Pheryll 90 Part 1: Vostok's Attempt

Jessie saw Jonny sitting on the bridge between their island and the mainland.  His legs dangled over the side and he was leaned back propped on his hands, eyes closed, face to the sky.  Jessie pursed her lips and began to walk toward him.  He was obviously mad by the look on his face.

"Jonny," she called.

He looked to her, then got up and jogged off.  Jessie stopped and pursed her lips again, then started after him.  She crossed the bridge and headed down the road that led to the highway.  When she arrived there she looked around for Jonny, her hand over her eyes shielding them from the hot sun of the summer before their senior year.  She spotted him halfway up the cliff on the opposite side of the road.  She ran across the road and stood in the brush at the base of the stone wall.  She looked at him, worried that he might fall.

"Jonny, come down, you're scaring me," she called to him.

He didn't acknowledge her and she paused before heading up the side of the cliff after him.  He was on top when she was only a third of the way up.  He was an excellent rock climber, better than herself.  Jessie continued up.  Jonny was only a few feet away sitting Indian-style when her head popped over the top.  Jonny could see her in the corner of his eye.  She began to hoist herself up.

But, one of her feet must have slipped because she began to fall.  Instincts kicked in and Jonny shot forward grabbing her wrist just in time.  He hauled her up and she sat leaned back on her elbows, trying to catch her breath.  Jonny watched her as she tried to calm her racing heart and still her shaking body.  He scolded himself for being so stupid.  He'd almost lost the girl he'd spent three wonderful years loving.  They were only seventeen.

"Are you okay?" he finally asked when he was sure his voice would sound normal.

She turned her cat-like, emerald green eyes on him. "Yeah, I'm fine, thanks," she said.

He knew the "thanks" was for more than just his inquire of health.  Yet, he still felt guilty.

"I'm sorry, Jess, I was acting foolishly," he apologized.

She smiled at him forgivingly.   "People do foolish things when they're mad.  It's understandable," she forgave.

There was a pause then Jessie spoke again.  "Why are you mad?" she asked hesitantly.

Jonny paused, pursed his lips and watched the seemingly endless blue sky.  Jessie waited patiently.

"I've been planning something for a few months now.  But, two weeks ago, dad got some kind of invitation to a dinner," he began.

"Yeah, I remember, he's really excited," Jessie confirmed.

"Well, it just happened to land on the same night I'd already planned that something for.  He won't hear of me skipping out on it, says it isn't as important as the dinner," Jonny finished.

"What did you have planned?"  Jessie asked curiously.

"It was supposed to be a surprise…for you," he said taking her hand.

Jessie smiled at his consideration.  "Couldn't you have done it some other night?" she suggested.

Jonny shook his head.  "It was supposed to be tomorrow night.  It's too late to change it now," he answered.

Jessie scooted closer to Jonny.  She didn't say anything, just put her fingers to his chin and turned his sapphire eyes to look into her emerald eyes.

Then she kissed him.

His hand reached up to the back of her neck, his fingers becoming entangled in her hair.  Her hand rested on his chiseled chest.  They both wished the kiss would last forever.  But, it finally ended when they ran out of air.  Both pairs of jeweled eyes sparkled and both mouths smiled for each other as they sat looking at each other, trying to catch their breath.

"Feel better?"  Jessie asked.

"Much," Jonny assured.

He put his arm around her waist and held her.  She leaned her head on his shoulder.  They sat, their legs dangling over the side of the cliff and enjoyed the summer afternoon, but more importantly, each other. Their perfect moment was ruined when the sound of helicopters began to grow.  In the distance, two black dots could be seen.  Jonny leaned forward, eyes squinting, trying to make them out.

"They're Apaches," he exclaimed standing.

"What are they doing way out here?"  Jessie asked also rising.

"I don't-" Jonny began before he was interrupted by the scream of missiles.  Jonny's eyes widened as they exploded on the island.

"NO," Jessie screamed.

Another batch of missiles was fired and exploded.  Jessie sobbed into Jonny's shoulder.  He held Jessie, but his eyes were locked on the horror in front of him.  He couldn't believe how cruel the pilots were being when another group of missiles was set off, until he realized they were headed for them.  He ran immediately, hauling Jessie behind him.  The missiles landed where they'd been sitting.  Debris littered the highway below, rendering it impassible.

The shock waves sent the two hurtling to the ground.  Jonny pulled Jesse to her feet and began running again.  The Apaches made a pass with machine guns flaring.  Jesse and Jonny ducked and dodged the bullets.

"We've got to find some cover," Jessie said.

