Disclaimer-I don't own the Quest Team, which is owned and copyrighted by Hanna Barbera. No copyright infringement is intended; this story is created for your reading pleasure only and is not producing any money.February 26, 1998
THE WEDDING INCIDENT
by : Catherine "Mouse" Beaudet
"... And do you, Rose Anne Quest, take Tomas to be you lawfully wedded husband, to love, honor and cherish through good times and bad, for richer or for poorer, through sickness and in health, for as long as you both shall live?" the priest's voice boomed through the speaker systems.
The woman smiled at the man before her, her eyes tearing in joy. "I do." she answered without a moment's hesitation.
In the audience, in the first row reserved for family members, sat Doctor Benton Quest. He was smiling proudly at his baby sister standing before the priest. Race Bannon sat at Benton's side, his wife Estella Velasquez with him dabbing tears from her eyes with Hadji Singh's handkerchief which he had handed to her. Finishing up the team were Jonny Quest and Jessie Bannon. Her fingers were interlaced with his, her cheek to his shoulder as he rested his cheek to her head.
"With the authority given by me by the Church and the state of California, I now pronounce you husband and wife. Whom God has joined together let no one tear asunder. You may now kiss the bride."
Everyone assembled leapt to their feet and cheered the happy new couple as they kissed and raced down the aisle towards the house.
* * *
"Arrgh! Help! I'm being attacked by the rejected Munchkins from the Wizard of OZ!"
Under a pile-up of seven small five-year-olds, Jonny Quest laughed and squirmed to try to get to freedom. His tuxedo coat was on a chair nearby as he and the seven rolled in the grass. His once neatly pressed dress shirt, collared by a simple black band instead of a bow tie, was now covered in grass and sorely wrinkled. His black dress slacks were in the same state. A passerby would wonder why he would still wear the dark blue satin cumber bun and the dress suspenders for such games. One of his Aunts had gotten married and he had done the mistake of volunteering to help take care of his younger Cousins. Right now he could see nothing under the pile of rambunctious children.
"Hey! Guys! You think you could get off him now so I can spend some time with my boyfriend?" a new voice called from the edge of the small battle.
Three got off and ran up to Jessica Bannon. "Any ideas where we can find something just as fun?" one asked.
"Go find your Cousin Hadji. If you ask him nice enough he might show you some of his magic tricks." she replied.
This intrigued the children. The three ran back to the group and they then all ran off to find Hadji Singh who was somewhere in the crowd. Jonny lay flat on the ground, panting for breath, spread eagle in the grass. He closed his eyes, enjoying the reprieve.
"You're a lifesaver, Jess." he muttered.
A shadow fell across him. He looked up at her and grinned. The sun was behind her, framing her in a halo of light. Her fiery red hair fell loosely about her shoulders from the ornate silver clasp at the crown of her head, her short emerald green velvet dress a stunning match to the color of her eyes. She wore the minimum amount of make-up, but the effect was breath-taking. She was simply beautiful.
"My, you are a sight." she grinned.
"So are you, in a more positive sense of course."
"Flatterer." She reached down to him. "C'mon, get up." and she pulled him to his feet.
"Thanks." He began brushing the grass off of himself, quickly joined by Jessie. "Next time I volunteer for something like this, shoot me."
"Can I have that in writing?" she giggled.
Jonny gave her a mock suffering stare before looking around the vast California estate, the lush green lawn, the tall trees. The house was made entirely of a white stucco-like material, roofed in red tiles. A Mexican or Spanish villa design. Black, wrought iron fencing circled or decorated the house. Many people had shown up for this wedding and they now milled around the vast lawn. The ceremony had been held outside so tables and chairs were scattered about for the reception afterwards. One of the catering waiters passed with a tray of filled champaign flutes. Jessie picked up two of them as he passed. Jonny gave her a puzzled grin when she handed one of the glasses to him.
"Sure my Dad won't mind?"
