Real Adventures of Jonny Quest
Cross Country Quest
Chapter 14 – Escape
by LadyNiko

Jonny Quest had been captured enough times by bad guys over the years to know how to plan your moves and when to hold your cards.

He had been waiting for his head to stop spinning for a couple of days now. He figured his dad was going nuts not being able to find him, because this was the longest he'd ever been captured without somebody from his family with him. They hadn't told him much of anything, since apparently their employer wasn't of the gloating about his evil plans type.

He had managed to pull a spring from the cot's frame without being detected by the ever watchful security camera. He didn't know when he would have a chance to use it to try and get the lock on his door opened from inside his "guest quarters," but he knew he had to be prepared to take advantage of that moment when it came.

Being this far underground, he had no idea what the weather was like outside. The temperature never varied – it was always a constant 68 degrees and the humidity was almost non-existent.

His eyesight was still an issue – he could see, but not keep his eyes open for too long since they were still swollen.

Then, because he was bored and not able to do much of anything, he almost missed his chance when the lights in the room suddenly blacked out without warning.

No, he couldn't be that lucky, he thought. The power just couldn't have gone out, could it?

But, never one to miss an opportunity when it was presented, Jonny looked up to where the security camera would be, searching for that telltale light, saying it was recording. Nothing. The room was pitch black.

He moved swiftly off the bed, feeling his way along the wall to the door and just as he thought, there were screws holding the deadbolt in place. The problem was that they were flush set small Phillips head screws – almost jeweler size. Well, Race hadn't taught him lock picking for nothing and he'd picked up more than a few tricks from Hadji along the way.

It would take him longer than he wanted, but if he was lucky, he could get the lock open before the power came back on. Working by feel alone, Jonny managed to get one screw out and then, the other. He got the lock cylinder pulled out and then, managed to retract the deadbolt. That was it. The door was now unlocked and the power still hadn't come back on.

He put his ear to the door, listening for sounds from the hallway. He had no idea when the power was going to come back on or when the thugs would return.

He heard some muffled shouting about the power.

"Damn it! I thought this place was supposed to have a back up generator!"

"It does, but apparently, the fuel's been siphoned off – that's why it didn't kick on," another voice shouted in answer.

"Damn it! Stay where you are, I'll go deal with this, myself!" this time, the first speaker was much closer and Jonny dared to open his door a crack.

He couldn't see anything but the silhouette of the speaker holding the flashlight. Then, the person carrying the flashlight walked off with a limp, Jonny judged from the way the light moved. Okay, that was the leader that walked off.

He listened for the sound of someone else breathing or moving in the hallway. Nothing close, so he carefully opened the door. Easing out into the hallway, Jonny could see someone with a flashlight checking doors and making their way towards him. He had to make his move now. He wouldn't get another chance – not after they discovered how he'd taken the lock apart.

Jonny moved quietly down the corridor, following the retreating light of what had to be the leader. If power was out, and the generator not working, then the elevators wouldn't be working either and there had to be stairs leading up and out of this place.

It took maybe a hundred yards down the hallway before he saw the flashlight lift up and reflect off a dimly glowing green exit sign.

Jonny would have to try and take the leader down when he got to the stairs, because otherwise he would hear Jonny coming up behind him. Carefully weighing out his options, he slipped through the door for the stairs just before it closed.

The leader already had a bad knee, take that out first, then, knock him out, take his flashlight and head for ground level.

It sounded simple, but putting it into action was another matter.

Hearing movement, Leader turned around and shone his light on Jonny, who was already moving for the first blow to his knee.

Leader crumpled as the knee gave way and could no longer support his weight from the ACL rupture. Jonny moved in closer and didn't hold back with his punch to the man's left temple. The man's head snapped to the right and he crumpled without further resistance, hitting his head on the railing on the way down.

Jonny checked him for a pulse, relieved to find one still there, before taking his flashlight and radio. He wasted no more time and went dashing up the stairs. It wasn't until he got closer to ground level that he could hear rumbling outside. So far, the radio was quiet, but he didn't expect that to last long.

Jonny got to ground level and found himself on the opposite side of the carven where the elevator was. He could see one man watching the storm raging just outside.

And, man, what a storm it was. The wind was lashing the rain and driving it sideways. The lightning was intense and the thunder echoed through the cavern with great booming peals that made the ground vibrate.

Okay, Jonny thought, time to get the SUV and drive out of there. Another trick learned from Race and Hadji – how to hotwire a car. His father had been mortified at first, but when it had come in handy getting away from the bad guy of the moment, Benton had quit complaining.

