Chapter XXXII

"Here is a cashiers check for one half, and I will give the other half over once I have the child..agreed?" Kate was fingering the envelope, and letting Signora Pietrantoni know the terms she was working under.

"Quite so, Mrs. Roberts, that is exactly the agreement I broached to the client in Egypt. But there is only one stipulation you must also agree to. You are required to deliver the funds directly and the infant will be delivered to you. No one in the agency can be involved in this in any way. The client will take control of the funds he is to be paid."

"He? What about the mother, shouldn't she be the recipient of this money?"Kate could sometimes be counted on to want justice. "And if I go, how are you going to guarantee my getting the baby without the agency being involved?"

"It is arranged..this is your airline reservations, you will be traveling with diplomatic immunity, posing as the wife of a Sudanese official..when you return, you will simply be coming back to Italy as a new mother, traveling with your baby. The so called official is the client, so he has a vested interest in getting you out of the country safely!"

"Why on earth are children coming from that God For Saken part of the world?"

"Mrs. Roberts..it is a result of white slavery..many of these rich outlaws of the world like the Western Women, and when accidents happen and children are conceived there is great profit potential for allowing them to be adopted in Western countries..it is better than the alternative, would you not agree?"

"What alternative?"

"They are simply disposed of, and that is a tragedy!".Signora Pietrantoni then brought a small valise out "You will wear this at all times, do not speak, let the client walk you through everything..he will handle customs..you say nothing!"

Kate shook out the garment, it was all black, shapeless and billowing out as she let the yards of material unfold.

"What in the Hell?" Kate recognized the costume as something worn by Arabic women in London while they shopped in the jewelry departments at Herrods.

"It is a very stylish burqua! For your safety it is imperative you keep it on, and follow all orders of your escort.!"

Hana approached the house of DiMera carrying the sleeping infant. She looked down on him with a soft look, he was so sweet she thought. Mondu had given her the instructions and she was doing her best to follow them, but she felt so sorry for the poor baby. He had cried himself to sleep from wanting his mother and the milk she had provided was long since gone. Several hours had passed since the last feeding, and when he had awakened with hunger she had pacified him with a rag soaked in sugar water. As her hand held the door knocker, before she had made even a noise, Jules had come around and snatched the infant from her with one arm, and grabbed her around the waist with the other and pushed in inside.

"So good to have you back with us Hana..this house has not been as clean as it should be since you left us..is this my son?" Tony motioned with his hand for Jules to bring the now mewling baby to him.

"Looks like his mother..pity..but he is a DiMera, listen to that voice!" The baby had begun to voice his demand for food in a more lusty demanding cry now, and Tony laughed with delight.

"The money?.."Hana was trembling, but Mondu had told her she must ask.

"As your husband probably already knows, he has his money...I only have you, and that is a very poor bargain. May I ask where your father is camping now..where should I deliver your body?"

"You are going to kill me..but sir, I brought the baby to you"..

"Yes, Hana, I am going to kill you. But with any luck, your father will find a way to avenge your death on the husband who betrayed you and your father. Mondu was supposed to share the money with your father, that was the deal..instead, he talks you into being the sacrificial lamb while he is heading off to Europe to find his true love, the beautiful Kate Roberts..the woman he has been infatuated with for months now!"

He could say no more to terrify the woman as she had fainted dead away before she could answer Tony's question. His disgust with her weakness openly showing, Tony had ordered Jules to lock her away in one of the rooms until he could get the information he wanted out of her.

It had gone pretty well for the four fishermen in getting to the rendevous point. They had given themselves fifteen hours of air time to make it to the Cairo airport, and it looked as if everything was right on schedule. From there, another plane would take them into the forbidden territory of Sudan and Darfur. They had spent hours assembling the weapons and the gear they would use to parachute right into the backyard of Tony DiMera. The spies had let them know that an infant was in the house, no female was seen other than elderly servants, and EJ feared the birth mother was already dead. He was sorry, but it was not his fault.

The pub was quiet for a Tuesday morning when Marlena and Hope walked in to join Sami and Chandler. All of them wore looks of worry on their faces, as it had not taken Sami long to poke around and discover there was no fishing cabin, and there definitely was no fishing trip for the men that had been gone now on twenty four hours.

"I cannot believe how they lied to us like this!" Chandler was the one who had figured it out first when the GPS device she had inserted into Harris valise had indicated he was flying out over the Atlantic.

"I should have known that British liar could not be trusted, if he gets back alive, I am going to kill him!" Sami recalled the last night they had together, when he had asked her to cook for him, he wanted to have something she made herself. The other three were unaware of what EJ thought his mission was, but Sami felt she had to let them know what EJ was up to. When the other three heard the name Tony DiMera, they each had a reaction.

"John should know better..my God, he is not ISA any longer..he will get himself killed!"

"Look, John and Bo will look out for each other Marlena..and Harris is good at his job Sami, he won't let EJ get in trouble". Hope was being optimistic as only she knew how to be. She had Zach back alive, and that miracle was convincing her that nothing would ever go wrong in her life again. Reaching out across the table, she held onto Sami's hand. "You nearly gave your life for Zach, Bo knows that Sami, he would do anything for you..just believe in all of them..they will come back"

Chandler looked the most worried, while John had the most experience in this sort of danger, Harris was the one whose duty it was to die to save the one he was to guard..if EJ was in danger, then Harris would take the bullet for him.

Chapter XXXIII

Carrie came down to breakfast, her face still showing the strain of the ordeal at the adoption agency. Austin poured her a cup of coffee, kissed her cheek, then bent back to his paperwork.

The newpapers still had articles on the Mythic HIV drug scandal. Austin read them, while filling out the paperwork for the second adoption agency. Carrie had given up the effort now, and left all that to him.

