New Year, New Beginning
Updated A/N: This is a complete revision of the original. I found an awesome beta reader! Without whom this story and my other WIPs would not be anywhere near as polished as they are! Thank you so much to Windjammers!
Original A/N: Having recently come across some old Captain Power videos, I remembered why I liked the show so much! I always felt they cheated us at the end of season 1. I personally don't believe they would have left Jennifer dead. I think they would have brought her back somehow. However as there never was a season two, we'll never know; consequently I have decided in my little corner of the world that Jennifer did not in fact die. The team got to her in time. During the time I was watching the show, I was a huge fan of Jennifer and Jon getting their act together - so to speak. I was a shipper before the term was invented! LOL! At any rate, since seeing the old videos, the plot bunnies have been running crazy and my muse will NOT let it drop so here I am venturing back into fanfiction after a long absence.
For this outing, I'm doing a series of stories on the various holidays and how they play a part in getting Jon and Jennifer off their collective butts and do something about this thing between them. This story takes a different tack on what could have happened. So the ending to Retribution didn't happen in my little corner of the universe. That being said….on with the story.
47-12 Mark 29
The Passages were a busy and noisy place. Down in the medward, things were a little quieter. Captain Jonathan Power sat in the darkened medward room watching lights on the machines beep and blink. Each noise and flash they made was one more indication that he hadn't been too late. They testified to the existence of a life saved. A life that had it been lost would have destroyed him. Not that he knew that until it was almost too late. He sat as close to the bed as he could, holding her hand, scared that he would wake up and find that Jennifer really was gone, that he hadn't gotten there in time. Her last words to him would have haunted him to his grave. He'd never forgive himself for not telling her how he felt when she used what could have been her last breath to tell him her feelings. He silently cursed Blastarr for nearly destroying everything, not that Blastarr would ever hear anything again. That was one biodread that didn't survive the fury of the Power Team. When they went back to the base after rescuing Jennifer and saw the bulky, regenerating carcass of that nightmare-on-two-wheels, they showed him no mercy.
His group had been lucky over the years. They had all lost friends, even other family members, but their little resistance group had remained intact with its original members. That almost changed four days ago. They had come closer than they ever had to losing a member of their team, and Jon never wanted to be that close again.
Doctor Cheryl Grissom had been in to check on Jennifer every couple of hours and a medic had come in every half hour to get her vitals. Cheryl was the team's preferred doctor whenever they were at one of her medical facilities. After they rescued Jennifer at the base, they contacted her and Cheryl said she'd meet them at the Passages. They immediately flew there. Cheryl and Matt had been friends for decades and personally involved for the last few years. The team trusted her implicitly. She was the best, and they wanted the best to treat Jennifer. Every time Cheryl came in the ward, she told Jon that Jennifer was slowly but surely improving. She just needed time.
Amidst the beeps, blinks and flashes from the machines, Jon heard the sound of approaching footsteps followed by the unmistakable sound of the privacy curtain being drawn back. He looked around and saw Matt Masterson standing there, looking just as exhausted as Jon felt.
"You'd think that they would build some actual hospital rooms. It'd sure be nice so the patients could have some real privacy," the older pilot said quietly.
"Yeah, it would be a good idea," the young captain agreed.
"How's she doing?" he whispered, coming to stand behind Jon.
"No change. Cheryl said she appears to be healing well as far as she can tell from the scans. She's not keeping Jennifer sedated any longer, so it's up to her to wake up on her own. Although, Cheryl did say at this point, the longer she's out, the better it is for her body to heal."
"Well, that's good, I guess. We both know as soon as she's feels the slightest bit better, she's gonna be up and around whether it's good for her or not."
"Yeah," Jon replied, not taking his eyes off Jennifer's sleeping form or relinquishing her hand.
"Jon, come on. You've been here for the last four days. You need to get some real sleep in a real bed. Those catnaps you've been taking in that chair aren't doing you any favors. Cheryl got us some temporary quarters while we're here since it looks like we'll be here for a while. And I could pull rank on you, you know, but how about I just beg you instead? Please? Go get some sleep. I'll sit with her"
"No, I want to stay here."
"I understand. I do. However, you need your rest. As soon as she wakes up and starts moving, I know you're going to insist on taking care of her yourself-"
"And you're going to need to be rested. And frankly, my friend, you need to strategize," Hawk finished, a smile pulling at his mouth.
"What does that mean?" Jon asked, finally turning to look Hawk in the eye.