He found the backseat passenger side door unlocked and quietly shut the door as the thunder boomed again. Keeping a blurry eye on the goon at the cavern entrance, he climbed up to the front seat and hotwired the car. It took him too long using the spring from the bed frame as his knife to cut and splice wires, but he finally got it done as another loud thunderclap rolled through the cavern. Using that sound as a cover, he started the engine and put the car in reverse, doing a quick U-turn to head out of the cavern. The headlights came on automatically sensing the darkness of the raging storm, that only left Jonny to deal with the windshield wipers as he sped out of the cavern, barely missing the thug standing at the entrance too stunned to shoot him at first for escaping.

He could hear swearing on the radio sitting on the seat next to him. It was just a standard walkie-talkie and didn't have much range, but it was enough to give him a small bit of satisfaction – you can't keep one of the Quest clan locked up for long.

The drive was hell, visibility was almost zero compounded by his swollen eyes. Jonny needed to get to a police station and put himself in the hands of the authorities to get back to his family. He had to trust the police at the least. He also knew he needed to ditch the car because there was probably a tracking device of some sorts on it – GPS or lowjack. Either way, he didn't want the bad guys chasing him right away.

His decision was made for him sooner than he thought when a lightning strike almost right in front of him on the road made him wince and flinch reflexively. He ended up hitting a tire eating pothole and lost his right front tire.

"Damnit!" he cursed, feeling the SUV pulling hard to the right and there was no mistaking that thumping of a flat tire. Hitting the hazards, he slowed down considerably, looking for a safer place to pull over.

He couldn't stay with the car. He needed to put more distance between him and the bad guys. It wouldn't take them long to come looking for him.

At least there was a baseball hat sitting on the passenger side floorboard in the backseat. He could use that to keep the rain out of his eyes while he went looking for a gas station to call the police.

He got the hat and then, pulling down low on his brow, got out of the car in to the driving rain. He was instantly soaked, but he had to keep moving, had to get distance away from the thug crew.

He walked for maybe a mile before he finally saw another car. This was a fairly abandoned industrial area, not much vehicular traffic – not like he knew what time of day it was. It could be morning or evening for all he knew.

Jonny stuck his thumb out, hoping they'd take pity on him and give him a ride.

He didn't know if it was luck or curiosity that made the low rider SUV pull over. The driver was a young Hispanic male who couldn't be more than a year or two older than Jonny.

"Hey man, what's up? You need a ride?" the driver asked in Spanish, probably hoping Jonny wouldn't be able to understand him.

"Yeah man, my ride got a flat," Jonny answered in perfect colloquial Spanish, even getting close to the driver's accent.

The driver seemed to take that into consideration and talked with his buddies, in a mixture of Spanish and English before turning to Jonny, "Sure man, hop on in. We got room for one more body."

"Thanks, man. You don't know how much this means to me," Jonny said gratefully, heading to the passenger driver's side door.

"Where you headed, Amigo?" the driver asked, after Jonny was in the car.

"Nearest gas station – I gotta call my dad and let him know I'm all right," Jonny said, because that would so be his first call.

"Amigo, you don't mind me saying, but you look like you came out wrong end on a fight," the front seat passenger said.

"Yeah, with a tree of all things," Jonny said with a half laugh.

"Dude, you and nature don't get along do you?" said the guy sitting next to him.

"Not this week, it seems," Jonny said with a sigh.

That got his current companions laughing and it helped to ease some of the tension they had obviously been feeling by picking up this Gringo kid who'd obviously gotten himself way lost.

They drove for a couple of miles in what appeared to be farmland interspersed with more industrial parks, before coming out to a major road.

"Hey, Amigo, there's a gas station with a pay phone that's under cover just up ahead. You got enough money on you to make the call?"

Jonny checked his pockets. Damn, he'd completely forgotten about his wallet. "No man, I must have left my wallet back in the car."

The front seat passenger was digging for change when shots rang out, shattering the rear windshield first, then, going up the driver's side of the car. Jonny didn't know who was firing at them, just knew that he needed to get out of there now. He pushed at the guy next to him, shouting, "Move! Move! Move!"

It was too late, he felt the burning, hot impact in the back of his left shoulder drive him forward, onto the person next to him. He groaned when he saw that the shot had gone all the way through and left a huge exit wound. Even now, he could feel himself losing his grip on consciousness from the shock, pain and immediate blood loss. He was in trouble and worried that the shot had done more damage than he could see. But moments later, that was beyond his caring as the world went gray around the edges and everything turned to black.

*~RAJQ~*

Burning fire woke Jonny. His whole left arm was burning and he was being manhandled. He gasped with pain to see a person with protective goggles on wearing a blue uniform bending over him, except they were upside down. Then, yeah, he figured out they were bending over him.

"My dad..." he rasped out.

"Just hang on. We'll get you to the hospital where they can take care of that arm," the woman assured him.

"No, gotta call my dad..." Jonny said, trying to sit up, he was completely disoriented.

"You're not going anywhere but to the ER and then the OR to fix that gunshot wound, now hold still."

