|Life with My Girl, Reyes|
|Rescue Me: Chapter 6|
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Situation Room - Saint Bernard Parrish Sheriff's Department
Forty Minutes Later:
Reyes glanced at her watch as she studied the marine/nautical map laid out in front of her a little more closely. 4:56 PM. She hoped that her chase would not ultimately end up out on the water, but just in case, she wanted to get very familiar with the canals, narrow channels and waterways.
"Okay, what's the hold up?" she finally asked, her frustration really beginning to set in.
They had been waiting for a little over an hour to receive word that the US Coast Guard and the Orleans Parrish Search and Rescue boats were in place. It was almost 5:00 and she was ready to move. Every single minute that they waited meant one more minute for the malicious gang to possibly hurt little Elisa and/or Cody even more. Not only that, Elisa needed immediate medical attention, desperately, to prevent possible diabetic coma.
"Well?" she said again to anyone that cared to answer inside the small room.
"Just hold ya hawses, ma'am. It takes time to git all them people in ta place," the sheriff's deputy said.
"Um," she grunted then stood up to stretch her legs. "What's the latest on Algiers?"
"They've received word," Pierce offered. "They'll close them both down as soon as we signal."
"And Belle Chasse?"
"Okay," she sighed relieved that at least two things were already in the works. She then walked over to the nearest window. "Thank God the rain is slowing."
"Yep. But it ain't a quittin'," the sheriff's deputy said again.
"Nope. It's not," the brunette replied. "But I'm hoping that we won't have to get in the water. It's just a precaution."
"You think they's in one a dem dere old stowage buildins out dere by the floodwall?"
"Maybe. We'll start at Industrial and head due east towards Paris."
"It's a go!" Cunningham suddenly burst into the room.
"All right people! Listen up!" the Parrish Sheriff entered the room right behind him.
Reyes nodded to her boss then left with her three-man-team of Pierce, Bailey and Brown for the Oil Refinery Plant. They did not need to stay for the final instructions. They already knew where they needed to be.
Five minutes later all four agents piled out of the surveillance van and hit the street at a dead run. Paris Road was just a half a mile down on the right, and then it was just another half a mile down to Mobil Oil Access Road, which was where they planned to start. The rest of the taskforce would start a half a mile up – and due west of where they were starting – then inch their way towards them, entering every nook and cranny of the various water and oil tanks, storage warehouses and buildings on the way, searching for the two missing children, gang members, gang leaders or anyone else they might find that may be of some help in finding the two missing children.
The main supervisors of the large company had already been advised of the impending Search and Rescue efforts. But no evacuations had been needed since the employees' shifts had already ended by 4:30 PM. Furthermore, with it being on a weekend – a Saturday afternoon – there had only been a skeleton crew on the dayshift anyway. There would be a few night watchmen and security guards to consider, but other than that, the SAR taskforce should be able to enter the area without much notice. Luckily, for the team, it was getting dark - very dark – due to the continual overcast sky. And that was a good thing – a very good thing. It was much easier to pull off a covert operation under the cover of darkness.
Now, if they could just keep the media off their asses, they may have a chance to take the perps by surprise and grab the two kids out of their clutches without even as much as a warning shot being fired. That was Reyes' hope anyway, along with every other member of the taskforce. None wanted to see any fires started by a stray bullet. They had enough challenges to deal with without the potential of a massive fire inside one, two, or more of the buildings, storage warehouses or oil tanks.
Reyes glanced down the street towards the Algiers ferry. It was still on the water, full to capacity, and moving towards the southern bank of the river. But that was not a problem. She had not made the order yet to close down the ferries. She then looked at Pierce, nodded, then said, "Brown. You're with me tonight, okay?"
"Okay! Sure!" the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, still-wet-behind-the-ears young federal agent said. He liked the idea of that, being with Reyes tonight as her backup.
Pierce nodded again then said, "We'll take the left. You go right."
"Agreed. Heads up, everyone. This is it," Reyes said, as she pulled her weapon, then her flashlight, and then peered out over the parameter at all of the many different buildings, storage areas, warehouses, water and oil tanks, and the like, where someone could be hiding two small children.
