The Chain

by Maxie Kay

An NCIS: Los Angeles FanFiction

Continuing the story that began in Comes a Time.
This is part of my K/D Universe that started with Personal Questions, and it contains themes and references to events in prior instalments.
Full details of the series and the reading order can be found on my profile page.

Chapter One: Never Break The Chain, part I

Kensi stood staring at the screen, watching the satellite images in disbelief. This couldn't be happening. One minute, the car was racing towards Los Angeles and she was talking Marty on their cell phones, and the next moment there was a deafening noise that felt as if it might just have ruptured her eardrum. As she watched in disbelief, the road in front of the car exploded in a fireball and the vehicle was propelled into the air.

"Marty?" She needed to know he was alright, but there was no answer. "MARTY?" Kensi was aware she was screaming now, watching as the car tumbled over and over, but the only response she got was the static from a severed connection on her phone. Kensi shook her head in disbelief. "That sounded like a rocket-launcher, or a grenade." Only it couldn't have been. She was still trying to come to terms with what she had witnessed, even as Nell and Eric were scrambling the emergency services to the scene. You simply didn't expect to see this sort of thing on a California freeway and it was difficult to comprehend that this was actually real, not some TV show. She couldn't take her eyes off the images on the screen.

"Where the hell is Callen?" Eric was scanning other satellite feeds, trying to locate the motorbike travelling from Los Angeles. "He should be coming up any minute now." On the big screen he could see that car had finally come to a rest and was lying on its roof. The bodywork was badly dented and bashed, the windows were completely shattered and, even worse, there were flames licking at the undercarriage.

"Get out of the car, you bloody idiot," Kensi begged and Eric realised there were tears running down her face. He'd never seen Kensi cry before, not ever. Not even when Dom had died. "Please, Marty. Please. Just get out of the car."

"It'll be alright," Nell said with an authority she did not feel. This looked really bad. Maybe if Callen could get there in time there might just be a chance. She tucked her thumbs into the palms of her hands, folded her fingers over them and held on tightly.

"Callen's coming up now," Eric announced. He swivelled his chair around and watched as the Ducati skidded to a halt and Callen dismounted in a smooth movement and raced over to the car. He was within ten feet when suddenly, without warning, he dropped to his knees onto the tarmac. And then the screen went blank

"Shit." Eric turned back to the bank of keyboards in front of him and frantically began typing. "What the fuck's happening?"

"Bring the image back up," Nell snapped, unclasping her hands and hugging Kensi as hard as she possibly could. "We need visuals now, Eric."

"You think I'm not trying?" The tension and frustration were evident in his voice. "Nope. Not possible. The signal's being blocked. The satellite's still transmitting, but we can't get the signal."

"Unblock it. Or find us another satellite. Just do something."

"One step ahead of you. I'm already trying. Believe me, I'm trying." Eric accessed every source he could think of, trying to find whatever was screwing with the image-stream, but without success. "No go. I can't access it because someone is locking me out deliberately. And there's no other satellite within range for another ten minutes. We've lost them."

"No." Kensi pulled away from Nell's embrace and walked over to the screen, where she stood staring at the static that filled the whole wall. "Don't say that. I can't bear it." She reached out, extended her fingers and gently stroked the glass before laying the flat of her palm on the screen. "We can't have lost them." Her voice was high and thin and she sounded like a little girl. Nell's face crumpled as she watched her just staring at the screen helplessly.

Eric spoke to Nell in an undertone. "We need to get hold of Callen now and find out what the hell is going on down there. And then get him back here asap. If Hetty is dead or injured, then he's next in command. There's procedures to go through, people to contact and I know this is hard, but we've got jobs to do. So pull yourself together, okay?"He patted her awkwardly on the arm. "Ifit's any consolation, they probably never knew what hit them."

Nell sniffed loudly and was surprised when Kensi handed her a white cotton handkerchief. "Marty always said I should be prepared for all eventualities. He gave this to me the first night we were together. I've sort of carried it around ever since." In one corner Nell could see the initials MB embroidered in pale blue silk and she hesitated for a second. "Go on, use it," Kensi urged. "It's just a handkerchief, not a holy relic. Can you imagine Marty carrying a handkerchief around with him? He said that if ever he saw a girl who was crying, he'd give her a handkerchief, along with his card. Nine times out of ten, she called the next day. So take the damned thing, Nell. Because it's only a bloody handkerchief and it doesn't matter."