"It means that this young lady put her feelings out there for all of us to hear, and by your behavior over the last week, I'd say you love her as much as she loves you. Am I wrong?"
Jon turned his gaze back to Jennifer's sleeping form as he replied, "No. I don't know how it happened either. One minute, she's a former Dread Youth we're trying to help regain her humanity, and the next, I'm realizing she's not just a soldier and a pilot. She's this absolutely incredible woman that I fell in love with in the middle of a war."
"Well, that's usually how it happens. ' Bout time someone got to you. You've been alone too long—"
"I needed to concentrate on fighting Dread, I didn't need distract—"
"I know, I know. You wanted it that way. When we started all this, you needed it to be that way, but things are different now. If we let those Machines take away our chances to have friends and families, then they've already won. We've got to find ways to be happy wherever we can find them," Hawk replied, laying a hand on Jon's shoulder.
"So go get some rest. Make some plans about how you're gonna show our girl how much you love her. Remember, she doesn't have any reference for romance or dating. She deserves to be courted," Hawk strongly suggested.
"No pressure, right?" Jon chuckled, the first since this whole ordeal started.
"You'll do fine but not if you're dead on your feet."
"You'll stay until I get back? I don't want her left alone."
"I promise. Now go on! Get some rest. I'll call you if she wakes or anything changes," Hawk promised, ushering Jon out the door.
"Thanks, Matt. I'll be back in a few hours."
Hawk took up residence in the chair that Jon had vacated and looked at the young woman in the bed. It truly amazed him how much the human body could take and how much difference a few days could make. When they'd rescued Jennifer from their old base, none of them thought she'd pull through. It was obvious from the outset that her left arm was broken and that she'd suffered some very serious internal injuries. They hadn't known until they got her to the Passages just how serious her injuries really were. One of her lungs collapsed; her liver as well as other organs had suffered lacerations that had taken the doctors many hours to repair. They'd been lucky so far. The doctors had told them the first forty-eight hours following the surgery were the most critical. As long as they didn't have to go back in and infection didn't settle in, then she had a good chance of recovering. They did stress that she would have a very long recovery. She would have to do physical therapy to get her strength and stamina back. Jennifer hated long recoveries and fought tooth and nail to get up and moving sooner than she should whenever she'd been injured in the past. He knew that meant that he and the others would be spending a lot of time keeping her from overdoing things. He sighed and leaned forward. Time for a chat, he thought.
"Now listen here, young lady. I'm sure it's nice and peaceful where you are. I'm sure it's quiet, but we kinda miss ya back here. Jon especially. He needs you, you know. He loves you. Don't know if you knew that, but it's true. If you don't come back to him, he's not gonna make it. I've never seen a man more scared in my life. So it would be really nice if you could wake up when he comes back." Matt stopped for a moment to breathe.
"And besides Jon," he continued, "Tank, Scout, and I really miss you too. You're our girl, and we need you too. So hurry on back, okay? In the meantime, I'm gonna sit here and keep you company."
Matt sat back and hunkered down to keep watch for a few hours.
Jon slowly made his way to the temporary quarters he and the others had been given while they were at the Passages. Under normal circumstances, they would have slept in the ship, but it wasn't designed for long term campouts. Given that Blastarr and the biomechs had found the base which forced the team to destroy it, they were going to be homeless for the long term. That meant they needed long term quarters for the foreseeable future. Therefore, for now, with no base to go back to and Jennifer's injuries as serious as they were, they were going to be there for the foreseeable future. It occurred to him that he hadn't given a moment's thought to the destruction of the base. Nothing had mattered to him after they'd lost contact with Jennifer. She'd been talking to them on a tight comm beam, but then they lost the connection. Jon had feared the worst. Getting to her had been his only concern at that point. He didn't care what happened to the base. Those last few moments over the comm kept replaying in his memory.
"Hold on, Jennifer. We're coming. We're just a few minutes out."
"No! Stay back. The self-destruct is no good. I'm all broken up inside. I have to blow the…blow the power source. It's the only to stop Dread from getting the base."
"He can have the base. Don't do it, Jennifer. You've got to get out of there."
He could hear her coughing and gasping for every breath she took. It was obvious she was seriously injured.
"I can't. I'm locked in the central power room. I'm sorry we never got to finish our talk—"
"No, listen, I don't have much time. Blastarr is about to shoot through the doors. I've got to hit the power source to stop him. It's the only way." Jennifer paused for a moment. He could hear her gasping for breath again before she continued, "I love you, Jon. So much. Just think of me sometime, okay."