"You're eighteen, he can't say very much for very long. And this, my dear Jonny," and she indicated the throngs of people around them, "... is a party where champaign is a must. Even if it's just one glass."
He frowned a sly grin. "Like you're an expert."
"Yes, I am. Mom's second wedding, three Aunts, God knows how many Cousins--"
Jonny held up his hands in surrender. "Okay, okay, I get the point. I guess we should give a toast though, even if it's the two of us."
"Two, two hundred, two thousand. Makes no difference when it's a toast. To your Aunt and new Uncle." and she raised her glass.
He copied her gesture. "May they have a totally mundane existence compared to the rest of us in Maine." he chuckled.
She had to laugh. "Here, here." she agreed.
They clinked glasses and each took a sip. He then looked at her with a grin. "Remember the last time we were in California?"
"Oh, God, don't remind me." she groaned. "All through the ceremony I was thinking, Please, don't let there be an earthquake, please, don't let there be an earthquake. This close to a cliff you know what would've happened."
"I know." He made a whistling sound that descended the scale followed by a mimic of an explosion. "Can just read the headlines now: Marriage Goes Downhill." and he snickered.
She winced in mock pain. "Ow, bad pun."
"Speaking of painful, you know Hadji's going to be out for revenge when he finds out you were the one who sicced the Half-Pint Brigade on him. Chances are the next time we're in Bangalore he'll make you spend a least one whole day in his dungeons."
She smirked. "He can try, but he can't resist me anything when I pull out my charms. Neither can you, for that matter."
He grinned. "Is that a dare I hear, Miss Bannon?"
"Could very well be, Mister Quest."
"Then I accept your challenge. For the rest of our stay in California I will resist every little charm or devilish trickery you try to pull."
"And I will be pulling out all the stops to my vast repertoire of charm. You kiss me, I win. If I win you take the blame for the Half-Pint Brigade, as you called them."
"And if I win..." His smile became playfully coy and he chuckled. "I'll let you know when I win."
"If you win, you mean."
"We'll see. Deal?" and he stuck out his free hand.
She clasped it firmly. "Deal." She then gave his hand a sharp tug, pulling him towards her so they had their faces mere millimeters apart. She smiled. "You're going down, Quest." she breathed coyly.
He blinked in surprise, then backed away a step with a short chuckle. "Well, you sure don't waste any time, do you?"
She shrugged a sultry smile. "If you want to win..."
"Hey, Kids, what's up?" Race inquired as he approached the duo.
"Hi, Dad. We're just entertaining ourselves."
"Oh, really? Anything I should know about?"
Jonny snickered. "A bet. I have to resist her charms 'til we leave for home."
"Winner gets what?" the ex-Covert Operation Officer asked, suddenly intrigued.
"If I win, Dad, Jonny has to take the blame for that group of kids orbiting around Hadji. He won't tell me what I have to do if he wins."
Race faced Jonny sharply, a worried frown on his face. "On the up and up, right?"
"Oh, yeah, not to worry." he assured. "Unless you're Jessie, of course." he grinned.
She gave him a mock frown. "You're too kind."
"I aim to please."
"Right, like I'm supposed to believe that." she grinned.
A mischievous gleam entered his eyes. "Start running, Bannon." he warned playfully.
With a laugh she dashed off towards a line of tress, Jonny close behind her. Race watched him chase her, an amused smirk on his face. Even in their late teens Jonny and Jessie were still children at heart and often acted this way, but Race knew that above else these two teens were deeply in love with each other. Something that often made him feel older than he really was. With a final shake of his head he walked back to his wife and Doctor Quest.
Jonny chased into the small tree cluster and then towards the house. Turning a corner he lost sight of her. There were thick bushes lining the path he was on, but there was no sign they had recently been disturbed. He looked around. Jessie was nowhere in sight.
"Jess?" he called tentatively.
A pair of arms wrapped around his waist from behind, a body pressing along the length of his own. He had a slight start in surprise, but then held her arms in place when he realized this was Jessie.
"Hey, there, Handsome." she greeted softly in his ear.