It was a large area – but it was by no means as large as looking for a needle in a haystack – especially with a forty-person-combined-team of local officers and federal agents just to the west of them inching their way towards them with every passing second.
She then glanced over at the big tugboat floating just next to the largest loading dock. …Nope… Her gut had not reacted to that particular boat. She then glanced towards the row of small storage buildings just next to the large loading dock. …Yes. There… her gut instincts reacted.
She then looked at Brown. "Okay. You ready?"
"Follow me," she said as she then began to sprint off towards the right wing of the short row of small buildings, young Special Agent Jim Brown quickly following in behind her.
They made their way through the first two storage buildings in less than thirty minutes due to the two buildings being so small and utterly vacant. Reyes then leaned up against the outside of the third slightly larger two-story warehouse as Brown paused his movements too, in reaction.
"What's wrong?" he finally asked out of confusion.
"Just give me a minute," she whispered keeping her eyes closed as she tried to communicate telepathically with either of the two missing children. She knew that they were in close proximity. She could feel the two children's presence, their very life-forces, along with some of the gang members. …But where?... she wondered. She was becoming so frustrated because she knew that they were close – very close. …But how close?... "Oh… God…" she sucked in a deep breath as she suddenly clutched at her left side for a moment.
"What's wrong?" Brown asked again seeing the pain-filled expression in her eyes.
She just shook her head as she doggedly forced the empathetic pain of Elisa's cracked ribs out of her mind and system, concentrating on the task at hand. She then rose up from the brick wall and turned her gaze farther down, towards the fourth building. Brown followed her gaze just as she began to sprint down towards it.
"But… Wait! What about this one?" he called after her, not understanding at all why they were passing up the third building in preference for the fourth.
"Shhh!" she paused again then leaned up against the right side fire escape of the three-story building.
He then caught up to her.
"Brown? Ever use one of these?" she teased him – and yet it was not a joking matter – as she pressed the transmission button on her headset, instantly sending her whispered words through the airwaves and into his headset.
"Oh shit," he grinned sheepishly then glanced down at his feet. …How stupid…
"No. Just inexperienced," she responded to his thoughts. His eyes flew up to meet hers in utter surprise. She winked then pointed across the parking lot to Bailey and Pierce coming up behind them. Pierce nodded in her direction then began to enter the third building through the fire-escape. Brown then quickly understood her reasoning, and then looked to her for even more quiet, humble guidance. She nodded towards the fire-escape then began to climb up the first-story stairs to enter this fourth building while Pierce and Bailey entered the third.
Within seconds, both agents were inside. "Split up," she whispered. "I'll take the right." Brown nodded again as he began to inch his way to the left towards the dark corridor.
Reyes turned the corner then aimed her flashlight down another long, dark passageway. The stench of crude oil was almost breathtaking it was so strong. And the temperature inside the building was getting colder with every step she took farther down the dark, shadowy passageway.
She paused again, pressing the earphone of her headset a little more securely against her ear. …Good… According to the quick, precise dialog she was overhearing, the rest of the SAR taskforce would soon be moving in behind them into the same general area. Now, she and her three-man-team would have plenty of backup. She quickly pressed her own radio transmitter button and reported to Cunningham her own team's latest location.
Cunningham quickly acknowledged her short transmission then requested more instruction for the SAR taskforce. She quickly told him the next move, advising him to move the taskforce in, closer towards the river and loading docks, and then to surround the fourth building – her building, this building - just north of the river.
He acknowledged her instructions then began to put them into action, sending the taskforce in on all four sides and towards the river and loading docks.
Suddenly she heard voices – three male voices – coming up the hallway towards her. She quickly moved out-of-sight and just around the corner into the next hallway. …God!... She hoped Brown would know to do the same thing, and had heard the three men coming, for he was not that far to the left and behind her.
The three men passed by without even as much as a hint of detection of the tall, dark and gorgeous, black-clad, female federal agent watching them as they passed by. She waited until they were out of earshot then radioed to Brown to let them pass by uninterrupted. Brown acknowledged her transmission. She then moved back out into the main hallway and resumed her trek towards the far end. Her flashlight beam landed on a very dark red door with a very small window, about a foot and a half down from the very top of the door, centered in it. She knew in her gut that this had been the place where the two small children had been kept earlier in the day inside her dreamscape. But the question was, were they still there, or had they been moved, as her vision had indicated?