Something had snapped in Jon at that point. He wasn't going to lose her this way. "Jennifer, don't. The base isn't worth this. I'm ordering you NOT to blow the base. If you never follow another order again, PLEASE follow this one. We're opening the landing bay now. So unless you plan on killing all of us, stand down."
Jon had waited for a reply, but one never came as the comm became staticky and then the signal was lost. The anxiety in the ship had ratcheted up even more. No one said a word after the comm shut down. Mere moments later, Matt set the ship down in the landing bay.
They powered up their suits and exited the jumpship, weapons drawn.
"Nothing gets between us and the central power room. We get Jennifer and get the hell out of here. I don't care about anything else but getting her out, understood?"
Each man nodded his understanding and made their way to the central power control room as quickly as they could. Running as fast as they could at times.. As they travelled the corridors of their base, they discovered the lengths that Jennifer had gone to to defend their home. All of the biomechs were in pieces. She'd taken all of them out. All that remained was Blastarr. Under other circumstances, Jon would have approached the biodread warlord carefully and cautiously; however these were not normal circumstances. Jennifer didn't have time for them to be careful and cautious. They could hear Blastarr firing on the door. The doors to the power control room were reinforced with double panels to prevent anyone or thing from blasting their way through. They turned the corner and came face to face with the biodread. They immediately opened fire.
They fired repeatedly at his power supply, his front sensor panel, his welded on weapons, any moving part they could hit as the smoke from their weapons obscured their vision. They knew that the individual pieces would eventually regenerate and Blastarr would be able to reassemble himself, but none of them cared about that fact at that moment.
They couldn't open the door. Jennifer had locked it from the inside, and Blastarr's shots had destroyed the door controls and dented the shield doors inwards. They couldn't open it. Jon looked to Tank. It took all a few seconds for Tank to bust in what was left of the door.
Jon spotted Jennifer first. She was on the floor, unconscious by the panel she'd intended to use to blow up the base. Jon fell to his knees beside her. He quickly checked for a pulse. It was there but very weak. He carefully brushed the strands of her hair that had fallen out of her ponytail away from her face.
"Jennifer," he spoke softly.
She stirred, struggling to open her eyes.
"Jon," she whispered.
"I'm here," he choked out around the lump in his throat.
She coughed, causing a pained expression to cross her face.
"We're going to get you out of here. Just hang on. Okay?"
"I'll do my best," she responded starting to fade again.
"We need to get her loaded on the ship," Jon said to the others as it became clear Jennifer had lost consciousness again. "Scout, Tank, get one of the stretchers from the Medbay."
The two men quickly headed to retrieve a stretcher.
"What about Blastarr?" Matt asked.
Jon didn't respond right away. His entire focus was on the unconscious woman before them. Finally, after a moment, Jon responded, "What about him?"
"What are we going to do about him?"
"Nothing," Jon replied simply.
"Jennifer doesn't have time, and I'm not losing her now. I can't, Matt. We'll get her to Cheryl, and then we'll decide what to do about the base."
Scout and Tank returned with the stretcher at that point and conversation ceased. The four men carefully maneuvered Jennifer onto the stretcher. Jon noted the unnatural angle of her left arm, it was obviously broken. She let out a low pained moan as they moved her. They slowly made their way back to the landing bay. They quickly but carefully loaded her into the jumpship, and hightailed it out of the base.
Hawk contacted Spokane. Cheryl advised them she would meet them at the Passages. Hawk immediately changed course. He contacted the Passages and alerted them they were on their way, and the extent of Jennifer's injuries. The tech had said the message would be passed on to Cheryl immediately.
The moment the jumpship landed, Cheryl and a team of doctors climbed on board. Cheryl took a moment to assess Jennifer's condition. The look in Cheryl's eyes told them more than words that Jennifer's condition was grave. They quickly took Jennifer from them and directly into surgery.
They stood there silently by the ship for a few moments, none of them knowing if they'd ever see Jennifer alive again, when Scout broke the silence. "So what do we do now?"
"We wait. Let's get the ship locked down and head to the Medical Pavilion," Hawk replied.
Each man went about his duties to see the ship securely locked down. With those tasks completed, the team made their way down to the medical pavilion. Each was lost in his own thoughts as they managed to find an area outside of the surgery area where they could wait. Time seemed to drag on.