"You're enjoying this, aren't you?"
"Enjoying what?" Her tone was innocent.
"You flirting and my squirming 'cause I can't respond."
She nibbled his ear lobe tenderly. "Kind of gives a power rush."
He squirmed with a chuckle. "Stop that!"
She snuggled against his back just as they heard the slamming of a car door. They looked towards the front of the house, keeping out of sight. A couple of dark blue Sedans were now parked at the front of the house and a grouping of burly men were congregating around the trunks.
"Did you Aunt order more entertainers?" Jessie asked.
"They don't look like entertainers." One of the men pulled an automatic rifle from the trunk and Jonny reacted instantly by pulling Jessie and himself out of sight. "They are definitely not entertainers."
"M-16's. And here I was only hoping no earthquake would hit. I knew I'd jinx it. Think we have enough time to warn the others?"
The loud crackle of automatic fire sounded filled the air closely followed by panicked screams and shouted orders. Both teens dropped into a low crouch in the bushes, an instinctual move due to a lifetime of training. They peered through the thick branches to see their family and friends being herded at gunpoint to one end of the grounds.
"They don't need a warning anymore. I don't recognize the goons so I think it's safe to assume it's not one of the usual suspects."
She smirked at him. "I think we get in trouble with the cops too often. You're starting to sound like one."
He returned the smirk. "That's not usually a bad thing. First thing first, who are these guys."
"No suits. They look like ordinary guys, jeans, T-shirts, almost lumberjack like."
"The bigger, the dumber. Makes for great hired thugs. Don't have to explain much, just who to point the guns at." He paused for a moment, then turned to Jessie. "I'm starting to agree about that cop thing."
She gave him a told you so look before surveying the scene just ahead. "So what do we do?"
"Need you ask?"
"You do know this situation is suicide?"
"Aren't they all?"
"So are you for following." He looked at her, slightly worried. "You are following, right?"
She favored him with a sweet smile. "Just you try and stop me. What's your plan?"
"Find some more maneuverable worthy clothes, call the cops, and make life oh so difficult for the goon squad out there until the cops can get here."
"I like the way you think, Hot Shot."
"Thought you might. C'mon, Ace, we have to get in the house without being seen."
"Easier said than done." she muttered as he took her hand and led her at a quick trot to an open door all the while keeping his eyes on the intruders.
They paused there for a moment, checking for any signs of danger, then entered the house. They were in the quaint Spanish style kitchens of the house. They stayed below the windows, out of sight, as they crabbed their way towards the stairs. Once on the second floor and no longer in a direct line with any windows the had a mad dash for one of the rooms, Jessie's.
"What're you doing?" she asked in slight panic when he made a move to follow her in.
"No time to be shy, Jess. Would you rather I watch the door while you change or have one of the Goon Squad charge in while you're half naked?"
She hesitated, his eyes begging her to hurry with her decision. "Alright, but no peeking."
He grinned playfully. "Only if you don't when it's my turn."
Jessie returned Jonny's grin. "Deal." and they entered the room.
Making sure he kept his back to her and his eyes down the hall, Jessie changed from her green dress to a more functional pair of blue jeans and a black T-shirt. She figured the colors would blend more in the shadows they would be forced to hide in. When she finished she joined her companion at the door to make sure the hall was clear. He took one long, appreciative look at her and grinned.
"You've been hanging around me too long." he quipped softly. "But your hair will stick out like a sore thumb."
"That's why I'm counting on that extra baseball cap you brought."
She led the quick dash to his room, across the hall from hers, then kept watch at the door while he changed. She risked a glance at Jonny just as he retrieved his usual black shirt from a nearby chair. He was already wearing his jeans. Seeing her turned towards him he grabbed the second cap and tossed it at her. She tucked her hair beneath it as he pulled on his shirt, then a cap covered his blond hair.
"Now we check the phone lines." he stated, anticipating her next question.
She got to the phone first and brought it to her ear. "Oh, man, what amateurs!" she almost laughed. "They weren't even smart enough to cut the phone lines."