She waited a few seconds then sprinted down towards the door, then rose up and peered inside through the tiny window. The small, dark, shadowy room was empty. She reached down and jiggled the doorknob. It opened. She then quietly stepped inside just as another wave of fear and trepidation swept over her. …Oh! God!... She leaned up against the wall for a moment to catch her breath. She was going to have to control her extrasensory awareness better than this if she were ever going to have any kind of chance in finding and saving the two small children. She could not afford to sense this kind of fear and trepidation from these very two kids while she searched for them.
Within a minute, Brown had caught up to her. "Reyes? Agent Reyes?" he whispered calling out to her.
"Here," she responded as she stepped back out from inside the small room. "They've been here. We just missed them."
The young agent nodded, "So what do we do now?"
Reyes knelt down to touch the very area where she had seen little Elisa lying on the floor. "Shut that door, not all the way, but just enough for me to…" she paused. Brown would never understand her reasoning. But then her partner would never understand her reasoning either in solving a case. Yet Brown did as she had asked, and closed the door, leaving it only slightly ajar.
She looked at the tiny window. …Oh yes... It was the exact same window that she had seen in her dreamscape. She looked around the room a little more closely then rose back up to her full height. She then walked towards the door running her palm along the wall.
"What are you doing?" Brown asked confused.
Reyes just shook her head as she began to walk out of the room and down towards the end of the long, dark corridor again. …No, no, no, it's not right. This isn’t right. Something is wrong… she thought, then stopped, turned back around, aimed her flashlight back up towards the left side of the passageway wall, then noticed a slight curvature in that wall just next to the dark red door. She quickly moved in closer to the impression, then reached down and began to finger the metal encasing surrounding the odd impression. She shined her flashlight beam a little more closely against the encasing when, suddenly, the encasing broke free revealing yet another passageway that she and her temporary partner would have completely missed had she not turned, observed, noticed and then began to fiddle with it.
"Whoa! Good job," Brown said quite impressed.
Reyes just shrugged, glancing at him for a moment, then pushed the secret passageway door fully open. …Yes. This is it… "Cody? Elisa? Can you hear me?"… she tried to telepathically communicate as she began to inch her way down the cold, dark, damp and dreary passageway, the stench of oil increasing and the cool temperature dropping with every step.
Scully's Apartment - In the Living Room – Georgetown District, Washington, DC
Thirty Minutes Later:
"Dana! Quick! There's breaking news!" Margaret yelled to her daughter as the redhead finished redressing from her shower.
"What? What is it?" Scully hurriedly came out from the bathroom as she slipped on her robe.
"Look! The whole place is surrounded! But there are some agents trapped inside of that burning building!"
"Trapped?" Scully yelped as she quickly finished tying her robe then rushed over to the couch and sat down next to her mother turning up the volume.
"Yes! Trapped! Look!"
"I see Mom, I can see," the ever-composed redhead stated calmly.
"Oh my goodness gracious!" the older woman gasped again.
Scully smirked at her mother's apparent anxiety then began to listen to the news reports more closely, trying to decide whether this latest information was credible or not. One could never tell with the news media.
"Look! There's a man on that roof! What's he doing?!" Margaret gasped again, nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof, as the newsroom helicopter crew hovered in a little closer to the roof of the burning building, taking advantage of the Saint Bernard Parrish Sheriff's Department chopper's bright floodlights shining all over the outside of the building.
"I don't know, Mom, let's just wait and see," the ever-composed redhead stated calmly yet again.
The two Scully women continued to watch the unfolding events happening in southern New Orleans - minute by minute - as the newsroom helicopter camera crew hovered just to the left of the Sheriff's Department helicopter reporting the breaking news as soon as they could get it on the airwaves.
Inside the Burning Three-Story Building – Chalmette District, New Orleans, LA:
"REYES! … BROWN!" Pierce yelled again in search of his partner and the young rookie agent.
Reyes and Brown could hear his voice on the other side of the thick metal wall.