The PR campaign was working, as the story now said that the drugs had been contaminated by an industrial spy trying to create an international incident. The spy was identified only as a female researcher, whose name was being withheld pending investigation. Knowing the pattern of news cycles, Austin figured it would be at most, another two weeks before the tide would turn again. Mythic had many good deeds packed away in their public relations portfolio, and it had been his job to see they were systematically fed into the media.

"Is the coffee still hot?" Kate appeared, looking business like, pulling on gloves, and stacking a small briefcase along with her purse by the door. Not waiting for an answer, she poured a cup, then spooned in the sugar she liked with it.

Her glance at Carrie showed a measured disapproval, as she was still in her robe and slippers, hair uncombed, and makeup unapplied. The girl really needed to snap out of it!

"My flight to Cairo is set, the cab should be here in ten minutes. Austin, take care of the studio...Carrie..take care of yourself..get to the beauty salon..we are going to have lots to celebrate when I return..I promise you!" Kate smiled as she thought of the present she would be bringing back. The baby girl was bought and paid for, now she just had to get her back to Zurich. Signora Pietrantoni had taken care of the adoption papers needed, everything would look perfectly legal! Now Austin would never turn against her!

John was the only one still awake, and was surprised when EJ came into the cockpit with a cup of coffee.

"Thanks,..are the others getting any rest?" EJ gave an affirmative with his thumb up, and John went back to his flight charts. They were due to land in Cairo within 20 minutes, and arrangements made for the second plane to pick them up and get them into Sudanese territory while it was still dark. The helicopter would circle around, and pick them up from the DiMera compound in exactly forty five minutes. Surprise and speed would be on their side, but it would have to run on rails. Seven men were guarding Tony's compound, and the blue prints on the house said they would have at least ten rooms to search.

"So, EJ..just wondering..how did you ever get involved with Stefano DiMera?..I know you're related by your grandfather being married to his sister, and your mother was his granddaughter, disowned by him I understand.. but why did you get involved in his organization. you had your racing career..a good education, why did you need him?" John took a sip of the coffee and waited quietly for any answer EJ cared to give.

"My mother was disowned by Stefano, yes, .true that is..she was what he referred to as a faithless woman. Eventually she was killed in a automobile accident with one of her drunken lovers. My father then remarried, my old governess actually. I have not seen him in ten years. That has been Stefanos orders which I must obey for my fathers safety. Stefano had many enemies, and hurting my father would be a way for them to hurt me. Stefano realized that, so he made me swear I would stay away from them". This was all said in a matter of fact voice which made John think it had not been too great a hardship on EJ.

"And you joined up with Stefano for what reason?"

"I wanted what I wanted, as he was a means to an end." EJ offered no apology, just stated a fact he had learned to live with years ago.

"Why did you come to Salem? Stefano had interests in other parts of the world, you could have done the same business there as here".

"You probably know the answer to that..look what Tony DiMera has done..a child by Samantha? I read up in Stefanos dossiers and diaries about the Bradys. I wanted to get to know Sami, she fascinated me then, she still does. Stefano understood that. I came out of curiosity, but Samantha satisfied something deep in my soul, not just my curiosity. For different reasons, Tony feels the same way. And of course there is the stipulation clause in Stef's wills."

"A child by Samantha or Marlena?" John knew exactly what was in them. He had fulfilled the same requirement once upon a time. His freedom from Stefano had depended on impregnating Marlena Evans. A ledger had not given him that information, he had just known from something deep within him. His understanding of EJ grew from that moment on.

"What will happen if we fail, if Tony keeps the baby?"

"Then we will have to let Tony implement Stefano's vision, as he is the closest in bloodline to Stefano, that was the agreement". EJ put his coffee down, and looked at John.

"Wait, though, as long as Tony knows the child is not really his..why can't we just make sure he knows that?"

"I cannot stand by and let him kill my child, ..rather than do that, I will just stand aside and let him have his way. As..as long as the child is alive, I have a chance to recover him or her..but if Tony knows, he will destroy the child..just to make sure there is not another Wells offspring in the world. I need to be able to protect my children..any of my children!"

Chapter XXXIV

Mondu looked appreciatively at Lexie as she moved about the tent packing for herself and Theo. She was back to her slim appearance, and very quickly after the birth, he thought to himself.

Lexie felt the heat of his eyes on her, and shuddered with revulsion. Thinking quickly, she picked up the infant girl, and sat down to nurse her. That seemed to cool his ardor, as he found nothing sexual in that picture she knew, and he always left hurriedly when he saw her about to do it. She could not help but wonder why she felt absolutely nothing for this baby girl, except a small level of compassion. . Caring for her was the same as caring for a patient, and keeping her alive and well had more to do with keeping Theo and herself alive as anything. The baby was simply a means to an end.

. Dread filled her though, as she knew the helicopter would be coming soon to whisk her, along with the infant and Theo over the border into Egypt. They were meeting with the purchaser of the baby girl, and when that happened, Lexie could only hope that Mondu was a man of his word. She fingered the curved dagger she had managed to steal from one of the wives traveling with Mondu's entourage. If he was not a man of his word, she would try to convince him it was in his best interest to abide by their agreement.

Kate had kept to the time table laid out for her, and she had put on the hideous garment in order to make herself less conspicuous traveling in the open air Range Rover into the countryside of Egypt. The Nile River flowed along the road for a time, then the driver had followed the map out into an area of stark desert. Finally, after what seemed hours, he pulled into an area where they had been met by a herd of goats, a few shepherds, and a couple of tents covered with animal skins. A weathered old crone of a woman came out to greet her, unsmiling, and perfunctory, she took her arm and led her into one of the tents. When Kate started to life off her veil, the woman became agitated, and pulled it back up over her head. Kate saw the shepherd men trying to peek inside the tent, and decided to follow the womans advice. The woman gave her some water, and some bread which Kate looked at in disgust. It seemed to have a few living creatures in it, as it moved all on its own. The water however, was cool, and tasted sweet so she drank a good deal of it. She was led to a pile of skins, and the woman indicated she should sit, it seemed pointless to try and argue with someone whose language you did not know, so Kate did sit, and the fatigue of the day took over and she soon fell asleep.