"Why should they? Right now they probably think they have everyone pinned out on the lawn. Go ahead and call 9-1-1, I'll keep watch."
A few moments passed before she joined him at the door. "They said it'll take them too long to get here to do us any good. Your Aunt has a pretty out of the way place up here."
"What can I say, she liked the view. Okay, lots of time to kill." She shot him an angry stare. "Oops, sorry about that one. Any suggestions though?"
"Well, they're outside, on the lawn..."
They came to the same conclusion at the same time. ""The sprinklers!""
"There are two pumps to turn on, one on the North side, the other on the East." he informed.
"I'll take East."
"Right, meet me at the door we came in through. Let's go."
But just as he opened the door she grabbed his arm to stop him, turning him towards her. A look of worry was etched on her lovely features.
"You be careful." she warned.
He smiled and winked. "Hey, it's me."
"I know... and that's what worries me." she whispered after him as he dashed down the hall.
As quiet as mice they made their way through the house to the sprinkler valves. Jonny had a wicked grin on his face.
"Damage control... This is your wake up call!" he ground softly turning the valve on full force.
Jessie did the same on her side then ran for their pre-planned rendez-vous. She hid herself around a corner and watched those assembled on the lawn. Moments later Jonny came up behind her, pressing close to her to prove the smallest possible target, and waited for the pandemonium to begin.
"Maybe now we'll see just how's in charge here." he voiced in her ear.
Seconds later the huge lawn's sprinklers erupted to life in a violent shower of freezing water. The hidden teens couldn't help but laugh at the situation. Everyone being soaked unprepared was just too hilarious. The hostages went into a wild panic, stretching the Goon Squad to its limit. Race led a few of the larger men in the hostages in a quick rush. They failed. It only succeeded in getting themselves beaten rather severely by those with the obviously superior mass.
"Oh, that's it. No one hits my Dad and gets away with it. No more kid gloves." Jessie hissed angrily as she watched her Father pick himself off the slippery and wet lawn.
"Operation Home Alone?"
"Oh yeah. Level three."
"Yikes! I almost feel sorry for those guys."
"I don't. Hey, I think we found our target."
A man dressed in a three piece suit stepped forward from the house, a glass of lemonade in one hand as the other chopped the air with each order. "You and you, shut off the damn sprinklers! The rest of you, safeties off! The first one who moves gets shot!" He then turned to assembled group just as the water shut off. "You're probably all wondering why I've brought you here today." he announced almost too pleasantly.
"Why is it criminals always want to explain themselves to their captives?" Jonny mused sourly.
"I heard about this little celebration, a member of the illustrious Quest family getting married. I knew that the richest cream of society would be gathering here to wish the happy couple off. So glad you all didn't disappoint me. And seeing as the elite of the scientific community is probably here you also probably figured out why I'm doing this."
"To get us back any government who has benefitted from our services would be willing to pay you handsomely for our safe return." Doctor Benton Quest replied.
"Very good, Doctor Quest!" he stated in a patronizing tone. "Now tell me this: Where is your Son and Mister Bannon's lovely Daughter? I know they turned on the sprinklers."
"He knows we're here!" Jessie hissed.
Race stepped forward, still rubbing his jaw. "The sprinklers are on a timer. The kids stayed in Maine. School's still on, you know, and with their finals coming up..."
The hidden teens breathed a sigh of relief. "Thanks, Race."
"Leave it to Dad to think on his feet."
The man seemed to accept this.
"Now, you seem to know a lot 'bout us. How 'bout you tell us somethin' 'bout you?" Race demanded.
The man grinned evilly. "Fair's fair, I suppose. My name is Miguel Andreas, at your service." and he mock bowed. "Don't bother searching your memories for my name, you won't find it. I guess you could call me a rising star in the annals of crime."
"We're so happy for you." came Race's sarcastic remark.