"Damn, Agent! We've got to get out of here!" Brown reacted as the smoke thickened inside the dark corridor. Another round of gunfire suddenly began to ring out from somewhere inside the building. "Damn it! If they keep shooting, the whole place is going to go up! Come on, Reyes! We gotta get out of here!" he yelled again.
"You go! I'm going down this one last corridor!" Reyes yelled back to him.
"Reyes? Come on! They're not in here!"
"Yes they are! Go on! I'll meet you up top!"
"Reyes?!" Brown replied, frustrated, but he would not leave her, even if the first floor of the building had caught fire from the stray gunfire.
Apparently, Bailey and Pierce had entered the fourth building as well, after searching through the third, and had startled some of the gang members hiding out in one of the other rooms inside this building, and had begun a shootout, which was the very last thing any of them needed if they were to have the time they needed to find the missing children and then get them out safely.
"CODY! ELISA! Achachach…. Achachach…" Reyes yelled again as she hurried down the long, narrow hallway coughing all the way. The thick smoke was beginning to present a problem. "CODY! Sweetie, where are you?! Tell me! Where you are! Achachach…" she yelled again.
..."Here!"... he suddenly telepathically communicated.
...Yes!... "Where? Where, baby, where?" Reyes immediately responded. "Achachach… Look around! Tell me what you see!... Achachach…" she yelled again. Luckily, Agent Brown was too far behind her to hear her apparent ramblings.
…"Orange. Bright orange. Big door. White triangle,"… the frightened little boy tried again.
"Orange. Bright orange. Big door. White triangle… Achachach…" she repeated. "Yes! Yes baby, I see it! … BROWN! HURRY!" she yelled over her shoulder to the rookie agent then bumped up her speed towards the big, bright, orange door with the big, bright, white triangle painted in the very center of it.
Both agents where just outside the big bright orange door within seconds.
"CODY! ELISA!" she yelled again through the big thick metal door. "WE'RE COMING IN!" she yelled again as she fired off a couple of rounds into the door-lock then pushed the heavy metal door open.
"My God!" Brown gasped at seeing the two small children bruised up, tied up, gagged and lying in fetal positions side-by-side.
"Oh jeez! Elisa! Cody! Thank you, Jesus!" Reyes gasped herself at seeing the two small innocent children possibly battered - obviously bruised - and tied up, gagged and lying in fetal positions side-by-side, waiting and depending on her to find them, save them and rescue them from pure evil. "Oh Elisa, come on baby, come on, wake up. Wake up for me, sweetheart," she said as she instantly moved into the dark room, kneeling down next to the unresponsive little girl and checked her pulse, Brown instantly moving in over to the little boy. "Damn. Damn it! She needs her insulin!" she fussed as she tried to gently shake the little girl out of her beginning unconsciousness without success.
Brown just looked at her as he began to remove the gag from around the little boy's face and then cut the rope binding his hands and feet.
"Mon-ca?" the little boy – Brandon C. Chamberlain - suddenly whimpered as soon as the gag fell from his mouth.
"Oh yes! Yes, sweetie! It's Monica. Do you remember me?" she responded as the other agent instantly changed positions with her while she moved in next to the little boy for a moment. The rookie agent then began to hurriedly remove the gag and cut the rope binding little Elisa's hands and feet, too.
Cody grinned the prettiest, brightest grin then reached out for her.
"Oh baby, are you okay?" she said wrapping the darling little boy up in her arms.
"Umhum, I… I think so," the precious little curly-haired, baby-blue-eyed, chubby-cheeked beautiful little blonde-headed boy said literally collapsing down into her protective arms.
"Oh Cody," she gasped in relief. "God, I'm going to get you out of here, Brown and I. This is Agent Brown. And we're going to get you and Elisa out of here, okay?"
"Kay," the curly-haired little blonde-headed boy nodded again.
"How long has Elisa been sleeping?"
"I, I… dunno. N, not long," he shrugged.
"Okay," Reyes said, looking at Brown again. The smoke was thickening inside the small room. "Close that door for a minute so I can do what I need to do," she said.
Brown crinkled his brow.
…Okay. Yes, Ma'am!… he thought as he quickly rose up and closed the door to help stop the smoke from entering the small room.
Reyes then quickly moved back over to little Elisa as Brown stayed knelt beside her, too. "Jim? On second thought, why don't you take Cody and start up the corridor?"