Jonny looked around as he ran, but there was nowhere to go.  His upper arm stung where a bullet had grazed it, but he ignored it.  They ran across a road and down the hill on the other side.  The Apaches made another pass, the ground exploding where the bullets hit.  At the bottom of the hill were some houses.

Jonny's mind worked.  He wondered if the pilots would follow them into an urban area.  It was a risk, but one he'd have to take.  He led Jesse into the midst of the houses, but the helicopters didn't back off.  Jonny pulled Jesse under a carport and held her.  The Apaches passed overhead and returned several times, but finally the sound of the rotors faded into the distance.  They waited another half-hour before immerging from under the carport.  They walked back to the road they had earlier crossed and followed that back to the entrance that led to compound.  Already, black smoke filled the air.

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Jessie fell to her knees and let her tears flow freely.  Jonny dropped to one knee beside her and put his arms around her.  The tears welling up in his eyes distorted the burning wreckage that had once been their home.  They ignored the sirens wailing in the distance.  Nothing seemed to matter now knowing their family was dead.  The sirens grew louder, then stopped.  A tap on his shoulder made Jonny look up.  Feeling him move, Jessie looked up also.  An officer pulled at his pant legs and squatted beside them.  They could see sympathy in his eyes, but they didn't care.  They didn't want it.

Two more policemen came standing behind the first.  He closed his eyes and bowed his head, then rose and left.  The other two policemen took Jonny and Jessie by their forearms and led them gently to the mob of flashing vehicles.  They were first checked out in the backs of ambulances.  The wound on Jonny's arm was cleaned, sterilized, and bandaged with a square of white gauze and First Aid tape.  Then they were put in separate patrol cars and whisked away to the police station where they were questioned in separate rooms.

Jonny and Jessie didn't see each other again until they were put in a waiting room together and asked if they needed anything.  They had all they needed right there in each other and they were too distressed to eat of drink.  Once they were all alone, they were in each other's arms.  Neither said anything, just took comfort in the fact that they still had each other.

They looked up, still clinging to each other when the doorknob turned.  The door swung open revealing Mrs. Evans.  She stepped in and closed the door.

"I saw everything on the news.  I'm sorry," she said beginning to cry.

She put her arms around both of them as if they were her own grandchildren.  After a moment she pulled back.  Jessie's head snuggled against Jonny's neck and his cheek rested on the top of her head.

"Come on, you two can stay with me until everything gets sorted out," she offered with a smile.

"Thanks," Jessie managed.

Jonny nodded his agreement.

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They were bombarded with cameras, microphones and questions the moment they stepped outside of the police station.  It was sick the way the media was feeding off of their tragedy.  Jonny pulled Jessie closer.  Mrs. Evans walked behind them, her hands on each of their shoulders protectively.  At the bottom of the steps they were trapped, completely surrounded by reporters.

Jessie slipped her arms around Jonny's waist and leaned her cheek on his shoulder.  He put his arms around her, stroking her hair.  Questions were asked and left unanswered.  Mrs. Evans left and returned with an army of policemen to break up the reporters.  She led them through the crowd of ravenous reporters and into the back seat of her car.  She slid into the driver's side seat and started the engine.  Reporters still tried for some answers as they drove off into the night.

The ride to Mrs. Evan's was quiet.  Jessie and Jonny sat on opposite sides of the car, their hands clasped in between them as if they were hanging on for dear life.  At Mrs. Evans' residence Jonny and Jessie went to the living room not able to sleep while Mrs. Evans went upstairs.  Jonny plopped down on the couch and turned on the TV.  Jesse sat next to him, leaning against him.  He flipped through channels, stopping on a news channel one story ending, another just beginning.

"Jonathon Quest and Jessica Bannon were the only survivors of a horrible accident earlier this afternoon," the anchor said.

"That was no accident," Jonny mumbled.

The pair's eyes watched the TV, a picture of what was left of their house being shown surrounded by policemen, firemen, and all kinds of cars and other vehicles with flashing lights on top of them.

Unconsciously, Jonny took Jessie's hand.

"The two survivors were captured on tape later today coming out of the police station.  The remorse of these two is evident," the anchor continued.

The next picture was of themselves outside the police station holding each other, surrounded by reporters.

"No details have been given out as of yet, but three people were believed to have died in the accident, one of them being Hadji Singh, former Sultan of Bangalore," the anchor finished.

Jonny turned off the TV.  Jessie felt something wet drop on her hand.  She looked at Jonny to find tears running down his face.  She knew she had to do something or she too would start crying.

