Pheryll 90 Part 2: Zin's Attempt

It was so unexpected.  No one saw it coming.  Jessie and Hadji had been out in the lighthouse helping Dr. Quest on a new computer program.  Race was out doing his own thing.  Benton had returned to the compound to find Jonny reading his newest Sherlock Holmes book.  Jonny wasn't one who read books very often, but he had taken a liking to the Holmes books.  He'd just received a new one on his birthday a few days ago.  Jessie was a more avid reader and Hadji even more so than she.

Jonny acknowledged his father's greetings with a simple smile.  He was back to his book in less than a flash.  Benton went to his office and started rummaging around for the materials he needed.  He was going through a big pile of papers on his desk when he heard a cry from Jonny.  He rushed out to see what the matter was and saw Race Bannon pointing a gun at his son.  Benton lunged for Race and pushed him to the ground.  The gun went off hitting the ceiling.  Race wrestled Benton off and left before any one could stop him.

"What was that all about?"  Jonny asked after the initial shock was over.

"I don't know, but I mean to find out," his father answered.

Just at that moment Race walked in from the front hall.  He greeted them as if nothing had happened.

"Race what do you think you were doing?"  Benton asked angrily.

"I was walking along the beach," Race answered.

He wondered why Dr. Quest had an angry tone in his voice.

"I thought you were hear to protect us, not try to kill us," Jonny said.

"What are you talking about?" Race asked confused.

"Are you trying to tell us that you weren't just in here with a gun pointed at Jonny?"  Benton asked skeptically.

"Why would I do a thing like that?"  Race asked.

"You tell me," Jonny demanded.

There was an uncomfortable pause.

"If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn't have believed it myself," Benton said breaking the silence.  "But, I did and it was unmistakably you."

More silence as Race looked at Dr. Quest and his son with an unbelieving look in his eyes.  Once again, Benton was the one who broke the silence.

"I'm going to have to call Intelligence 1, ask to have you reassigned, and request a new body guard," Benton said and left to do so.

Race stood there not wanting to believe what he was hearing.  Finally, he headed toward his bedroom.  He stopped in the library where Benton was just dialing the number.

"I'm taking Jessie with me, make sure they know that," Race informed the doctor.

Benton nodded and Race left.

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When Dr. Quest didn't return after twenty minutes, Jessie and Hadji returned to the house.  The entered the empty livingroom just as Dr. Quest was.  He looked tired.

"Where is everyone?"  Jessie asked.

"What is wrong Dr. Quest?"  Hadji asked.

There was no answer and Jessie and Hadji waited.

"Jessie, I think you better go see your father," was all he said.

Jessie headed to her father's room.  Hadji looked at him imploringly.  Dr. Quest motioned for him to follow.

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Jessie knocked at her father's door.

"Dad?" she said.

"Come in Jess," her fathered called.

She slipped in and closed the door quietly.  When she turned around she saw a couple of suitcases on her father's bed half filled.

"Go pack," he said.

"Why?  Where are we going?"  Jessie asked.

"We're going to Colorado, just got the reassignment orders.  I tell you why when I've figured it out myself.  Now go, and remember, we won't be returning," Race answered.

"I don't get it," Jessie said.

"Neither do I, " he replied.  "Pack as much as you can.  What you can't fit into your suitcases we'll send for," he added.

Jessie didn't argue.  She was too shocked to.  She went to her room and began to pack her clothes.  After that she packed what she could, the things most important to her, mainly pictures and keepsakes.

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When Dr. Quest and Hadji entered his room, Jonny was sitting on his bed.  He looked up at the sound of the door.  Hadji noticed how miserable he looked.

"Is Jessie going too?" he asked.

Benton nodded silently.

"What's going on?"  Hadji asked.

Dr. Quest filled Hadji in on the story.  He too was now shocked.  They sat in silence, Hadji at the door, Jonny with his forehead on his knees, and Benton with his arm around his son.  The silence seemed to ring in their ears.  Suddenly, Jonny got up.  He headed for the door.

"Don't tell her anything.  Race will want to do that," Benton told his son.

With his hand on the doorknob Jonny looked over his shoulder and nodded.  Then, he left.

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Jessie was almost finished packing.  Two suitcases sat on her bed already filled.  She had paused, though, to inspect a certain picture.  It was one of the whole "clan."  Race was at one end.  Jessie, Hadji, and Jonny were next in that order, and then Dr. Quest.  It was so informal, taken at the beach at last year's vacation by a kind passer-by.  They were all in shorts and swimsuits.

Jessie was startled out of her reverie when someone entered the room.  It was Jonny and Jessie turned around to hide her tears.  She finished packing the things she'd collected on her bed.

"I wish you didn't have to go," Jonny said.

Jessie turned around at his words and saw he too was crying.

"Come on Jess," Race called from the hallway.

Jessie put the picture in one of the suitcases, zipped them both up and began to collect them to take out to the car.  She grabbed one and Jonny managed to grab the other one.  They lugged them out to the car in silence.  Race put them in the trunk of the car and slammed it shut.

"I'll miss you so much," Jessie said turning to Jonny.

"I know," Jonny said.

He kissed her one last time.  Then the headlights came on bright and Race honked the horn.  Jessie tore herself from Jonny's arms and climbed into the car.  Jonny stood in the open doorway of the garage and Jessie watched him as tears rolled down her cheeks.

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Colorado was white and cold in the wintertime.  Just opposite to Florida where the Quest's had relocated after Vostok had decimated the Maine compound.  Race had told Jessie everything he knew the next day.  Jessie was a junior in high school and old enough to drive, so she and Race switched off every few hours.  It took them three days non-stop to get to the new family that Race would act as bodyguard for.