Jonny lurched against her purple gloved hands, desperation driving him forward. He needed to make that phone call. He cried out as the pain spiked and drove shooting lines of fire all the way down to his fingertips.

Then, the world grayed again and he found himself collapsing back against the seat.

*~RAJQ~*

He woke up to bright lights overhead and someone shining a light in his eyes as he struggled to bring reality into focus.

Someone moved his arm and this time, Jonny couldn't stop the short scream of pain that burst out.

He needed to call his dad. He had to call him.

"Dad..." Jonny moaned.

"No, your father's not here," the person at his head said.

"No, you don't understand. Gotta call him..." Jonny tried to get up. Why couldn't these people let him call his dad? He needed to talk to him!

"Just relax. You're gonna be okay, but you gotta let us do our work first," another voice said, restraining his right shoulder.

"Gotta call him!" Jonny was becoming agitated and wanted out of there now. He wanted, needed to call his dad. He tried to get up again, but couldn't for the pain radiating all the way down his left side.

"Damn it! He's losing too much blood! We need to get him up to the O.R.. Where the hell are those x-rays?" the first voice shouted.

Jonny tried rolling over to his right side. He didn't understand what they wanted with him. He just needed to call his dad first.

"Shit! He's going to totally shred his brachial artery if he keeps this up!" a male voice near his left ear shouted.

Nooo! They couldn't do this! Jonny thought and tried to fight back against the bodies holding him down.

A female voice tried to calm him down, "Hey, listen to me. You're going to be all right, but you need to stay still and let us do our job."

"Call my dad," Jonny panted against the pain.

"We will, but you need to stay calm for us. You're bleeding heavily here and we need to stop the bleeding to see how badly you're hurt," the woman said.

"O.R. Three is ready for him," a new voice called out after answering a phone.

"Great," the male voice at his left ear said. Then he addressed Jonny, "Hey, just hang in there, young man. We're gonna take you on up to surgery now so we can fix the damage in your shoulder."

"Please, call my dad," Jonny tried again to make them understand.

"What's his phone number?" the female voice asked. "And, what's your name?"

"It's - " Jonny started to say, then had to keep from shouting in pain as someone pressed down on his left shoulder. "Stopstopstop! Hurts!"

"Let's get some pain relief on board his IV here," the male voice called out.

"Phone number is..." Jonny slurred, shock, blood loss and the drugs taking their toll and making the world fall away before he could get the phone number out.

*~RAJQ~*

Jonny was unconscious and the ER team went back to work, getting him stable and ready for the O.R.

As of right now, they didn't know they had the most wanted person in America. He was another John Doe caught up in a gang shooting until the police identified him by his fingerprints.

He was wheeled to the O.R. as soon as radiology called to say that the x-rays were printing at that moment. The trauma surgeons had their work cut out for them repairing the damage the bullet ricochet had caused.

*~RAJQ~*

The trauma surgery team included the vascular surgeon who went to work repairing the damage to the brachial artery first. It hadn't been completely ruptured by the bullet, but had had a chunk taken out of it so it was pulsing blood with every heartbeat. The ER lead had been worried about permanent damage to the arm with the blood loss, but there was still some blood flow going to the fingertips. Reduced, but it was there.

As he worked, the surgeon wondered about his patient. The boy was a mystery. No ID on him, he'd heard, and no tats identifying him as a gang member, yet he was found in an SUV with two other gang members. Finally, his work was done. The blood vessels had been repaired. He saw the fingers were pinking up even as he finished. He lightly squeezed one finger to test the blood flow and saw that it rushed back to the finger, eager to make sure that blood flow remain uninterrupted.

With a nod, he stepped back and began his oral report for the orthopedic surgeon. "Primary vascular damage has been repaired, normal blood flow has been restored. Barring infection, patient should suffer no long term circulatory damage."

The orthopedic surgeon patched the collar bone back together. The bullet had gone in at an odd angle, skimming off the shoulder blade, instead of punching through it, missed the heart and lungs, nicked the brachial artery under the collar bone and ripped through the subclavian vein on its way out, punching a hole through the clavicle, pecs and deltoid muscle structures. Meaning in layman's terms, it tore a whole in his upper chest at his collar bone.

When it was all said and done, the young man's upper shoulder was a patchwork of stitches, screws and pins holding everything in place while the body healed.

The surgeons didn't, wouldn't doubt that he'd heal – he was extremely fit and his blood work had come back clean, showing no drugs or infections in his system.

They checked their work before closing and everything looked good. The wounds were closed to allow for drainage and careful monitoring as the healing process took place.

After he was headed to recovery, the lead surgeon went to go talk with the waiting police detective.

*~RAJQ~*

Jonny woke in recovery disoriented, but still driven by the need to call his father. He couldn't figure out why he was so fuzzy headed. He tried to sit up, but just didn't have the muscle coordination. It was all he could do to lift his head. He heard some machine beeping next to him but it wasn't what he wanted.