"I don't care for your tone, Mister Bannon. Careful that I don't have your tongue cut out. My life wasn't always on the wrong side of the law, so to speak. You of all people, Doctor Quest, should understand how wealth brings on a sense of boredom."
"No, I don't understand. I had my family and work to keep me occupied."
"Then I under estimated you. My life had no such stimulations so I had to invent them. Crime brings on such a rush. The bigger the crime the more of a rush it was. This is my most brilliant scheme yet. Oh, it's not that I need the money, per-say, but it's seeing if I can get away with it. This is what gets me going."
Around the corner Jonny moved away from the edge and sat back against the wall, a dazed look on his face. Jessie watched him for a moment, wondering what was going through his mind. He looked at her in disbelief.
"This guy's a lunatic!"
"Which places him right there with the rest of the people we fought against. Level three?"
"Level three. The garage should have what we need." Staying out of sight they dashed for the Villa's large garage, entering it upon arrival. "You look over there." They rummaged through what resembled junk, Jonny voicing the list of finds as he went along. "Paint cans... Rope... Gun tape... String..."
"More string..." Jessie took up. "Grease cans... Spray paint... Fishing line... Ooo, acetylene torch... More rope..."
"Pipes... Ho oh, industrial sized cans of contact cement. Very useful... Ah, engine warmer... Remind to find the grounds keeper after this and give him a really big reward for his private stockpile here."
"He'll need it to replace the stuff we're going to use." Jessie open a rickety old door and stopped dead in her tracks. "Oh, perfect!" she breathed.
Jonny joined her in the doorway. The object was slightly rusted, but still looked in working order. A helmet was on the seat. "A dirt bike. Slammin'!"
"Kind of levels out the playing field, doesn't it?"
"I'm starting to like this grounds keeper more and more."
* * *
The hostages had managed to gather together the lawn chairs in informal groups, each with a gunman watching over them, in the shade of the trees. In one grouping sat Doctor Quest, Race, Estella, Hadji, and the newly weds. Benton's Sister was crying in fear as her husband and Estella tried to calm her. Race was surveying the Goon Squad cooly.
Miguel approached the group, seemingly pleased with himself. "I've alerted several different Embassies about the current situation and the bidding war has begun. You're are a very important man to these governments, Doctor Quest. The last bid I heard before leaving was of four and a half billion dollars US. Not a bad start." and he walked away with a broad smile.
"Where do you think the kids are right now?" he asked softly so only those seated with him could hear.
"Knowing them as I do they are most assuredly planning some sort of rescue." Hadji replied.
Doctor Quest shook his head. "That's impossible, two against thirty."
"We have once discussed contingency plans for various situations. I believe for this one they would be using a plan they called Home Alone. There are several different levels involved in this plan."
Estella looked up in shock. "Contingency plans?! God, don't tell they're doing this."
Hadji looked past her shoulder and stiffened. "I am afraid they are."
They followed his gaze and saw Jessie standing at the edge of the lawn with a playful grin on her face. She stood there in complete innocence. Race sat bolt upright.
"Jess, don't do this." he hissed.
The Goon Squad and Miguel saw her. "Well, well, well. Miss Jessica Bannon I presume."
She shrugged innocently. "I hear you've asked for me. If you want me you have to catch me." and she bolted back towards the house.
Miguel looked at his men who were staring at each other, confused. He fumed. "Idiots! Must I tell you everything! You three, after her!" and three men immediately took off after Jessie.
Jessie ran into the house, carefully avoiding the near invisible booby traps she and Jonny had laid out, and raced for the stairs. She got to the top and crouched down out of sight with her partner in crime.
"Three of them, right behind me. I saw our families, they look okay though a little damp."
"There's that, at least." A loud clatter filled the air followed by a series of very colorful curses. "My, my, such language." he grinned at Jessie.
"I didn't think that particular one was anatomically possible." she quipped. There was another crash, then utter silence. "Time t' round up th' bulls." she stated in her best Texan accent.
"Yi-ha, Cowgirl!" and they carefully went down the stairs.