Jessie had looked over the information they'd been sent, the Mortons.  Both parents were scientists, probably people Benton knew.  They had two kids, twins, a boy and a girl.  The girl's name was Casey and her brother was named Jamie.  They were her age and the same grade.

Race and Jessie were received with a warm welcome.  Friday and Saturday they got settled in.  Sunday, Race insisted that they find dance classes for Jessie.  It wasn't hard.  Jessie had taken dance in Maine and then Florida and was very experienced.  She was accepted and put into one of the higher-level classes at the first place they inquired.  The ride home was quiet for most of the time.

"I need to apologize," Race said breaking the silence.

"Dad," Jessie begun to object.

"No, I tore you away from your home and family and love without any explanation at first.  It was so sudden you didn't even get to say goodbye to Hadji and the doc," Race said.

"At least I said goodbye to the most important person," Jessie said softly.

The rest of the ride home was silent.

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Monday, Jessie enrolled at the local high school.  She spent the morning taking placement tests, as her records hadn't been sent yet.  She received her schedule and locker number and combo.  She wouldn't start until the next day, and Race assured her that she would find friends and that maybe some of the people she knew from their yearly camping trip in the nearby mountains went to that school.  Jessie just nodded.

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Monday, Jonny also began school again after the winter break.  Everyone wanted to know where Jessie was.  Jonny only told them that Race had been reassigned to a new family and Jessie had gone with him.  When they asked why, Jonny simply said that that was the way the government worked.

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Tuesday morning Jessie drove her father's car to school.  She had worn the new dress and shoes she'd received for Christmas from Estella.  The satin dress was emerald green with an empress waist and a vine pattern imprinted on it.  The shoes were black sandals.  Casey and Jamie helped her find her classes and locker before school started.  She had the same classes she'd had in Florida only in a different order.

At lunch she sat with Delia, Daniel, and Chrystal, regulars from the yearly camping trip.  They were surprised to see her there and she explained to them as much as she cared to.  They understood and didn't press.  Jessie was grateful.  She also found out that the school's winter formal was that weekend when a member of the football asked her to it.  He had been suave, and Jessie had to admit, he was attractive and would have persuaded any other girl to say yes.  However, Jessie wasn't any other girl, and this guy just wasn't Jonny.

That afternoon Jessie returned home with a little homework from each class.  She sat down at the kitchen table and began.  An hour later the wonderful smell of her dad's spaghetti filled the air.  It was a recipe passed down from the Italian side of the family.  Jessie had learned it on her sixteenth birthday.  Mrs. Morton came out of the kitchen just as Jessie was finishing her last subject, Math.

"If your done, would you like to help me set the table?" she asked.

Jessie agreed and went to her room to put her schoolwork away.  It seemed pretty bare compared to her room at the compound, but the rest of her things still hadn't arrived.  There were pictures stuck in the edges of her mirror and on her bedside table.  A jewelry box sat on her bureau top, but that was about it.

Jessie returned to the dining room just as Julie Morton was beginning to set the plates around the table.  Jessie grabbed the forks and followed her.  She noticed it wasn't the usual settings they used and commented on it.

"They seem to go with that delicious smell coming from the kitchen," Mrs. Julie Morton answered.

Jessie just nodded.  Julie was just starting on the knives and Jessie the glasses when Julie spoke.

"This move was hard for you wasn't it Jessie," she said in a motherly voice.

It startled Jessie who wasn't used to it.  There was a pause before she answered.

"Yeah, it was."  Jessie paused in what she was doing and averted her eyes from Mrs. Morton's.

"There must have been someone special you left behind," Julie continued.

They both had stopped setting the table and were just standing there.  Jessie looked up at Julie Morton with tears shining in her eyes.
               "He had golden, blond hair and intense, sapphire blue eyes.  I miss him so  much," Jesse answered.
"Does he have a name?"  Julie asked.
Jessie nodded, "Jonny, Jonathon Blaine Quest."
"Quest, that sounds familiar," Julie mumbled.
Jessie didn't catch Julie's last statement.  She began to go around the table again, finishing the glasses.  She and Julie had just barely finished the table when Mr. Morton and the twins came home.
"Hi, honey," Frederick Morton greeted his wife with a kiss.

"Make any progress?"  Julie asked.

Frederick shook his head in the negative.  The twins came bouncing downstairs after putting their things away.

"Hey, Jessie, I heard that the captain/quarterback of the football team asked you to the winter formal," Casey commented slipping into her seat at the table just as Race was setting a pot of spaghetti on.

Race looked at his daughter, eyebrows raised.

"Yeah, as a matter of fact, I was asked by a member of the football team," Jessie answered.

"Jared Scott is the hottest guy alive," Casey gushed.

Jamie rolled his eyes at his twin's comment.

"I beg to differ," Jessie said calmly.

"So, what did you say?"  Casey asked.

"I told him no," Jessie said sitting down across from the girl.

"You what?" Casey exclaimed.  "How could you, every girl in the school dreams of being asked to the dance by that guy.  You're first day here he asks you and you have the nerve to turn him down?"

"I'm just glad to know not every girl goes loony at the mere sound of his name," Jamie said serving himself a plateful of spaghetti.

"To be truthful, I don't think I'll even go," Jessie said taking some salad.

"Now, Ponchita, are you sure you don't want to go?" Race asked.

"Dad, don't pester me," Jessie scolded.

"Okay, just making sure," Race said defensively.

Jessie smiled at her dad who smiled back.

"So, how about you sweetheart, who are you going with?" Frederick asked his daughter.

"Well, I've had a few invitations, but I'm not sure," Casey answered.

"Too many to chose from?"  Julie asked.

"You could say that.  Hey, Jessie, maybe you could help me," Casey said.

"I have to know who they are first," Jessie agreed.

"No problemo,'' Casey smiled.

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"Vanessa," Benton gasped.

"You seem surprised to see me.  I'd think you'd gotten used to me dropping in unexpected by now," Vanessa said.

