Author's Notes: Action Man is the property of Mainframe Entertainment, Inc. C.S.I. belongs to Alliance and Bruckheimer. Santini Air and Dominic Santini belong to the show Airwolf from Bellisarius Productions.
Summary: Just another day in Las Vegas... but the first for Action Man's Team X-Treme. (crossed over with C.S.I. and Airwolf).
Amp it up!
Viva Las Vegas
~ Prologue ~
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Event: Hot Air Balloon Hopscotch Demonstration
Sponsor: Master Vision Network
"Nick Masters coming to you live just outside sparkling Las Vegas, Nevada, where Alex Mann, the Action Man, is about to kick off the never-before-done Hot Air Balloon Hopscotch!" The gray-haired, toupeed announcer in his typical black suit and tie and red shirt stepped back dramatically as balloons ascended into the air. "Any minute now, Alex Mann will jump out of Big Air, - piloted by Mister Singh-Baines, Team X-Treme's manager - get picked up by Little Air, with Grinder Sinclair at the stick, and land on one of the balloons, where he'll proceed to jump to four other balloons. If he misses one-" Masters flinched. "It's game over." He looked questioningly to someone behind the camera then turned. "Ah... And here he comes now. Alex Mann, man of action!"
* * *
Fidget Wilson stood atop a white balloon with the Action Man logo, blowing a bit of bright pink bubble gum while she adjusted her lens. "Oh, yeah... Work the camera..." she whispered into her headset.
Alex fell and grabbed the line trailing behind Little Air, using its momentum to carry him to the balloon.
Fidget took a step back and found her foot entangled in a line. She gasped. "Oh, no..."
Alex landed, and the force of the impact catapulted her off the side. "Fidget!"
Viva Las Vegas
~ Chapter 1 ~
She was falling...
It was only a matter of time before she was a Vegas pancake all over the landscape below.
Then Fidget felt the line go taut around her ankle, pulling a tendon, and her back slapped hard against the side of the balloon. The pain and being upside down made her feel woozy.
"Fidget! Hang on! I'm going to cut you loose! Grinder, bring Little Air around and prepare to catch Fidget."
"You got it," Grinder's comforting voice sounded over their comm link.
This is all my fault... Fidget sulked. We've never had a stunt go wrong...
"Heads up!" Alex called, slicing the line cleanly with one of the blades packed in his suit.
Fidget didn't even scream as she landed in Grinder's lap when he flew by.
"Oof!" Grinder sounded. "Got yer fair share of excitement there, Fidget?" he teased.
"Don't start with me, Grinder..." she pouted, biting her lip.
* * *
"What happened up there?" Masters shouted with a fury only surpassed by a nuclear explosion. "We had the perfect shot and you, little missy, ruined it." He jabbed a folder Fidget's way as the site doctor wrapped her ankle.
Grinder stood, bleached spiky hair stiffer than usual. "Hey! Back off!" he growled in his calm I'm-just-going-to-quietly-turn-you-into-a-pretzel tone. "It was an accident. We're not all perfectionists, see..."
Rikki Singh-Baines marched up to them, still wobbling slightly from having to fly Big Air.
"He's right..." Fidget said mournfully. "I blew it..."
"You're damn right you did!" Masters snapped.
"Hey!" Rikki stepped between them. "No one's harassing this team. Except me. Now, your people told our people Fidget was safe up there. Why don't you track them down and put a bee up their hive."
Masters sneered but left.
Alex finally caught up to them. "How bad is it, Doc?"
"Sprained ankle," the man responded. "I'd give it at least two weeks to heal. Hang on. I have a pair of crutches in the van." He left.
Alex looked sympathetically at the redhead with the gazillion pigtails.
"Don't worry. I have a new cameraman," Rikki reported, looking at his touch screen pad. "Lucia Baldwin. Sharp girl."
"Rikki..." Alex warned. He turned to Grinder. "I don't think we should do the stunt."
"Wha...? Not do...?" Rikki stuttered. "No, Alex. If we don't do the stunt..."
Alex turned to Fidget, not hearing Rikki's protests. "You going to be okay, Fidge?"
"I'm fine..." Fidget stood up. "Yow!" She fell back onto the bench.
"Careful, Fidge," Grinder said. "You don't want to make it four weeks..."
