít have much of a choice, do I?" he said as he thought *Heís lying. He knows something but heís not going to tell us.*
An hour later, Hailey and Marcase had managed to get out there. Before theyíd left, Marcase asked Newland if he knew what Cassian had been doing that day before heíd disappeared. "Yeah," heíd answered. "We had gotten together at his office to discuss some cases after heíd just gotten back from some board meeting with one of those pharmaceutical companies heís on. I think it was Life Science Research and Pharmaceuticals. You know, that big one that just announced its merging with yet another company? He had seemed sort of upset about that..." Marcase and Hailey had felt it was worth looking into.
Cassian sat at the dining room table with Terry. Her father sat at the table with them reading the local newspaper. All three looked up as Bill entered. He had just gotten back from town picking up the truck and checking in at the sheriffís office.
"Well, so far it looks like no oneís missing you yet. Sheriff Hallaway is going to do some more checking and is gonna keep an eye out, but until then, it looks like your stuck here." Bill stood there for a few more seconds in silence then spoke again. "Umm, Iíve gotta get back to work. I, umm..." He trailed off, then turned and left and they were again left in silence. After a few minutes, Terryís father turned a page of the paper and shook it straight, then cleared his throat. "Ah, Jesus."
"What is it?" Terry asked her father.
"Another one of those big corporate mergers."
"Daddy, not again," Terry whined.
"Iím serious, honey. One of these days these big city businesses are gonna be the death of us." He set down his paper and began preaching about how it practically ruined America in the past and how history was bound to repeat itself. Cassian looked over the table at the article heíd been so upset about. Pharmaceutical Company Announces Merger, right above a picture of two men smiling at the camera shaking hands. He read the caption. "Drs. Arthur P. Miller and Russell Porter on Saturday after announcing the merger." Like earlier that day, another bright flash of white light crossed Cassianís vision. He moaned in pain. He heard someone talking and wasnít sure if it was Terryís father still or from something he was remembering.
"Arthur, you know that the only thing thatís going to come out of this merger is more money. You know this companyís reputation." Cassian recognized his own voice. "Theyíll end up compromising the quality of work we do here."
"Dan, look. Go over the information again and youíll see-"
"Even more flaws? Yes, youíre probably right. Iím going to stop this anyway that I can and you know I have the power to do so. Iíll come back here tomorrow after noon. Until then, I want you to seriously think about what youíre doing."
"Why do I have a feeling of dťja vý?" Marcase asked Hailey as they sat in his truck sitting outside Life Science Research and Pharmaceuticals corporate headquarters, readying themselves to go in and ask the president anything he might know.
"Danís missing?" Dr. Arthur P. Miller asked the two gentlemen standing in front of him. "Well, for how long?"
"Since about three nights ago. The same day you company announced your latest merger with another company," Hailey answered. "We havenít been able to come up with anything lately so we decided to go out on a limb and see if you may know anything."
"No, no I donít. I wish that I did. I mean, losing him is a great loss to the medical community."
"Okay. Well, thank you for your time Dr. Miller," Hailey said, waving a hand at Marcase as he looked like he was about to say something. "If you do think of anything, hereís my card so you can call me." He turned and motioned to Marcase to follow him out of the office.
"Michael, he knows something. I mean, why would he say losing him if we donít know for sure if heís dead?"
"I know Edward. But we canít force it out of him. Donít worry. Weíll find him."
Back in his office, Dr. Miller glared at his door as it closed behind Marcase and Hailey. He picked up his phone and quickly punched in a number. "Yeah. Those two men that just left. Take care of them. Iíll go have a talk with Mr. Newland."
Newland looked up as he heard Dr. Miller entered the room, quietly closing the door behind him. "You again. What else do you want me to lie about?"
"You told them, didnít you? You told your people."
"Why would I do a thing like that?"
"I donít care about the why. All I know is that two of your people showed up at my office today asking questions about Dr. Cassianís whereabouts. I knew I couldnít trust you from the beginning. Goodbye, Mr. Newland." Dr. Miller raised a gloved hand holding a gun with a silencer on it and pulled the trigger.
"Newlandís not answering his phone. Where do you think he could be?" Marcase plopped Haileyís cel phone down on the seat between them.
"I donít know. Late lunch?" Hailey glanced in his rear-view mirror. "Hold on."