"It's not that," Benton assured.

"Then what is it?" Vanessa asked looking around for her family.

"We need to talk," Benton said.

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"Unbelievable," Vanessa whispered after she'd been told the whole story.

"I have their address if you want to go see them," Benton offered.

"Yes, thank you," Vanessa said still shocked.

Benton looked it up, wrote it down, and gave the piece of paper to Vanessa.  She looked at it and nodded.  Then, she got up and left.

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"How was dance?" Race asked his daughter.

He leaned against the doorjamb as he watched her do the dishes.

"If you help me maybe then will I tell you," Jessie bargained with a smile.

Race laughed and picked up a dishcloth.  "Deal."

"They're learning a dance I already know so it was all review, but it was fun," she assured.

"What a hoax, that's all I get?" Race asked.

"Read the fine print next time," Jessie commented.

"So, how about school?" Race next inquired.

"I got asked to the winter formal by six more guys and twice more by Jared Scott," Jessie informed her father.

"I'm not surprised.  Did you accept any of the invitations?"

"You had to ask?  Of course I didn't."

"Jessie, you may never see him again."

"Don't start," Jessie said her voice sounding a little shaky.

"I know, I just wish you'd at least give some other guys a chance," Race said.

Jessie was silent.

"I mean, what about this Jared Scott guy, he's captain and quarterback of the football team, and-"

"And a stuck-up, I-get-whatever-I-want-and-what-I-want-is-you, jock," Jessie finished.

"Jess," Race scolded.

"Dad, they're just not Jonny," Jessie's voice raised in volume.

"I know, and I wish there were something I could do about it, but there isn't," Race apologized.

Jessie turned away from her father, hot tears stinging her eyes.

"Just give them a chance, that's all I ask," Race pleaded.

"Fine," Jessie said throwing down her dishtowel and stomping out of the kitchen.

Race sighed, wishing he could give her what she wanted, but it was impossible to bring Jonny here.  He had to admit, he too missed the Quests, even after this last incident.  He knew something was up, but he was clueless as to what.  The doorbell rang tearing Race away from his thoughts.

"I'll get it," Frederick called.  "Hello?"

"Hello, I'm looking for Race and Jessie Bannon," Race heard a familiar voice say.

"And you are?" Frederick was asking as Race rushed into the front hall.

"Race," Vannie exclaimed slipping past Frederick and into her husband's arms.

"How did you find us?" Race asked after kissing her.

"You know me.  Where's Jessie?" she said all at once.

"In her room," Race answered.

"And that would be?"

"Up the stairs, third door on the left."

Vannie kissed Race one more time before heading that way.

"Who was that?"  Frederick asked.

"My wife," Race answered blankly as he stared at where she'd just left.

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"Twice more?" Casey squeaked.

Jessie nodded.

"And you said no twice more?"

Jessie nodded again.

"Okay, who is he, where are you hiding him, what makes him so awesome you've turned down the most sought after guy in the school, and can I have him when you're done?" Casey asked,

"Jonny Quest, lives in Florida, because I love him very much, and no, he'll always be mine," Jessie answered.

"You must miss him," a voice said from the door.

Jessie looked up a huge smile spreading across her face.  She jumped off the bed and threw herself into her mother's arms.

"I missed you too," Vannie assured her daughter.

"I think I'd better leave," Casey said slipping out the door.

"I'm glad you're here," Jessie said sitting back down on her bed.

"Benton's told me everything," Vannie told her daughter.

"There must have been some mistake," Jessie said shaking her head.

"I'm as confused as you are," Vannie informed.

Jessie smiled.  "I'm glad you're here."

"So is your father, so let's go down and see him.  Also, I think we've some explaining to do."

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Hadji was at the lighthouse working on an experiment when the door opened.  He turned to see Jessie standing there with a gun.  Both her being there and standing with a gun pointed at him surprised him.  Hadji didn't move.

In the house, Jonny and Dr. Quest stood with their hands raised as Race kept a gun of his own trained on them.  He didn't say a word no matter how many questions both Jonny and Benton asked.

"Dad, we've got to do something," Jonny whispered to his father.

"He hasn't moved for eight minutes," Benton whispered back.

Then, curiously, Race slumped to the floor.  Behind him stood Hadji with a blunt object in his hand.   Jonny breathed a sigh of relief.

"Things are getting curiouser and curiouser," Benton whispered.

"Yes, Jessie is out in the lighthouse," Hadji agreed.

Jonny's eyes brightened at the news, but Hadji shook his head.

"It is not her, look," Hadji negated.

He took a pocketknife from his hip pocket and put it to Race's forearm.  He cut the length of it before either Benton of Jonny could stop him.  They gasped however, when he pushed the skin apart.  There was no flesh or blood, but wires and electronics instead.

"There's only one man with the knowledge to do this, Zin," Benton said.

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"You're mom is so cool," Casey gushed to Jessie.

They walked down the hall together to their next class, English.  Jessie smiled and laughed.

"Just don't tell anyone about her.  You're lucky you're still alive," Jessie responded teasingly.

"I know, I know," Casey assured.

"Jessie, can I talk to you?"  Jared Scott asked.

Beside her, Casey giggled.  Jessie gave her a look that said, "Stop it."  Casey began to walk away making some lame excuse.

"You well know that I've asked you this same question three times already and you've said no, but I'm going to give you one more chance.  It's your last, you reject me again and I'll have to ask somebody else.  Will you go to the winter formal with me?" he asked calmly and suavely.

Jessie sighed, stopped herself before rolling her eyes at his "don't give up such a perfect chance" attitude, and opened her mouth ready to say no one last time.  Then, she remembered the promise she'd made to her dad the night before.  She hated to do this, but a promise was a promise.  "Sure."  Jessie immediately walked away not leaving Jared any time to respond.  She walked into her class and sighed as she sat down in the desk next to Casey's.  "So?"

