Precious Revenge

Jessie and Jonny sat side-by-side facing each other.  They were in QUEST WORLD playing Knights of Quest, a game Hadji had programmed two days ago.  This was only their second time playing it.  The first time Jessie had won.

"Check, "Jonny said from the throne of the White King.

Jessie looked around from her perch atop the black horse of the Black Knight.  From this viewpoint she couldn't see any way out.

"Iris, give me a birds eye view of the board," with this command Jessie found herself perched on a transparent platform floating over the board.  She walked around trying to find a way to get herself out of check.

Jessie knew that she couldn't lose to Jonny.  She was too smart and rational to do that.  However, this time it seemed that she just might lose.  Jonny rarely beat her.  She was too smart not to win, and to creative for him to beat her.  It seemed whenever Jonny came up with an idea he usually overlooked something and Jessie ended up winning from his mistake, but this time....

"Hurry up Jessie," Jonny taunted with a tone of triumph and a tinge of impatience.

She looked at him.  He had a look on his face that said he just knew he was going to win.  She just had to win.  She just had to wipe that look off of his face.

Jessie walked the perimeter of the platform.  She concentrated as hard as she could every step of the way.  Then it caught her eye.  That one overlooked mistake.  The one that would get her out of trouble and help her to win.  She didn't let Jonny know, though.  She wanted this to be a surprise.

"Are you going to make a move or what Jess?"  Jonny asked.

"I think I'll make a move.  Iris, move Black Queen to take White Rook," she commanded.

Jessie looked at Jonny to see what his expression would be as Iris put her back on her horse and made the move she had ordered.  Jonny's expression changed from smugness to the disappointment of defeat as Iris stated Jessie's move as a checkmate and her victory.

"Better luck next time my friend," Hadji said as he pulled the two out of Quest World.  "And congratulations, Jessie."

"Thanks Hadji.  Now are you ready for our match?"  Jessie asked eagerly.

"Oh, not tonight.  I am afraid that that match took longer than any of us had expected.  The sun has almost finished setting.  Dr. Quest and Race will expect us in soon to have dinner," Hadji informed the pair.

Both Jessie and Jonny looked past Hadji out the window to see snow falling in the dusk.  It was only five, but it was winter and that meant early dusk and late dawn.

"Well, we better get going.  Dad'll be furious if we're late for dinner twice in a row," Jonny said pulling on his down coat and then handing Jessie her leather jacket.

Jessie accepted the jacket.  Then she put it on without thinking about it.  Her mind was on the subject of how she disliked the cold.  She preferred warm sunny skies to hills of snow.

Jonny opened the door and a chilly wind blasted the three best friends.  Jessie stuck her hands in her pockets.

"Coming?" asked Jonny.

"I think I'll stay here for a bit longer," Jessie admitted.

"Okay, but hurry.  You know how my dad is when he wants to work on one of his inventions.  Everything has to be right on schedule," Jonny laughed.

"I won't be that long," Jessie assured them before they walked out into the snowy oblivion.

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Jonny and Hadji were walking toward the compound when they noticed four cars parked outside the house.  They walked a little quicker eager to know the owners of the cars.  At the front entrance Jonny ordered Iris to open the door using a special code, not wanting to interrupt his father and Race.

They stepped inside to a toasty interior and started to take off their coats when Hadji noticed that it was silent, alerting Jonny to the problem immediately.

"Iris, locate Dad and Race," Jonny commanded.

"Dr. Quest and Race Bannon are in the study," Iris replied.

Both Jonny and Hadji let out the breaths they didn't know they were holding and headed toward the study.  When they opened the door they saw Benton, Race, and three other men.

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Jessie finally got up the courage to face the falling snow and darkening night.  She wrapped her arms around an undone coat to keep the wind from penetrating it.  Her not zipping it up was Jessie's way of rebelling against the winter.

She stopped, though, when she saw a man standing in the middle of the thin, cliff bridge that connected the lighthouse to the mainland.  She could only make out his outline.  One thing she did notice, though, was that he had his hands in his pocket.

"Hello there," the figure called out in a rough base voice.  Jessie stood silently.

"I'm a friend of your father's," the man continued starting his way toward Jessie who didn't make a move.

"I came to find you," the man said when he was standing right in front of Jessie.  They both just stood there for a moment in silence watching each other.  Then the man slowly drew his left hand out of his pocket and shot Jessie with a silenced gun before she had even time to scream

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"Jonny, Hadji, I'd like you to meet a few friends of mine," Race said indicating the two Black men and the one Hispanic man sitting opposite of Race and Benton.  "This is Roberto Allero.  The man in the middle is Robert Greene.  And the man on his right is Mark Legonos."

Jonny and Hadji studied the men.  Both noticed that they all looked depressed.  They both also wondered what made them look so.

"Hi," Jonny said followed by Hadji.

"These men are here," Benton explained, "because they need our help, and because they want to help us."

"Where's Jessie?"  Race suddenly asked as his mood changed from serious to frantic.

"She's either still at the lighthouse or just coming from it.  Why?"  Jonny asked becoming worried with Race's behavior.

"We don't have time to explain.  We must look for her," said Legonos in a slight African accent.

"Iris, locate Jessie," Benton commanded urgently.

"Jessie will be leaving the compound in approximately ten minutes," Iris informed in a monotone.

"We better get looking for her," Greene said in a New York accent.  "It might be Pesh."

Race and his three friends ran for their coats and then their cars.  They were soon on their way out to find Jessie.