"What do you mean, Ďhold oní?" Marcase asked just before Hailey punched the gas and a shot shattered the back window. "Here we go again." Marcase grabbed onto the handle above the door and held on tight. "Remember that feeling of dťja vý I had earlier?" he asked as he was slammed into the door. Another shot took out the mirror on Marcaseís door. "Itís back again." Hailey ignored him. He was focusing on trying to shag their pursuers. He spotted a large oak tree right at the edge of a bend in the road.
"Hold on tight." Marcase did as he was told and even shut his eyes. He felt the truck pick up even more speed.
"I hope you know what youíre doing, Michael," Marcase commented without opening his eyes.
"Trust me." Marcase felt the truck turn sharply to the left as he was again pinned to the door. He finally felt the truck straighten out. Soon after there was a large explosion behind them. Marcase decided he could risk a glance back. He saw the car that had been following them wrapped around the large oak tree on fire, the driver struggling to pull himself out of the wreckage.
"I guess we know whoís responsible for Cassianís disappearance now," Marcase commented as Hailey drove on like nothing had happened. "Where are we headed now?"
"Back to Cassianís. I have a feeling we may have missed something."
Dr. Miller sat down in his office, sighing in frustration that things werenít going according to plan. Heíd had to kill Newland and by now Marcase and Hailey shouldíve been taken care of. He leaned forward in his chair and rested his head in his hands, deciding that he should check on that situation. Just as he was about to pick up the phone it rang.
"Dr. Miller?" a nervous voice asked.
"What is it, Mr. Hammond?"
"Um, sir, Marcase and Hailey managed to escape."
"They what!?" Miller screamed into the phone.
"Iím sorry sir! They sent us crashing into a tree. There wasnít anything we could do about it. We were trying to follow them but-" Miller cut off the frantic voice.
"Get back here as soon as you can."
"But sir, our car..."
"I donít care about your car! Walk if you have to!" Miller ended the call and swore under his breath. "Canít anyone do anything right around here?" he sighed. He decided he needed to check and see if his men had actually even killed Cassian. "Mr. Wright? I was just calling to see if you had actually taken care of Cassian as you were supposed to. A recent string of events has caused me to re-evaluate everything... Uh-huh. Are you positive he was dead?... What do you mean no, not at the time you left? Didnít I tell you... Oh. He was going to die soon enough. I want you to get back there now and make sure he is. Do you get me?... Good. And get a few extra people to help you out. I want to make sure that heís dead."
"So what is it that you think you missed?" Marcase asked as he and Hailey stepped into Cassianís place.
"I donít know. Just try to remember what we looked at last time and see what else there is in here," Hailey answered. He pulled out his cel phone and dialed the number for Newlandís office again. This time his secretary answered.
"Hello?" a womanís somewhat shaken voice answered. While Hailey talked to her, Marcase walked around in the living room a bit and sat down at the piano and banged out a quick rendition of "Chopsticks."
"Can we try something productive?" Hailey told him. He went back to his phone call.
"Aw, youíre no fun," Marcase whined back, pulling the cover over the keys as he got up. Just as heíd done that, Hailey finished his call.
"Now I know why Newland wasnít answering his phone. He was shot."
"What? Howíd it happen?"
"Someone mustíve come in when his secretary was on her lunch break. They killed him."
"God. Whatís going on here, Michael?"
"I donít know, but I think as soon as we find Cassian we might be able to figure that out."
Marcase scanned the rest of the room as Hailey walked up the stairs. He spotted Cassianís computer, walked over to it and smirked. Marbles were falling one by one to fill up the screen. Different colors and patterns nearly filled the screen, one including a yellow smiley face that looked surprised whenever it hit something. Then he remembered what Hailey had said when they came in. "...remember what we looked at last time and see what else there is in here."
Marcase looked down and picked up the piece of paper that was sitting in the printer tray. "Whatís this?" he asked quietly. He read what little was printed on it: Pg 2/2. "So whereís page one?" He looked back at the printer tray. No other paper sat there. "Huh." Marcase sat down in the chair in front of the computer and moved the mouse around a bit to disable the screensaver. After a few seconds the screen finally came up and showed Cassianís mail box. One of the messages was still open and he decided to read trough it. "Left onto highway................... Donít tell anyone of this or..." Then it hit him. "Hailey, get over here! I found something." Marcase read over all thin instructions as Hailey entered the room. "I canít believe we didnít see this last time. This has to be what happened." He hit the button for print. "Shall we?"
"I think itís about the best thing weíve had this entire time. Letís go."