Jessie looked at the girl with a "kill me now" look.  "I said yes," she answered as if she had just agreed to some kind of torture.

Casey squealed with delight.  "Good, you can go dress shopping with mom and I this afternoon."

"Who are you going with?"  Jessie asked turning the subject from herself gratefully.

"Nick Wardell," Casey answered.  "Too bad we can't double date."

"I'm going to let Jared plan it all," Jessie said.

"Just to be at the same table as him," Casey began to dream before Jessie drowned her out.

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"We've got to get to Colorado," Benton said after the boys returned home from school the next day.  "I've booked a flight, but it won't be leaving until tomorrow morning and we won't arrive until that afternoon or night.  Now, both of you go pack."

"What's in Colorado, pop?"  Jonny asked.

"The Bannons," Benton answered.

At that exact moment Jonny became impatient.

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Jessie knew she looked beautiful.  She was in her room all dressed up wishing her dad had never pressured her into and making this stupid promise to do this.  She wore a green sleeveless dress with a skirt puffed out because of the yards of netting underneath.  Her hair had been done professionally in a mass of curls and her nails had also been done professionally in a color that matched her dress.  This was also one of the rare occasions that she was actually wearing make-up.

Jessie heard the doorbell, then her father call her name.  She breathed deeply, then headed down stairs.  When she reached the landing between the second and first floor she heard the gasp.  She paused to let the people below admire her, wishing her date were a certain blond and not Jared Scott.  She then began her descent to the main floor.  Jared greeted her at the bottom and she forced herself to broaden her already forced smile.  He took her hand and slipped a red rose corsage onto her wrist as he told her, "You look beautiful."

Jessie caught herself before she rolled her eyes.  She knew Jonny would have said something more original in place of beautiful like gorgeous or exquisite.  Stop it, she ordered herself, he's not here, don't think of him.  Just try to act like you're enjoying your evening.  She felt like puking.

"He's right Jess," Race agreed.

"It's not like this is the first time you've seen me dressed up," Jessie reminded her father.

Race knew she was right.  He'd seen her dressed so formally approximately a month ago when she'd gone to the winter formal at her old high school with Jonny.  He found himself wishing that Jared were Jonny then dismissed the thought immediately.

"Picture time," Julie said coming into the room with Casey and Nick behind her.  Casey's blond hair had been done similar to Jesse's and she wore a white dress with spaghetti straps and a slit in the back.

Vannie stood next to her husband as Julie took picture after picture.  She knew Jessie wasn't happy.  She was smiling with her mouth, but not with her eyes.  She also knew that her daughter wasn't the only one wishing that Jonny were the young man escorting her to the dance.  She herself did, and she knew her husband did also.  Vannie could remember wanting to hit her husband after he'd told her the promise he'd made Jessie make.  He didn't understand women as much as he liked to believe, and Vannie had let him know that.

But, now it was too late.  It was the night of the dance and here Jessie was all dressed up and ready to go to dinner and the formal with some stranger named Jared Scott.  Jonny was nowhere in sight, and everyone could tell the effect it was having on Jessie.  She tried her best to look happy and like she was having fun, but she was already regretting that she had made that stupid promise to her father.

 "Cheer up.  There're many girls who'd love to be in your shoes," Casey whispered.

"Where are they?  I'll switch with them right now," Jessie whispered back.

Casey sighed and ignored Jessie's last comment.  She just didn't know how lucky she was.  Going with the hottest, most sought after guy in school to the winter formal was every girl's dream, except for this girl.  She only dreamed of this Jonny Quest, whoever he was.

"I'll switch with you," Casey offered.

"I'd love to, but it isn't my decision, you need Jared's approval too," Jessie declined.

Casey looked up at Jared Scott who was tall, lean, dark haired and green-eyed.  She could see herself with him, had dreamed about it many a time, but he was with some girl who didn't even want him.  Jessie was gorgeous, even Casey herself had to admit that, but there was no desire in her to be going out with this boy tonight.  Jared at the moment was gazing at Jessie, admiring her, and Jessie didn't even seem to notice.  Casey figured she was probably dreaming of some other guy, but who would want to?  She decided she'd have to meet this Jonny Quest and judge for herself if he was all that Jessie cracked him up to be.  Unbeknownst to the whole group, they would be seeing the wonderful Jonny Quest sooner than they thought.

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Benton had been driving all day with his sons trying to find the right street.  The city that Race and Jessie were staying in was huge and there was more than one Park St.  It was getting late and they were all getting tired, but they just couldn't call it quits.  They had to find the Bannons, lives depended on it.

"There's a Park Avenue," Jonny said pointing to a street.

Benton nodded, acknowledging that he saw it, and turned onto it.  They watched the street numbers looking for the right one.  They couldn't believe the sudden stroke of luck when they actually found it.  They parked and were all climbing out when they were ambushed.

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"Hands up," someone said startling the group at the bottom of the stairs.

They all turned to find themselves surrounded.  Masked men held guns trained on the group.  "No one moves," one of the men said.

"Here are some more."

Three people were pushed into the ring of guards and more of the armed men joined the circle.  Jessie's eyes brightened when she recognized Jonny.  She called his name and he looked up at her.

"Jessie…wow," he said.

She smiled and blushed.  "I'll explain later," she promised eyeing her father.

"What do you want with us?" Race demanded.

"Just wait until the boss shows," one man answered.

"You mean Zin?" Benton asked.

No one answered him, but Benton knew he was right.  Jessie and Race looked at Benton worried.

"He sent robots, duplicates of both you and Jessie, to kill us," Benton explained.

"That explains a lot," Race said.

"Yes, and we're sorry that we didn't listen to you," Benton apologized.