Startled, Kate came full upright and awake as she felt her veil being lifted away, and her cheek being stroked in wonder!

"Kate, My Kate, this is truly a miracle!" Mondu looked down at his prize in astonishment!

"Oh My God! You!" a more horrible awakening Kate never imagined. But it was true, standing over her and leering was the man who had held her captive in Malawia, and who would still be learning the ways of love from her had not EJ Wells taken pity on her, and let her escape as he had.

Gathering her wits, Kate knew by the look on his face she better start pretending to be glad to see him. She was aware he was very swift in carrying out his justice if someone displeased him.

"Mondu..you are looking as handsome as ever..and even though I am very surprised to see you in this part of Egypt, I should have know your connections with Tony DiMera would see you safely away!"

"My Kate, how I have missed the nights with you..we had only one I know, but I still dream of that night as soon as I close my eyes! It was unforgettable!"

Inwardly, Kate cringed, but outwardly, she used her most seductive smile, until she saw past Mondu at the woman standing there still as a frightened deer.

"Is this one of your insane wives?" Kate wanted to know.

"No..no..no..this insignificant one is merely the nursemaid to the child..and what a miracle this is..you must be the one sent for the little one..I cannot believe my luck! To find my way back to you this way..I had planned on searching the wide world until I found you again..but you have fallen into my arms..can you believe this..it must be the will of Allah!" Mondu saw no incongruity in linking the name of Allah with the crime of baby selling he was engaging in.

Lexie was horrified to see it was Kate there. She feared that Tony DiMera was behind it, and she knew Kate would betray her. Holding fast to her own veil, she turned away as the infant began crying. When she heard the cries, Kate had her attention drawn to the baby and she stepped towards it. Knowing the baby was to be Austins child aroused her own maternal instinct, and she reached for the small bundle in Lexies arms. As Lexie handed off the child, for just a moment Kate and her eyes met. There was a flicker of recognition between them, but Kate did not hesitate long. She took over holding the baby, and Lexie handed forth a bottle of milk that Kate began feeding to the lustily sucking child.

Mondu smiled wickedly as he observed the two of them together..they were both such beautiful ladies..

"I wonder if the two of you would join me in my tent for a dinner at which we can discuss our business arrangements..and maybe other arrangements too..I confess..I have some fantasies that the two of you could assuage..I must say I envision the two of you as my Twin Mistresses of Evil! "

Lexie frowned, then pulled the dagger out from her abaya..but Kate smiled, and hid what Lexie was doing with her own abaya folds. She gave Lexie a look meant to silence and warn, which Lexie took and obeyed.

"Why Mondu, you devil you,..tell me more!"

Chapter XXXV

The sound making its way through Jules sleep was familiar, his training made him come out of the sound sleep quickly as the helicopter blades quiet whir brought him instantly alert and out of his bed, gun at the ready. He saw out the window the glow of the night vision trackers on the rifles of the intruders, the slight gush noise of the silencers working as the bullets flew, and the vision of several of his men falling forward made him put his back up escape plan into action. Tony was already in the hallway, carrying a small basket, and holding his own weapon in anticipation.

John saw that the element of surprise had worked in their favor, but the whiz of the bullet over his head gave him notice that it was not all a one sided fight. Bo and Harris had made it to the window, EJ and him were about to shoot their way through the solid mahogany door...kicking it in had proved impossible. John stood back and sprayed the weapons full magazine into the wood, splinters were flying everywhere, when in the background, Harris yelled "down!!" and they had stepped aside for the RPG missile that flew in and ruptured the entire framework.

"That is something you don't see everyday" Commented Bo. The door still stood, solid as the day it was hung, but the masonry around it had collapsed, leaving an opening in which EJ and John had shot through, firing their weapons indiscriminately, until they realized there was no one firing back. EJ ran up the stairs, following the sound of an infant crying in distress. He saw the small bassinette in the corner of a large room and ran in to lean over the small bundled figure that was the source of the crying. At that moment the crying stopped, and the recorded laughter of a maniacal Tony DiMera replaced the infants cries. The plastic doll with the cold eyes looked back up at him, and the recorded voice taunted him

"Yes EJ, looks like we have another player in the game..I have a son! A son who will someday take his rightful place in the world..a son who will come for you and yours! The game goes on, EJ, the game goes on!" EJ threw the doll against the floor, and John knew now there was probably something else they had not figured on. Harris found it first as he saw the wires dangling up near the ceiling.

"EJ. John! Bo! Wait, get out, quickly..this place is set to blow!"

Then Harris saw the figures of Tony and Jules, shutting the trap door in the courtyard as they made their way down the escape tunnel, but he had made the warning in time, as the other three ran out to take cover behind one of the garden walls..Harris ran to the trapdoor, trying in vain to make it open when the bullets from below began to streak upward. He was hit and as he flew bodily away, the impact of his body hitting the ground made a thud that was sickening to hear.

Chandler sat up instantly in bed at that moment. Her nightmare had taken her from the depths of sleep to a sweaty, cold and clammy wakefulness. She got up and went to get a drink of water when her phone began ringing.

"Sami, what are you doing calling this time of night?" When she got the news, the cold fingers of dread which had seized her heart for the last few days clenched harder.

"He is still alive? EJ said he is still alive?" That was all Chandler needed to know..the rest of the news and the rest of the instructions she wrote down in the meticulous ways she covered every story.