Then, there was a blob in maroon next to him. He had to blink several times to see it was a woman wearing maroon scrubs.

"Nice to see you're waking up. How do you feel? Are you in any pain?"

That was when he realized his left shoulder hurt. Hurt bad. But, he had to call his father...

"Dad...need..." Jonny couldn't get the words out. His tongue seemed to be made of lead and resistant to use. He made another effort to get up – this time raising his shoulders off the bed.

Boy, was that a mistake. His head spun and the pain from his left shoulder was off the scale.

The woman easily restrained him, "Rest easy, young man. You're in the surgical recovery unit at UMKC Hospital."

"Need..." Jonny tried again to impart what he wanted, but it was too hard to try and make his tongue work. He was so tired... His eyes slid close and he felt that particular gray, floaty feeling closing in on him. It carried him off and the world fell away again.

*~RAJQ~*

The next time he woke was to the feel of someone holding his right wrist. He peeled his eyes open to see a person in blue-green scrubs this time.

The face resolved itself into a black woman in her forties if he'd had to guess. He still needed to call his father. He had to let him know.

"Dad?" Jonny croaked, surprised at how hard it was to get that word out. His mouth was full of cotton.

"No, sweetheart. Your father's not here." she tried to soothe him, brushing his tousled hair off his forehead.

He tried again, "...Call."

He worked to get some moisture back in his mouth, he didn't think he'd ever get rid of the cottony-wool feeling. Then, there was a straw in front of him and he sipped gratefully on the water, holding it in his mouth for a moment, letting it sink in and rehydrate it. Then, he let is slide down his parched throat, gratefully sipping more until it was taken away from him.

"Need to call him," he managed to finally say somewhat clearly.

"You're in the ICU, sweetie. You don't have a phone in here."

"Important... need to call him." Jonny had to tell her. Why wouldn't anyone listen to him?

"Hey now," the nurse said, seeing his heart rate jump on the monitor.

"I need to talk to my dad," Jonny said, more clear now that he'd had the water.

"You need to calm down, Sweetheart. You're fresh out of surgery not that long ago," the nurse said, listening to his heartbeat.

"Important... need to call him," Jonny had to tell her. Why wouldn't anyone listen to him?

He huffed in frustration. He needed someone, anyone, if they wouldn't let him do it himself, to call his dad.

"Are you in pain, son?" she asked, wrapping the blood pressure cuff around his right arm.

Why would he be in pain? He couldn't remember any injury that he would need surgery for. Then, he looked down and saw the bandages over his left shoulder. The pain kicked in, leaving him breathless.

"Hrm, I'll take that as a yes," she picked up a syringe from the over the bed tray and after wiping the IV port with an alcohol swab, injected it in the IV port.

Jonny knew the family rules about medication, but he so wasn't in control of the situation and that just sucked.

Once more, the pain and drugs pulled him back towards sleep and try as he might, he couldn't stay awake.

*~RAJQ~*

He woke again, aware that more time had passed, but not sure how much. He could hear someone sitting over to his left side, sipping at a drink. It was one of those special coffee drinks that were so popular, his nose told him.

"You waking up there now, young man?" a voice, male and older, asked him.

Jonny found it easier to open his eyes this time, although they were still heavy.

He had to work for a moment before saying, "Yeah, sorta."

The man was wearing a well tailored shirt that did nothing to hide the bulletproof vest he wore underneath and had a badge clipped to his waist along with a holster.

Jonny gratefully sipped at the water the policeman provided for him.

The man had dark brown, almost black hair that was sprinkled with gray at the temples and deep brown eyes.

"I'm Detective Jarod Weiss of the Kansas City Police Department. Do you think you can answer a few questions for me?" the detective had a rich, smooth voice.

"Can you call my dad? They won't let me," Jonny asked. He didn't know how much time had passed, but he had to call him. Rules.

"I can probably do that – what's your name and what's his phone number?"

"The phone number is," Jonny rattled off his father's cell phone number.

"That's not a local number," the detective commented, writing it down.

"That's because I'm not local. Call him first and tell him I'll be all right."

"What's your name?"

"Jonny," Jonny answered, feeling relief now that the detective was listening to him. "Family Rules – gotta call my dad, first."

"I can't use my cell phone in here, not in the ICU. But, can you tell me what happened?"

"Long story," Jonny sighed. One of the machines he was hooked up to chirped and he could feel his awareness seemed to be sliding away again. He hated this drugged up business. "Call my dad. He can tell you..."

"Was your dad somehow involved in the shooting?" the detective asked.

"No," Jonny answered with a slight shake of his head. "Hates guns." He was almost asleep again when he remembered, "Need to call Phil Corvin at I-1."

"Why's that?" Detective Weiss asked, more curious than ever about the identity of his shooting victim.

"Call List Rule – when captured by bad guys..." Jonny murmured.