"It's okay, it's excusable, but right now we have bigger problems," Race returned.

"Does this mean we're not going to the dance tonight?" Jared asked.

Jessie turned toward him.  Now that Jonny was back she didn't have to play Ms. Nice Girl anymore.  She began to show the creep all the charm of a rabid dog.

"Well, unless you can talk them into letting us leave so that we can go ahead with our plans for the night, I'm thinking there won't be any partying for us," Jessie answered.

Jonny laughed quietly to himself and Jessie smiled.  Then, she looked over at the twins and Nick, Casey's date.  She noticed how scared they looked.  She moved toward them, taking Jonny with her.  Hadji and Jared joined them.

"Are you guys okay?" she asked.

"No," Casey answered.

"Don't worry, everything will be fine," Jessie assured.

"Yeah, we've gotten out of tougher situations than this," Jonny said.

"Who are you?"  Jaime asked.

"Casey, Jaime, meet Jonny Quest," Jessie introduced proudly.

"So, this is the wonderful guy Jessie hasn't stopped talking about," Casey said easing up a little.

"See, I told you there was somebody better than Jared," Jessie said unashamedly.

Jonny smiled just as unashamedly, but Jared went red in the face.  He didn't seem very scared seeing as men surrounded them with guns pointed right at them.  Jessie wondered what was wrong with him.  She remembered the first time she'd been on an adventure with the Quest team.  She'd been scared almost literally to death.  If Jared was afraid, he was doing an excellent job of not showing it.

"I'd also like you to meet, Hadji Singh, current Sultan of Bangalore," Jessie said.

"Now, I don't feel so outnumbered," Jaime mumbled.

"Oh, but maybe you should," came a disgustingly familiar voice.

Everyone turned to see Zin and for once he was without his daughters.  He eyed the group in front of him.  It was bigger than he'd expected it to be.  He picked out the Quests, recognized two of the adults, but four of the kids and the woman with the red hair that stood very close to Race were unfamiliar.  Zin, however, knew he would find out who they were soon enough.

"Get them into the vans, split them up.  Don't put any of the Quest's together, and isolate the young Quest," Zin ordered.

He turned and left immediately, leaving the work to be done by his henchmen.  The men began to grab and order around the hostages.  Jessie and Jonny were pulled away from each other.  Outside the house they were thrust into vans and the doors were secured.  Jessie sat on the makeshift benches with Jared, Casey, Jaime, and Nick.

"We have to get out.  It's the only chance," Jessie said.

"But, what are we supposed to do?  Those men have guns," Jaime protested.

"I have an idea," Jessie said with a smile.

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 "How can you be so calm?"  Vannie paused her pacing to ask Hadji.

"I only appear to be calm, on the inside I am as worried as you," Hadji assured.

Vannie sighed and sat down on the bench next to Hadji only to immediately get back up again and start pacing again.  Hadji noticed she did it quite well despite the rocking and jolting of the moving van.  He in reality felt the need to pace and fret as physically as he did, but years of experience had taught him it didn't help any.  Instead, he sat quietly trying to think up some plan of escape.

"I'm so worried about Jesse and Race," Vannie muttered distracting Hadji.
"I am sure they can take care of themselves.  They have proved it many a time," Hadji stated quite confidently.
"You've been around for it to be proven to you.  I've just recently returned to lives of my husband and daughter," Vannie said.
"Just remember, Race has been doing things like this for over half his life and Jesse has learned a lot from her father, not to mention Jonny," Hadji comforted.
"You're right of course, but it doesn't do anything about my being so worried," Vannie replied.
Hadji didn't comment knowing one wasn't needed.  Vannie continued to pace until a sudden stop made her fall to the ground.
 

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"What's wrong?" a man asked opening the doors of the back of the van.

"She, she just collapsed," Casey stuttered.

The man jumped in followed by others.  He made his way to Jesse who lay unconscious on the floor.  The man began to check for a pulse, but looked back at hearing some commotion.  He didn't see Jessie's eyes pop open and was taken by surprise when she attacked him.  As soon as the guard was down, Jesse bolted for the door.  She was almost there when someone grabbed her arm and she snapped back.

"What's going on?" someone shouted from outside.

Another group of men was headed toward the van.

"This one tried to escape," the man who had grabbed Jessie pushed her out of the van.

Calling on her cat like reflexes, Jessie landed on her feet.

"Put her in with the boy," another of the guards said.

Jesse put up a fight all the way to her new prison.  The doors were opened and she was forced in, then the doors were shut again.  She stood shaking, staring at the doors as the van began to move.  A hand on her shoulder and a soft, "Jesse" made her look behind her, but she couldn't see anything, her eyes had yet to adjust to the dark interior of the van.

"Jonny," she answered.

"Yeah, it's me," he confirmed.

Jesse turned and just about fell into his arms.  He held her tightly without asking any questions.  In the other van, Jessie had fought with her claustrophobia and tried to stay calm for the others, and she'd done a pretty good job.  Now, though, alone with Jonny, she surrendered to the fear.  She knew he'd understand, he had the first time it had emerged and it had been him that had been the reason she'd even survived the ordeal.

"So, what happened?" he asked softly when her sobs had subsided.

"Jared happened," Jessie answered.

She didn't need light to know that the expression on Jonny's face would be that of confusion.  She looked up at him and could only see the shadow of his figure, which was all the dark allowed her to see.

"If he hadn't decided to be a hero I probably wouldn't be here right now.  I would have hopefully escaped," Jesse explained.

"What did he do?" Jonny asked annoyance at the boy dominating his voice.

"The plan was for the guard to come in to find me unconscious, then I would attack him unexpectedly and we would all flee.  Unfortunately, Jared decided he would attack one of the guards on his own.  I was counting on their being too occupied with watching the rest of the gang to stop me and when they ran after me the others could escape," Jesse answered.