Sami had called Marlena, Chandler, then Hope to let them know that EJ had been in contact with her. Marlena had given Billie the news, and was busily enlisting her help and the help of the ISA in the removal of the men from Darfur. EJ had contacted the field hospital Mythic was funding to bring Harris into one of their facilities, but if a government official found him there, the entire hospital and its staff would be in extreme danger. Getting him out, to a European hospital was his best chance for survival.

"How is he doing?" EJ came into the makeshift surgery after seeing his man being lifted out.

"He needs additional surgery. the chest wound will hold for at most, a day, we do not have the thoracic capability here he needs..we barely are able to amputate limbs here without killing people! You have no idea what is going on here! Then you bring this in..what are you trying to do, get the whole staff killed!" Dr. Horton was angry at EJ, angry at John, angry at Bo..this was a tragedy unfolding daily, and they add this onto his burden!

"Samantha is taking care of it..don't worry, she will make the needed arrangements, we will be gone in a matter of a couple of hours!" Then EJ looked around at what Dr. Horton was talking about.

It was a scene of devastation and horror, as he saw row upon row of beds taken up by women, children, and elderly.with horrible .wounds and acts of mayhem that could not be contemplated by people who were not living in this horror. Their bodies looked skeletal at best, and the despair and hopelessness in their faces reached into his mind and soul with a searing presence. .

"My God, what is happening here?" he asked horrified. He had been sending great amounts of money to this facility, but never comprehending what he was fighting against was a horror this deep.

"War..a civil war is what is happening..but the victims are the helpless as always. Women are raped, children are hacked, people burned alive! War. And it is being waged on the innocents."

EJ knew much of the mayhem was being carried out due to the facts of business that Stefano had once taught him. "My son, never forget, war is good business!"

Chapter XXXVI

The costumes that Mondu had laid out for his Twin Mistresses of evil were so campy, even Kate laughed when she unfolded the one and handed it over to Lexie. "I think this one suits you best..I prefer the dark blue to the red anyway". Mondu had managed to acquire a couple of belly dancing outfits, fully beaded, bangled, and bedazzled.

"No way in hell am I putting this on for that perverted creep! You play it your way, I am gonna just gut him!" Lexie threw back the scraps of material at Kate in a huff.

"Oh God Lexie, get over yourself..it is a few minutes of sexual teasing..Mondu can't take much more than that..we have to get him to let his guard down, once I have his weapon in my hand, along with the necessary traveling papers for the two of us and the baby, you can gut him for all I really care!".

Lexie had not confided in Kate her role in all of this, and Kate was still believing that Lexies only part had been that she had been kidnapped and taken to DiMera's lair by the crooked police commander, Tek.

Kate, however, was still ruminating on all aspects of what had happened, and finally the moment Lexie dreaded came as Kate wheeled on her and asked "Lexie, just why has Mondu given you the care of the baby? What is really going on here?"

Of course, Lexie had her own questions, so while she tried to think of a way to convince Kate of the haplessness of the circumstance she had found herself in she posed this question to Kate, "What are you doing here, this is obviously a situation of buying this child..who are you buying it for Kate..maybe Austin and Carrie? Yes, that is it, I see it in your face..well done. Kate!, This is a way to make sure that Austin is always in your debt!"

Kates silence was her answer. Then a full realization of what Lexie was doing here came to her. "You are the mother of this baby, that is what you are doing here! I knew you were up to something! What a liar you are! How do you live with yourself? You ruined Carrie and Austins life, now you do something like this? You are selling your own baby!"

Hysterical laughter from Lexie brought Kate over to slap her face with all her strength. Lexie returned the favor, as Mondu walked into the tent.

"Aww..my evil ones, you do justice to my dreams! Sorry for the interruption, but please, put on the clothes I want to see how beautiful you look in them..this is so much better than I could have planned on." He clapped his hands in a commanding gesture, pointing to the costumes tangled together on the floor.

EJ was there when the helicopter touched down. Dr. Horton was supervising the on loading of Harris in the guerney. The plane was to fly in darkness over the militias strongholds to the safety of an airport in Malawia where a jet was waiting. Bo had been chosen to accompany him, as he was the nearest of kin. Chandler and Billie had flown in ahead, and were waiting, the arrangements made to get him to the military hospital in Wiesbaden Germany. It would be a matter of timing, and Dr. Horton had said he would give Harris a 25 percent chance of survival at best. EJ knew it would be best to let Chandler accompany him, as her press credentials would get him in quicker. Billie and John's ISA contacts were the key to getting Harris the best. There was only one problem now, John and EJ could not go. They would have to make their way over land as best they could to Malawia. That was really the safest route, with the fewest militas roaming that part of the country that could prove to be unfriendly.

Chandler ran over to the helicopter, ducking under the blades. Her heart raced as she looked in at the figure on the guerney, the paleness of the face there scaring her to death.

"Uncle Bo! Where is EJ?" Bo was startled to see Sami right behind Chandler.

What in hell was she doing here, he thought, and before that thought could be assimilated into words, Marlena appeared with another question " John?..Where is John?"

How could things get any more complicated? Bo was about to answer his own question when Hope grabbed him around the neck, kissing him as if there was no way she could ever let go of him again.

"How could you do this Bo? How could you have lied to me like this? " In between kisses, Hope was railing on him like there was no tomorrow!.

Billie stood on the tarmac, holding some blankets to cover Harris with as he was brought out. She looked at Bo, then at the others, shrugging as if to say "I tried to keep them from coming?' He gave her a look of understanding, then decided it would be best if he pacified Hope before giving Sami and Marlena any answers.

Austin came out of the nursery, his paintbrush in his hand, not being very careful at all.

"Austin! You are dripping all over."Carrie came running with a section of newspaper. Austin was about to wrap the brush into the newspaper when the picture caught his eye. The reporter Chandler Loring was walking alongside a guerney and the headline was screaming about an American mercenary soldier of fortune being flown in for treatment at Wiesbaden.