"Bad guys? This happen to you often?"

"Not hurt like this, but bad guys – yes," Jonny was on the edge of sleep, but fighting it. "Phil's office number is..."

This time it was a 202 area code that Jonny gave him, meaning DC proper.

"Tired..." Jonny apologized to the detective with a half-smile.

"Rest, Jonny. We'll talk again when you've rested," Detective Weiss assured him with a gentle squeeze on his left knee. "Perhaps your father will be here when you wake up."

Jonny would have answered him, but sleep had claimed him once more.

*~RAJQ~*

Detective Weiss stepped out of the curtained alcove to nod at one of the nurses on duty.

"Did you get a name for our John Doe?" she asked.

"Yeah, first name Jonny," he answered, beginning to put the pieces together.

Blond, blue eyes, first name Jonny, bad guys and a government contact. He was pretty damn certain this was the kidnapped Quest heir.

"Think about it, Loretta," Detective Weiss urged her. "Blond, blue eyes, right age..."

How anyone could have missed the media coverage about the kidnapping, he didn't know and he was homicide – not missing persons.

Her eyes widened, "You mean, he's that kidnapped boy that's been all over the news?"

"That's my guess," he answered. "And, I'm about to find out. Can I use the nurses' lounge while I make some calls?"

"Better yet – the patient's advocate Kate Dayton – her office is empty this week since she's on vacation. I've got the key so I can water her plants."

"Great, where is it?" Jarod asked, taking the key on a purple stretchy chain from her.

"In the waiting lounge by the elevators, down and to the right."

"Thanks, Loretta," he said and briskly walked to the office. His day was going to get a lot more complicated after he made these calls, he knew.

He sat down at the desk with his notepad in hand. He pulled out his cell phone and dialed the first number. He was surprised to hear a younger, definitely non-American accented voice pick up.

"Benton Quest's phone. This is Hadji Singh speaking."

"Hello, I'm Detective Jarod Weiss with the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department. I was given this number by Jonny to call..."

"You have found my brother?" the Indian accented voice on the other end asked excitedly.

"You could say that..." Jarod answered.

"And, knowing my brother, he is somehow hurt and unable to call himself. At least he remembered the rules." Hadji said knowingly.

"You could say that..." Weiss repeated. He wasn't about to talk about Jonny's medical status. That wasn't his business. "I really need to talk to Doctor Quest. Is he available?"

"He is in the shower, but you will have to talk to Race Bannon now since he is demanding I hand the phone over to him."

A moment later, he head a gruff voice with a hint of a southern accent say, "Bannon here. Who is this?"

"Detective Jarod Weiss, KC MO Police. Jonny told me to call."

"How is he?"

"Hurt, but he'll be okay," Weiss answered.

"Where are you?"

"UMKC Med Center."

"We'll be there in a couple of hours. Whatever you do – don't leave him alone. Got that?"

"Yes, sir," Weiss felt the implied threat in those words and normally would have bristled against it, but this was no ordinary case.

"Right, Bannon out," then the phone disconnected.

Oh yes, he could feel the headache building. He'd have to beg his wife, Catherine, for a neck massage tonight if he made it home. He dialed the next number Jonny had given him.

"Phil Corvin's office," a youngish, female voice answered.

He began again. This time, he was grilled thoroughly. How had Jonny been found? What was his status? What was his prognosis?

The difference was that he was able to ask questions back, to get some of his own answers.

"Director Corvin, Jonny didn't have any gang ties did he?"

"Jonny? In a gang? That would mean staying in one place long enough for that. He grew up all over the world – literally." Corvin answered with a laugh.

"I just needed to rule that out. He was caught in what appeared to be a gang fight."

"No, Jonny's never been in a gang. He doesn't like handling guns."

"Look, Jonny was found soaking wet, while the gang members were not," Weiss offered up.

"Then he must have escaped on foot somehow..." Crovin wasn't a political bootlicker. He had done his time as a field agent.

"Right, and believe me, we're looking into that now that I know who he is."

"How long has it been since he was found?"

"Almost twenty-four hours."

"Damn. Then, they've probably cleared out from wherever they were holding him."

"If they're smart," Jarod answered truthfully.

"And this group has proven nothing but smart. Have you talked to Doctor Quest yet?"

"No, only briefly to a Hadji Singh and someone called Race Bannon," Jarod left unsaid the 'who threatened bodily harm' part.

"Race is Jonny's bodyguard. His bark is usually worse than his bite. I'm sure he's already told you to put guards on Jonny."

"Yes, he did. That was going to be my next call."

"Good – don't worry about the budget for this extra manpower – I-1 is picking up the tab. Have your captain call me."

"Yes, sir. I'll do that. In the meantime -"

"Stick like glue to that boy!"

"I plan on it, sir," Jarod answered, truthfully.

"Good. I don't need to tell you that the Quest Clan will be descending en masse on you soon, do I?"