So, she kissed him.  It took him by surprise, but he didn't fight her off.  She pulled back and wiped at his tears with her thumbs.  He put his hand to the side of her face and kissed her again.  He maneuvered her so that she was lying across his lap, her head resting on the arm of the couch.

"Oh, how romantic," a sarcastic male voice interrupted.

They froze.  Jonny's blue eyes looked up and saw three figures dressed in black, masks covering their faces except for their eyes.  All three had rifles pointed at Jonny and Jesse and they stood in a triangle.

Jonny sat up.  Jessie didn't move, her eyes closed.  The man in front grabbed her by her arm and forced her to her knees on the ground.  However, she ended up an unconscious heap on the floor when her head hit the corner of the coffee table.  The man was obviously annoyed by the outcome.  He picked her up and tossed her over his shoulder while the other two men grabbed Jonny by his upper arms and trained their guns on him.

He was led to the front door.  Jonny saw Mrs. Evans unconscious on the stairs that led to the second level.  He turned his head away at the sight.  Outside they were put into the back of a black van.  When the doors were closed it was completely dark.  Jonny pulled the unconscious Jessie into his lap and waited for her to wake up.  When she did, her claustrophobia kicked in.  Jonny began soothing her immediately.  She didn't scream or flip out, but he could feel her tenseness as she sat curled up in his lap.

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Jonny didn't know how long the ride was.  Jessie fell asleep again and Jonny woke her when the van stopped and the doors were opened.  There were more men standing in the doors then there had been before.  Jessie and Jonny were removed from the van.  They found themselves in a meadow and it was now day.  There was a helicopter a hundred yards off.  Jonny recognized it as an Apache, probably one of the ones that had killed his family.

Jessie was pale, but relieved to be in the open, and there didn't seem to be any bruise or marr from when she'd had a close encounter with the coffee table.  Jonny wondered if she had a headache.  He was pretty sure she did by the unpleasant look on her face.

They were put into the helicopter and kept under the guard of guns.  The helicopter ride took only half the time that the van ride had to reach its destination.  When the door was opened and they were let out Jonny and Jessie found themselves on an island.  Jonny knew they had to escape and get off this island soon.

Only four guards were ordered to escort them inside the huge metal building.  Jonny looked at Jessie again as he had before in the meadow.  Her color was coming back and she didn't look so pale.  He hoped her headache was gone.

When there were no other guards visible, he made his move.  Jonny attacked one of their escorts.  Jessie took it as a cue and attacked another one.  They ran the first chance they had, but Jessie was tackled by one of the men.

"Run," she screamed to Jonny.

He did so, his heart full of regret at leaving her behind.  But, he was their only chance and he knew it.

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Jessie found herself surrounded by the four guards, their guns pointed at her.  They picked her up and led her inside with one guard holding each arm, one in front and one in back with his gun to her back in an uncomfortable reminder that she shouldn't try anything.  She was led inside the building.  Everything was metal, just like the exterior of the building.  Doors, walls, and ceilings were all nothing but metal reflecting the light from the fixtures.

Jessie was shoved into a room where she waited five minutes before someone else entered the room.  It happened to be a fat, bald man in a military type uniform that Jesse didn't recognize.  She'd never even seen it before.  He had an eyepiece in his left eye and he inspected her with a sneer.

"So, you think you actually have a chance now that your friend has escaped.  We'll have him back in no time," the man said.

He turned military style and left.  Four guards entered taking positions the same as before.  She was taken down more metal halls, until they stopped in front of a certain door, which was unlocked and opened.  She was shoved inside and the door quickly slammed shut and locked behind her.

Jessie looked around.  The room was totally dark except for the single beam of light she stood in.  She wanted to cry, probably would have if an all too familiar voice hadn't spoke behind her.

"Jessie, is that you?" it asked.

Jessie spun around. She smiled instantly when her suspicions of whom the voice belonged to were confirmed.  Jessie fell weeping into her father's arms.

 Race couldn't remember the last time he'd cried, but he was now.  His daughter was now safe with him.  Jesse felt someone touch her back.  She looked up and saw Hadji and Dr. Quest.  Her smile widened.

"We thought you and Jonny were dead," Benton said hugging her.

"We thought the same thing about you," Jessie laughed.

She hugged Hadji next, and then returned to her father's arms.  They were all silent enjoying the wonderful news.  Jessie tilted her head up to look at her father.

"How did you survive?" she asked.

"We should be asking you the same thing," Race replied.

"I asked first," Jessie stated with a smile.

Race smiled back, sighed, and began to speak.  "All three of us were down on the beach when the missiles hit.  We were far enough away not to be killed or seriously injured, but still close enough that all three of us were knocked out cold."

"When we woke up we were here," Hadji finished.

