"Damn it," cried Warrick, storming away from the van and kicking a tree. There was nothing in the vehicle that could lead him to Sydney Sidle-Grissom. "I've got nothing," he roared in frustration as Brass walked over, cell phone in hand. "Where the hell is auto detail? I need the car back at the lab an hour ago."
"That was them on the phone, they're five minutes away. Sofia's at the house with day shift. Leah and Kati are still there, everyone else is at the hospital," Brass' voice was raw, his eyes furious.
"Hospital?" asked Warrick, "why?" Brass stared at him, and Warrick felt his insides twist.
"No," he whispered, swallowing. "Who?" he demanded, afraid to ask, but needing to know.
"Sara and Sophie are critical, Kaia's in surgery with a bullet in her shoulder. Greg has a chunk of glass in his kidney, Grissom has a dislocated shoulder at the least, and Catherine needs stitches."
"What's wrong with," started Warrick before trailing off unable to continue.
"Sophie apparently got cut in the wrist by glass from a car window. It severed an artery. Sara is, she's," it was Brass' turn to get caught unable to finish.
"She's what," demanded Warrick, horrified by his friend's silence.
"She was shot in the leg, but that's not the problem. She's seventeen weeks pregnant and in shock, which means,"
"That she could lose the baby," whispered Warrick, appalled. "Haven't they been through enough?" he implored to no one in particular. He kicked the tree again in fury, causing a bolt of pain to race up his leg and clear his mind. "We have to find her," he growled, yanking Brass back over to the van and tossing him a spare pair of gloves he had stuffed in his pocket. "There has to be something here," he insisted, starting over with the ground around the van.
"Dayshift is here," said Brass suddenly, a few fruitless minutes later, "and auto detail is right behind them."
"About freakin' time," exclaimed Warrick, storming over to direct the CSI's to cast some tire treads. Brass pulled out his phone and dialled Sofia but he didn't even get to press send before he spotted Conrad Ecklie walking toward him.
"Shit," muttered Brass, stepping around the van and away from any evidence to talk him.
"What on earth is going on Jim? I'm only getting partial stories and none of them seem to fit together. From what I've got so far Grissom's child is missing and there was an officer involved shooting at Sidle's house?" Brass sighed wearily.
"I don't know the whole story either, but I can tell you my side. We were having breakfast with Grissom and Sara; this van drove into the driveway and snatched their daughter, shot the place up and tore out of there. Warrick and I returned fire, and pursued the van. We lost it in a dust storm at the corner back there, and then found this. We've been here about a couple of hours processing the scene while orders rolled out. I sent patrol cars down the forks in the road, issued an Amber Alert and so on. I spoke with Sofia at the house about ten minutes ago, Grissom, Sidle, Willows, Sanders, Stokes, Robbins and three kids are all at the hospital. Three are critical, three more have other injuries, the rest just cuts and scrapes from what I could understand."
Ecklie stared across the road for a full minute, trying to take it all in. Brass could almost see his mind reeling.
"The missing girl is," he consulted a small notebook, "sixteen? Sara's daughter or Grissom's?" asked Ecklie, his confusion evident.
"Both," said Brass, nodding at Ecklie's gawp. "Don't ask, we only just found out after shift."
"Ok, so what do we know?"
"Absolutely nothing," said Brass.
"This address," said Ecklie, staring at his notes again. "It's in the middle of nowhere right?"
"Last house at the end of a dirt road, all the properties have land but it's pretty bare, miles from the city. There's no way this was random," voiced Brass. "Why the hell would you drive all the way out there to snatch a kid when there are hundreds of parks, estates and malls around here?"
"You wouldn't," said Ecklie, looking at him, "unless you had a specific target in mind." Brass clenched his fist in anger.
"So is this a straightforward kidnapping, or is there something else going on here?" he mused. "I mean, how were they planning on getting Sydney out of the house? Were they after her in particular? Or would any of the kids have done?"