"I don't like Jared," Jonny stated very bluntly.

"That makes two of us," Jesse said.

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"What just happened?" Vannie asked as the van started to move again.

"Good question," Hadji answered.

They both had frozen when they'd heard shouting after the van had stopped.  But, the noise had receded and the van was now moving again.  Both, Hadji and Vannie hoped everybody was okay.  They prayed they would find the others alive and well.

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"That girl walloped me good," the guard said massaging his chin.

"It shows," another guard said climbing into the driver's side of the black van.

"I hope I don't bruise."

The driver laughed.  "I can just imagine what you'll tell everybody.  'A teenage girl hit me when I wasn't looking.'"

"Yeah, like I'm going to tell anybody that."

"You mean admit that to anybody, don't you?"

"Just don't tell anyone."

"I won't, I won't," the driver promised.

There was silence as he started the engine and pulled back onto the road.

"Do you think Dr. Zin will mind that we put that red head in with the blonde boy?" the driver asked.

"He'll never know, and besides, what can they do?"

"I don't know, that girl is obviously a feisty one and Dr. Zin didn't seem to want to take any chances with the boy."

"If they cause trouble we'll just tie them up.  The boss said we might have to."

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"When Jessie mentioned Quest, I never thought for a second that it was you," Julie Morton said.

The vans had just started again and she was trying to keep her mind off the possibility that any bad thing had happened.  She and Dr. Quest sat next to each other on the wood plank attached to the side of the van that sufficed for a bench.

"It was a little surprising to find Race was now acting as bodyguard for your family," Benton admitted.

"And your son Jonny and Race's daughter Jessie are very close I understand," Julie commented.

"Yeah, it's really not that surprising seeing as they've been really good friends almost since the moment they met," Benton explained.

"What do you mean by almost?" Julie inquired.

Benton laughed at the memory.  "Those two hated each other for the first two hours after they met.  Thank goodness Hadji was there to get them together or I don't know what we would have done," Benton answered.

Julie smiled although Benton couldn't see her.  He leaned back against the metal wall of the van and sighed.  Then, he scrunched up his face in thought.

"Why do you need a body guard in the first place?"  Benton asked.

"Because of the project we're working on.  One of those, 'Dangerous in the wrong hands' type of experiments," Julie answered.

"I hope Zin doesn't know what it is your working on," Benton said.

"Actually, we were ready to call on you for some expert advice," Julie admitted.

"I'll be glad to help as soon as we get out of this mess, and don't mention it at all until we're all safe," Benton advised.

Julie nodded.

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Frederick watched as Race stood very close to the doors in the back of the van trying to figure out why they had stopped.  It was only five minutes before they started up again.  Race moved from the door.  In the darkness, Frederick could feel the tension.

"What are you two up to?" Race mumbled to himself.

"Excuse me," Frederick asked politely.

"Jonny and/or Jessie has tried something, I know it," Race said.

"They're just kids," Frederick reminded.

"Sure, whatever," Race replied.

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They all sat in the cargo bay of a huge plane.  Jessie, Casey, Nick, and Jared still in their formal wear.  There was one question burning in many of the prisoners' mind, "What had happened to make the vans stop?"  But, no one said anything knowing this wasn't a good time to talk.  They would get the story soon enough, though.

"Let's go," one of the guards ordered.

He had a bruise on the left side of his chin.  The other guards quickened their pace.  Race and Benton looked at Jonny and Jessie who were sitting next to each other.  Jonny looked at Jessie through the corner of his eye and she put on an innocent face.  Race decided he was definitely going to have a talk with her when they got out of this.

There was a slight jerk as the plane began to move and then an upward tilt that leveled off after a while.  Guards were stationed around the cargo bay.  Hadji noticed Vannie was calmer now that she had her husband and daughter on either side of her and Jessie looked relieved.  He knew it was partly because she was out of the small space of those vans and partly because she didn't have to sit by Jared.  Jonny sat on her left and her mother on her right.

"So where's Zin?" Benton whispered.

"I think he's learned that we're a hazard to his health," Race whispered back.

Benton nodded the hint of a smile on his face.

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"Gas 'em."

"Right away."

"Report back when you're finished."

"Yes, sir."

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"Why are all the guards leaving?"  Hadji asked in a whisper.

"I don't like this," Race said.

"That makes two," Benton responded.

The group waited in silence, but they didn't have to wait long.  A hissing sound accompanied a cloud of gas that issued forth from the air vent.  Slowly, the captives began to drop into unconsciousness.  First, Jared, Andrew, Jaime, and Casey, then Jonny, Jessie, Benton, and the Morton couple, and finally, Race, Hadji, and Vannie.

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"They're out."

"Good, but keep an eye on them just in case."

"Right, sir."

The man left, and the guard turned and began to fiddle with a radio.

"Dr. Zin, they' re ready," he said into a mouthpiece.

"Good.  How long will it be before you land?" the evil man's voice crackled over the radio.

"In about half an hour," the guard answered.

"We will be waiting.  Don't screw up."

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Jessie awoke and found herself alone.  She looked around at the circular room.  The walls were tinted glass and she could see her reflection in it.  She looked at herself, all made up to go to a dance, and here she was the captive of Zin, the most notorious man alive.

Jessie next inspected the glass and wondered if there was anything on the other side.  And, in fact, there was.  In four, separate compartments around the room Jonny, Hadji, Race, and Benton waited and watched.  They wondered where everybody else were as they watched Jessie.  They also wondered why she couldn't see them and what Zin was planning.  They didn't have to wait long.

A panel of the wall slid away and Zin entered.  He said something startling Jessie and she turned toward him.  He walked to the center of the room with a devilish smile on his face.

"Where's my family?"  Jessie asked.

"Look around you," Zin answered.