Callen and Joe were still about half a mile away when they heard the explosion and saw the plume of dark smoke rising into the sky.

"Bloody bastards. I thought they'd try something like this." Joe growled and then pushed every last ounce of power out of the Ducati, so that the engine seemed to scream with fury. He had barely brought it to a skidding halt when Callen dismounted and started sprinting towards the wreckage.

"Down!" Joe's voice reverberated inside the helmet. "Get down, Callen. Right now." Obediently, Callen sunk to his knees, feeling the heat of the road surface transmit through his jeans. "Take off the helmet and leave it on the ground. Then get Marty and get the hell out of here. No names, no pack drill. We'll be in touch. And take care."

"And Hetty?" Callen asked, fumbling with the strap and pulling off the helmet. The hidden microphone/receiver transmitted one final message.

"I'll take care of her. Now go get Marty."

The flames were starting to take a hold of the undercarriage of the car now, licking towards the fuel tank. Callen left the helmet lying on the road and pelted over, reckoning he had two minutes at the very most before the biggest bonfire the region had ever seen burst into life. There was movement inside the car and as he approached a small, uncharacteristically ruffled figure emerged, crawling out through the window on the driver's side.

"Your help would be appreciated, Mr Callen," Hetty said breathlessly. "I'm afraid Mr Deeks was knocked out in the accident."

"Tell me this wasn't planned?" Callen begged, crawling inside the passenger window and freeing the seat belt. Deeks was splendidly unconscious, completely out of it and absolutely no help at all.

"It certainly wasn't planned by me," Hetty replied tartly. "Don't be so stupid, Mr Callen. Have you ever known me to recklessly endanger the lives of my team?"

"So what the hell is going on here?" he asked, grabbing hold of Deeks and starting to drag him out. A couple of weeks of enforced bed rest meant that his muscles protested vigorously at the abuse he was subjecting them to. "Because it certainly wasn't a co-incidence that Joe and I just happened to be here, was it?" Deeks was lying on the road now, still out for the count, despite the manhandling.

"We've been set up. All of us." Her eyes flashed dangerously. "I'll find out who is behind this, I promise. But you have to get out of here, right now. Pick him up and run like hell." She nodded towards the flames, which were getting rather to close to the gas tank for comfort.

"You're not coming?" Callen yelled incredulously, watching as she trotted over to where he had left the helmet lying in the road. He was beginning to wonder if he'd been knocked out too and was having some kind of hallucination. Bending his knees, he heaved Deeks up and hoisted him over one shoulder, trying desperately not to groan with the effort. "You're not coming?"

"I wish I could." Hetty pulled on the helmet and opened the visor, so he could see her shrewd face looking at him. "Now get out of here." Joe circled the bike around and Hetty stepped nimbly onto the pillion seat. The moment she put her arms around his waist, Joe opened up the Ducati and they set off like a pair of superannuated Hell's Angel, driving on the road to nowhere.

"Run like hell, she says. Hey, that's no problem at all. I mean, it's not like Deeks is over six foot tall and a dead weight to boot. I'll just set a world record for the 100 metre sprint while I'm at it, shall I?" Callen muttered under his breath, concentrating all his energy on moving away from the car as fast as possible under the circumstances. Any minute now and the whole damn thing was going to blow them both to kingdom come if he couldn't put a decent distance between them and what was going to turn into a very large, very lethal shrapnel bomb.

He was panting with the effort and the sun was blaring down, right into his eyes, making it hard to see. "You owe me big time, Deeks. And believe you, I'm going to collect. Even if I have to hold that dog of yours hostage." Callen was very nearly at the side of the road, where a shallow ditch looked like it might offer some minimal protection when the earth seemed to move beneath his feet as the car exploded and the shock-wave sent them both flying.

Okay - it's back by popular demand! Your wish is my command, dear readers.