He was reaching for the phone, ignoring Carries pleadings to not make any more mess!

"Chandler! What the hell is going on, how did this happen? Has anyone heard from my mother? She should know about this!" Austin was furious that he had been kept in the dark about the European connection. One would think his input counted for nothing in this whole organization! After getting a rather terse greeting from Chandler saying she would get back to him once Harris was out of surgery, Austin began trying to reach his mother on all the numbers he had for her.

"Mom..nope..her and I have not spoken for a few weeks now."Lucas was paying very little attention to his brothers rantings. He was busy reading or trying to read the notes Nabila had compiled in at least twenty notebooks. He would have continued on his tact of paying as little attention as possible except a familiar figure appeared in the door, someone he had figured he would never see again. His shock was echoed by that of Austins when he told him who was on his door step.

"Call me back as soon as you can, you better see to that first."

"Hello Lucas, it's good to see you..you look good." Sami walked over to him, and gently kissed his cheek. All the past years rolled past, as he touched the spot on his cheek where her lips had been.

"Sami..wow..Marlena..what are you two doing here?"

"We need your help Lucas..I need your help!".

Chapter XXXVII

John and EJ were gathering the maps and supplies they were going to need. The amount of gasoline they had been able to procure was going to make for a very tight trip, but it was all that could be spared from any sources. There had been no way to make any radio contact to see about another helicopter, and time was just too tight before the militias were given a bead on their whereabouts by Tony.

Dr. Horton was calling in his staff to look at another patient who had just been brought in. Sickened, he saw it was a young woman who again had been the victim of a brutal beating and gang rape. The story was even worse that ones he had heard before. His head shook in disbelief, and aroused EJ's curiousity.

"What happened?" He wanted to know, as he had been documenting these stories to present to Chandler. The digital camera in his hand was about to click off several pictures when Dr. Horton stayed his hand with one of his own.

"Her family tried to beat her to death to assuage her honor, but another female relative got her away in time. Her name is Hana, ..and EJ..it seems she was working for Tony DiMera..her father is one of the warlords that Tony finances!".

"My God, get him off of me..I cannot breathe!" Lexie was pleading for Kate to remove the dead weight of Mondu from atop of her.

"What did you put in his drink?" Kate was asking as she went through his pockets.

"The only thing I could find that I figured would do the job and not clue him in..anti freeze!"

"Is he dead?"Kate demanded.

Lexie bent to put a finger to his throat..."not yet, but getting there!" she was triumphant as she looked at the glass that had been emptied by the two fisted drinker. He had downed three eight ounce glasses while watching Kate dance for him. Lexie had refilled them as fast as he had emptied them, and had stroked his face while cajoling him to have "another one, darling..this is going to be a wild party!".

"I found them! Thank God!"

"What did you find?"

"Believe it or not, in this country you have to have permission to travel without a male relative, these are the papers where he gave that permission, but he has not signed them yet..we will need his fingerprint on the paper with a signature. I also got the keys to the Mercedes he parked outside the tent!"

Just the thought of not having to ride that stupid spitting beast of a camel was enough to make Lexies day!

Lexie went immediately to the pots of kohl eye makeup that Mondu had brought in for them to line their eyes with. She smeared a bit on a cloth, then rolled his thumb and forefinger onto it, then onto the parchment of the papers. It was not perfect, but it would pass.

"Damn! What are we going to do?' Kate sounded worried.

"I don't know about you, but I plan on getting into that car and driving North as fast as I can..he is bound to have a GPS in there!".

"No, I mean we cannot travel without a man, they will stop us, and arrest us for his murder..you don't understand..they stone you to death here for less than this!" Kate had been reading up on the culture here, and it was not good news.

"I have an idea..help me get him dressed in these clothes." Lexie found the western clothes Mondu had worn upon entering the tent, until he had changed into the robes of his Sheikdom fantasies.

It had been a struggle, the two smaller women having a hard time lugging the giant of a man into an upright position in the front seat of the car. They put him in the driver seat, figuring one of them would steer the ca, while appearing to be merely a passenger. A woman as driver would draw too much attention.

Sami and Marlena insisted they would be going, and Lucas could agree or disagree with them but they were going. So Lucas was going to drive them. He would not hear of any other solutions. He often ferried supplies into the areas to be picked up by the opposing militias, supplies that also went to his fathers hospital compounds. He knew if EJ and John were going to make it out, they would have to take one of the roads frequented by the militia commanders that were friendly with his father. He felt safe enough in going, but would never allow two unaccompanied women to go it alone. The area had been secure enough for the past few weeks, since Mondu had left, but it was still no place for two women who did not know the area.

Whenever they had the chance, they tried radio contact with the field hospital, but sometimes radio silence was the order of the day when Dr. Horton felt it was unsafe. This was one of those times.

EJ had managed to speak a little through a translator with Hana. Her fear kept her from saying much. She knew this hospital compound was no guarantee of safety for her. As soon as her father knew she was still alive he would send her uncles for her again. Her fate then would be sealed. Probably strangled, then her body would be thrown down a well shaft for the crime of dishonoring her family. Her crime had been to be raped. EJ was aghast at the cruelty, but Dr. Horton had explained it was not a tenet of Islam, it was embedded into a culture and time that lived on before the prophet Muhammad had brought his revelation. It still was the way it was.

EJ had found out from Dr. Horton that Hana had not ever given birth, so she was not the surrogate. The surrogate had been at the house though, that much Hana had affirmed.

"Is she well enough to travel?" EJ wanted to know, but John looked at him as though he were crazy.

"She will be able to help us track down the surrogate, the surrogate will have information about the baby..we need to know." EJ had his own plans and thoughts that John could either go along with or not.

"Put her in the Rover , she is going with us!".