Inside the compound Benton was doing a perimeter search.  "Iris, show me the perimeter cameras, changing cameras every ten seconds. "

On the huge monitor in the communications room a scene of the edge of the island that the compound was located on appeared.  Every ten seconds it changed to a different view.

"Dad, we've got to narrow the search down," Jonny said trying to help.

"I know son, but I don't know what to do," Benton admitted with a helpless shrug.

"Iris, identify the exit Jessie is taking," Hadji commanded the computer.

"Jessie Bannon is heading southwest toward the public road," Iris informed.

"Iris, narrow perimeter cameras to those monitoring the exit that leads toward the public road," Benton just about yelled.

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"Race, she's heading southwest toward the public road," Jonny informed Race from the radio at the compound.

"I'm heading that way, kiddo," Race reported back.  He shifted to a higher gear and his car sped forward.

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The man carried Jessie across the bridge with her fiery hair dangling down over his right arm.  He had the last one.  Now all he had to do was to get her out of there without having to deal with her father.

He looked behind himself and saw headlights speeding toward him.  He set Jessie down gently and pulled a small radio out of his left coat pocket.

"Come get us," he ordered before stuffing the mini-radio back into his pocket and picking Jessie back up.

He ran as fast as he could to the other end of the bridge all the while the sounds of the cars and a copter growing louder.  By the time he was at the end of the bridge the copter had already set down there.  He set Jessie into the open door of the copter, jumped in himself, and then closed the door behind him.

"Go, go!" the man yelled to the pilot and soon they were headed away from the compound.

The man watched the cars grow smaller and smaller as they skidded to a halt and the drivers jumped out to watch the copter fly away.

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Race sat in the communications room with a still picture on the large monitor screen picked up by one of the security cameras.  It was a picture of the man who had kidnapped Jessie.  He knew that face.  It was one he would never forget.  It was the face of Daniel Pesh.  And in his arms lay Jessie, a tranquilizer dart in her left shoulder.

The door opened behind Race and Roberto, Mark, Robert, and another man walked in.  They looked at the screen and then at Race.

"We found Flint tied up in the trunk of his own car," Roberto said with a thick Mexican accent.

Race swiveled in his chair until he faced the men.

"How are you doing?" he asked the man wrapped in a blanket and sporting a cup of coffee.

"The question is, how are you doing?"  Thomas Flint asked his old partner.

Race swiveled back to the screen.  He stared at the picture for a while.  Nobody knew what was going on inside of him.  This man wasn't one they saw get emotionally involved, but this was personal.

"I feel like crying and punching somebody at the same time," was all Race said.

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Jonny sat up in his room staring at a picture of Jessie he had snapped during their last vacation.  He couldn't believe this had happened.  This was Jessie they were talking about, Jessie the Wonder Girl.

Jonny had to find out what was going on.  He couldn't be left in the dark.  And anyway, he realized how much he really cared for Jessie.  Up until now she had been one of his best friends.  Now it seemed he felt so much more.

His mind wandered back to their unintentional, but first kiss.  They had been headed toward Nova Scotia when they had hit an uncharted island.  During their time on the island ghosts, who had killed each other out of jealousy and revenge, had possessed them both.  With the help of Hadji and Paul Mornaeu-who turned out to be a ghost along with the whole island-the two lover ghosts had worked out their problems and at the end had kissed.  Of course Jessie and himself had also kissed being the ones possessed by the ghosts.  Jonny now realized that kiss had affected him more than he had realized.

Jonny put the picture back in the drawer of his nightstand and softly closed it.  He took a deep breath and then went to confront his dad.

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Benton sat in the kitchen and sipped at his coffee.  Hadji sat on the floor meditating.  He watched Hadji for a moment and then got caught up in wondering what he was seeing and feeling while in that state.

"Dad, tell me the whole story will you?"  Benton heard his son ask.

He looked over at Jonny.  For a moment or two he just sat there staring at his son.  And although it made him feel a little guilty, he was glad that it wasn't Jonny that had been kidnapped.

"I think we better have a family meeting," Benton finally answered the waiting ears of his son.  Then he turned to Hadji.  "Come on Hadji let's go find Race," he said as he gently shook Hadji back to the real world.

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Jessie awoke and tried to sit up when she felt a hand push her back down into a lying position.  She made a mental note to thank the person later feeling a wave of nausea hit her.

"Just lay there for awhile," Jessie heard a girls voice say as the feeling of nausea passed.

"Where am I?"  Jessie asked afraid of the answer.

"We would tell you if we knew," came the voice of a girl who had a New York accent.

Jessie took the courage to sit up, but very slowly.  She felt another wave of nausea coming on, but ignored it.  It passed quickly.  She looked around and saw four other girls with her.

"Who are you?" she asked everyone in general.

"I'm Iesha Greene," said a Black girl next to her.  "This is Amanda Flint, over there is Artesha Legonos, and next to her is Maria Allero. "

Jessie nodded to each of the girls as Iesha named them off.  There was another Black girl, a Hispanic girl, and another Caucasian girl like herself.

"What are we doing here?"  Jessie asked.

"That's what I'm here to tell you," said the man Jessie recognized as her captor.

"You girls, go to your own rooms," the girls filed out of the room, the last one closing the door behind her.

"I told you earlier that I was a friend of your fathers.  Well, that was a lie.  I'm actually an enemy of your father's," the man admitted with a gleeful smile.

"Who are you and what to do want with me?"  Jessie demanded.

"My name is Daniel Pesh.  You are here to help me get revenge on your father," Daniel explained.

"And the other girls, are they here for the same reason?"  Jessie asked defiantly.

"Well, I seem to have a real Sherlock Holmes here," Pesh said with a laugh.