"I don't need your help, Grinder!" she snapped. "I don't need anyone's help..." The doctor returned with the crutches. "Thanks," she mumbled as she took them and went off.
"Nice one, Rikki..." Grinder sneered when Fidget was out of earshot.
"You were the one she snapped at," Rikki pointed out.
"Knock it off, both of you," Alex interrupted. "What matters now is giving Fidget a few weeks to heal. Tell Masters the show's canceled."
"Alex," Rikki finally exasperated. "We can't cancel, not when I just hired a new cameraman..."
"Rikki's right," Grinder said.
"I am?" Rikki blinked.
"Fidget wouldn't wan' that, Alex, not if it means no longer buying her that super duper bubble gum of hers, mate."
"I don't want anyone else getting hurt," Alex argued.
"No one will be. I'll take a look over the specs again, and Rikki can bring our new cameraman up to speed." Grinder smiled.
Alex sighed and nodded. "All right. I'll meet you in the afternoon before the official show."
"Uh, wait a minute. Where are you going?" Rikki asked.
"I thought I'd take Fidget out to a magic show... in town."
"Sweet..." Grinder commented.
"Keep in touch," Rikki warned.
Alex touched his Mission Extreme watch. "As always..." Then he called, "Hey, Fidget, wait up!"
Rikki sighed. "Some guys have all the luck..."
"Yeah," Grinder agreed.
A young woman in cutup jeans and with short black hair walked up to them. "Mr. Singh-Baines?" she asked of Grinder.
"That's Rikki Singh-Baines," Grinder corrected.
Rikki's jaw dropped when he saw her and he scooped it up off the ground in time to shake her hand. "Please. Call me Rikki."
"Lucia," she returned. "Lucia Baldwin. I hear you're looking for a new cameraman."
Grinder had to shake his head to keep himself from laughing.
* * *
"Put your hands together for the one, the only Marvell the Magician!" the man on stage announced, stepping aside as the curtains opened.
Somehow, Alex had managed to talk Fidget into letting her short red hair down and wearing a deep blue dress that shimmered with a light blue edge on her low cut top. She had also found some rhinestone earrings and necklace. She looked so beautiful! Of course, he had squeezed into a monkey suit that wouldn't rip over his huge muscles and he didn't think he looked nearly as attractive.
Alex stepped back while Fidget maneuvered herself down the steps on her crutches to a table of her choice near the middle. Alex pulled a chair out for her and leaned her crutches on another chair, pushing her back in and taking his own seat as the audience finished clapping and the magician stepped forward and bowed.
The magician took out his hat and was about to pull something from it when something heavy landed behind him and he turned.
The audience gasped and someone screamed. A woman's dead body had landed on the stage.
Alex and Fidget looked at one another.
They had the worst timing!
Viva Las Vegas
~ Chapter 2 ~
Alex consoled Fidget with another aspirin as the Las Vegas PD took their sweet time interviewing everyone present.
A man in dreadlocks caught Alex's eyes and he stood. "Hey, Grinder! How did you-?"
The man turned and only then did Alex register the CSI jacket. "Oh. You're not Grinder."
He raised a dark eyebrow above green eyes. "I certainly hope not. I'm Warrick Brown. I'm with the Las Vegas Crime Scene Investigations Unit." He held out a rubber-gloved hand.
Alex shook it. "Alex Mann. I-" Warrick turned his hand and swabbed it then dripped liquid on the swab and looked at it. "Uh..."
"Cool!" Fidget replied. "You're - like - those crime scene guys who find hairs and blood that's been washed away and solve cases and stuff, right?"
"Right..." Warrick replied slowly. "You're clear. The police might like to ask you a few more questions though."
"Is this going to take all day?" Alex asked tiredly, trying not to show his frustration. "I'm in a show that starts in less than an hour and I've got to get changed..."
A graying-haired man stepped up to them.
"Gris..." Warrick sighed in relief.
"You can go," Gris told them. "I need you to check around the body."
"I thought Catherine was-"
"Catherine's been called to another case," Gris said. "Daylight's burning..." He walked off.
Warrick sighed. "Oh, man..." He dismissed Alex and Fidget with an exasperated flick of the hand. "Yeah, you can go. Just leave the information on where you can be reached with the detectives on your way out."