"Back up a minute," said Ecklie, trying to follow his train of thought. "Grissom and Sidle are together?"
"Married," confirmed Brass.
"How many children do they have?"
"Four, all girls. Sydney is sixteen, she has an identical twin called Sophie. Kaia is twelve, Kati is four."
"Ok," said Ecklie, "I think we're going to have to assume this was premeditated judging by the fact that the attackers drove straight to the house, took the girl under fire and managed to lose you guys after switching vehicles. I think we're also going to have to assume that this family was the particular target. So where does that leave us?"
"They were professionals," said Brass, sweeping his arm to indicate the scene. Ecklie nodded.
"We need to go back over cases, suspects with grudges, anyone who has recently been released, all of that, for both Sidle and Grissom. There has to be a connection," said Ecklie, running through theories and ideas out loud.
"Do you think it's possible that this has something to do with what happened last year?" posited Brass.
"You mean the miniature killer and the whole desert kidnapping thing? I don't know. We need to be ready for a ransom call," continued Ecklie.
"That's going to be difficult," Brass told him.
"The whole family is at Desert Palms, except Grissom's mother and the four year old."
"She can answer if the phone rings," said Ecklie, his mind already moving on to the next step.
"She's deaf," said Brass, "She doesn't speak. Sofia said that Kati can translate a little, and I know Leah reads lips excellently, but that won't help with a phone."
"Great," sighed Ecklie.
"I don't think there will be a call," Brass told him. "They shot like they have training, or at the very least a hell of a lot of practice; they have to know that most of the family are incapacitated."
"Who's injured?" asked Ecklie, scribbling notes to himself.
"Sara, Sophie and Kaia are critical, Grissom has a dislocated shoulder and Catherine needs stitches. Greg needs surgery, but is otherwise stable. I think the others just have minor cuts and bruises."
"Who is the other kid? You said there were three at Desert Palms," Ecklie did not look up as he wrote furiously.
"Do we have any info on the three that are critical?"
"Sara and Kaia were shot; Sophie has a slashed artery from window glass."
"Who is at the hospital with them?"
"Officer Morris is taking statements, two lab techs already collected their clothes, Sofia has CSI's at the house with her and we have protection on everyone involved until we know more. Warrick is going with the van back to CSI. Sofia asked Catherine to stay at the hospital with Grissom, but Nick is going to want to get to the lab."
"I know that," retorted Ecklie. "We need their statements first. I'll go to the hospital, but I need to see Sofia first. This is going to be a nightmare."
"Do you think that hasn't crossed my mind?" Brass almost yelled, before he caught himself. "Do yourself a favour and don't go in there and try to interrogate Grissom; one of his kids is missing, two more are critically injured as well as his wife who is also in danger of losing the baby she's carrying, not to mention the fact that he's hurt as well."
"Great," scowled Ecklie, directing his anger at Brass. "I'm not completely inhuman," he snapped, quavering slightly at Brass' wrath. "Get back to the lab with Brown and start reviewing case files." Ecklie left, and Brass walked back over to Warrick, furious.
"Sofia, what have you got so far?" asked Ecklie, by way of greeting, as he strode up past the tape barricading off the driveway.
"The van stopped there," said the detective, pointing. "We've got three kinds of shell casings from here, and two up by the house from Warrick Brown and Captain Brass. Two dead suspects, one with three rounds in him, the other with severe head trauma and a bullet in his neck. Tire tracks, a key to the blue Corolla over there, with blood all over it from suspect one, some hairs and fibres, a rag with halothane on it. There are more shell casings than we can count so far and we haven't accounted for all the bullets yet."
"We have a boot print with some dirt like substance in the impression, Hodges is going to stay and analyse it. He already has the clothes from the hospital."
"What about the grandmother? Did she see anything?"
"No, she and Doctor Robbins kept Lindsey Willows and the little girl inside when the gunfire broke out."
"I need to talk to her," he said.