"No, you don't," Jarod shook his head.

"Take care of him, Detective Weiss – that young man is special."

"Yes sir, I will," Jarod said, disconnecting.

He sighed and dreaded the next call the most.

"Catherine Weiss," a sharp female voice answered the phone.

"And, how is my favorite prosecuting attorney today?"

"In a mood – my last case just got postponed because the pathetic public defender had appendicitis of all things!" the woman snarled in a throaty voice.

"Ouch. Well, I'm stuck at UMKC Med Center – that gang shooting I got yesterday just took a very complicated turn." Jarod winced, knowing his wife would have something to say.

He heard her sigh, then ask, "I guess you won't be home for dinner, will you?"

"I doubt it," Jarod knew he was getting off light – for now.

"Well, you will have to make it up to me, you know," this time, the voice held promise.

"I can do that," he relaxed for a moment, enjoying the banter with her. "Anything particular in mind?"

"You're the genius, you can figure it out," she purred.

"Well, I guess I can at that," he answered, already planning a trip to a gems dealer for just the right present for his wife.

"Can you tell me anything about the case?" she asked next, her mind sharp as ever.

"Not yet. Keep your eye on the news – I'm sure that as soon as things start to get moving, the press will be all over it."

Not that he had any intention of talking to the media if he could avoid it – this case was too hot to be taking chances.

"That big?" she asked.

"Yes," he sighed and knew he was only delaying the call to his captain. "Look, I've got a lot of calls to make still."

"All right, I'll let you go – for now," she answered.

"I love you, Catherine Weiss," he said, knowing it could never be said enough.

"I know you do. I'll make sure to share some of that love with the Magpie," she said, referring to their daughter who had her father's dark eyes and a keen mind from both her parents.

"Tell Magpie her daddy loves her and will bring her a treat soon."

"Take care, Jarod."

"I will," he promised.

He hung up, stretched and leaned back in the chair for a moment, planning out exactly what he was going to say to his captain before he made the next call. He looked out at the glorious red sunset. He wondered if he would see his wife and daughter tonight at all?

He gave in and called his captain next.

"Tompkins, go," the captain answered via speaker phone distractedly.

"Captain, it's Weiss – I got an id on my John Doe from the shooting yesterday. "

"That's good, who is he?"

"You're not going to believe it – Jonny Quest."

"What?" his captain exclaimed, and the rattle of the phone handset indicated that he had picked up the phone.

"Yup, gave me his father's cell phone number to confirm it."

"Who else have you told?"

"You're the only one besides his family and the family's government contact – Intelligence One director name of Phil Corvin."

"Damn, feds, but can't be avoided here..." his captain sighed.

"Right, this director wants round the clock protection and says that I-1 will pay for it."

"That's some comfort at least," his captain harrumphed.

"That it is. Look, you call this Director Corvin and work it out with him," Jarod rattled off the phone number.

"Right. At least he sounds like he's a reasonable fed."

"Better than the mockery that's 'homeland security,'"

"Ain't that the truth. Now, who do you have in mind for guard duty?" Jarod could see his captain shifting in his chair, pulling up schedules and duty rosters.

Jarod explained the list he had quickly formulated.

"Good work as usual, Weiss," his captain complimented him. "All right, keep a lid on this until you hear from me. You make the calls for the guard detail, but no details about the case."

"I understand, Captain," Weiss acknowledged.

"Good, I'll be in touch and I want regular reports." Captain Tompkins said and hung up.

Jarod dialed the first of the six officers he knew he could trust to keep quiet.

*~RAJQ~*

In Maine, things moved quickly once the call came in that Jonny had been found alive. Wounded, but alive.

Benton made the call to Phil and got the details from him while Race went and prepped the Dragonfly for their departure. Bags were quickly packed with Bandit running in excited circles from person to person.

Jessie packed while her mother tried to object.

"Jessica Louise – what do you think you're doing?" Estella scolded her daughter who was hobbling back and forth on her crutches.

"I"m going too, Mom," Jessie huffed, shoving her hair out of the way. Crutches and long hair just didn't work together. She should have just braided it.

"Jessie..." Estella tried to reason with her.

"Mom, look, I'm the only one besides Jonny who can really identify the goons who took him. I have to go."

"And, do you think your father will agree to this?" Estella was just as stubborn as her daughter.

"I know he will," Jessie said, turning carefully on her crutches and moving back over to her dresser for shorts and capri pants that would fit easily over her cast.

"But, your physical therapy!" Estella tried next.

"Won't start until next week. We should be back by then and if not, I'm sure I can find a therapist in Kansas City, since we'll be around a hospital anyway." Jessie reasoned.

Estella groaned, thinking of the nightmare this was going to create for her ex-husband when it came to the insurance paperwork. "Jessie..."