The three men who had chased Jessie were sprawled uncomfortably on the floor, snared in several traps. The teens disarmed them, tied them up, then dragged the men into a small room, out of sight.
"Three down, about twenty seven left to go." he sighed as they walked back to the traps.
"At least we're armed now."
"Correction, you're armed. You know me and guns."
"You got a thing about killing, yeah, I know. I guess that's what makes you endearing to me."
He looked at her as they reset their defenses. "Hostage situations make you all hot and bothered, don't they?" he grinned.
She looked shocked. "Jonny!"
He held his hands up in surrender. "Sorry, I take it back. C'mon, we have more traps to reset."
* * *
Miguel Andreas was fuming, bordering on blowing his fuse. "Imbeciles! Half of you gone, none come back! You morons couldn't find your way out of a room with a clearly marked exit!" he shouted to the remainder of his men.
Jessie and Jonny watched from an upstairs window, keeping to the shadows. The window was open so they heard everything. Both teens were smiling.
"And I thought Race could get mad." Jonny chuckled softly. "He's been at it for close to an hour."
"I'm kind of impressed."
"First she has no pity, now she's impressed. Make up your mind, Ace."
She took a long hard look at the hostages. "He still has Mom and Dad. The no pity verdict stands. I got the first half in. It's your turn now."
"He'll send all but three." She looked at him, puzzled. "He has to keep some protection for himself and to hold the hostages. Even three will be more than enough. You stay out of sight, I'll be back in a few minutes."
* * *
This was the third group that Jonny led through the Gauntlet he and Jessie had set up through the house. But these five weren't as stupid as the other seven he had led through. Each time he came into view he was greeted by a shower of bullets. One bullet had hit its mark, burying deep in his right shoulder. He ignored the pain and kept running, carefully avoiding the fish line trip wires for their traps. Instead of running upstairs he ran for the basement where Jessie was already waiting for him.
"Five of them... They're not as dumb as the others..."
"Jonny, you're hurt!"
"Yeah, tell me something a don't know. It went straight through. Doesn't hurt too much, though that could be adrenaline."
"I'll be the judge of that. Sit down before you fall over. You're as white as a sheet!"
He leaned back on the wall, sliding down in a seated position, a pained expression on his face. A trail of blood smeared on the wall behind him from his shoulder.
"Take off you shirt." she instructed as she rummaged through some sheets from a laundry basket.
He did so just without the usual quip or remark as she returned with a clean white sheet.
"I hope your Aunt doesn't mind me ruining some of her sheets." and she tore long strips in the sheet.
Carefully she dabbed at the blood oozing from his wound, inspecting the extent of the damage. She glanced up from her work to see him grinding his teeth, his eyes shut tight. She bit her lips at this, padded the entry and exit wounds with folded pieces of cloth, and tied them tightly in place with the cloth strips. As she tied the last knot a horrendous crash resounded from upstairs, followed by a litany of colorful curses. They looked up at the basement ceiling almost warily. Jonny sighed.
"That leaves four goons plus the ring leader." he voiced.
"Twenty six guns. More than enough to retake the house."
"Reminds me of the game Storm the Castle."
"Which one? We have three versions of that game."
"The one Hadji designed. Ooo, that gives me an idea! C'mon--" and he went to stand, but fell back as his shoulder couldn't take his own weight.
"Take it easy there, Handsome." She helped him to his feet. "That arm's useless to you right now."
"That's okay, I won't need my arm for what I have planned." There was another crash followed by silence. "That's our cue."
The went upstairs and found the five sprawled out on the floor, their limbs tangled up in fishing line. They quickly tied them up, gagged them, and dragged them into the room where the other twenty two were gathered. These others were awake, but so securely tied that they were of no danger to the two teens.
"Now that we have the body tied up time to go after the head."
He smirked at her. "Sounds like something Hadj would say."
Both smiled at each other suddenly. ""We've been hanging around him too long."" and they laughed as they raced for the kitchen door.