"Thank you." Alex half bowed. "C'mon, Fidget."
They passed another CSI with brown hair on their way out. He smiled kindly.
Fidget smiled back and when he was out of earshot, Fidget leaned into Alex and whispered, "He's cute."
Alex shook his head. Oh, yeah... Adrenaline addict and microscope junkie. That's sure to end in breakup or divorce... Which brought up another question... What was the right kind of guy for Fidget...?
* * *
"And this is where you can set up," Rikki finished, beaming proudly.
"Thank you." Lucia Baldwin smiled shyly.
Rikki returned it, looking like a complete fool.... "Say, Lucia... You're not, uh, available, are you...? I know this great magic show..."
She shook her head in disgust. "Oh! I don't go for magic!" Rikki looked sadly. "But I am available," she amended quickly. "My boyfriend and I broke up, or at least I broke up with him... when I saw him with that tramp..." She breathed deliberately. "I'm cool. I mean, I was cool about it. I took her to a magic show and so, well, I'm off magic..."
Rikki only caught half of what she said, but he smiled all the same. "I'm sure I can find something else..." He shook the delirium from his eyes. "Anyway, you can work Fidget's helicam-"
"No' so fast, Rikki," Grinder interrupted, walking up to them. "I've go' a better idea. I've mounted a camera on Little Air. Fidget can work the controls from Big Air and Lucia can play with the camera in that helicopter over there."
Lucia followed his gesture. "You mean the one that says 'Santini Air' on the side?"
"That's the one. Nice chap. Sent it all the way over from Van Nuys, California. He'll be piloting but be careful about making conversation with him. He's Italian."
"Now, wait a minute," Rikki cut in. "Alex agreed that you were to-"
"-Oversee the set up and make sure we don't repeat any mistakes." Grinder crossed his arms over his chest. "That's wha' I'm doing."
Rikki thought a moment. "Yeah, that'll work. What's his name?"
"Santini," Rikki repeated to himself. "All right. Lucia, you talk to Mr. Santini. I'll - Fidget! Alex!"
Alex pulled up in Team X-Treme's silver convertible and got out and opened the door for Fidget.
Rikki and Grinder ran up to them. "Alex, you've got to get ready," Rikki said. "The final show starts in fifteen minutes." He pointed at his watch. "What took you so long?"
"Got held up," Alex said, helping Fidget onto her crutches.
"You go ahead," Fidget said softly. "I'll just... I'll just watch."
Alex watched sadly as Rikki led him away to get changed.
Grinder grabbed Fidget's wrist. "Hold up. You ain't getting rid o' me that easily."
"Grinder, what are you-" He scooped her off her feet. "Grinder!" Fidget protested as he carried her off, leaving the crutches at the car.
* * *
"Nick Masters, coming to you live from just outside Las Vegas, Nevada, where the Hot Air Balloon Hopscotch demonstration is about to kick off. The air is buzzing with excitement as Alex Mann, our Man of Action, is being flown up to the starting point in Big Air..."
A dark sedan pulled up just outside the ring of spectators, and Captain Jim Brass stepped out of the driver's side followed by Sara Sidel from the passenger side.
"Look at all these people..." Sara breathed.
"Yeah... Just an accident waiting to happen..." Brass grumbled. "Let's find out who's in charge here."
A security guard stopped them as they crossed the red tape. "Excuse me, sir. Only authorized personnel allowed beyond this point. I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to step back..."
Tiredly, Brass pulled out his badge. "Captain Brass, from the Las Vegas Crime Lab. I need to speak with Mr. Alex Mann or a Rikki Singh-Baines."
"Mr. Mann's unavailable." He jabbed a thumb skywards. "Mr. Singh-Baines should be landing any minute..."
A large plane buzzed them and landed not entirely smoothly on a patch of bare ground.
Brass pushed past the guard and made his way towards the plane.
"Sir! Sir, wait!"
The loading ramp lowered and a young man stumbled out. "Oh, man... How does Grinder talk me into these things..."
"You complain too much, Rikki..." a woman called from above then said softer, "Oh, yeah!..."
"Mr. Singh-Baines?" Brass flashed his badge again. "Captain Brass, Las Vegas Crime Lab."
"That blood in the bathroom was from a nose bleed last week-" Rikki began nervously.
"We've dealt with nosebleeds before," Sara told him.