"Don't tell me.  You were working on the perfect plan to destroy or rule the world, right?"  Jessie asked trying to figure out the whole story.

"Actually I was a smuggler and a sniper," Pesh informed her.

"And my dad and the parents of the other girls were sent to stop you and they did.  You got thrown into jail and swore revenge on those five men who put you there.  Now, some umpteen years later-" Jessie continued until Pesh interrupted her.

"Almost twelve to be exact," Pesh clarified cracking his knuckles. His face was filled with hate.

"Anyway, you escaped and devised a plan to get revenge on the ones who ruined your life and took you from your luxurious home and stuffed you into a small jail cell," Jessie finished.

"And now I'm carrying out my plan and it's coming out just right.  You will stay here until I decide to let you go," Pesh informed.

"And when will that be?"  Jessie asked boldly.

"When I am sure your father is dead!"  Pesh ended the statement with an evil laugh that rang through the house and made the girls in the other rooms shiver with fear.

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"Daniel Pesh was a smuggling sniper.  He was lending out his services and smuggling things in and out of the country to make some big bucks.  The agency knew it was him, but they had no way of tying the murders and smugglings to him," Roberto Allero explained.

"So what happened?"  Jonny asked impatiently.

"They sent us in to frame and arrest him.  Everything went as planned.  While he was shoved into a police car he swore his revenge on us and now he's carrying out his plan," Race said slamming his fist against the arm of the chair he was sitting in and then standing up suddenly and pacing the room.

"Ironically, we all had daughters and he's kidnapped all five of them," Greene explained.

"And we have no idea where he has them.  We were going to put a tracking device on Jessie incase he captured her so we could track him, but he moved too fast," said Roberto.

"And now Pesh has us all in his torture chamber.  We wonder what he has done to our daughters and we worry," Mark sighed.

"Oh, if I could only get my hands on him I'd-" Race threatened through gritted teeth.

"We all know how you feel.  He has our daughters too," comforted Flint.

"It's just that-" Race tried to explain the confusing emotions he felt inside.  He closed his eyes and leaned his head against the wall.  When he looked up again he saw the room empty and was glad everybody had left.  He needed some time to sort is feelings.

Race sighed and walked over to his desk.  He picked up the picture of Jessie and himself and just stared at it.  His mind was thinking of the time when Jessie had been in a plane crashed.  His emotions had run wild like they were doing now.  So many questions had run through his head.  Is she okay?  Is she dead?  Is she alive?  Has someone found her and is taking care of her?  Or is she now in the hands of a dangerous fugitive?  Has she been killed or seriously hurt by a wild animal?

However, now different questions ran through his head.  What is Pesh doing to her?  Has he killed her?  Is he torturing her?  Race refused to ask himself any more questions.  He was scaring himself to death and he wasn't getting any closer to answering the question of what had happened to his daughter.

Race realized he didn't seem to care about the other girls.  No matter how good of friends he was with their fathers, Jessie seemed to be the only important one.

Race set the picture face down on the desk and then sat on the edge of it.  He felt like crying.  He wasn't one to show emotions; especially ones that made him look weak.  It was something he had learned while he had been training at the agency.  But this was Jessie they were talking about.  How could he not get emotionally involved?

Race stood up and shook his fist at the ceiling.  Now it was his turn to make the threats.

"IF IT'S THE LAST THING I EVER DO," Race yelled beginning the popular phrase, "I WILL GET MY DAUGHTER BACK AND MAKE YOU PAY FOR THE TORTURE YOU'VE PUT ME THROUGH. "

Race slowly lowered his fist to his side.  The knuckles on both hands were whiter than snow.

"And if you harm one hair on my daughter's head you will regret ever being born," Race whispered the last of his threat through gritted teeth.  As his emotions took hold of him Race slumped to the floor and let himself have a good cry.

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"Here's something to keep you amused," Pesh said as he started hauling boxes into Jessie's room.

"What is it?"  Jessie asked when Pesh had the last box in.

"Well open it and find out," Pesh huffed as he closed and locked the door to her room.

Jessie looked at the boxes that filled her tiny room.  She walked over to the nearest one and pulled open the lid.  In it she saw a computer monitor.  She opened the other boxes and found the rest of the components to the computer.  In the last box was a note.

I've done a little research and found out that you like computers.  I stole the best just for you, because you're going to be here for a long time.

The letter was signed by Pesh.  Jessie almost didn't use it knowing it was stolen.  Reluctantly she started assembling it.  She went to her jacket to get the screwdriver kit she kept there and found she had somehow stuffed one of the QUEST WORLD V.R. modules into her right hand pocket.

Jessie looked at the module, turning it over in her hand.  She wondered how it had gotten in her pocket.  Then she got an idea.  She put the module back in the pocket she had found it in.  Then she got back to work on assembling the computer.

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Jonny couldn't sleep with all the noise Race was making, and because he couldn't stop thinking about Jessie.  Jonny sighed and climbed out bed.  He pulled at the black top of his pajamas.  Then he walked out of his door and knocked on Race's.  It was a while before his knock was finally acknowledged.

"Hi, Jonny," Race said spotting the teenager.

"Are you okay?"  Jonny asked timidly.

Race took a deep breath and rubbed the back of his neck.  He looked around a little ashamed that he had woken up Jonny.

"You didn't wake me.  I promise," Jonny assured reading Race's mind.

"Come on in," Race said stepping away from his door so that Jonny could enter.

Jonny stepped in a few feet and heard Race close the door behind him.  He looked around and saw that Race's room was gleaming opposed to the mess he usually kept it in, although he could never compete with the way Jessie and Jonny kept their rooms.