"Mom, I know what you're thinking. Don't worry, it will all work out." Jessie assured her mother. She hobbled into the bathroom to grab her already packed toiletries kit. Living with the Quests had taught her to be ready to leave at a moment's notice, so she kept her toiletries kit with its travel size bottles ready and packed.

Her laptop was packed as soon as she figured she had enough clothes stuffed in her overnight suitcase for the trip. She had a backpack for the laptop and that she could deal with while on the crutches.

Estella stood still and watched her pack, looking like she wanted to say something, but couldn't find the words. Jessie ignored the warning signs and asked her mother, "Mom, aren't you going to go pack too?"

Estella dropped her head in defeat. Her daughter would work it all out, she was sure of that. "Yes, I guess I'd better. Your father will be ready to leave shortly and I had better see to it he has a bag packed too."

Jessie easily slipped the computer bag up on her shoulders, but stopped and stared in frustration as her overnight bag. There was just no way she could handle it while on the crutches. She looked back to her mother, "Mom?"

"Yes, yes. You go sit in the den and don't move from there while I pack. I will bring down your bag. Don't worry, Jessie." Estella said sternly. She might not be able to stop her daughter, but she could at least try to rein her in and keep her from getting hurt any further for now.

"Thanks, Mom. I really appreciate it," Jessie said, hobbling over to place a kiss on her mother's cheek and to do as she was told for now. This whole being on crutches thing – sucked in a big way. She couldn't wait until she started her physical therapy so she could get back to walking!

*~RAJQ~*

Benton didn't know how to react. He was in a state of shock – Jonny, being his ingenious son, had managed to pull off an escape. But then, of all things, had gotten caught in crossfire of a gang shoot out. That rattled him almost as much as learning about the plane crash.

Numb, he packed the overnight bag so recently emptied, putting in both casual clothes and more formal business attire, knowing that the business attire would come in handy when dealing with the media and government officials. He frowned at that. He didn't want to talk to the media. He just wanted to scoop his family up and retreat to the Palm Key compound where they could pretend the media didn't exist. The reasonable part of him knew that wouldn't work, that they couldn't stay there forever – Jessie, Hadji and Jonny would eventually need to go back to school, and there was his own work. He wouldn't, couldn't just hole up in either Maine or Florida. That wasn't how he wanted to live.

Bandit came trotting in, carrying his leash. He jumped up on the bed and dropped it beside the suitcase before looking up at Benton and barking twice at him.

"Yes, Bandit, you are coming too, of course," Benton put the clothes in hand in the suitcase, then scratched the dog behind the ears, earning a groan of delight from the small dog.

"Bandit? Bandit, where are you now?" he heard Hadji calling out in the hallway.

Straightening back up, he called out to his adopted son, "He's in here, Hadji."

"Ah!" He heard the quick footsteps and then, Hadji, dressed in jeans and a dark blue shirt, was at the doorway. "There you are, Bandit. It is good you are in here and not trying to help Jessie."

Benton's ears picked up the sounds of mother and daughter in the middle of a discussion that wasn't the quietest. He could guess what the two were disagreeing over – Jessie going to KC with them.

Hadji approached the bed and seeing Bandit's leash next to the suitcase said, "Are you ready to go, Bandit?"

The small white dog trotted over to Hadji and leaned into the ear scratching with a blissful moan.

"I am all packed – I came to see if you needed help, Doctor Quest," he offered.

"No, but thank you, Hadji," Benton said, clasping his older son on the shoulder. Amazed once more to see that the scrawny, almost underfed youngster was now a willowy young man almost taller than himself. "I just have a few more things to pack and I'll be ready."

Hadji accepted that with a nod after studying him for a moment. It appeared he was satisfied on that respect.

"You are worried about Jonny, yes. Because he is Jonny we all worry, but he will be all right," Hadji offered sagely.

Benton exhaled heavily, Hadji was right as usual. "You're right, Hadji. I know I'll feel a lot better when I see him for myself."

"Of course you will – we all will. I had better get the rest of Bandit's things gathered up," Hadji said, picking up the leash. "Come on, Bandit."

With a happy bark, the dog took a running leap off the bed and trotted to the door. He paused impatiently waiting for Hadji to catch up to him before bounding off in front of him again.

*~RAJQ~*

Andrea again played chauffeur to the family at Race's insistence. The drive back to the airport was crowded in more ways than one. Dr. Quest had deferred the front seat to Jessie with her cast and crutches, sitting in the back seat with Dr. Velasquez and Hadji. Jonny's dog Bandit perched happily on Hadji's lap, panting as he looked out the window.

She could see that Race's ex-wife was not happy with her daughter's insistence on going. From what little she'd seen of Jessie Bannon, it must have been one hell of an argument to get her mother to back down.