"She's inside." Ecklie crossed the drive and followed Sofia up to the house. Sofia talked him through what she knew of the morning's events. Inside the house Leah Grissom was sitting at the kitchen table with Kati and an array of pens, pencils and colouring books. Kati looked up when Sofia entered the room, and nudged her grandmother.
"Leah," said Sofia, looking the older woman straight in the eye, "this is Conrad Ecklie, the Assistant Lab Director. He has a few questions for you." Leah nodded, and then turned back to Kati, signing quickly to her.
"Gwanma wants to know when we can go to the hospital," said Kati. "She says she wants to know what's happening." Leah put a hand on Kati's shoulder to get her attention before signing some more. "Gwanma doesn't like being keeped here, she is vewy vewy mad at you," continued Kati, her face gravely serious. The little girl grabbed a fistful of Leah's sweater and stared up at Sofia. "Why do we need to go to the hospital?" she asked, her eyes huge. "Where are daddy and mommy and Kaia and Sophie and Syd?"
Sofia looked at Leah, who had been reading her granddaughters' lips. Leah picked up Kati and sat her on the kitchen counter. They began a very rapid conversation.
"So I guess it's easier to learn sign language that it is to learn English?" remarked Ecklie, "because it looks to me like she signs better than she speaks."
"Mmm," replied Sofia, her mind elsewhere.
"We go to hospital now," said Kati. "Gwanma says so."
"I'll drive," said Sofia with a resigned sigh. Seeing the steely determination in the older woman's face, Ecklie grumbled to himself about his lack of questions.
"Gwanma says it's not polite to," Kati paused, a question on her face. She gestured with one hand. Leah nodded and repeated a sign, "gwumble," finished Kati. Sofia laughed, Ecklie scowled.
"Come on Kati, you want to ride in my police car?" asked Sofia, her eyes crinkled with mirth. The little girl cocked her head and stared at Sofia for a moment.
"Ok," she shrugged and ran to the pegs over the counter closest to the kitchen door. She grabbed the closest set of keys she could reach and held them out to Sofia.
"I thought we were going in my car," said the detective, confused.
"We are," replied Kati, with a look on her face that said Sofia must be stupid. Leah laughed soundlessly behind Ecklie.
"What are the keys for then?" Kati gave a labouring sigh and grabbed Sofia's hand, towing her out of the kitchen.
"I need a cawseat," she answered, the unspoken duh very audible. "And we need to wock the houwse." Sofia sighed again and picked up Kati so she wouldn't tread in the evidence.
"Which car?" she asked her charge. Kati pointed to the red Corolla. "Whose is this car?"
"Sophie," replied the little girl, a strange look on her face.
"What is it?" asked Sofia as she opened the car and tried to wrestle the car seat out with one hand.
"You're a defective rwight?"
"A detective," corrected Sofia, covering another smile as she enunciated carefully. Kati waved a hand dismissively,
"Whadever, you're supposed to know things rwight?"
"Yes," said Sofia guardedly.
"But you don't know things!" accused Kati.
"What do you mean?" asked Sofia, startled.
"You don't know to wock the door, about the cawseat, that this is Sophie car and that is Syd's car and that is mommy's car and daddy's car."
"Well," said Sofia carefully as she carried her charge over to her Charger. One of the officers came over and grabbed the car seat from her, jogging over to the car to install it. Sofia followed at a more sedate pace. "Detectives don't know everything, we are supposed to go places and find things out."
"What are my buggies called?" demanded Kati.
"My madgar hissing woaches," said Kati, irritated.
"I don't know," said Sofia, wondering what on earth she was talking about.
"See," said Kati, "You are bad defective. You don't know things!" Sofia stared down into Kati's eyes- Grissom's eyes- and sighed. She was beginning to wish she hadn't gotten up that morning.
Had to have a little humour in there- things are getting a bit tense. I seem to have had an industrious day; there is a new chapter of Ex Animo up too...
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed, and please, pretty please, leave me a review.