Just when Jon thought he was going to go crazy if he didn't hear something soon, Cheryl stepped out of the surgery doors. While the team and those involved in the surgery felt like time had stood still, in reality, it had only been four hours. Cheryl looked dead on her feet. She was still in her scrubs that were splattered in places with what the team knew was Jennifer's blood.
Matt was the first to approach her.
"She's alive," Cheryl began as the team let out a collective sigh around her. "I can't tell you how or why. She shouldn't be."
"Is she going to be okay?" Jon asked, the strain of the last several hours evident in his voice.
Cheryl took a moment to collect her thoughts. "As long as we don't have to go back in during the next forty-eight hours, her chances of survival are good, but she's not out of the woods yet. I wasn't kidding when I said she shouldn't be alive. Aside from the broken left arm, she also had some very serious internal injuries. She's got four ribs broken, one of which punctured her left lung causing it to collapse, not to mention the internal bleeding. It took an hour to find and close all the wounds on just her liver. That's not even mentioning the other injuries to her other organs that we had to find and repair. She's lost a lot of blood, but we've been able to replace that with transfusions thankfully. I'm not going to sugarcoat this for you guys. If she makes it through the next forty-eight hours, she has a long road ahead of her. This won't be like the others times she's been injured. Even using a regenerator on her, there will be no quick recovery, but I know Jennifer. She's a fighter. I think she's going to make it."
Jon and the others absorbed her words. If Cheryl thought she was going to be okay, then they could breathe a little easier.
"When can we see her?" Jon asked, his voice sounding a little stronger than just a few minutes ago.
"The other surgeons are closing her up now. She's going to be in the recovery ward for at least the next several hours. She's not breathing on her own yet. Re-inflating a lung is a painful business and hard on the body. Frankly, she's unconscious and even if she weren't, she's just too weak for visitors right now. I'll be reevaluating her every few hours to determine when we can remove the breathing tube. Once we determine that she's safe to move, we'll put her in her own space. However, she won't be able to talk to you. I'm ordering her to be kept sedated for at least the next forty-eight hours. I know how she is. Either she'll move around or she'll try to refuse pain medication like always. So I'm not having that argument."
Jon allowed a small smile to play at his lips. He knew Cheryl was right. As much as he wanted to talk to Jennifer, it was best that she rest and not fight those trying to take care of her.
"Probably a good idea," he agreed.
"The best I can do at this point is let one of you go in and see for yourself that she is alive, but that's it. Once she's stronger and we move her from the recovery ward, then all of you can." Cheryl offered.
Jon felt torn. He wanted to stay with her but hearing that she was going to be okay had allowed other thoughts to start forming. He was still the captain. His feelings aside, he had decisions to make. They needed to go back and see what could be salvaged from the base and then destroy it.
"What are you thinking, Jon?" the older pilot asked.
The younger man had been staring at the floor contemplating their next move. Finally, he raised his eyes to respond. "We need to go back, salvage what we can, and then finish what Jennifer started. She damn near killed herself to keep Dread from getting the base, so we need to make sure he doesn't," the captain responded.
"And if we get to destroy Blastarr in the process, that's just gravy right?" Scout interjected.
"We know the individual pieces of the biodreads will regenerate. The more pieces, the longer the regeneration time. We go back and determine how far he has regenerated, slow down the process if we need to to buy us some time and he gets blown to hell when we blow the base. I want to salvage everything we can, but we'll determine that when we get there. Scout, can you pull apart one of biomechs and determine if the base's location had been sent to Volcania yet?"
"Sure thing, Captain, although I guess if the base is crawling with biomechs when we get there, we'll have the answer," Scout replied.
"Let's hope it's not," Tank put in.
"Agreed," Jon replied, a concerned expression on his face as his gaze slipped back to the doors leading to where Jennifer was.
"You're really going to blow the base?" Cheryl asked, a little shocked.
"I don't really want to, but itslocation is compromised one way or the other," Jon replied.
She moved closer to Matt, "That's been your home for fifteen years. The only home Jennifer has ever known. I'd hate to see her lose that."
Matt took her hand in his. "We do to, but Jon's right. Dread will start looking for Blastarr soon, if he hasn't already. We'll find another base."
Cheryl nodded acknowledging they were right as much as she didn't like it. "I'll find you some quarters here before you get back." Cheryl looked directly at Matt. "Be careful. I have my hands full taking care of Jennifer. I don't want any new patients tonight."
"We will," Matt promised her, gathering her in a hug. A moment later, they pulled apart.