"You want to talk about it?"  Jonny asked even more timidly.

"I don't know what to say," Race admitted surprising Jonny.

He waited for Race to continue.  He didn't want to pressure him knowing he might reject Jonny.

"It was if she was there one moment and then the next she had just vanished.  I feel so helpless.  It reminds me of the plane crash Jessie was in.  There's nothing I can do," Race said sitting down on his bed.

Jonny noticed that it was rumpled.  He knew it was because Race had tossed and turned trying to sleep even though he had known that there was no way that he could.

"Jessie isn't exactly helpless herself.  She couldn't be with a father like you," Jonny assured.

Race laughed at Jonny's remark.  It was the first time he had even smiled, let alone laughed since his Ponchita had been kidnapped.

"Race, can I tell you something?"  Jonny asked now rubbing the back of his head.

"Sure, what's up?"  Race agreed with more enthusiasm.

"It's about Jessie," Jonny admitted squirming.  He didn't exactly know how to say what he was about to say.

"What about her?"  Race urged.

"I really don't know how to say this," Jonny admitted.

"Just say it," Race advised casually.

"I think I'm in love with your daughter," Jonny blurted out.  He looked everywhere, but at Race.

"I see," Race said awkwardly as he ran his hand through his hair.

"I wasn't gonna tell you, but I just felt that I had to," Jonny said helplessly.

"Does anybody else know?"  Race asked.

"Just you and me," Jonny answered.

"I see," Race repeated.

"Nobody else has to know.  Not even Jessie.  I swe-" Jonny said before Race interrupted him.

"To tell you the truth, I couldn't think of anyone else I would rather have in love with her," Race said with a laugh.

Jonny smiled.  "Thanks Race," Jonny said before leaving with the hugest smile on his face.

Race leaned back against the wall with his hands behind his head.  He wore a smile as big as Jonny's.  He thought about Jessie and Jonny together.  For some reason that made him happy.  It felt good to be smiling again he admitted to himself.

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Jessie had been working since she got the computer to get everything just right.  Now she was finished.  She hoped she had everything right.  It was now midnight and she knew this was the only time she had to try it out.

Jessie clipped the V.R. module onto her ear.  She typed the commands to get her into QUEST WORLD.

Log on to QUEST WORLD.  Subject: Jessie Bannon.

"Jessie took a deep breath before saying, "Going hot," and pushing ENTER.

She held her breath as she went through the green field toward Quest World.  So far, so good.  Now, she only had to actually enter QUEST WORLD.

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Jonny got out of bed for the second night in a row.  This time, though, it wasn't because of Race.  He, Benton, Flint, Allero, Legonos, Greene, and Estella, who had flown up as soon as she had heard that Jessie had been kidnapped, had all driven down to Washington D. C. earlier that day.  They wouldn't be back until early that morning.

No, Jonny had gotten up because he hadn't been able to sleep.  As he moved through the house lights went on as Iris sensed his movement.  In the living room the lights went on along with the Christmas tree lights.

"Iris, shut off overhead lights," Jonny commanded.  Iris quickly obeyed him and soon he was staring at the twinkling, colorful lights on the humongous tree they had all decorated just a week ago.

Before Jonny knew it Hadji was quietly heading toward him.  He looked at the clock when Hadji asked if he was all right.  It was Eleven-Forty.

"I can't sleep is all," Jonny said not wanting to worry his friend.

Hadji worried anyway.  He knew that Jonny was worried about Jessie and there seemed to be something else, but he couldn't tell what.  Hadji cocked his head to one side and thought of the new QUEST WORLD game he had been working on.  He had finished it that afternoon after everybody had left.

"Do you want to try out the new game I programmed?  You can have first crack at it so that you won't get surprises like Jessie will.  And maybe you'll actually beat her for once," Hadji suggested unsurely.

'Sure," Jonny agreed with a laugh.  Hadji was glad that he could make his friend laugh.  It seemed like a long time since anyone had.

"I'll meet you out there in twenty minutes," Hadji said.

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Jonny and Hadji were in the lighthouse getting ready to enter QUEST WORLD.  Jonny sat in one of the chairs with a V.R. module clipped on his ear.  He waited patiently while Hadji booted up his new game: Sky Runner.

"Ready?"  Hadji asked.  Jonny nodded that he was.  "Log onto QUEST WORLD.  Subject: Jonny Quest.  Going hot," Hadji chanted.

Jonny watched as the green haze in the passage to QUEST WORLD sped by.  He noticed that it looked like he was going warp speed through a field of green stars.  Finally, he landed in the regular QUEST WORLD scenario.  A vast, empty, spacious wasteland with bare trees scattered about.  He looked around wondering where the game was.

"What's wrong Hadji?"  Jonny asked confused.

"I do not know.  It says somebody else is trying to log on.  Because of that the game will not boot up," Hadji explained helplessly.

"You don't think its Surd do you?" Jonny asked suddenly on the alert and readying himself for battle.

"No, it is not, I am sure.  None of the alarms are going off," Hadji said as he typed furiously at the keyboard trying to identify the intruder.

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It seemed like a while before she got into QUEST WORLD. The computer had taken slower than she had anticipated. Of course, the computer she was using had only a third of the power and technology that the computer in the lighthouse had.

Jesse looked around and smiled. It felt good to be somewhere familiar, even if it was only the barren wasteland of QUEST WORLD. She looked around trying to see if someone else was there with her. There didn't seem to be anybody. Then she heard a voice behind her.