"Well. I'd rather wait for you, if that's all right," he said.
She thought about it for a couple of seconds then nodded. It shouldn't take but a few moments to give Elisa her injection. Then they would carry both children out together.
Brown watched her for a moment understanding her hesitation. "You sure you can do it?"
"Oh yeah. Do I have a choice?" she said as she then quickly began to pull the items she needed out of her fanny-pack - a small syringe, a small ice-packed bottle of insulin, an alcohol swipe, a Band-Aid, and the small black case storing the portable glucose monitor out; items that she had received from the Medial Unit on standby, just before leaving for this latest rescue operation. She then quickly opened the small black case that stored the portable monitor, and hurriedly pulled all the necessary items out, then gently pricked Elisa's forearm, then waited the fifteen seconds for her blood-sugar read. During those quick fifteen seconds, she hurriedly read through the information she had received from the Medical Team – and Elisa's grandmother - then made a quick mental note of the digital readout slightly illuminating the small room with its slight green hue along the top portion of the handheld monitor.
"Okay, I'm going to give her what her grandmother told me to," she mumbled with slight hesitation.
"You sure about that?"
"No, but her grandmother should know better than anyone else what her normal dosage is under these conditions. Right?"
Brown nodded. It made sense to him.
She hesitated again. "I… I know it could kill her, but... it's the best thing, right?" she said again, logically questioning her gut instincts, yet instinctually wanting to follow those same gut instincts.
He nodded again. It definitely made sense to him to give the little girl her normal dosage that she had taken practically every single morning of her young life, but had now missed for two straight mornings in a row.
"It's the best thing, the right thing to do," the questioning brunette mumbled again under her breath, and yet decided to follow her gut instincts – for those gut instincts had never let her down before - grasping the small bottle of ice-packed insulin, then opened it, held an alcohol swipe over the top, then quickly unpackaged the syringe.
She then pressed the small needle into the top opening of the bottle, held it up, bottom side up towards the flashlight beam, then began to extract the correct amount of insulin into the syringe – according to Elisa's grandmother anyway - being very careful not to extract too much or too little out of the small bottle.
…Okay. Here we go… she mused as she moved in even closer to the unresponsive little girl. "Okay, cariño. It's Mónica. And I'm going to get you out of here. But first, I have to give you your shot, okay? Can you hear me, sweetie? It's Mónica. and I'm going to give you your shot," she said then quickly wiped an area along the little girl's tummy with another alcohol swab, then stuck the small needle into the swabbed area – just like a dart, as Elisa's grandmother had instructed her to do – then emptied the life-saving fluid into her tummy, then pulled it out, recapped the needle and placed the Band-Aid over the tiny prick.
Brown cocked an eyebrow in admiration. "Good job, Agent," he said again.
"Yeah, hopefully, we'll see," Reyes responded then lifted the unconscious little girl up into her arms. …Oh baby, please, don't die on me, please. Please, sweetheart. Please, don't die on me… she silently prayed as Brown then stood up and took the unconscious little girl from her arms.
Reyes then stood up as well, quickly gathering the medical items from off the floor, then stuffed them back inside her fanny-pack. "You sure you want to carry her?" she asked.
"Yeah. It'll be easier for you carrying Cody, with him being awake and all."
Reyes nodded. That was true. Carrying Elisa right now would be like carrying dead weight for she was completely unconscious at this point. "Okay, just be careful. She's got some broken ribs on her left side."
"Really?" Brown replied surprised. He had not seen her check the little girl's ribcage. And besides, she was not a medical doctor, so how would she know?
"Yeah. Really. So be very, very careful, okay?"
"Of course," he said suddenly becoming very careful indeed in the way that he was holding the sweet and innocent little girl.
Reyes then ran a fingertip over the slightly burned, branded area along Elisa's left cheekbone. …Damn! Those damn sons of bitches branding her. Damn them!... It made her so angry to see the teen gang cult graffiti pattern slightly burned into Elisa's beautiful baby-soft skin. "Ohhh," she groaned shaking her head. But, maybe with a good plastic surgeon, the branding mark could be removed.