"Jon, if you want to see her for a few moments, I can take you back."
Jon nodded. "Matt, you and Tank and Scout, get the ship ready for takeoff. I'll meet you there shortly. We'll go back to the base, get what we can and then return here."
The three men nodded their understanding and headed off to the ship. Jon turned to Cheryl. "Let's go"
"Give me a few minutes to make sure they've moved her somewhere where you can see her Cheryl said, heading back through the doors.
He watched Cheryl step through another set of doors. It seemed like forever before she returned.
"They've just placed her in recovery. Come on."
He didn't have to be told twice. He followed Cheryl closely and almost bumped into her when she stopped suddenly outside the curtain of Jennifer's room. Calling it a room was being generous; it was really more of a cordoned off area with beds separated by curtains.
"I want to you understand. She doesn't look very good. She has a breathing tube and various tubes running everywhere. She's hooked up to several machines right now, but remember, she made it through the surgery which is the first hurdle. I just wanted you to be prepared before you see her."
The gravity of the situation settled on his shoulders again. She was here because he sent her back to the base alone. Even though the ultimate blame rested with Locke for setting them up, he couldn't help but hold himself responsible as well.
Taking a deep breath, he said. "I understand."
Cheryl nodded as she pulled back the curtain and stepped back.
Jon slowly crept up to bed. Cheryl hadn't been understating Jennifer's condition. He could see the bruises that had started to form. She was so still that if the machine hadn't been monitoring her heart rate and breathing for her, he would have thought she was dead.
"I'll give you a few minutes," Cheryl said from somewhere behind him as she pulled the curtain closed.
Jon was overwhelmed. He dropped to his knees beside the bed. Carefully, he took her hand in his and gently brushed the hair away from her eyes with his other.
"Jennifer, I'm not sure if you can hear me, but I need you to keep fighting. You see, I didn't get a chance to say I love you back. I would really like that chance. I need a second chance. Cheryl says she's going to keep you sedated for a couple of days. Seems she knows you pretty well. She doesn't want to fight with you over the pain meds. I guess she's going to leave that to me and the others…" he paused for moment. "I've got to go with the team to the base. We need to see what can be salvaged and finish what you started. The base has to be destroyed, and I have to do it. I want to stay here with you, but I don't feel its right to make the others be responsible for destroying our home. It's my responsibility." He had to stop again as he choked up and tears threatened to fall. "I don't want to do it. There's so many good memories tied to that place. So many memories, but we can make new memories. So while I'm gone, I want you to rest and be here when I get back," he continued stroking her hair as he spoke. "I love you. I need you to know that. As soon as you wake up, I'm going to tell you that every chance I get. I've wasted enough time already."
He heard Cheryl return and stop just outside the curtain.
"I've got to go now. I still have to be the captain. We'll be back in a little while. The guys are worried about you too. So behave while we're gone, all right?" he didn't get a response. He hadn't expected one. He stood up, leaned over, and placed a gentle kiss on her forehead.
He straightened his shoulders and turned around before his heart could convince him to stay. Duty and responsibility demanded he be the one to destroy the base. He pulled back the curtain to find Cheryl waiting for him.
"When you all return, she'll likely be in another room. Find me when you get back, and I'll take you to her."
Jon nodded his understanding as he headed to the ship.
The flight back to the Power Base was mostly quiet until Matt finally spoke. "So what's the plan, Jon?"
"First we check on Blastarr's status and disable him again if necessary. Then we salvage what we can. Tank, start loading up the remaining bikes and whatever armaments we have. Scout will come help you after he's determined if our location has been compromised. Matt and I will start with the command room to find out Mentor's condition. Then we'll move on to our quarters before we leave. Take only what's important. We don't know how long we have."
"And if our location hasn't been compromised?" Matt inquired.
"We still blow the base. Even if the location is safe for now, I can't believe that Dread doesn't have a general idea of where to start looking for Blastarr. He'll eventually find us. So let's get what we can and get back to Jennifer," Jon commanded.
A round of "Yes, Captain," came from the team.
"Approaching the base now, Jon." Matt said from the co-pilot's chair.
"Okay, take us in carefully. Everybody, stay alert. We don't know what's waiting for us," Jon ordered.
Matt carefully guided the ship to a less that smooth landing, "Damn ship likes her better than me."
To which Tank replied, "The ship has good taste."
"Ha ha ha," Matt responded.
Scout chuckled and Jon felt a smile pull at the corners of his mouth, but now was not the time to get sidetracked.