They made it outside and hid in the bushes. "He's stretched pretty thin right now." she stated after surveying the scene.
"All the better. The bushes stretch all the way towards that group right there, Mitch and his friends."
"Do they know how to use M-16's?"
"Yes. They're second year Marines."
"Ooo, military men. I like."
"You're liking this too much. If we can get the rifles to them, all we have to do is sit back and watch."
"We can try."
They ducked back into the kitchen where they had hidden the weapons, under the sink.
"Do you think we should tell ol' Miguel out there where exactly his guns were hidden?" he grinned.
They paused for a heartbeat. ""Nah!""
Carrying seven rifles each, opting to leave the rest behind just in case, they dashed back into the bushes and crabbed their way towards the Marines. None of Miguel's remaining men had seemed to bother with this particular group.
"Psst, Mitch!" Jonny hissed through some branches.
Mitch glanced quickly at the bush and saw his Cousin. "What're you doing?" he hissed back. "They see you, you'll be caught."
"Don't worry about that. Give me and Jess just one minute and then you can take over the show."
"What're you talking about?"
"Pretend you're fixing you shoe and look under your chair."
He did so, fiddling with his shoe lace, and was greatly shocked to find an M-16 waiting for him. He straightened again as if nothing was. "Did I ever tell you you're my favorite Cousin?"
"There's always a first time. Tell the others, they each have a rifle under their chairs."
"Thanks, now make like Houdini and vanish."
Jonny backed deeper into the bushes, joined by Jessie a moment later. An unspoken signal passed between them and they began crawling back towards the house. They made it halfway back before gunfire began to fill the air, bullets flying in all directions. The teens barely had time to flatten themselves out on the ground before this happened. Jonny tapped Jessie's shoulder and pointed ahead to the open kitchen door. She nodded and led the dash for safety. He was right behind her. One of the men from the hostage takers saw the teens and began firing on them. Jessie managed to duck through the door unscathed. Jonny wasn't so lucky. The hail of bullets hit him full force in the torso, knocking him into a side roll. He clutched at his bleeding wounds as Jessie stopped just inside the door to turn to him.
He looked up, his face a pained grimace. "Run!"
She hesitated. His pained eyes pleaded her to go. A heartbeat later she ran deeper into the house, leaving her friend behind.
He dropped his head down to the ground, the pain getting too much. "Run, Jess..." he whispered before everything went blissfully black.
"You four stay here and fix this! I'll take care of young Miss Bannon!" and Miguel raced into the house after her.
Jessie ran through the halls, tears threatening to blur her vision. She new Miguel was behind her, she had heard as much. It was up to her to make things right. He had to be stopped. Like Hadji said, cut off the head and the body dies. Miguel was the head. She hardened her heart and ran the plan through her mind again. She turned a corner and waited.
Miguel had stopped running as soon as he had crossed the kitchen area. He walked the halls, alert and ready, but not alert enough. His foot snagged on a near invisible trip wire, triggering a carefully laid trap. Miguel felt the wire, looked down, then looked up quickly in realization. In quick succession a bucket of oil based paint fell on him, then flour. He cursed loudly, struggling to get the mixture out of his eyes, and he took a few unconscious steps forward. Doing so he set off another trap. Out of sight a hammer fell on the spray button of a can of spray paint as a small pulley system turned on the acetylene torch. Still blinded he stumbled into the flame's path, seriously burning himself. Another curse issued. He stumbled forward in pain, then stopped. Walking anymore would probably put his life in danger.
Jessie heard his footsteps stop. He had wizened up to the traps, but maybe she could trick him into the biggest trap she and Jonny had set. She stepped into sight, behind him.
"Hey, Miguel!" He turned. Second degree burns were all over his exposed flesh. "Catch me if you can!" and she bolted just as he raised his weapon to her.