She then pressed the transmission button on her headset and gave Cunningham the wonderful news that she and Brown had found the two children – both alive – and were now all four on their way out of the building.
Cunningham bellowed with excitement for a few seconds, then quickly told her of the perilous situation they were in - still on the first floor and inside the fast-burning building - and that they needed to make their way up to the third floor - or even the roof, if at all possible - and then the Coast Guard or Fire Department would rescue them from up there, on the roof, via a helicopter.
She quickly agreed, passed the information onto Brown, then reached down and picked little Cody up in her arms. "Okay, Code-man, you're with me," she teased.
"But I… I can walk," the little boy wanted to argue.
"Umum. I thought you hurt your knee," she said as she wrapped him up a little more securely in her arms.
"I, I… I did," he grinned then wrapped his little arms more securely around her neck.
"Umhum. Well, you just hold on tight, okay? Cause we're gonna be moving fast," she said as she then kicked the heavy door open with her foot and then began to jog down the dark, thick, smoke-filled corridor, beginning to cough from the thick smoke again, as she led them to the closest stairwell door. But part of the hallway wall had caved in just in front of them. …Crock!... "Okay, Brown, lead the way!" she yelled turning back around.
"Which way?!" he responded slightly panicked.
"Left! Go left!... Achachach… Achach…" she said as she quickly rushed in front of him and Elisa, then led the way again through the warming corridor - the thick, suffocating smoke beginning to take their breaths away – as fiery flames began to streak up from the floor to the ceiling along the right side wall.
They ran and ran, swinging the children back and forth in their arms with every sway, as they ran and ran, stepping over falling, burning debris, the rising heat and thickening smoke becoming more unbearable with each passing second.
"Oh God!... Achachachach… Achachachach…" she finally panted dropping to her knees while Brown did the same. "This isn't, achachach… achach… going to… work! Achachachach…" she panted again, trying to figure out a way to crawl through the fiery furnace with an unresponsive, unconscious little child in tow, just as they heard her partner's urgent voice yelling for them once again.
"BROWN! REYES!" they heard his voice ring out once more.
…Oh God! Thank you, Jesus!... "PIERCE! Achachachach... OVER HERE! AND WE'VE GOT THEM! Achachachach… Achachachach…" she yelled back.
Both agents were struggling for every single breath, as they kept parts of their clothing draped over their noses and the two small children's noses, helping them all to breathe semi-clean, filtered air.
"HERE! Achachachachach… We're… HERE! Achachachhachach…" she responded through her deepening coughs.
Suddenly several other flashlight beams shined down the long corridor towards them.
"Oh God! Thank God!" Pierce said as he and four other firefighters hurried down the long corridor towards them with four extra oxygen tanks in tow.
Scully's Apartment – In the Living Room - Georgetown District, Washington, DC
Ten Minutes Later:
"Oh Dana! Is that Agent Reyes?" Margaret gasped again as she watched the unfolding events happening down in Southern Louisiana right before her eyes.
Scully nodded calmly, trying desperately to just keep calm. Her lover was highly-trained for dangerous situations such as this, just as she was. But it was no fun at all watching her lover being so caught up in the middle of such a dangerous, perilous predicament as this - trapped on a rooftop, on top of a three-story building, still burning in spite of the three fire trucks hosing it down - as parts of the roof began to cave in, too.
"Oh," she jumped just on pure instinct. "Scully!" she answered almost too abruptly.
"Dana? You watchin' the news?" It was Doggett.
"God, yes. Yes, I am and… God!"
"You ain't kiddin'. I just talked to Skinner and Reigel just told him 'bout another shootout goin' on inside the buildin' - Right now! And Reyes is all caught up in the middle of it and..."
"What?! How?!" she gasped. "How, John? She's on the roof! Right now! With the Chamberlain boy!"
"Oh no she ain't. They ain't showin' us the latest. She's gone back inside. Involved in another shootout."
"What?!" the flustered redhead gasped again. …Oh God, no… "But I'm watching her right now on CNN!" she yelled as she hastily got up, rushed over to the TV, and then touched the screen just above her lover's head.
"Dana? I'm tellin' ya, accordin' to Skinner it's old news, and she's back inside that buildin', right now! In the middle of another shootout!"