"Now, it's your turn," Race said.

Jessie told her story.  She explained how they'd survived, their dealings with the police and Mrs. Evans, their capture or at least what she could remember of it, and finished with Jonny's escape and her encounter with the fat man.  They listened carefully and afterwards sat silently letting it all soak in.

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When the door to their cell was opened again the group was sitting silently in the circle of light on the floor.  Jessie leaned against her father.  Benton sat to the right of her and Hadji at Race's left.

"Take her," the bald man said.

Race put his arm around his daughter protectively.  "She doesn't know anything," he said.

Jessie looked at her father, questions in her eyes.  Two men grabbed her and took her, but not without a fight.  She was taken back to the room she'd been taken too when she'd first arrived at this horrid place and sat down upon a stool.

"Tell me everything you know about Pheryll 90," the bald man demanded.

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"Take her away, she knows nothing," the bald, fat man ordered after two hours of intense interrogation.

She was taken back to her sell. She felt her father's arms around her immediately.

"Are you okay?" he asked.

Jessie nodded.  "I'm fine," she answered.

She smiled just to show him that she was all right.   He smiled back and hugged her again.  Finally, she let go of him and dropped to the floor beside Benton and Hadji.  Race sat down close to her.

"What's Pheryll 90?" she asked.

Benton looked up at her, then pursed his lips and sighed.

"Pheryll 90 is a biological weapon," he answered.

Jessie's eyes widened in surprise and horror.

"It was developed by a third world country's government during the Vietnamese war because they were afraid it would turn into another World war.  But it was never used and soon forgotten about.  It has just recently been rediscovered and is being studied.  It's a remarkable virus developed decades ahead of its time.  Tests are being done, but nobody knows exactly what it does," Benton explained.

Jessie was quiet for a moment while the information processed through her mind.  The things she was being told were incredible.  "If he gets his hands on it, who knows what he'll do," Jesse whispered.

"Whoever "he" is.  I'm not sure Baldy is our number one man," Race said.

"There's someone above him," Benton agreed.

"Quite right, Dr. Quest," a man with a thick Russian accent said.

"Vostok," Benton identified with a growl.

The door to the cell swung open to display a tall, bald man with a moustache in a military uniform.  The four stood not wanting to be caught off guard.

"Take the girl and Dr. Quest and follow me," Vostok ordered.

Jessie and Benton struggled against the guards, but to no avail.  They were dragged out of the cell and down the hall.

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From where he was hidden, Jonny couldn't believe what he'd just heard Vostok say, "Dr. Quest."  He continued to watch, hoping to see a glimpse of his family.  He saw Jessie first, and then to his great joy his own father was pulled from the room.  They were both dragged off, Vostok in the lead.

When the coast was clear, Jonny sneaked down the hall and toward the door that had been closed and locked.  He figured if they'd secured the cell, there were still people in there and he had a hunch who those people were.  He dug into his pocket and pulled out a lock pick, he'd learned a lot from Race.  He stuck the thin piece of metal into the lock and began to tinker.

 After a few moments the lock clicked and the door slowly swung open.

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Race and Hadji were surprised when the door opened again only minutes after Jessie and Benton had been taken.  They were even more surprised and relieved when they saw Jonny standing in the doorway.

"Hey guys, happy to see me?" he asked smiling.

"Are we ever," Hadji answered.

"Come on, kiddo, let's find Jessie and your dad," Race said.

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Jessie and Benton were taken to a small room.  On one wall were shackles, which Jessie was bound with.  What appeared to be probes were placed on her forehead, on her neck at her jugulars, and on the under sides of her wrists.  Benton was sat down in a chair.

"Pheryll 90," Vostok requested.

Benton remained silent.  Vostok waited then looked behind him and gestured to a man by flicking his index and middle finger up.  The man pulled a switch and Jessie screamed.

"Stop," Benton cried.

Vostok motioned to the man again and Jessie stopped screaming.  She was breathing hard, her eyes were closed and she was limp and in pain.

"Pheryll 90, Dr. Quest," Vostok repeated.

"I've told you all I know, now let her go," Benton ordered.

"Wrong answer," Vostok said.

Jessie screamed again.

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When they heard a scream, Race, Hadji, and Jonny stopped dead in their tracks.  They looked at each other, worry dominating their faces.

"This way," Race said taking off.

Jonny and Hadji followed behind him.  Another scream quickened their pace.  They turned a corner that led down a long hallway.  At the end was a door guarded by two men with guns.  Race shot down the hallway as a third scream erupted from the guarded room.  He took down one guard while Jonny and Hadji took care of the other one.