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Jonny tapped his foot impatiently as he waited. He was starting to think that this was a bad idea when someone appeared a few meters off in front of him. He squinted to see if he could figure out who it was. Something caught his eye immediately. Red hair swung around as the person looked around.

"Jesse? ", Jonny whispered the question to himself.

"Correct that is Jesse Bannon. ", Iris confirmed.

Jesse turned around quickly at hearing Iris' voice. She spotted Jonny immediately.

"Jonny is that really you? ", She called out walking then running toward him.

"Jesse! ", Jonny called back.

He ran toward her. When they got to each other they stopped, their chests heaving with every breath. Jonny fought back the urge to grab Jesse and plant one right on her lips. He knew this was neither the time nor the place.

"How'd you, where'd you ... It's good to see you Jess. ", Jonny blurted out after stumbling over all the questions he wanted to ask her.

Jesse laughed at Jonny's eagerness. It made her relax. She could see it was also making Jonny relax because he started to laugh to.

"I have no idea where I am. ", Jesse began. "And Pesh gave me, actually he stole me, a really good computer. I programmed the QUEST WORLD program into it. And from where I am the graphics are pretty bad compared to what I'm used to. ", Jesse laughed.

Jonny didn't respond. He was too busy admiring her. Jesse blushed under his stare. He didn't seem to notice what he was doing until Hadji cleared his throat.

"I have managed to find Jesse's location. ", Hadji informed them with a hint of pride.

"Where is she? ", Jonny asked eagerly.

"She is only fifty miles southwest of here. ", Hadji answered pulling up a map.

Jonny and Jesse studied it. Then Jonny recognized the place on the map he swore he had seen and been to before.

"That's grandma and grandpa Westing 's old house. ", Jonny said recognizing it as the house that belonged to his grandparents on his deceased mother's side. "It's only about an hour's drive from here. ", Jonny informed Hadji and Jesse excitedly. "Don't worry Jesse. We'll be there to free you in an hour or so. ", Jonny assured right before logging out of QUEST WORLD.

Jesse let out a deep breath. She didn't want Jonny to come and get her. In fact she wanted Hadji and him to stay as far away from her until they got at least her dad to come with them. Jesse logged out of QUEST WORLD herself knowing that Jonny's mission was hopeless.

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Jonny and Hadji drove slowly down the dirt driveway of Jonny's grandparents' house. They didn't want to alert Pesh that they were there. They needed to get in and out with Jesse and the other girls quickly and quietly.

Jonny rubbed his hands together in anxiety. He was anxious to see Jesse in real life instead of in QUEST WORLD. The more he thought about it the more excited he became until he felt like he wanted to shout his feelings to all the world. Jonny stayed with rubbing his hands together.

As they neared the house Jonny could barely hold back his excitement. He wanted to scream and yell to Jesse that they were there to rescue her. Like Race, he realized the other girls didn't mean a thing when it came to being near Jesse. Knowing she was right behind you.

"Stay here. If I'm not out in twenty minutes, leave and go get help. ", Jonny ordered. Hadji nodded knowing it to be impossible to argue with Jonny.

Jonny opened the door of the blue Quest Van. He closed it again, careful not to slam it.

I wonder which one is Jesse's window Jonny asked himself. He circled the house. In the back he saw a light in one of the windows. He bent down and picked up a handful of soil and rocks. He threw it at the window. At once it slid open.

"How are you going to get up? ", Jesse asked.

"I don't know. ", Jonny admitted looking around. "I'll be right back. "

Jesse watched as Jonny headed toward the boundary of the yard where it met the forest. Then he disappeared from sight. She strained her eyes looking for him. She almost lost hope when he hadn't returned after five minutes.

Then, suddenly, he was there again as if he had been a magician that had been doing a magic trick.

"Watch out. I'm putting this ladder up. ", Jonny commanded.

He unfolded the ladder and gently set it up against the windowsill. Jesse held it as he climbed up so it would be steady and noiseless.

"Hi. ", Jonny said as he reached the top of the ladder.

Jesse moved away from the window to make room for Jonny to get in. He climbed over the windowsill into the room and looked around.

"Cozy. ", he said.

"We have to get the other girls. ", Jesse said heading for the door.

"Jesse, wait. ", Jonny said grabbing her hand.

She looked back at him, squinting her eyes as if she were trying to see into him.

"What is it? ", she asked.

"I want to tell you something. ", Jonny concentrated on not making his words stutter.

"What is it? ", Jesse repeated concerned.

"I love you. ", he said looking straight into her emerald eyes.

Jesse turned around not wanting Jonny to see her blush and take it the wrong way. She tried to sort through her thoughts, but found she couldn't. She looked back at him. His eyes seemed to have a pleading look to them. She could tell he really did love her.

She tried to turn away again, but Jonny pulled her closer. "I need to know how you feel. ", he said with a wavering voice.

Jesse stood there staring into his eyes. She cleared her mind and then listened to her heart. Her mother, Estella, had given her this advice many times.

At first the only thing she noticed was her heart beating. Then she realized there was something else there that she hadn't felt before. Jesse moved closer to Jonny and kissed him. At first he was surprised. But, then he leaned back into it.

However, the next thing he knew, he was lying on the floor. Jesse was on the other side of the room. She wasn't moving.

"What are you doing here? ", asked the man in a voice that sent a shiver through his spine.

"I'm rescuing my friend. ", Jonny answered defiantly although he felt like running away.

"Well not any more. ", The man said with a laugh. He walked over to the window, pushed the ladder to the ground, and slammed the window.

"Don't try anything. ", he warned Jonny with a growl before stalking out of the room.

Jonny immediately rushed to Jesse. As he feared she was unconscious and a big, ugly bump was already forming on her head. He tenderly touched the black, blue, and purple lump.