Chapter XXXVIII

The baby girl fretted a bit, until Kate brought the bottle to her lips. She had yet to taste commercial formula, but Lexie was glad to no longer be required to pump milk for her. It was a distasteful task to her, and she had wanted nothing more to do with the child than was absolutely necessary. She could not put her finger on it, but she felt an animosity towards the child she could not understand. Kate, however, did have enough maternal instincts for both of them. Theo was curious about the baby, but Lexie shushed him whenever he had started to ask about what was going to happen with his little sister.

They had made it though the checkpoints without even being stopped, the diplomatic license plates holding sway over the border guards, and the fact that Lexie held out Mondus arm after putting a note of the local currency between his fingers. The sunglasses over his face hid the dead eyes, and the guards had simply smirked as they noted the two women in the car with him.

When the outskirts of Cairo came into view, they had immediately pulled over to the side of the road and purchased one of the cell phones from the numerous vendors lining the road. Twenty minutes later, the phone rang in Austins office and he was given a set of instructions to help his mother get out of Egypt. He made arrangements for his flight, and left a message for Carrie on the home phone.

Chandler paced up and down the hospital corridor, waiting for the surgeons to finish with Harris. Finally, the door from the operatory opened, and two doctors stepped out and came over to her and Bo. The tears were streaming from her eyes before they even removed their masks, and she clutched onto Bo for strength to face their words.

"We did everything we knew how, and God must have intervened with us, because he should be dead! Miss Loring, Mr. Brady, he is going to be alright..he should be in recovery in a couple of hours, we just have to run a few more tests and rays...whatever they did for him back in Darfur..it was a miracle..he is on a respirator, but we will remove it tomorrow morning to see how he does on his own..so..would you care to go in to him? Don't worry too much about how he looks, it is much worse than it is..a lot of tubes, and beeps and such.."

Chandler was crying aloud now, clutching onto Bo, kissing the Doctors, jumping up and down with joy, as she said "Yes, yes, let me see him now...now..please now!"

John drove while EJ held onto the flashlight and the maps. The road was a series of ruts that ran parallel to each other, and that was the best that could be said. The moans coming from the back seat made them wince, but there was really nothing they could do for the poor woman. The gas gauge was periously near the reading of E, and only one more five gallon can remained of the four they had started with. Ahead of them was a small mountain range that would use a lot of the fuel, but if they made it over it, they knew their chances of being spotted by a friendly party were great. If they did not make it, it was a long, and frightening aspect of walking while trying to support a woman who could not walk at all.

Lucas had made it to the crest of the summit at the small mountain range. The covering of the forest had left them, and now they were exposed to anyone with flight surveillance. The Sudanese did have a small capacity for that, but this was far out of their range Lucas knew. They had relative safety in this position. Lucas stopped, and got out, Sami and Marlena both followed, wanting to see what he was peering at. His binoculars were pointed at a small beacon of light which flickered. Pointing, "Someone has made a fire down there..guess we may as well go on down and see who it is..the enemy militia has never made it down this far..no reason to think they have now!".

Both EJ and John had their guns drawn as they heard the Range Rover headed towards them. The engine on theirs had overheated, and seized up when the last of the engine oil had escaped through the hole that had at last rusted through the pan.

"Mr. Wells, I presume?" Sami could not resist before she jumped from the still moving vehicle to run into the arms of her husband. EJ looked down on her as though he were seeing her for the first time all over again. She was not supposed to be here, he should have turned her over his knee and spanked her for putting herself in this danger, but all he could think was how good it felt to be holding her once again.

"Why did I know you would come?" it was something he had felt from the moment they had called for help for Harris. He knew she would be coming to help him...and here she was.

"You have my back, I have yours..that is just the way it is EJ, always..I will be here for you always!"

"Sami..I am so sorry, we did not find the baby..Tony got away..that was when Harris was shot and we had to give it up and get him taken care of.."EJ was sorry, and his head hung as he knew he had failed her.

"Ssssh...It will work out, I know it..if there is a child, we will find it..hey..look..it may be possible there was no baby..maybe Tony did not succeed."

Then the voice of Hana was heard as she sat up and spoke in a dialect that Lucas understood, the language of the tribe of Nabila and Mondu.."There are baby..there are two of the baby..girl and a .boy..DiMera have boy..the girl is gone..gone away..far away with Mondu!"

Silence from EJ, a gasp from Marlena and John, but Sami stood her ground and made the decision for all of them.

"We have to let it go EJ, we have to stop this. There is nothing you have not done that could be done. I know you would change it if you could, but there is nothing left to do. We have to go home, we have to take care of our children...you know it and I know it. What if you had been killed over here? Who would take care of us? I need you..Jessica and Justin need you. We are real..we are here..we are now! Lets go home!" EJ knew she was right, but the ache in his heart remained. He knew she had the same ache.

Carrie smiled as she saw Austin coming off the skyway. He carried a pink bundle, and Kate walked beside him, diaper bag in hand as she reached solicitously over to tuck the blanket more securely about the baby. Austin walked swiftly to Carrie as she reached out for the infant. "Oh, little one..do you know what your name is? Did Daddy tell you?" Carrie cooed the name they had chosen for the baby at her "You are little Katie Marie..isn't that beautiful?" Carrie kissed her mother in law on the cheek, the gift of the naming being in honor of what Kate had done for them.

"Isn't she a beauty?" Austin's pride was showing through and through. He hugged his mother to him in utter gratitude, he had never seen Carrie so happy. She was born to be a mother.

Jules brought the infant in to Tony from the wet nurse. "I think it is now time to name him, what do you think? " The baby was squirming in his blanket, and Tony held him in his arms with as much tenderness as he could exhibit.

"He shall be Stefan..Stefan Antonio DiMera, and his power shall never be equaled on this earth by any other man! That is your destiny, my son..you are the one true heir, the one Stefano has waited all these years for! Pure bloodlines, untainted by females of our family breeding with non DiMeras! " Tony laughed out loud as the child began to cry with the full vigor of his healthy lungs.