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"I can't tell you what I don't know," Benton pleaded when Jessie was quiet.

"Don't lie.  You know what happens when you lie," Vostok told him.

Benton let his head hang down.  Volstok grabbed the hair on the back of his head and forced his face up.  Vostok's own face was only inches away.

"Tell me what I want to know," he hissed.

"You think I want to see my family hurt?  Don't you think I'd have already told you to save her?"  Benton answered.

"I know you Quest.  Sacrifice one for the good of the whole," Vostok said letting go of Benton and walking away, his back to the doctor.

Another scream erupted from Jessie and lasted a minute, then ended.  Benton watched her.  She was just barely conscious.

"Once more will kill her," Vostok informed.

"Not if I can help it," Race said from the doorway.  

Vostok turned toward him, surprised.  Race lunged for him, both of them tumbling to the floor.  Vostok tried to fight Race of so he could flee, but Race wasn't about to let the Russian get away scott free.  Hadji and Jonny took care of the guards, then went to free Benton and Jessie.

"Hurry, Hadji," Benton urged.

Race continued to wrestle with Volstok.  Jonny freed Jessie and she fell into his arms.  He slid his arm around her.  Hadji slipped his arm round from the other side.  Jessie walked the best she could, but she was losing it and Jonny and Hadji did most the work.

"Come on," Benton called to Race.

"Get Jessie out of here, I'll catch up," Race ordered.

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Benton took Jessie when they ran into the first batch of guards.  He carried her in his arms while Jonny and Hadji fought the men off.  They raced through the halls, Hadji and Jonny taking out the guards they encountered.

They left the building under the dark of night.  The helicopters they would need to escape Vostok's Island were a couple a hundred yards off.  They made their way to them carefully so as not to come across any gunmen.  They climbed into the first helicopter they came to.  Benton placed the now unconscious Jessie into one of the seats and belted her in.

"Can you fly this thing?" he asked his son.

Jonny didn't say anything, just slid into the pilot's seat.  He looked back at Jessie and wished she were conscious.  Jonny had flown the Dragonfly lots of times, but Jessie had learned to fly both planes and helicopters and was the better pilot.  She'd spent more time with Race learning to fly.

Jonny looked at the controls, trying to locate the ones to start the engine.  He flipped a switch, but instead of the engines coming on, the searchlights did.  Good one, he thought to himself.  Hadji sat down in the co-pilot's seat.  He too began to look over the controls.  He flipped a few witches, pushed some buttons and the helicopter roared to life.

"Let's go," Benton ordered, buckling himself into the seat next to Jessie's as a hail of bullets began to rain down on the Apache.

"Wait, where's Race?"  Jonny asked frantically.

"Right here," he said jumping in and sliding the door closed behind him.

A spray of bullets hit the helicopter from all sides as it lifted into the air.  Race squatted in front of Jessie.  He patted her hand and cheek trying to wake her.  She didn't respond.  Benton lowered himself beside Race and began to check Jessie's vitals.  Race watched Benton's eyes narrow.

"I can't find a pulse," he said looking at Race.

"No, Jessie, don't die.  Stay with us," he pleaded.

The whole helicopter was silent.  At the controls Hadji and Jonny listened quietly.  Jonny could feel the tears welling up in his eyes and then run down his cheeks.  He wanted to be back there with her, but the only way to keep this Apache in the air without Race's expertise was for him  and Hadji to do it together.

Jonny stole a glance back at his beloved.  She looked so pale, so-.  No, he wouldn't say it.  He pushed the thought from his mind.  Please Jessie, please don't die.  I love you, I need you, he thought.

"I've got a pulse," Benton suddenly exclaimed.

"Hang in there, Ponchita," Race whispered to his daughter.

He took the controls, letting the boys have a break.  Jonny immediately took vigil over Jessie.  He wouldn't leave her side all the way to the hospital.

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"I almost lost you," Jonny said to a now conscious and recovering Jessie.

It was ten hours later.  They'd reached the hospital only eight hour's after leaving Vostok's Island and just in time.  The Russian had pumped a lot of electricity through Jesse's body and her heart was doing its best to continue beating.  Her whole body had almost shut down from the huge amount of electricity that had surged through it.

"I'm here, I'll never leave you," she promised.

"Same here," he said smiling.

He leaned over and kissed her forehead.  She smiled so beautifully that he wanted to kiss her again, but on the lips.  He refrained himself.

"You need rest.  I better go," Jonny excused himself.

She held fast to his hand making him look back at her.

"I love you," she mouthed.

Then sleep set in and her hand slacked.  He watched her for a moment and then finally exited the room.

The End