She did so with a confused look on her face.  The four men watched from their prisons as Zin revealed a gun and pointed it at her.  He pulled the trigger, but she saw it just in time.  She leapt out of the way into a roll and the bullet hit the glass behind her, shattering it.  Jonny didn't hesitate, but leapt for Zin who was unprepared.

He began by knocking the gun away.  Jessie picked it up, and then pointed at the next glass panel, toward the top.  She pulled the trigger and the glass shattered to reveal Benton.  Another shot rang out and Hadji was freed, another shot and her father joined the group.  He immediately took the gun from her and aimed it at Zin.

"Stop right there," Race ordered.

Jessie was glad she'd been right.  She had at first been surprised to see Jonny appear from seemingly nowhere.  She'd taken a risk and had been right.  Now, she relaxed and let the males do their job.

With Race's order Jonny and Zin stopped their struggle.  Jonny freed himself from the evil doctor and joined the group heading immediately for Jessie.

"Are you okay?" he whispered.

She nodded.

"Where are the rest of them?"  Race demanded.

"Who?"  Zin inquired innocently.

Race cocked the gun.  "You know who."

"Kill, me Race.  You do and you'll never find those innocent people, and besides you'll still have my daughters to contend with," Zin challenged.

"Where are they?"  Race demanded again.

Zin just smiled.

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"We're not stupid," Anaya spat.

"Now tell us what we want to know," Milana ordered.

"We can't," Julie answered in a shaky voice.

"You know the consequences," Anaya warned.

"Please, don't hurt them," Frederick pleaded.

"We won't have to if you only cooperate," Milana answered.

"Mom, dad, what are they talking about?"  Casey asked.

There was silence as Julie and Frederick Morton looked at the floor with despair and shame in their eyes.

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"Tell us where they are Zin," Benton demanded.

"I'm afraid I can't do that," Zin replied.

"This isn't getting us anywhere," Benton said.

"What are we going to do, pop?"  Jonny asked.

"I have an idea," Benton answered.

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Nick and Jared watched as the red haired woman fiddled with the lock on the door.

"You're no Race Bannon, lady, you'll never get us out of here," Jared told her.

Vannie looked at him over her shoulder.  "Do you have any idea who I am?"

Jared shook his head no.  "Just some broad who got caught up in this the same as all of us."

Vannie stood and turned toward him.  She held out her hand.

"Vanessa Elizabeth Monroe, Bannon when I'm with my husband and daughter," she introduced herself.

Jared took her hand.  "Jared Roberto Scott, captain of the football team, and your daughter Jessie's dream date."

Vannie laughed.

"What?"  Jared asked confused.

"You really think you're Jessie's dream date?"  Vannie inquired.

"Of course I am," Jared scoffed.

"You're no Jonny Quest, boy, Jessie hates you," Vannie said turning back to what she'd previously been doing.

"She doesn't hate me.  If she did she wouldn't have agreed to go to the dance with me," Jared reasoned.

"She only said yes because she promised her father she would go," Vannie informed the boy.

Jared stood shocked at first, then angered.  He had only really met the Quest boy didn't know anything about him, but he hated him now, from this point on.

"Got it," Vannie said as the door swung open.

"Wow," Nick said.

"Shall we go?"  Jared asked.

"Follow me, no heroics.  You two are amateurs and I don't want you getting hurt," Vannie ordered.

"I can take care of myself," Jared assured.

"Fine, but don't come running to me if they kill you," Vannie answered.

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"So what's your idea, doc?"  Race asked.

"This is the main computer.  We should find everything we need to know right here," Benton answered.

Race looked over his shoulder where the kids were working at another computer, Hadji in the middle with Jessie and Jonny on either side of him.  Race walked over to join them.

"What are you three up to?" he asked.

"We're getting schematics on this place and turning off the security," Jessie answered smiling at her father.

"You kids really have learned a lot haven't you?"  Race asked.

"We learned from the best," Jonny answered.

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"Pheryll 90, we want all the information you have on it and we know you have a lot," Anaya said.

"We know nothing," Frederick insisted.

"We'll see how much you know when one of your children are dead," Milana threatened.

She gave a signal to the guards and they took Jaime and hauled him off.  He struggled the whole way.

"What are you going to do to him?"  Julie asked.

"Just watch," Anaya said.

She produced a remote and pointed it at a wall.  She pushed a button and a panel slid away to reveal a screen.  The screen revealed Jaime, blindfolded and standing in front of a firing brigade.

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"I thought I'd find you all in here," Vannie said from the doorway of the main computer room.

Race turned and flew at her.  He pulled her close and didn't want to let her go.  He pressed his lips to her hair and thanked goodness that she was alive and well.  Jared looked immediately to Jessie and saw her, Hadji, and the much-hated Jonny sitting on the floor discussing something.  He walked to them, Nick following, and joined them.

"What's going on here?" he asked.

"Nothing to concern yourself with," Jessie answered as Hadji folded up the map they'd been looking at.

"Why not, I can help," Jared replied.

"Look, we have everything under control.  Let the expert's handle it," Jonny told him.

"Like you?"  Jared asked sarcastically.

"Yes, like me.  You see, Hadji and I have been doing stuff like this since we were eight.  Jessie joined us when we were twelve.  We're seventeen, now, that's nine years for Hadj and I, five for Jess.  I'd say we're experts," Jonny returned.

"Let's get going," Benton said to avoid a conflict.

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"He will die if you do not tell us what we want to know," Milana threatened.

"Not if we can do anything about it," came the familiar voice of Race Bannon.

As many as were capable charged into the room and began taking out bad guys.  Even Jessie in her formal gown was kicking some serious butt.

"You must save Jaime," Julie pleaded while she was being untied.

"Where is he?"  Benton asked.

"There," Frederick answered pointing to the TV screen.