Andrea was grateful she would be in the cockpit for the trip and not caught up in the mother-daughter debate. She had already been there, done that with her own mother. The drive from the rebuilt Quest Maine compound to the airport where the Dragonfly awaited them was not that long and Hadji, bless his soul, had provided the conversational topic that had filled the drive to the airport.

*~RAJQ~*

The Range Rover was driven up and parked in the rear of the aircraft under Race's watchful eye.

As they parked, he directed his daughter, "Jessie, honey, go find a seat and stay off that foot."

Jessie rolled her eyes at the order but didn't argue. She carefully got her crutches under her and turned back to Hadji, "Hey Hadj – could you grab my laptop?"

"Certainly," Hadji answered, easing his long and lanky out from the vehicle.

Andrea asked, "Race, what do you need me to help with?"

"Just go on up to the cockpit and get the engines warmed up. We're fueled up and have clearance from the tower to taxi as soon as the vehicles are secured."

"Right," Andrea answered with a nod and headed off to escape what she knew was going to be an uncomfortable moment between Race and his ex-wife.

"Hey Doc, you wanna take the wheels on that side while I take this side?" Race asked.

"Sure thing, Race," Benton answered, doing just that.

Estella stood to the side, arms crossed, waiting to have a word with him.

Race knew what was coming and so, hurried to chain the vehicles in place. The sooner he let Estella have her say, the sooner they could be on their way.

Benton finished the same time he did and said, "I'll go check on the kids – make sure Jessie has her foot propped up."

Leaving unsaid that he was leaving to allow them to have their heated discussion in peace.

Estella sighed loudly, the sound filling the rear cabin area, "Race."

"Let me guess, you're upset because I said she could go?" Race tried to defuse her temper.

"Why did you say yes?"

"Because I couldn't say no. Just in case they catch these guys, the police and the FBI will need her to make an id on them," Race answered truthfully. "Jessie has to id them – Jonny can't. He couldn't see them."

Estella shifted her weight from one foot to the other before saying, "But she's supposed to be resting..."

Race knew then that she wasn't upset with him as that she was with the situation. "Look Estella, you try leaving her behind on something like this and not only would you have a hell of a fight on your hands, but she'd still find a way to make it to Kansas City on her own."

"You've spoiled her, Race," Estella said with the first hints of a smile.

"Somewhat," he conceded. "But, in all honesty – she's a very intelligent person who knows way more about computers and hacking than she should."

They were interrupted by the sound of Jessie on her crutches. "Are you done yelling at Dad yet, Mom?"

"Jessica Louise..." Estella sputtered.

"Don't use the name thing on me, mom. I'm right and you know it."

Estella looked to Race with a raised eyebrow.

"I told you," Race said, referring back to his last comment.

"Come on – you can argue later. The sooner we get to KC, the happier Dr. Quest'll be." With that, she turned and hobbled back to the main cabin to presumably sit down once more.

"She is right, you know," Race said to his ex-wife.

Estella uncrossed her arm and nodded, "So she is."

Race motioned for her to take the lead and followed her from the rear cabin. Jessie was once more in her seat, engrossed in a conversation with Hadji about the merits of a new multiplayer on-line computer game and how it could be modified for Questworld.

Hadji had his laptop up between them, making notes as they talked.

Race chuckled and shook his head. His daughter did know too much about computers. He joined Andrea in the cockpit as she was doing her own pre-flight checklist.

"You're still in one piece, I'm amazed," she said by way of greeting.

"I think I owe my daughter for that," Race said, sliding into his seat and checking the instruments were all on-line and giving correct readings. "We ready?"

"Yep," Andrea answered, checking off the last item on the list.

"Let's go," Race said, putting his headphones on. "Rockport Tower, this is Dragonfly, requesting taxi and takeoff clearance, over."

"Dragonfly, you are cleared. Good luck. Rockport Tower out."

"Thanks Tower. Dragonfly out." Race released the radio toggle and switched to intercom, "Okay folks, we're taking off. Buckle up."

*~RAJQ~*

In the Hamptons, the man who referred to himself as Patriot swore at how easily his plans had come unraveled. Not only had the Quest heir escaped, but his men had lost him in the ensuing chaos. They had recovered the vehicle the boy had used, but the boy had been nowhere in sight and there had been some sort of police activity in the area precluding the team from searching for him too closely.

His orders had been easy enough when the chief had relayed that information. Clean up all traces of their presence and then scatter to the winds. He had planned for most everything and to have it unravel now, was infuriating. He would have to start over again, on a smaller scale this time, he decided. He still wasn't giving up on his goal, but he would have to work from inside Quest Corp before tipping his hand again.

a/n: This will be the last chapter for a hopefully short while folks! I have to SG:Atlantis fics I need to write for the Secret Santa exchanges that I need to get cracking on, as well as finding a job or two to help pay bills while I work on finding more massage vic... er clients! ;) So, never fear - I haven't abandoned this story, I'm just hitting a massive writer's block right now when I need it the least! :-p -LN