"You're going to be alright. ", Jonny assured the unconscious Jesse as he gently lifted her onto the bed. "I won't let anybody hurt you. ", he said as he pulled the covers up over her and then sat back to wait.

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Hadji checked the clock in the Quest Van. It had already been half an hour and still no Jonny.

"I am sorry my friend, ", Hadji apologized, "but I fear I must go get some help."

Hadji started the engine and headed back toward the compound. He didn't like the feeling that was beginning to form in the pit of his stomach or the knot that was tightening around his heart.

He knew this feeling for he had felt it many times before. It was dread and fear all rolled into one. It was a feeling he did not like, but he also couldn't seem to stop. If only Jesse and Jonny would stop getting into these tight spots. Then Hadji wouldn't have to put up with this uncomfortable feeling.

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Jonny was awaken by a moan from Jesse. Immediately he was kneeling by her side. Her eyes fluttered as she returned to the land of the real. The big bump on her head seemed bigger than when he last saw it.

'It's okay Jess. I'm here. ", Jonny assured her.

"Jonny? ", Jesse mumbled as she reached toward his voice.

Jonny immediately grabbed her hand. She smiled as her eyes focused on his face.

"Are you okay? ", he asked her in a whisper.

She nodded. Then her gaze jumped to the door as the lock clicked. Jonny followed her gaze and watched as four girls entered. Before the door was closed and relocked Jonny stared into the glaring face which he now realized belonged to Daniel Pesh.

"Is she okay? ", asked a Hispanic girl timidly.

"I'll be fine Maria. ", Jesse assured slowly sitting up.

"Are you sure? ", Jonny asked her with a note of tenderness in his voice.

"I'm certain. ", Jesse answered with a smile.

"Pesh seemed angrier than usual. ", a girl said from behind Jonny.

He turned and watched a brown haired girl kneel beside him. She looked at Jesse and lifted her hand toward the bruise on Jesse's forehead. Jesse jerked back as the girl put the lightest pressure on it.

"Be careful. ", Jesse warned as she flinched from the pain.

"Who's he? ", asked one of the African girls in a New York accent.

"This is a friend. ", Jesse answered smiling tenderly at Jonny who smiled back. "His name is Jonny. ", she whispered so that everybody had to strain to hear.

"It's nice to meet you Jonny. I'm Amanda Flint. ", the girl next to him said extending her hand. Jonny took it and shook it firmly. "And you must also be the reason Pesh is in such a bad mood. ", she added with a laugh.

"Please to meet you ma'am. ", Jonny said touching his hand to his head as if there were a hat up there. Jesse laughed heartily.

"I'm Iesha Greene. ", said the girl with the New York accent.

"I'm Artesha Legonos. ", informed the other Black girl.

"I am Maria Allero. ", Said the Hispanic girl.

"It's nice to meet you. I'm Jonny. ", he said returning the greetings.

"We heard. ", said Iesha.

"Iesha, cool it. ", Amanda warned from her kneeling position beside Jonny.

Iesha rolled her eyes and shrugged her shoulders. Amanda rolled her eyes back.

"This is not the time ladies. ", Jesse said with a voice full of authority. Both girls immediately apologized.

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Everybody walked in to the Quest Compound with a depressed look on his or her face. Their mission had failed.

"I can't believe this. They should have helped us. ", Estella complained.

"You have to remember. This is the government we're talking about. ", Flint reminded.

"Yea, they don't care about retired Special Forces agents like us. ", Greene said.

"I'm not exactly retired. ", Race reminded everybody.

"No, but you do have an attitude. ", Legonos said with a laugh.

"No doubt about that. ", Estella said under her breath so that everybody could hear.

Race gave her a look that said you better watch it. Estella retaliated with one that said make me.

"Well, I think I'm off to bed. ", Dr. Quest said as he yawned and stretched.

Everybody else was about to agree when Iris spoke up.

"Hadji Singh is at the door. ", she monotoned.

"Open the door. ", Dr. Quest said confused.

Soon Hadji was standing in the living room heaving. He was bent over at the waist with his hands on his knees.

"What's wrong Hadji? Where's Jonny? ", Dr, Quest asked with growing alarm.

"I am not totally sure, but I think Pesh has captured him. ", Hadji said as soon as he had caught his breath.

"What do you mean you think Pesh has him, how? ", Race asked totally confused.

"We went to rescue Jesse and the others and- ", Hadji began.

"You know where our daughters are? ", Allero asked interrupting him.

"Yes, but- ", Hadji began again.

"Where? ", Flint demanded.

"At the house of Grandma and Grandpa Westing. ", Hadji informed, glad to be able to finally finish a sentence.

"So close, and yet so far away. ", Race quoted.

"How did you find out where they are? ", Dr. Quest asked.

"Somehow Jesse got into Quest World- ", Hadji started before he was once again rudely interrupted.

"No time for that now. We've got our daughters to save. ", ordered Greene.

Race was the first to his car and the first to pull away and head for the place where Pesh was holding Jesse and the other girls. He didn't seem to care if the others were right behind him or not. He wanted to see his daughter again. He also wanted to see Pesh on his way to the nearest State Penitentiary where he belonged.

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Jonny and Jesse sat in the room alone. The other girls had left a few minutes ago. Jonny had received another glare from Pesh.

"You seem to have taken charge. ", Jonny said.

"Somebody had to. ", Jesse reasoned.

"And you are perfect for the job. ", Jonny complimented with a smile.

Jesse glanced toward the window where her gaze lingered.

