So I listened to your requests and have doubled the length of this chapter. Also, Arlothia apparently had a lapse of sanity and agreed to BETA for me. YAY! Thank you, Arlothia! As a result she caught a major lapse in continuity in this chapter (that I have now fixed) and also made some other tweaking and proper grammar suggestions. Unfortunately, though her advice was sound, I chose not to take all of it. This means any glaring errors are mine alone. She tried her best. :0)
Chapter 6: The Creepy Crawlies
"That's not an air field, that's a goat pasture!" Jesse exclaimed, sitting in the co-pilots seat and gripping the dash as Roscoe circled the plane low, making a practice run at what literally was indeed a goat pasture. A goat pasture surrounded by trees on three sides and a two hundred foot drop on the other. The animals bleated in terror, scattering in every direction as the plane buzzed closely overhead, arcing up and around again at the last possible minute. Hooting with glee, his decision made, Roscoe brought the plane about again and began his final approach.
"Hang on!" Jesse called back to Fi and Sam, grimacing as he quickly struggled with his own seat belt, clicking it in place just as the plane touched down on the dirt path masquerading as a runway. Goats ran for their lives as the plane bounced wildly along the road as Roscoe struggled to bring it to a halt. With the end of the field and probable death looming, they stopped mere feet from the edge of the drop. For a moment they simply sat in silence. Even Roscoe looking fairly astonished they'd made it. Jesse rested his hands on the dashboard, taking deep breaths and staring straight ahead. Then looking over at Roscoe, he suddenly whipped off his ball cap and smacked the old fellow with it. Staggering to his feet, Jesse opened the cockpit door and wobbled back to check on Sam and Fiona, Roscoe's amused chortles resounding behind him.
"What the heck was that?" Sam demanded, picking himself up off the floor.
"That," Jesse began, pointing back at the cockpit and Roscoe. "That was us almost dying," he said. "Let me tell you something. I'm done flying Air Roscoe. When we leave here, I'm the one flyin' the damn plane, not Popeye the Crazy Man.
"No arguments here," Fiona said, looking a bit unsteady herself.
"Me either," Sam grumbled. "But for now," he said, checking the clip in his gun, "let's go get Mikey," and swung the hatch door wide.
"Finally," Fiona answered.
Weapons of choice in hand, and packs already assembled, they climbed from the plane and set off across the field toward Herrera's compound.
Roscoe watched attentively from the cockpit as they left.
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Heavy fists pounded on the door. "Señor Herrera! Señor Herrera!" the soldier called from the other side, "A most urgent matter, Señor!"
The soldier waited nervously for a response. He'd drawn the short straw and had been given the unfortunate task of bringing Herrera bad news. He thought perhaps conveying urgency might insinuate his eagerness to help save Herrera, thereby gaining favor and hopefully sparing himself from the man's well-known wrath. "Señor Herrera!" he called out again.
Herrera's cheek twitched. He did not appreciate his work being interrupted. "Excuse me one moment," he said to Michael who simply stared back through half closed eyes.
Laying a bloodied scalpel down on his desk, Herrera walked back to the door, unlocked it, and opened it wide. "Yes, what is it?" he asked politely, but his eyes blazed, betraying his rage at being interrupted, his cheek twitching once again.
"Señor Herrera," the soldier swallowed hard, "It's Moaba," he said, mustering his courage. "We have word he is headed to the islands. He wants his drone." The soldier rushed the words out and then stood at attention, awaiting his fate.
Herrera nodded at the soldier and turning, strode back to Michael. "It seems our conversation must be delayed yet again," he sighed. "I'll leave you to your thoughts until I return," he said, and then suddenly turned back toward Michael again. "But first, a parting gift," he added, and held the cattle prod to Michael's chest one last time.
Michael cried out until at last Herrera released the trigger. Legs giving way from under him, he hung from his chains, gasping for breath.
Pleased, Herrera smiled brightly, then turned and walked from the room, dropping the cattle prod into the umbrella stand on his way out.
"This way, Señor," the soldier meekly directed. "We were concerned for your safety, Señor," he said as they walked. "My captain sent me to inform you and to bring you to casa segura …the safe house."
"Do you know where Moaba is at this time?"
"No, Señor. Only that he is on the way. We believe he will be here sometime in the next several hours."
"So not quite such an urgent matter after all," Herrera observed, and his cheek twitched again. "After you, soldado. Lead the way."
The soldier hesitated briefly. Suggesting urgency had obviously been a bad idea and he was now worried about turning his back to the man. Both he and his worries, however, were short lived. Herrera pulled out his pistol and nonchalantly shot him in the back.
Herrera frowned and put away his gun, still fuming. His anger was not fully appeased, but killing the idiot had at least helped a little. Herrera knew the man was only following orders, but the timing of the interruption had just ruined his evening. Somebody simply had to die. Better this idiot than his second in command, who might still come in handy.
Stepping over the body, Herrera continued on toward the safe house. Since he'd already been interrupted, he may as well lend a few more minutes of his time before getting back to more important tasks. He had to admit to being a bit surprised at his second in command's apparent concern over Moaba. The man was, after all, just a glorified third world pirate. Certainly no one who would pose any real challenge to the well trained (and well paid) forces Herrera had under his command. Still, there must have been some concern on his 2IC's part to risk interrupting him.
This last train of thought caused Herrera's anger to flare once again. Michael Westen. This was his fault. All of it. The man's actions had caused a domino effect that seemed never ending. Herrera's best and most meticulously laid plans had been turned into a steaming pile. Michael Westen would pay for this. And Herrera was very good at exacting payment. He would have his pound of flesh. Literally.
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Meanwhile, the object of Herrera's wrath hung from his chains, alone except for the scores of flies that constantly buzzed about him, occasionally landing in his wounds to lay their eggs.