Two shots rang past her ear as she dashed for the garage. Miguel was right on her heels. Bursting into the garage Jessie ignored the newly restored dirt bike and ran out an open door out onto the lawn. Miguel smiled as he believed she made a fatal mistake. He leapt on the bike, kicked it into gear, and took off full throttle after his prey. His aim, to run her over. Jessie took hairpin turns in order to gain ground, then made a point to run straight for Miguel's remaining men, avoiding bullets in the process. Miguel had no qualms about running over his own men to get back at the only remaining person who was ruining his perfectly planned hostage taking. With the last of his men sprawled out on the grass, being taken into custody by the hostages, Jessie took another sharp turn and headed out on the wooden deck overhanging the cliffs. She stood on the edge, facing Miguel as he turned the bike at full throttle back towards his target. Without stopping he just barreled the bike straight at her. She didn't budge.
"Wait for it..." she breathed to herself, her muscles beginning to coil and a frown of concentration forming on her face. "Wait for it..."
One second before impact she leapt out of the way. This was when Miguel realized why she hadn't taken the bike herself. They had booby trapped it. The seat of his pants and his hands were glued tightly to the seat and handles, the throttle now glued at full speed. He couldn't move his fingers to break and he couldn't turn in time. He screamed as his bike snapped through the deck's railings, as if they were twigs, and fell off to the rocks far below. The bike's gas tank exploded upon impact.
Jessie looked down at the mess of mangled, burning metal before one thought surfaced through the instinctual haze. Jonny! She heard sirens from the front of the house as she turned back to the freed wedding guests. Cops were swarming onto the lawn closely followed by paramedics. She didn't bother with them. Her eyes searched the crowd frantically and soon alighted on who she was looking for. Her family was gathered around him, paramedics working fast to prepare him for transport to the hospital. Jonny was semi-conscious, his eyes glassy from pain. She tried to go to him, but Race held her back.
"Let the experts fix him up first." he told her.
Jonny's eyes opened a little wider and he turned his head slightly towards Jessie. Over his pain he grinned at her and gave her a weak thumbs up. Then he was loaded onto a gurney and rushed off towards the ambulance.
* * *
Jonny Quest woke feeling very stiff, his tongue feeling swollen. He swallowed a few times and forced his eyes to open. Thankfully the lights were off, dim daylight filtering through the curtain on a nearby window. A flash of red caught the corner of his eye and he turned to it. Jessie was curled into an uncomfortable looking chair at his bed side. His arm felt like lead, but he managed to reach over to grip her knee. She woke immediately, turning to him.
"You're awake." she smiled, coming to sit on the edge of the bed.
"Then why don't I feel awake?" came his raspy question.
She brushed stray locks of hair from his face, then caressed his cheek. "Give it time. You've been out cold for close to a week now."
"That explains it." he sighed.
"How do you feel?"
"Not bad considering I was used for target practice."
Carefully she passed her hand across his bandaged chest. "Twelve bullets and four broken ribs. Lucky for you that was the very extent of your injuries."
"Fill me in on what happened?"
"Miguel came after me and got caught up in a few of our traps. He took the bike."
He grinned. "When did he find out that was a trap too?"
"Shortly before he took a flying leap off the cliffs."
"So, he's dead."
"Yeah, the explosion pretty much guaranteed that."
She suddenly just stared at him, an unreadable look in both her eyes and on her face. The backs of her fingers gently caressed his cheek.
He cocked his head. "What is it?"
"Do you remember our wager from a week ago?"
"Yes. What about it?"
She smiled impishly. "Bet's off." and she cupped his face, planting a passionate embrace on his lips.
A surprised jolt coursed through him before he began to return the attention she was showing him. He pulled her down to himself, but she stopped him, pulling up slightly.
"I don't want to hurt you." she breathed.
He smiled, tucking a strand of her hair behind her ear, and pulled her back down towards himself. "Jess, does it look like I'm in pain?"
She returned the smile. "No, I guess not."
"I don't say this as often as I'd like, but... I love you."
"I know, and I love you too."
"Think we're ever going to survive all these incidents to see our own wedding?"
"Only if you propose to me someday."
"I will, someday."
"I'll hold you to that." and she kissed him.