In the corner, Bart stood, looking at the scene with trepidation. He alone of all Tony's minions knew the true parentage of the young Stefan, and he knew what would happen when Tony found out. And how could he not find out, Bart thought..As soon as any medical tests were run, it would be obvious that he and Tony did not share the same DNA..Tony would want those tests done..they had to be done to fufill the requirements of the will of Stefano! Bart was dreading what was to come..and what would happen to the young Stefan when Tony found out.

Theo sat on the hotel room floor, exhausted, but glad to be again playing with his toys while Mama made the call. "Yes, you can talk to him Mother..Theo, come talk to Granmama..she want to say hello to you!"

Theo was on the phone in an instant" Granmama..is Daddy there with you too? I want to talk to him too if I can..please?" His natural politeness took over, and he was breathing his excitement when his father came on the line.

"I miss you Daddy..I miss you so much..I rode a camel in the desert..I shot a gun..I have been on a real adventure..I will tell you as soon as Mama and I get home!" Abe could not get a word in edgewise, but just hearing the voice of his young son made his heart leap with joy.

"I need to speak with your mother now son.."Abes voice held the weight of authority for Theo, so the phone was handed over to Lexie.

"Where are you Lexie?" Abe was softly demanding the answer, and Lexie cried as she told him.

"I am in New York..I want you to come get me Abe..Theo needs you, and I need you too. We have things to talk about, before I turn myself in..can you do that for me?"

"Of course Lexie, your mother and I will be there in the morning..first flight out. Don't worry..we are coming."

Chapter XXXIX

The bedroll was placed as close to the fire as EJ could get it, but Sami still shivered in his arms. He knew it was not all due to the chill in the air, but the thoughts whirling around in her brain. When Lucas had translated Hana's words and they were faced with the realization that they had not one, but two babies that should be with them, but maybe never would be, the sense of self defeat grew heavier in their hearts.

"EJ, what if we just let it be known in the media that Tony was duped by Stefanos'orders? Let him know the child is not biologically his anyway. If that is all that is important to him won't he just.."her words trailed off as EJ interjected.

"He will kill or abandon our son..that is what he will do, at least if Tony has him and perceives value to him , there is a chance we can recover the boy". EJ held her firmer, as if that would convey what he knew they had to do. He knew as well as she did, there would be no giving up in the broadest sense of the word. He still had contacts, Tony knew that too. Tony would first of all try to contact the other players to make sure they knew he had the true heir. EJ knew as well as Bart did that that was when the trouble would really start. When Tony knew the whole truth, God help their child. .

Lucas was lying across the campfire from a woman he had once loved with an obsessive passion. She now lay whispering in the ear of another man, a man who ha for all intents and purposes ruined his life, then restored it. Hating him was not easy, but forgiving him was impossible. He heard their conversation in snatches, and was putting a few things together as sleep overtook his eavesdropping.

"Axine..she call Axine by the boss man..her son call of Heo..." Lucas had slept fitfully, when the names came to him, and it all fit. He sat up, seeing that everyone else was asleep.

Gently, he shook Sami awake. "Lucas..what is it?" Sami was confused and disoriented after being awakened from her sound sleep. EJ still slept, as he was exhausted from total lack of sleep for the past few days. Lucas motioned for her to follow him, and she got to her feet to comply.

"Sami, I think if you find Lexie you may be able to find the babies.."He told her what he had figured out from Hana's story.

The description Hana had given of the woman was Lexie alright, and the fact that she had a little boy with her confirmed it. The name Mondu was also a confirmation as Sami knew from EJ and Harris the story of that mad man.

A surge of gratefulness sent Samis' arms about Lucas neck, and a kiss on his cheek. "Lucas, it should have been different, I know, but I really hope you find what it is you need most in the world. I was so sorry about Nabila and the child. I hope you know that Mythic was not responsible, Lexie played some sick joke on the world for Tony DiMera!"

"Thank you Sami, I appreciate that..but I have found what I need..a purpose for my life. Nabila helped me find that..but in a way so has EJ..This work I do has made a difference in the world..which means I have made a contribution to something bigger than myself..I have grown up. Mom hates that, but it is true!"

EJ heard their whisperings and wanted to know what was going on. When Lucas told them about Lexie probably being the surrogate for Tony, it all fit. Lexie had fled the country with Tek, Tony was her brother, and if he paid her enough, it was likely she may have volunteered to carry the babies for him. All they had to do was track Lexie down, and she would lead them to Tony, and their children.

At least that was the hope they built upon. Lexie could be dead, not likely, Tony did have family loyalty..that was a DiMera trait

The sun was barely rising, and John had risen to get the campfire a little higher to cook some breakfast and heat water for tea.

Lexie heard the phone in the hotel suite ring, and she knew it would be Kate on the other end.

"You will keep our bargain..understood Lexie?"

"You make sure that Mythic does not prosecute me, I will certainly keep my mouth shut..There is no love lost between me and Sami..and it is only justice that Carrie gets to keep the baby after what Sami did to her..If I can help Carrie in any way, I will, you know that."

"Good..as far as anyone knows, this is a perfectly legal adoption arranged by a reputable agency. I saved a lot of money by killing Mondu, and I am willing to give it all to you..that should buy some great justice..Victor will help you too. We all have grudges still in play on Sami Brady Wells."

When they reached the hospital compound, Marlena placed a call to Belle. It had been a harrowing few days, and she wanted to let her know everyone was ok. Belle gave her some news that put a grin on her face, and her eyes lit up as she called to John and Sami.

"You both are not going to believe this! Carrie and Austin have just adopted a baby girl..Isn't that wonderful news!"