Drifting in and out of consciousness Michael tracked the time with the clock on the wall. Minutes turned into hours and still Herrera did not return. Terrible thirst consumed him and he longed for a drink. Still chained to the poles, his legs had ceased to support him hours before, forcing him to hang from arms long ago gone numb from the strain. Relief came only in the form of unconsciousness. And so he welcomed it, allowing it to swallow him up into blissful unawareness.
When he awoke he was still alone. By the clock on the wall he noticed more than eight hours had passed since last he checked. He also noticed something else. Newly hatched maggots now writhed within his wounds. In horror he fought desperately to rid himself of them, thrashing against his chains until exhaustion used up the last bits of his strength, and in quiet defeat, he once again let the darkness take him.
And then he heard it. A familiar voice! Someone was calling his name. It sounded like Sam! He felt a gentle cloth and cool water washing over him, and again the voice calling to him.
"Mikey! Come on, Buddy," he heard the voice plead. "Mike! MICHAEL!" the voice boomed this time, loud and in his face. And this time Michael opened his eyes.
"Sam?" he mouthed the name but no sound came.
"Hey there, brother," Sam grinned back at him, his face swimming into focus. "Hold on there, buddy. We almost got you down," Sam said as the last shackle was released and Michael fell forward, Sam catching him before he hit the floor.
He must have blacked out again because the next thing he knew he was stretched out on Herrera's plush couch, Andy hovering over him.
"These new wounds appear mostly superficial," Andy was saying, heaving a sigh of relief. "It seems my brother was called away before doing more serious harm. I believe Mr. Westen's current state is due mostly to his previous injuries," he added.
"Water," Michael croaked.
Sam held a canteen to Michael's lips. His friend gulped at it, wasting at least half in his frantic effort to swallow the precious liquid. "Easy there big fellow," Sam encouraged.
And then suddenly Michael remembered. Flailing wildly he wiped at his chest and arms with limbs that responded awkwardly at best. "Get them off," he gasped. "Get them off!" And he brushed at himself frantically, eyes wide and panicked.
"Whoa! Mikey!" Sam exclaimed, grabbing his friend's flailing arms. "They're gone! They're gone. We got them off of you, brother. They're gone. Take it easy."
Michael relaxed marginally, looking down at his arms and chest. His breathing slowed and he closed his eyes trying to gather himself.
"You okay, buddy?" Sam said, releasing his hold on Michael's arms.
Michael nodded rapidly and swallowed hard. He was still on the edge of losing it in every sense of the word.
"They're gone, brother," Sam assured. "Andy here washed them off while I was trying to figure a way to get you down."
"Where's Fi?" Michael asked finally, still shaken but more in control.
"She's fine. She was here earlier when we found you. She's ticked, Mike. Went a little crazy," Sam laughed nervously. "As soon as she was sure you were going to keep breathing she left to go after Herrera."
Michael closed his eyes and sighed.
"Yeah. She's in full on Hell Hath No Fury mode, Mikey. You know what I mean."
"You should have stopped her, Sam," he said worriedly.
"Yeah, right. Good one," Sam feigned a chuckle. "Look. She'll be fine, Mike," he added, trying to reassure. "Plus Jesse went with her to, you know, stop her from blowing up the whole island."
"The family… Did you get them out?" Michael asked, his voice weakening.
"They're safe, Mike," Sam said, giving him another drink from his canteen. "Now let's concentrate on you for a while, okay?"
"We need to get him back to my clinic," Andy interjected.
"I'm fine," Michael said.
"Uh, no offense, Mikey, but you're not fine."
"I just need a minute," he frowned.
"Uh huh, okay, Mike," Sam mumbled and glanced at Andy who shook his head.
"Have some more water," Sam offered, pushing the canteen toward him. "Hey, Andy, can I talk with you for a sec? Over here." And they walked several feet away from the couch. "Okay, give me the Readers Digest version," Sam said, his voice hushed.
"As I said before," Andy whispered, "Most of the new wounds are superficial. However, he had earlier internal bleeding which may or may not have begun again and the shrapnel wound is now deeply infected. I also suspect an earlier concussion," he added. "He shouldn't be moved."
"I can hear you, you know."
Both men snapped their head in Michael's direction. Sam rolled his eyes and sighed loudly.
"I'm a spy. What do you expect?" Michael responded. "Look, I'm fine, Sam," Michael insisted. "So, how did you find me?" he asked, attempting to change the subject.
"That's the weird thing. Getting into the compound wasn't all that hard. For some reason security seemed pretty light. Once we got in, we ran into Andy here. He knew where you were and got us the rest of the way. What we can't figure out is where everyone is going. It seems like everybody is getting the heck out of Dodge."
"My brother has a safe house about a quarter mile from here. If something is wrong, that's where he'd go," Andy said.
"Do you think he knows we're here?" Sam asked.
"I don't think so. Things started happening about twelve hours ago.
"Okay, not us then," Sam said with relief. "So while they're busy with …whatever, let's get moving."
Andy looked at Sam.
"Look, I know what you said, but the fact is, we need to get out of here," Sam said.
"I'm…" Michael began.
"Fine," Sam finished Michael's sentence. "Yeah, we know," and once again glanced at Andy, frowning.
"Take him to my clinic," Andy said. "This way."
"Uh, no offense, Anj," Sam said, stopping him. "But the clinic is the first place they'll look. We need to get out. And I mean all the way out."
Andy paused. "I agree," he said finally. "Follow me," he said, and leading the way, stepped through the doorway.
Sam helped Michael to his feet who gasped and gripped his side from the effort. "I'm sorry, Mike," Sam sympathized. "You okay?"
"Yep," Michael nodded rapidly. "Yeah."
Supporting his friend as much as possible, they staggered out the door and down the steps...