Die Another Day – Ch 4
Here's the last chapter for this story, and it picks up where we left off…
Die Another Day – chapter 4
Jon watched as Jennifer's smile at his words wane as her eyes drifted shut, and then fought to open several more times. The reality of the situation was that she had barely survived dying, and keeping up the conversation with him as well as the emotional drain had to be taking its effect.
"Go back to sleep. I'll be here when you wake up, I promise."
"Don't want… to sleep…" she replied with several yawns and her lids falling closed again, her mind forcing them open once more.
"Please?" he asked, "Or do you want me to pull rank again?"
She gave him a sleepy smile and clutched his hand as she game a slight but obvious nod. Without opening her eyes again, she settled back into sleep with Jon watching her intently.
"Mentor up and running?" asked Matt as he came in from having switched out with Michael again for the ongoing guard duty of Blastarr.
"Yeah. I need to find some materials to rebuild the hologram tube…" Robert trailed off, and then looked back to the older soldier, "but he's online."
"Has be been any help on the Blastarr front?"
"More than… I think I know what the pathways are for accessing and altering his memories. I just want to craft the new ones perfectly before I do anything."
"Where are we taking him?"
"There's a destroyed military base which had a bunker beneath it for old style missiles in a mountain probably 100 miles East of here. I'm thinking the tech there, all destroyed and buried by the wars will make a reasonable facsimile of our base."
"How soon can you get this done? I think we all would appreciate being able to get some sleep without worrying the damn thing will break free and kill us all."
"I hear you Hawk."
"Look, I know we're all anxious to get the thing outta here but don't forget you need to get some sleep. Last thing we need is for you to fall over or make a mistake in the programming… then what will be do?"
Robert gave Matt a grin and reached over to pat him on the shoulder.
"I get it. Look, let me finish what I'm doing here and then I promise to catch an hour or two before I reprogram our captive bio-dread."
18 hours later Robert had reprogrammed Blastarr with the 'cover story' memories and after damaging him with a few grenades to extend his regeneration, Michael and Matt had helped drag the massive bio-dread to the hangar, where they roped him with electrical conduits from the ruined landing bay to two of the skybikes. With Robert and Michael climbing on, they fired up the two craft and lifted off, raising the metal monster off the deck of the hangar. Programming on their destination they were headed for, the two flew out of the base, with Michael in his power suit flying as support.
After less than an hour they dropped Blastarr 100 miles south, in the ruins of the former U.S. military base. Once they'd cut the bio-dread loose, they hightailed it back to the base where the three quickly headed to the command center, huddling around one of the displays that Robert had gotten working.
"Well?" asked Matt impatiently as he waited for Robert to say something…
"We're picking up a transmission from the drop point," he finally said, looking back to his two team mates.
"That was fast. He most have been almost regenerated by the time we dropped him off," Michael noted, surprised.
"Well, we were kinda just keeping him from regenerating with the electricity…" Robert remarked as his eyes and ears waited, then he heard a series of clicks and reached for a pair of headphones that he'd tuned into the Dread frequency, specific to Blastarr's position. A second later he turned and flashed them a grin, "Message sounds like… yes!"
"Scout?" questioned Matt, wanting to know exactly what was going on.
"He's reporting in that he destroyed the base and there isn't anything to salvage!"
"Is Dread buying it?" Michael asked nervously.
"Hold on… yeah, he's commending Blastarr on the good work and ordering him back to Volcania. We're clear!"
"Holy shit kid, you did it!" yelled Matt as he clapped his hand on Robert's shoulder, looking up to share a grin with Michael.
"Wait till we tell the Captain," said Michael and Matt nodded, stepping back as he brought up his wrist.
"Well, there's no time like the present…"
Jon had been by her side every single time she woke up, whether it was for the doctors or nurses checking on her or if it was just her waking up from dreams… or nightmares. And she'd had a few in the unknown hours since she'd woken the first time and found Jon sitting beside her.
She figured there had been at least two, and he'd been there with a hand in hers and the other touching her cheek as she'd fought her way up from each one. As she woke with a start, she realized this one must have been number three.
"You okay?" he asked, worry etched on his tired face.
"Yeah… I just…"
"Bad dream," he stated, not even phrasing it as a question.