"Mr. Singh-Baines," Brass interjected. "Records show you hired a Miss Lucia Baldwin..."
"She's in the chopper," Rikki said then added in a whisper, "Did she kill someone?"
"She may have," Brass answered. "That's not the real Lucia Baldwin."
"The real Lucia Baldwin?" Sara added with a nod. "-Is sitting in cold storage downtown. We found her body earlier at a magic show Mr. Mann and Miss Wilson were attending."
"That's what we'd like to know," Brass interrupted.
Viva Las Vegas
~ Chapter 3 ~
Dominic Santini maneuvered his chopper over the balloons and smiled as the young dark-haired woman moved the camera. "So..." he began. "You like shooting film?"
She smiled, eyes still glued to the scope. "Shooting's what I do best..."
Dominic watched where he was going a little bit then returned his gaze to Team X-Treme's new cameraman.
She was pointing her camera down at one of the balloon men.
"Hey!" Dom protested. "Yer pointing the camera down. Action Man's that way!"
"I have a clear shot..." she muttered.
Oh, no... Something told him she had a gun!
"Lying, cheatin' boyfr- yah!" Dom banked hard, down and left, diverting her aim skyward-
Taking out Little Air's wing.
"Santa Maria! I didn't mean to-"
* * *
"Hey!" Fidget's voice rang over the comm link. "Who took out the-"
"A-Man, I've been hit!" Grinder's voice interrupted.
Alex stopped when he landed on the next balloon and looked up as Little Air began to lose altitude, smoke billowing behind it.
Alex looked to the Santini chopper as it righted itself, then back. "Check it out. Dial it in," Alex whispered. "Amp it up..."
The world stilled and turned blue around him. Bright white numbers flowed forth, slowly circling the balloon he was on, highlighting it. The numbers circled Santini's chopper and lit the nearest skid then swirled, surrounding Little Air and brightening the rope before returning to him.
Alex's jaw was set, determined, as he launched himself off the balloon and onto the helicopter's skid. Then, from there he launched again, grabbing the rope that dangled behind Little Air. When they reached the balloon, Alex hooked the line over the anchor line of the balloon and ordered the pilot in the basket to adjust the heat to smooth their descent.
Uneasily but carefully the balloon acted as a clumsy parachute and both balloon and glider landed safely.
"Un-be-liev-able!!!" Nick Master's voice cut across the ground. "Ladies and gentlemen, Alex Mann!"
The spectators roared with applause.
Rikki drove up with Fidget in the passenger seat and two unknown individuals in the back. "Alex! Are you all right?!" Fidget screamed, hopping up to them as fast as she could on crutches and still in her dress.
Alex turned to the balloon pilot who was sweating like a pig and white as a sheet. "Thanks, man," Alex said. "Take a break. Get some water."
"Y-yeah... Yeah, sure..." the pilot stuttered.
The Santini chopper landed. "I had him!" Lucia snapped.
"You had no such thing, missy!" Mr. Santini bit, shoving her out of the copter with her hands done up in electrical cord.
The balloon pilot blinked. "Laura?"
Alex looked from one to the other. "You know her?"
"Laura!" the balloon pilot shouted.
"Don't you talk to me, you piece of-"
"Watch your language!" Santini snapped.
"Alex..." Fidget caught up to him and took his arm gently into her hands, balancing the crutches under her arms. "Are you all..."
"I'm okay, Fidge." Alex looked up to where Rikki opened Little Air's cockpit. "How's Grinder?"
"That was seriously tweaked," Grinder managed.
"He's fine," Rikki announced.
The two unknown individuals stepped forward. "Lady, you're under arrest," the man said, taking the gift-wrapped package from Santini.
"She's all yours, officer," Santini said helpfully. "She owes me twenty bucks for a new cord."
"Noted," the man said.
"We'd like to speak to you too," the woman said to the balloon pilot.
"Uh... okay..." he answered shyly and stepped out.
"Please, tell me we're not going to be held up again..." Alex moaned.
"No, I think you're clear," the man said. "We know where to reach you if we have any questions... Action Man." He snickered.
"My secret identity's out," Alex sighed teasingly.
"I find that very romantic..." Fidget leaned into Alex.
Alex blinked and smiled. I guess you could call that magic show a date...