"Got it covered," Jonny said.

He, Jessie, and Hadji were out the door before anyone could do or say anything to stop them.  Jared stood for a minute, his mind working.  If guys who led dangerous lives, who weren't afraid to take risks impressed Jessie, then he too could live as close to the edge as Jonny Quest. He hurried after them.

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"We can't take them all out in time to save Jaime from a bullet," Jessie commented.

"At least not with physical force," Hadji replied.

Jonny and Jessie looked at him wondering what he had up his sleeve.  Smiling, he pulled a small tank of gas from behind his back.  The label read "Laughing Gas."  Jonny and Jessie smiled along with them.

"But, what's to protect us and Jaime," Jessie asked.

"Why, these of course," Hadji said producing four gas masks.

Jonny and Jessie each took one and put it on as did Hadji.

"Wow, that really completes the outfit," Jonny joked looking at Jessie.

She rolled her eyes and took the last gas mask.

"Let the gas go.  As soon as I can I'll get Jaime," Jessie planned.

Hadji nodded and opened the valve releasing the gas.  The guards looked around wondering what the hissing sound was.  However, soon they were all laughing hysterically.  Jessie slipped into the room, hoping to get to Jaime before the gas did.

"It's me," Jessie warned as she removed his blindfold.  "Here, put this on."

He accepted the gas mask he offered her and slipped it onto his head.  She motioned with her head to follow.  When they were back with Jonny and Hadji they discovered Jared had also joined them.

"Thought you might need my help," he explained.

"I thought we already went through this," Jessie groaned.

"No time now, look," Jonny said.

They did as directed to find a group of guards turning the corner.

"Run," Hadji ordered.

The five teens took down the hall with a hail of bullets following them.  Jared looked behind himself for a second.  He saw one of the guards take aim and fire.  He knew that bullet was heading straight for him.  His hands searched for something to use as a shield.  They found something and pulled it in front of him.  The bullet hit and Jessie let out a cry of pain.

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"What happened?"  Race demanded as soon as he saw Jessie walk in leaning slightly on Jonny.

"Jared decided to use Jessie to shield himself from an oncoming bullet," Hadji answered.

Race didn't say anything.  He helped his daughter, taking her from Jonny.

"It only grazed me, but it hurts," Jessie said.

"What did you think you were doing?" Jonny asked right in Jared's face.

"No time now Jonny.  As much as I would like to see him pay for what he's done, we do need to get out of here.  You can beat him up once we're all safe," Vannie promised.

Jonny didn't move for a minute and everyone thought he might let his emotions get the better of him despite their situation.  But, he slowly pulled himself away from the task he so desperately wanted to accomplish.

"Let's get out of here," Race ordered.

Jonny and Hadji led the group on the way out.  Benton aided Jessie so Race could be ready to fight.  Benton hoped it would help both Race and Vannie release some steam.  He knew that if Jonny didn't finish off Jared, they probably would.  Luckily, there were a lot of guards to be taken out.

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Jonny and Jared were outside while Jessie was betting all doctored up.  They'd all escaped from Zin with only minor injuries; Jessie's being the worst.  Benton was talking with Julie and Frederick about the project they'd been working on, "Pheryll 90."  Nick had returned home, thankful to be alive and eager to see his family.  Race, Vannie and Hadji waited for Jessie.  Jonny face Jared with murder in his eyes.

"You think you're a big shot do you?"  Jonny asked.

"It was just a reaction, I didn't mean to," Jared replied.

"You shouldn't have even been there.  You were supposed to have stayed with the group," Jonny yelled.

"I just wanted to help," Jared excused.

"Nine years of experience, five for Jessie, I don't think we needed your help," Jonny answered.

"You never know."

"You almost got her killed.  Feel lucky you didn't," Jonny said before taking his first punch.

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"Ready to go home, Ponchita?"  Race asked.

"You bet.  I want to get as far away from Jared Scott as I possibly can," Jessie answered.

"About that, I guess I need to apologize," Race said sheepishly rubbing the back of his neck.

"You bet you do," Jessie agreed whole-heartedly.

Vannie laughed at her daughter's comment.

"Then, I'm sorry," Race said ignoring his wife.  "I should never have made you make that promise."

"You're right…apology accepted," Jessie replied kissing her father on the cheek.

Jonny walked into the front doors of the hospital.  He stopped the first nurse he came to and said something to her.  She took off heading outside.

"He didn't have a chance," Jessie commented.

"Nope," Race agreed.

"Shall we go?"  Jonny asked a little nervously.

Jessie laughed.  She still wore her formal and Jonny could see a bit of white through the hole the bullet had made in it.  The area around the hole was blood stained.  Race looked at Jonny.

"Why do I have the feeling that Jared Scott is out there a bloody pulp on the ground?" he asked.

"Not a bloody pulp exactly," Jonny corrected making father, daughter and mother laugh.

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"I'll be staying a bit longer to help the Mortons on the project their working on," Benton explained to his son as they packed the Dragonfly.

Jonny's face showed his disappointment, but Benton knew he'd forget about it as soon as he and Jessie were battling it out in Quest World.  He smiled and ruffled his son's hair, making him smile.

"I won't be gone forever," Benton assured his son.

"I know, I just don't see why you have to stay," Jonny returned.

"I don't have to I want.  Besides, this experiment their working on is Top Secret and the Morton's asked me to help," Benton explained.

Jonny's smile grew bigger.  "Top Secret usually means dangerous.  You're just as adventure loving as the rest of us, dad," he said before boarding the plane.

Jonny watched his father who was watching him as the door to the cargo bay closed.  When he couldn't see his son anymore, Benton left the runway for a safer place to watch the Dragonfly take off.  He watched it until was just a silver speck in the sky and even a little after that.  Finally, with a sigh, he turned and strode toward the nearest exit.

The End