EJ looked at Marlena for a second, comparing her joy at this news to how she had reacted to Sami telling her she was pregnant nearly four years ago. Then he let it drop from his mind, it was a petty thought, and he was momentarily ashamed of himself for it.

Sami got on the phone then to talk to Belle about how the twins were faring..they had all their cousins staying with them and had been having a ball. "Uh..Sami..I hope you take this ok..Carrie and Austin..they named the child Katie Marie.."the silence told Belle that Sami was not pleased about that, but then she had laughed aloud.

"I guess I will have to get used to calling her Kay or Marie, or Kat, oh man..good thing they live in Europe huh?"

Chapter XL

The hospital was full of Harris well wishers, so many that the nurses had to come in and shoo them out so that other patients were not disturbed. John had arranged private transport for Harris to be flown back to Salem, and Chandler was set to accompany him. The plan then was for Marlena and John to fly into Zurich with EJ and Sami. EJ wanted to check on the Mythic European operation, and Sami was anxious to see Carrie and the baby. Her relationship with her sister was still rocky, but as long as they were not in the same city, just exchanging the occasional letter or email things were fine.

Tony DiMera seemed to have dropped off the face of the earth, but EJ had set in motion the plan to find him. EJ knew Tony would have to prove his claim to the legacy through the heir, and that would be his undoing. Finding Lexie was the first thing, and EJ was anxious to get back to Salem to set that in motion.

Abe brought the coffee in to Lexie, and she smiled at him in welcome. It had been nice having him and Celeste here, and Theo had loved seeing them again. That was what she had planned on. Giving Theo up to Abe would be the wisest thing, as her life from now on was going to be one of moving from place to place. She would have enough money, and she had no faith at all that Kate would be able to protect her. Kate would turn her on a dime, and Lexie knew it. She had to keep away from EJ Wells, and Tony DiMera, as either one of them would kill her for what she knew.

Tony looked down upon the sleeping infant. He motioned for his guest to come take a peek also. "Well, Argus, see..I have the true DiMera heir, so don't you think it is time for us to come to an agreement on just who should have control of American Operations..surely you can see an interloper like EJ Wells is not the proper guardian of such a enterprise..the man is soft..he has no real heart for what must be done!"

The white haired man smiled as he stroked the cheek of the sleeping baby.."beautiful child..beautiful..such fair hair and skin..bespeakes of Northern influences does it not? The Mother, I presume?" Argus seemed a bit suspicious, and Tony picked up on it immediately.

"I am of course, willing to subject him to the proper tests..but I assure you..he is mine!"

"Yes, I know you will. We do have to make sure..bloodlines are so important you know, Stefano was adamant about that1"

Lucas opened his email and saw the familiar style of Kate. This was a long one, He read about the baby and opened the file with the pictures. Hana came in at that moment when the screen opened up. She stared open mouthed at the picture of Kate on the screen with an o of astonishment on her face. She had lived with a man who carried a picture of this woman in his shirt pocket even after marrying her. "The beautiful Kate" was all that Mondu ever referred to her as! She began talking so swiftly that Lucas had a hard time keeping up with her speech..but it was so obvious what had happened now. Kate had taken the baby girl to Austin and Carrie..a child that belonged truly to EJ and Sami!

Carrie opened the door of the apartment, greeting Marlena with a hug of welcome, then John too. Sami stood awkwardly behind them, waiting to be acknowledged. It had been snowing in Zurich, and the warmth of the fireplace beckoned all of them as Carrie bustled about preparing hot tea for them all.

Kate had not stood up, just waited to be noticed by them. Sami saw her first, and offered a congratulatory "I'm happy for all of you..what a wonderful present for the new year, a baby..Carrie, this is so great, and for you to be a Grandmother again.Kate, ..and Austin must be over the moon!"

Saying not a word to Sami, Kate went to Marlena, giving her a hug and kiss, then the same to John. "So good to see you two! Come and see your grandchild..the most beautiful baby I have ever seen! Katie Marie has the same coloring of Austin..she looks so like him as a baby!"

Kate almost pushed Carrie aside as she went into the nursery to pick up the baby from the bassinette. Then Carrie asserted herself, and took the sleeping infant herself. She carried her tenderly into the room, and walked to Marlena first, pulling back the coverlet so her face was fully visible.

"She is georgous..Carrie..I am so happy for you..what a joyful thing for you..a baby! I know you will be the best mother in the family!" Marlena did not gauge her words, and did not look up to see Samis face reflect the hurt she quickly hid.

John was more attuned to Samis feeling and offered "If there is anything you need to know, ask Sami, she has been a wonderful mother to the twins!"

Sami smiled, and went to look at the baby, but Kate stepped in her way, saying "I think we should put her back down, she seemed to be getting a sniffle, the weather has been so changeable" Kate had taken the baby before Sami even got a close look at her, and headed for the nursery.

EJ entered the apartment with Austin a couple of hours later. Sami and Carrie had prepared a simple dinner of stew and salad for all of them. It was a pleasant evening, and the only one who had been unhappy was Kate. She tried, but she could not help being rude with all. She was still angry with EJ for leaving her in Malawia, making her wait for a flight out instead of taking her with them.

What she wanted most of all was for Sami and EJ to leave the apartment, get back to Salem, and leave Austin and Carrie alone. With their baby.

A cry from the other room sent Austin immediately in to pick up Katie Marie. He brought her out, cooing and smiling..and handed her to Sami.

Kate choked on her gasp..Sami was looking at the baby intently. "Katie Marie" she cooed, and the brown eyes opened up to stare at the source of the voice. There was something so familiar about the face she was looking at Sami thought, then it hit her. The small chin had a little heart shaped freckle sized birthmark. The same identical mark was on Justins face!

This installment of the saga ends here. What will Sami do when she discovers the true identity of Katie Marie? How will Tony protect his legacy from the fact that lab tests will be required to prove paternity of Stefan Antonio?