"We'll debate the likes and dislikes of the ship later. Right now, we have work to do. Let's get to it. Power up."
The team powered up their suits and made their way to Blastarr's location. They carefully approached the corridor to the central power control room.
"Are you picking up anything, Scout?" Jon asked.
Scout referred to the scanner he was holding. "I'm reading one biodread signature, but power levels are minimal indicating he's still regenerating."
"How much time before he's through regenerating?" Matt requested.
"Looks to be about forty-eight hours remaining, give or take an hour or so," Scout informed them as they turned the corner into the corridor where they'd left Blastarr. They approached the regenerating pieces of the deadly biodread warlord. He was right where they left him.
"Good. That gives us enough time to do what needs to be done. Let's get to it. You all know your jobs," Jon said, turning his back on the dismembered biodread.
The team dispersed to their assigned tasks.
Scout and Tank made their way back to the landing bay to begin loading up the remaining bikes and armaments as well as whatever equipment they could get. Matt and Jon made their way to the command room.
Both men stopped in their tracks as they took in the scene in the command room. It was a disaster. The central computer and the charging stations were toast. There was virtually nothing that could be salvaged from the command room.
"Looks like Mentor is gone," Matt said quietly.
"Yeah, not much left here at all. Looks like Scout and Jennifer will get to try building one of those mobile charging stations they were talking about," Jon replied, making a circle in the room as he took in the destruction. "Let's head on down to the personnel quarters and see what we can get from those."
"Yeah," Matt agreed.
Jon stopped for a moment at the top of the stairs and glanced around the destroyed command center. He thought about all the moments he'd spent in that room. He'd learned so much there. He recalled all the late night shifts that he and Jennifer had spent playing chess and learning more about each other. He remembered his father spending hours upon hours in this room building it. He'd helped Matt and his dad build much of this place. To put it simply, he'd grown up there. He'd fallen in love and almost lost everything there as well.
He'd considered the fact that they might lose the base at some point, even thought that he might be the one to die defending it, but never had he considered that he'd almost lose Jennifer and the base at the same time. The base, he could live without. Jennifer, he couldn't.
Matt's voice interrupted his thoughts.
"Jon, you okay?"
Jon cleared his throat. "Yeah, I was just remembering how many good memories are tied to this room."
"Your dad and I had a lot of good laughs here from time to time. I know the other scientists thought we were crazy, but at the time, it was either laugh or go crazy with grief. Stuart never got over losing your mother," Matt replied solemnly.
"You grieved for Joanna and your kids a long time."
"I did," Matt agreed.
"And now you have Cheryl."
"Yes, I do have Cheryl and I wouldn't do without her for anything, but I do still miss Joanna and I think about my kids and what they would have been like. I like to think that they would have turned out like you and Jennifer. You never get over losing someone like that, but eventually you find that you can move on and make room for others in your heart. I'm just glad we don't have to do that this time."
Jon found he couldn't reply. His throat and voice didn't want to work at the thought that he might have had to grieve Jennifer the way Matt had done for Joanna. He simply nodded his agreement.
Matt placed his hand on his shoulder and said, "Come on. There's nothing left here. Let's get what we can from our quarters and get back to our girl."
Jon allowed a small smile to play on his lips. The fact was that Jennifer was waiting for him to return more than made up for the loss of the base.
"Sounds like a plan."
The two friends made their way down to the personnel quarters to begin saving what they could.
Several hours later, the four men were loading the last of the personal belongings on the ship. It had amazed Jon that they'd been able to take just about everything from the personnel quarters. It had taken longer to go through the base and clear out the armaments and equipment that they might need than clearing out their quarters had taken. He'd personally gone through Jennifer's first. He hadn't wanted to lose anything that belonged to her. She'd had nothing that was hers growing up, and he wasn't about to let Dread take anything from her now. It had dawned on him as he worked how little any of them had. Jennifer's meager belongings consisted of mainly her clothes, a lot of tools, and the few items she's saved as 'souvenirs of their battles' as she'd called them. He had been a little surprised when he'd cleared out her locker. He'd forgotten about the dress she'd picked up in the Passages a few years ago. It was a blue cocktail dress and seeing it had caused him to recall the day she'd tried it on. She'd been at the clothes depot looking for some more uniforms and other items and had spotted the dress. One of the women there had talked her into trying it on once she realized Jennifer had never heard of or even seen a dress before. He had never seen a more beautiful sight in his life. She'd never had a chance or reason to wear that dress, but she'd kept it anyway. He'd decided then and there that as soon as she was able, he'd give her a reason to wear that dress. He just needed a plan.