…Oh God. For Crissakes… she thought as she just stood there for a few moments watching the TV screen. …Oh God, Moni. Is it true?… She just stood there watching the TV screen.
Well, she would not be surprised if what they were seeing via the cable news was actually streaming-video somewhat delayed. Plus, SAC Reigel may be running interference again to keep the news media from airing all of the latest events.
Just then, the streaming-video changed depicting Reyes and another agent rolling across the tarred floor entrance of the exit door, firing their weapons incessantly towards the open door that led down into the stairwell and ultimately back down into the smoldering building.
…Oh Sweet Mary… Scully's heart about stopped before jumping to her throat.
"Oh my! Dana!" Margaret gasped again at the unfolding events as well.
…Oh Moni… Scully felt her heart tightening inside her chest. The black-clad, dark-raven-haired beauty had just risen up to her feet and had begun to run back towards the open door, firing her weapon incessantly all the way, as the other agent hobbled towards the little Chamberlain boy so he could protect him from all the intermittent gunfire, approaching flames, high-powered blasts of water from the fire trucks down below, and, ironically, the intermittent drops of rain that had just begun to sprinkle on them once again.
"Oh my goodness, Dana! She's back inside!" Margaret gasped again, worried herself for the tall, dark-raven-haired beauty who just happened to be her daughter's newest best friend.
Ohhh," Scully groaned again at the unfolding events then returned to the couch to sit down next to her mother. "John? Do they still have radio contact?" she asked placing the phone more snuggly against her ear.
"I… dunno," he mumbled disheartened as well for his best friend.
"Oh God," Scully groaned again. But she really did need to just calm down. Her baby knew how to handle these types of situations, just as she did. They were both highly-trained, highly-skilled federal agents after all.
Third Floor Stairwell of the Burning Three-Story Building – Chalmette District, New Orleans, LA:
"Hey! Reyes!" Lt. Jerry Manning taunted the tenacious female federal agent once again whom he had grown to despise over these last two days. She was about to destroy everything he had worked so hard for over the last several years – his perfect cover as a cop, his never-ending easy access to troubled teens, and his extremely profitable drug-dealing business disguised inside the sadistic gang that he had helped develop with the troubled teens inside the metropolitan city limits of downtown New Orleans.
"Put her down!" Reyes yelled again.
"Oh no. I'm not gonna give up my little princess," he taunted her again.
"Put her down! NOW!" the raven-haired agent yelled again aiming her weapon towards the center of his skull right between his eyes. But she couldn't take the shot, not while he still held little Elisa in his arms.
"Whatcha gonna do about it, Reyes? Hum? Whatcha gonna do? 'Whatcha gonna do when they come for you'?" he taunted. "Shoot me? Huh? You gonna shoot me? Yeah. Why don't cha just shoot me? Go ahead and shoot me, make it easier on yourself. But then I'd probably drop her wouldn't I? Yeah, I'd probably drop her," he taunted again as he moved the little girl over the steps and then pretended to lose his grip on her for a few seconds.
"NO! ... DON'T!" Reyes screamed out again almost panicked herself her heart was pounding so fast inside her chest.
"You don't want me to drop her? Why not? She won't feel a thing once her head hits that first step. And then she'll fall all the way down into the fiery pits of Hell," he taunted again as he glanced down the stairwell towards the looming fire.
"I thought you said she was your little princess. How does that figure? That you would want to kill your little princess?" she tried another approach.
"Hah!... Hahahahaha…" he began to laugh wickedly.
"Lieutenant, take me. Why not take me? She's just a little girl. What have you got to lose?" she said trying again – desperately – to find the right approach to use with the evil man, offering herself in exchange for the little girl.
He narrowed his eyes at her then cocked an eyebrow. "And why would I want to do that? Bitch?"
"Hum, maybe because I can do more for you than she can. I can get us out of here."
He narrowed his eyes at her again. And he knew that it was true, she could do much more for him right now than the little girl could. She could get them out of here. If he snatched a federal agent, he would certainly get much farther away from his impending capture than trying to use this unconscious little girl to do so. Plus the building was continuing to burn, even as the firefighters continued to fight the fire, both inside and out.