Cassian awoke upstairs in bed, disoriented about how he got there. He jogged his memory a bit and remembered that heíd been downstairs with Terry and her father arguing when he saw a picture in the paper that sparked a memory in his mind. He tried thinking a bit more and managed to piece most of what happened and realized something. He had to get out of there as soon as he could or he would be putting everyoneís life in danger.
"Terry!" he yelled out as he pulled back the covers and dashed out of the room. He flew down the stairs nearly taking them two at a time. "Terry?" He looked around the living room then went straight into the dining room. "Terry. I need to get into town so I can make some phone calls."
"What? Why, do you remember something?"
"Nearly everything. I need to make some calls to some of my friends. Do you have any rifles or shotguns around?"
Terry was just about to say something as a shot was fired, taking out the window next to them. Cassian pulled Terryís shoulders so that they were both on the floor. "Dammit. Theyíre already here. Where are you going?"
"Follow me. The guns are down here in the closet." Terry pulled open the closet door and pulled out two rifles and handed one to Cassian. Both crawled over to the windows that had been shot out and peered out. Terry yelped as a bullet whizzed by her head.
"Be careful," Cassian hissed at her, pulling himself up to his knees just long enough to fire a couple shots out the window. "How did they know I was here?"
"I donít know. Maybe they asked everyone that was outside if theyíd seen you." Terry paused a moment. "Hey, how do I know if youíre a good guy or a bad guy?"
"Iím a good guy. My name is Dr. Daniel Cassian," he said as he loaded two more rounds into the gun and fired out the window again. "I guess getting into town is out of the question. I just hope my friends were able to figure out what happened on their own." Almost as if it were a wish, extra gunfire rang out from further than where theyíd first heard it. Cassian took a chance too look out of the window. He thanked God for what he saw. Hailey and company came storming in on the house, taking down as many of the gunmen that they could. All of a sudden there was a sudden banging at the front door. Cassian got up from the floor and walked over to the door, gun ready. He looked back at Terry who also readied hers as Cassian quickly opened the door.
"Jesus, Cassian!" Marcase yelled as he jumped back, his hands raised. "Give a guy a heart attack!"
"Marcase," Cassian sighed, lowering his guard. "Never thought Iíd be happy to see you. Howíd you find me?"
"Your e-mail. We decided to check your house to see if we could turn anything up there. Lucky for you, you left your computer on. We wouldnítíve checked it if it werenít on." Marcase was about to say something else when he noticed a strange look in Cassianís face. "Cassian, what is it?"
"Renee," he sighed. "I have to get to her." He turned around and walked over to Terry. "Iím sorry," he told her, "that I have to leave so fast. I want to thank you and your family for how kind you were to me. Please tell them that I wanted to thank them in person but I had to leave as soon as I could." He wrapped his arms around her and hugged her, gave her a kiss on the cheek and said into her ear, "Iíll never forget you."
Cassian turned and walked towards the door and left the house, Marcase following him. Terry said quietly after him, "Your welcome."
Cassian climbed into the back seat of the truck and flopped into the seat, winced and then grabbed his side.
"Cassian, you okay?" Marcase asked with concern as he noticed Cassianís pain.
"Yeah, Iím fine. Just get me to Renee as soon as you can."
"You sure you donít want-" Marcase started to ask in the seat next to him.
"Edward, Iím positive," Cassian snapped. He glared at the younger man for a moment who held up his hands.
"Okay, whatever you say." Marcase shook his head as Hailey climbed into the drivers seat and said, "Home, Jeeves." Hailey just rolled his eyes and started the truck.
Cassian didnít even wait for the truck to come to a full stop to get out. In a heartbeat he was at the door of Shannonís house and ringing the bell. Shannonís eyes flew wide to see him standing there. "Oh Dan, weíve been so worried about you. Are you okay?"
"Yes, Iím fine. Whereís Renee?"
"Sheís up in her room."
Cassian didnít even wait for Shannon to motion for him to come in. He had already pushed past her and was making his way up the stairs to Reneeís room. Once he was there, he paused in the doorway, looking at Renee as she lay on her bed, curled up. He felt guilty for her seeing what she had and him not there for her. Slowly he walked up to her bed and sat on the edge of it. He gently put a hand on her shoulder.
"Renee," he said softly. She instantly turned over to look at him, her eyes wide.
"Daddy!" she cried, sitting in and flinging her arms around him. "Oh, Daddy, I was so scared you were dead!"
"Shh, itís okay now, sweetie," he told her, starting to rock her back and forth. "Iím all right. Everythingís all right now."