"Captain?" Scout voice called over the comm.
"What's up?" Jon answered back, shaking his head to clear his thoughts.
"Tank and I noticed when we loaded up the other bikes that Jennifer's bike is missing. She didn't leave the base so where is her bike?"
A thought struck Jon. "Hold on," he responded, setting down the box he was carrying and darted back to the command room.
He rushed over to the hidden closet where the spare suits were stored. The door and the consoles on both sides had suffered extensive damage. He was loathe to admit that he taken one look at the control room and assumed the spare suits were destroyed. He recalled a saying his mother used to say when a person assumed anything. It wasn't very nice.
The controls to open the closet were completely smashed. He looked around and noticed a metal rod that was attached to the charging station. The rod was already bent and with the aid of his suit it didn't take much effort for Jon to break it off completely. The flattened end would help him pry open the closet.
After a few moments he was able to pry open the closet enough to see that it was empty.'She must have followed procedure! She must have gotten Mentor's backup and the extra suits out of her and then gone back in?
"Scout, run a scan for her bike's signal. She may have followed evac procedure," Jon ordered over the comm.
The implications of what the captain said hit the younger man and his voice conveyed his shock.
"She went back in? She could have been on that bike waiting for us and she went back in?"
"Looks like. Go run that scan, see if you pick up anything."
Scout nodded as he set the boxes he'd been carrying down and went to his station.
It didn't take long to locate the signal from the bike. "It's at the rendezvous point," Scout informed his captain.
Jon didn't know if he should be relieved or angry. She could have been safe, not lying in a bed at the Passages fighting for her life.
"Sounds like we need to have another talk with our girl about following orders," Matt said, joining their conversation on the comm.
"Technically, she did follow procedure even if she didn't follow orders," Scout pointed out. "She'll argue that she followed orders. You both know that right?"
"Yeah, I know," Jon returned. "Let's get the rest of this loaded, blow the base and go collect her bike."
It hadn't taken much longer to get the rest of their equipment loaded. They then began placing charges around the central power core and other locations so that they could remote detonate and blow the base and Blastarr to pieces.
Once they had that completed, the remaining members of the team boarded the jumpship and left the Power Base for the last time.
The ship hovered just far enough away that they wouldn't be caught in the explosion. They took a moment to look back at the base.
"I remember the first time I saw the base. I was absolutely amazed at how well it had been hidden and how much work had been done to set it up," Scout recalled.
"Dad and Matt put in a lot of hours setting it up," Jon stated.
"You did your part, Jon," Matt interjected.
"Maybe," the young captain acquiesced. "I still feel like there was more I could have done and should have done at the time."
Tank's deep voice broke in. "Remember when Jennifer programmed Scout's station in the Command room and the jumpship?"
"Don't remind me," Scout groused."It took me weeks to figure out how she programmed my station to play that song every time I logged in."
"You shouldn't have made that comment about the jumpship," Matt teased.
"Believe me, I wouldn't have had I known that my punishment was going to be weeks of 'Friends in Low Places," he replied.
It was a well known fact that Scout did not like country music. It ranked right up there with his dislike of disco. Scout had made the comment one time too many about it being time to retire the jumpship. Jennifer was particularly attached to the jumpship. She knew every circuit and relay by name. She spent many hours repairing and maintaining the jumpship. It was hers and the team no longer questioned whom the jumpship belonged to.
As a bit of payback, Jennifer had programmed both Scout's stations to play the old country song 'Friends in Low Places' every time he logged in. The first time it happened Scout had almost jumped out of his skin. Jennifer had set it to play through once then turn off. Finally Scout had figured out how to stop it. He realized then that her computer skills were as good if not better than his. He never made another comment about the jumpship.
"We've all got lots of good memories tied to the base," Jon mused.
Matt nodded. "Agreed."
Jon looked once more at the view their home. "Let's get this over with. On my mark, Scout. Three, two, one. Detonate."
With that order, the base that had been their home was gone in a fiery explosion that was probably heard for miles around.
'What's done is done. Time to move on,' Jon thought.
"Matt, track Pilot's bike and proceed to that location."
"I've got it, Jon. On our way."