"Are you surprised?"
"Only that you can sleep at all right now..." he said softly, and she noted the dark smudges under his eyes and realized that he probably was sleeping as well as she was, if not worse.
"Nearly dying and being exhausted kind of helps with that. But this isn't really the first time I've had problems sleeping. I had nightmares for a while, back when, if you recall."
He frowned a bit and let his fingers brush her brow, sweeping back the wisps of blond hair that had fallen into her face. He didn't like to think of the months following them bringing her onto the team, to the base… she'd been through some horrifically traumatic things in her escape and that wasn't even dealing with her memories of the Dread Youth.
"You got through it… I know you talked with Mentor a lot as you worked through it."
Jennifer nodded, recalling those early days well. And with the thought of talking to Mentor about things she didn't know how to deal with, a small smile flitted across her face as she remembered asking him what love was… and her eyes slid to where Jon stared at her and knew that she'd known all along that the thing she was feeling for the man before her was important and different and so very real…
Jon smiled back at her, reading the feelings crossing within her eyes. They'd come so close to not having this…
"Captain, can you read me?" called Hawk across the communicator Jon wore, breaking into the two's unspoken conversation and Jon flashed Jennifer a wry smile before he answered.
"I'm here Hawk. What's the news?"
"We've got good news. The house is off the map and the houseguest has been kicked out none the wiser."
Jon smiled and looked to where Jennifer was looking at him with a confused expression. He'd have to explain later when they weren't on an open channel.
"That's great. And you're cleaning up?"
"Yup," said Scout now, adding his voice to the conversation. "I'm making progress on making repairs. I figure we'll come to you with any supplies you need when you're ready to come back… by the way, any news on our girl?"
With a knowing grin Jon leaned closer to her, bringing the communicator on his wrist close enough for her to easily speak into.
"I hope that you're not patching anything with substandard parts that I'll end up having to fix again later," she said and then Jon and Jennifer heard happy shouts on the other end of the channel.
"God it's great to hear your voice kid," said Hawk and Jennifer glanced at Jon with a watery smile.
"I promise I won't make any extra work for you," offered Scout as he joined in.
"And I'll make sure he doesn't," added Tank, rounding out the three members of the team left behind.
"Look, I don't want to stay on too long. I'll call in tomorrow, okay?" Jon announced.
"Got it Captain. Take care out there Pilot."
Disconnecting the communicator, Jon turned to look at Jennifer, and immediately found himself grinning. There, still laid out on the hospital bed, less than 24 hours out of surgery was a aggravated, demanding Pilot, waiting for answers from her superior officer.
"So, what's going on that we can't talk about on our channel?" she asked, the tone in her voice challenging and demanding all at once.
"You remember us coming in after Blastarr caught you, right?" he said simply, waiting to see if his words would register with her, or if all of it was a blank.
She nodded and he watched her hand slide up the bed and brushed lightly the fading bruises around her neck. He fought down the anger that still bubbled in him at the thought of what Blastarr had done to her… how he'd nearly lost her...
"Well I left the guys behind to find a way to dispose of him."
Her eyes widened and her mouth dropped open slightly. He smiled and reached down to catch her hand.
"Robert reprogrammed Blastarr and they located an old military base within the original radius of the jumpgate. The message Matt just relayed meant that Blastarr reported to Dread that our base was destroyed…"
"But… I didn't…"
"No, you didn't… and since Dread thinks the base is gone, we won't have them looking for us there again."
"So, we can go back?" she asked, stunned that the base she was going to destroy to protect the resistance and the team was safe.
"Yes. And once they clear you to travel back to recuperate there, we'll have the guys come out, fix the jumpship and we'll head home."
There was a long pause, and before Jon got too worried at her silence, she stared at him, her eyes narrowing, "and what exactly did you do to my ship?"
Jon couldn't stop the laugh that bubbled up from his chest. He was a lucky man – he had the woman he loved alive and safe with him, his team mates had saved their base and protected it from Dread and everything they'd learned from having captured a bio-dread would bring them that much closer to ending the war.
Less than 2 days ago he thought everything was over, but now… he grinned at her and then leaned forward to kiss her soundly, overwhelmed at the fact that there was a bright future that he could finally see in his horizon.