"They'll come Jesse. ", Jonny promised for the umpteenth time.

"I know. It's just that it seems to be taking so long. ", Jesse sighed.

Jonny gently took Jesse's hand and held it in both of his. He looked into her green eyes even though they were concentrated on the window. Jonny wished there were some way to keep Jesse from worrying. He ravaged his mind trying to think of a way.

"Jonny, what are you thinking about? ", Jesse asked suddenly.

"Nothing much. ", Jonny lied being caught off guard.

"That's what you usually think about. ", Jesse laughed.

"Very funny Jess. ", Jonny said.

Jesse leaned over and kissed Jonny on the cheek. He welcomed it gladly. He could also tell that she was trying to keep her mind off of her father.

"Estella came up this afternoon. ", Jonny said as if it were of no importance.

Jesse nodded her head as if she really didn't care.

"It'll be good to see her. ", Jesse finally said after a moment's silence.

There was another pause of uncomfortable silence. Then a tear rolled down Jesse's pale face.

"What's wrong? ", Jonny asked concerned.

"I miss my dad so much. ", Jesse whimpered.

"He misses you just as much. He didn't take this very well. ", Jonny said trying to comfort her.

He reached around Jesse and pulled her close. Jesse put her arms loosely around his arms. She let the tears she had kept hidden so long finally find themselves.

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Race pulled up to the house and quickly got out. He stopped, though, when he realized nobody else was there yet. A few minutes later the rest pulled up and joined him.

"What's the plan? ", he asked impatiently.

"We need to somehow sneak in and get the girls out. Then we need to capture Pesh. ", Flint said.

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"Come here. ", ordered Pesh. Startling Jonny and Jesse.

Jesse and Jonny both got up slowly and made their way toward Pesh. Once outside of the room they realized that something was about to happen. All the girls were out there and he was holding a pistol in his hand.

"Move it. ", he ordered motioning toward the stairs.

Everybody headed down stairs and into the front hall.

"Open the door. ", Pesh commanded holding the gun to Maria's head.

Obediently she turned the knob and swung open the door. Outside in the twilight stood the captured's parents and friends. Nobody dared to move even though they all felt like running towards their parents.

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Race was about ten feet from the front door when it slowly opened to reveal all five kids standing in front of Pesh who was brandishing a gun and a smile that said I've got you know.

Race felt the anger build inside him. He knew his face was showing nothing, though.

"What do you want? ", Legonos asked carefully, but steadily.

"I want you to leave, now. ", Pesh issued his warning while swinging his gun from one victim to another.

"Start backing up. ", Greene ordered the others.

Everyone obeyed. Pesh eased up as he saw that he had them afraid.

"We only want our daughters back. ", Allero said.

"Dead or alive? ", Pesh asked waving the gun around Maria's head. Allero took another step back.

"Look, we'll do anything for you. Just let us have our daughters back. ", Greene reasoned.

Then just get away, ", Pesh said, "and I promise they'll be as safe as can be."

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Iesha looked at her father, but he was too busy negotiating with Pesh to notice that she was. She hated to see him reduced to this state. She felt that he was begging , even though she knew he was doing it for her it made her want to cry or scream to see him like this. She knew somebody had to do something fast before this rescue turned out to be a failure.

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Jesse stared at her father's face, which didn't move. She knew her face was an exact image of his. Show no feelings, show no weaknesses. But, Jesse could tell by the twinkle in his eyes, the way he wet his lips, that her father was nervous, but he also wasn't going to give up without a fight.He meant to only glimpse at her, but he got caught in her eyes that he had longed to look into again ever since she had been kidnapped. Then he noticed the large bruise on her forehead. His anger went up a few notches. I love you, Jesse mouthed to Race. He nodded in response and Jesse knew that was all she needed."What's wrong Race? ", Jesse heard Pesh taunt from behind her as he grabbed her hair. "Aren't you going to whimper and beg for your daughter like the rest of these losers?"Race's perfect face melted away. He watched Pesh jam the gun into Jesse's temple. She grimaced from the pain of the cold steel touching her injury."You're going to wish you never messed with me, " Race threatened."Oh, is that so? Well, you know what I think? I think you better take those words back, ", Pesh said as he stashed the gun in his belt and pulled a knife from behind him. "Before I damage this pretty neck of your daughter's.""Race! ", Estella screamed."I know. ", Race assured her.

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Iesha couldn't stand it any longer. Nobody was doing anything and things were getting pretty hot. If no one else was going to, then she had to, she decided. She watched for a bit longer to see what happened. Then she struck.She shoved her foot into Pesh's stomach then bolted. Maria and Artesha followed her, all of them ending up in their father's arms.

Jesse would have followed except Pesh still had a hold of her hair. In fact, when he keeled over in pain he almost ripped it out or her head. And Jonny would've followed, but he'd decided to stay with Jesse.

So, when Daniel Pesh recovered he immediately put the knife back to Jesse's neck and positioned his gun at Jonny's head.

"You win some, you lose some. ", Pesh said smiling insanely.

"You can't win them all, " Race said playing along. In reality he was sweating like a pig.

"Well you better get in that car and drive away. ", Pesh ordered.

Race didn't move, testing Pesh.

"You think I'm joking!? " Pesh screamed tightening his grip on the knife and cocking the gun at Jonny's head. Jesse gasped as she felt the knife push into her flesh.

"Okay, okay, I'm going. ", Race said backing up and putting his hands in front of himself.

"That's better. ", Pesh said calming down.