It hadn't taken long to arrive at the rendezvous point. It wasn't lost on any of the men that Jennifer could have been waiting for them there instead of where she was. Yet at the same time, they were grateful that she was still alive and waiting for them and the suits and probably Mentor's backup still existed.
The four men quickly disembarked the ship as Scout brought the hovering bike in by remote. Once the bike set down, Jon unstrapped the bag Jennifer has secured to the seat. Opening it, he pulled out Mentor's backup and the spare suits.
"She got Mentor's backup and the suits out," Scout whispered a little shocked.
"And went back in to fight Blastarr. I see a conversation she's not going to like in her future," Matt quipped, nudging Jon with his shoulder a bit.
"Yeah," Jon agreed absently. On one hand, he was thrilled that Jennifer had gotten these important items out, but on the other, he was furious that she hadn't left with them. "She never has liked following orders."
The others chuckled a bit at the penchant their younger pilot had for disregarding orders when she decided they didn't make sense.
"Just to play devil's advocate Jon, you know she's going to point out that you wrote the procedures and she followed them. They specify that the base was to be destroyed if it was compromised," Matt put in, with a slight smile.
Jon sighed. "I know. When I wrote those I didn't foresee our team becoming the family that it has and I certainly didn't plan on—"
"Falling in love?" Scout quipped.
Jon smiled as he conceded the point. "Yeah."
"Come on," Matt said, clapping his hand on Jon's shoulder. "Let's get her bike loaded and get back to the Passages."
They loaded Jennifer's bike and stowed the extra suits and Mentor's backup safely away. They took their seats, and Matt guided the jumpship back to the Passages.
Stepping into the small room that was his for the time being, Jon stole a glance in the mirror. Startled by his own reflection, he realized Matt was right. He did need rest. He looked haggard and worn down, not that he didn't have a reason for looking this way. It looked like they were past the worst, and if he was going to take care of Jennifer, he needed to take care of himself too. He decided he would sleep for a few hours and then shower, shave, and change uniforms.
He made his way over to his bed and collapsed into it. He could hear music drifting down to his quarters. He recalled hearing mention of some belated holiday celebrations going on. The music was familiar. He listened for a few more moments. It occurred to him that it was the same music he and Jennifer danced to recently. He recalled her dress was stored safely on the ship. His last thought before he tumbled into sleep was he was going to take Jennifer dancing as soon as she was able.
A little over twelve hours later, a rested and freshly showered and shaven Captain Jonathan Power stepped back into Jennifer's medward room. He hadn't planned to sleep for over twelve hours but his body had apparently had other ideas. He did have to admit that he felt much better.
He noticed that Hawk was quietly snoring in the chair next to Jennifer. He made his way over and gently tapped him on the shoulder. Matt came awake immediately.
"Hey. You look much better," Matt said, standing up and stretching.
"I feel better. I didn't realize how tired I was."
"I know. You've been on auto-pilot for the last several days."
"Yeah, thanks for looking out for me. I appreciate it," Jon returned sincerely.
"What are friends for?" Matt replied.
"Apparently to make a lot of noise so no one can sleep," a small feminine voice whispered from the bed.
"Jennifer!" both said surprised.
Jon was immediately at her side, holding her hand and looking at those beautiful eyes he thought he might not ever see again.
"How do you feel?"
"Foggy. Sore. What happened?" Jennifer replied.
"We'll talk about that later. You need to rest now."
"But Matt told me it was time to wake up," she replied slowly.
Matt looked startled. "You heard me?"
"I kept trying to answer you, but you couldn't hear me," she responded as her eyes drifted closed. She was fighting it but it was clear to Jon that just that little bit was tiring her quickly.
"Matt, would you tell the Cheryl she's awake before we let her drift off again?" Jon asked.
"Sure thing," he replied as he stepped out.
Jon turned back to Jennifer. "Hey, you can't go back to sleep yet. Cheryl needs to look at you, and I need to tell you something."
"Hmmm... what's that?" she replied, struggling to open her eyes again.
It's now or never, he thought.
"I love you too, and as soon as you get out of here, we're gonna finish our talk and then figure out where we go from there."
Jennifer opened her eyes with a surprised and a bit of a confused look. After a moment, she recalled her last words to him. "That sounds nice," she breathed, a small smile on her lips as her eyes once again tried to close.
Jon watched her as he waited for Matt to return with the doctor. He let out a breath he didn't realize he'd been holding. He had time now. After all, a new year was coming, and it was time for a new beginning.
The End…..for now.
A/N: I have plans to make this a multi chapter but it will be much later.