Jesse glanced at Jonny. He looked like he was about to faint. She waited until he got his attention. Then she signaled for him to duck on the count of three. He nodded that he understood. Jesse glanced at her dad before putting out her index finger, then slowly raised the next finger, and then added her ring finger to the bunch. Jonny pushed the knife away from Jesse's neck and she grabbed the gun hand and flipped him over herself like her father had taught her. They backed up out of the reach of Pesh.

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Pesh started shooting the moment he got his bearings after hitting the snow. He didn't wait to aim, he just hoped that he got lucky. After three shots a boot crushing his hand stopped him. He looked up to see Race Bannon looking at him with the scariest look he'd ever seen on anybody's face.

Involuntarily he dropped the gun, but immediately retaliated with the knife. Losing his balance, Race fell being caught off guard. He almost caught the knife in his stomach when Pesh attacked, but rolled out of the way of danger in the knick of time.

Race's foot shot out and hit Daniel in the side, knocking the wind out of him. He wrapped his arms around his stomach, gasping for breath. Race rolled onto his back and kicked Daniel in the chin. He fell over backward groaning in pain.

"Freeze! ", came an unfamiliar voice from behind him stopping Race from striking again.

Bannon slowly got up breathing heavily. The police officers were handcuffing Daniel Pesh. They lead him to the car fighting his struggles all the way.

Race was caught by surprise though when a flash of blond hair flew past him. He looked up at the doorway and saw his daughter looking at him unsuredly. He smiled at her and a few seconds later she was in his arms.

Race held onto his daughter as if he would never let her go. He buried his face in her hair so that no one could see that he was crying. He soon realized that she was crying also.

She looked up him with a tear stained face and a brilliant smile. She seemed content just to be near him.

" I missed you Ponchita. I was really scared. ", Race said softly.

Jesse responded with another hug. However, her mother soon swept her up. Then she was soon expecting her forehead.

"I'm okay mom, really. ", Jesse assured Estella with a laugh at her mother's anxious questions to her daughter's well being.

"Why don't you go wait in the car. ", Race suggested to his daughter.

"She looked at her mom and then nodded and walked off toward the sleek black vehicle in the driveway.

"Can you ride with Dr. Quest? ", Race asked a little guiltily. "I need to talk to Jesse about something. "

Estella gave race an exasperated look, but then gave up and made her way toward the Quest van.

Before anybody else could stall him Race headed toward his own car.

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Jonny relaxed in the passenger seat of the Quest van beside his father. Dr. Quest had a huge smile on his face. He looked over at his son who looked like he was about to fall asleep.

"Jonny? ", he whispered.

"Mhh? ", Jonny mumbled back.

"Will you promise me one thing? ", Dr. Quest asked.

"What? ", Jonny asked with more energy, but still kind of slurred.

"Never ever pull a stunt like that again? ", Dr. Quest requested lifting an eyebrow.

"You know I can't do that? ", Jonny mumbled before drifting off to sleep.

Race sat in the driver's seat watching the road. He kept his face emotionless. But, inside he was eager to know about his daughter and Jonny.

"Are you going to tell me? ", he asked.

"Tell you what? ", Jesse asked in mock confusement.

"You know what? ", Race said not letting his daughter's jokes get to him.

Jesse sighed, thinking about what her father was asking her about. She wished she could relive the moment just for the sheer enjoyment of her first sincere kiss. She looked at her father again who sat patiently waiting.

"Yea. ", she said as if it didn't matter.

"And? ", Race prodded.

"And what? ", Jesse asked as if she didn't realize he wanted more.

"And how do you feel? ", Race asked.

"The same. ", Jesse answered keeping the same even, uncaring tone.

Now it was Race's turn to break. His face lit up into a smile. He couldn't have been prouder. Jesse looked up at him and giggled.

"What's so funny? ", Race asked.

"Nothing. ", Jesse said still giggling.

Race's face softened and Jesse blushed. She had been afraid of what he might have said. But, apparently he had already known. She figured Jonny must have told him.

"What was it like when he told you? ", her father inquired.

"At first it was uncomfortable because we had been friends for so long, and then I just knew. It was like opening up a new book and finding whole knew possibilities. And when we kissed there was nothing else, no one else, but Jonny and me. ", Jesse said with a sparkle in her eyes.

"Did you like your first kiss? ", Race kept the flow of questions going.

"For your information, it was my second kiss. ", Jesse answered.

Race raised his eyebrow. He didn't like what he was hearing.

"And what do you mean by that? ", Race asked a little on the defensive side.

"I mean that Jonny and I have kissed before. ", Jesse said.

"And why wasn't I informed of this young lady? ", Race asked a little annoyed this time.

"Well...? ", Jesse answered a bit nervous and not sure of how to answer.

"I want the whole story, and I mean faster than a cat fish can slip out of your hands. ", Race ordered.

"It all started out when Jonny, Hadji and I were going to Nova Scotia for the weekend. ", Jesse began.

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"Are you ready Hadji? ", Jesse asked as she sat down in one of the chairs in the lighthouse.

"I am as ready as I can be. ", Hadji said sitting down in the other chair.

"I'll put it on the big screen so that you guys can watch. ", Jonny offered the other girls.

"That would be awesome. ", Amanda chimed.

"Okay, here we go. ", Jonny said. "Logging onto QUEST WORLD. Subjects: Hadji Singh and Jesse Bannon. Going hot. ", Jonny commanded Iris.

"On the screen Hadji appeared on the spot of one of the white bishops. Jesse was once again the black night.

"Wow, those graphics are so good. ", Artesha exclaimed.

"Get ready to be beat. ", Jesse warned Hadji good-naturedly. In the end Hadji won. This time, Jesse walked with everybody else back to the house.

The End