"Come on, Lieutenant. Take me. I can get us out of here, get us a chopper, or a car, or a boat, whatever you need, with clear passage, anything you want," she said beginning to lower her cocked weapon down to her side, playing his game.
He stood there thinking about her offer for a few moments then retorted, "What? You think I'm stupid?"
"No. I don't. I think you're a very smart man. And I think you'll do the smartest thing, let me get us a chopper and then we'll get the hell out of here, while you let her go," she said as she rested the side of her firearm against her thigh. "But first, you've got to hand her over to that agent out there, before I do anything," she said nodding towards the exit door and beginning to negotiate with the evil man.
He stood there thinking about his options just as Pierce suddenly inched his way up the last few steps of the stairwell.
The sudden, startling movement gave Reyes the one shot she had needed to take the man out.
The dirty cop fell to the ground, shot dead center between his eyes, as both Reyes and Pierce rushed for the little girl.
"Oh God… Elisa!" she panted as the little girl's eyes suddenly fluttered open. "Oh God, Brian! Let me take her, let me take her!" she rambled as she instantly took the little girl from his arms and began to run back out towards the exit door.
Pierce nodded then reached down and checked the dead man's pulse - just out of habit - then glanced around the stairwell at the two other dead bodies that would need to be removed – former gang leaders - then began to radio in for another helicopter to fly back over and hover the building to get them all out. The injured Brown was still out there with the little Chamberlain boy. Bailey had already been rescued, by an earlier helicopter - along with four other gang members whom had been hiding out inside the building - so now, it was only the five of them left up on top of this roof. Several firefighters were still inside the building hosing it down, but, basically, the party of five, still up on the roof, were the only ones left to be rescued.
Pierce then got up to follow his partner out the exit door. Reyes had run out into the center of the helicopter pad then hustled over to the kneeling Brown and Cody then lowered little Elisa down next to them. "Look, sweetheart! We're out! And in just a few minutes we'll be up there, inside of that pretty helicopter! And then you'll be back with your papá and abuelita!" she said to the little girl hoping to see her open her eyes once more.
And she did. Little Elisa opened her eyes once again then smiled, "Mónica?"
"Yes, sweetie. It's Mónica. I'm Mónica."
"You gave me my shot."
The brunette smiled. "Yes, I did. Did I do it right?"
"Si," the pretty little dark-brown-eyed, dark-raven-haired girl smiled nodding her head. "Gracias," she said then wrapped her arms more tightly around her rescuer - the just as pretty, dark-brown-eyed, dark-raven-haired female federal agent.
"Oh, baby. How's your side? Your ribs?"
Reyes cocked an eyebrow. "I know."
"I know you know."
"You do?" Reyes raised an eyebrow yet again.
"Si," the little girl smiled as she ran her palm down along Reyes' left cheek. The young child – barely six-years-old - already understood many of the great mysteries of the universe. Mystics. Spiritualists. Shamans. Telepathic skills. Empathetic skills. Many of the same skills that she shared with this very woman. She then reached over to Cody - another whom already understood some of the great mysteries of the universe as well.
Cody grinned slightly embarrassed with all the attention he was receiving from this little girl just a year or so older than him.
Reyes smiled, too. …Well, well… Wouldn't it be something if the two young children grew up to one day be childhood sweethearts and then married and started a family? One thing was for sure, they would certainly understand each other, and each other's varying mood-swings at times.
The helicopter then hovered in a little closer. Pierce ran over and nodded to Reyes, "You go on, take Cody and Brown. I've got Elisa."
Reyes hesitated for a few seconds. She really had wanted to be the one to stay with Elisa. She just did not feel comfortable about the little girl's health situation quite yet. But, she was not a medical doctor anyway, so it really would not matter, if something were to happen to the little girl before they got her to the medial attention she still imperatively needed. Besides, it would only take a few minutes to land, unload Brown, Cody and herself from the chopper, and then the chopper would fly back up and get Pierce and little Elisa out. But then she could take both children out with her right now, off the roof, and to safety at the exact same time. That would work. And it made more sense.
"No. One of us needs to take them both out now," she countered.
Pierce nodded then all three agents pressed their headsets tightly to their ears. Another Emergency Room helicopter was already on its way from the Louisiana Medical Center - Charity Hospital, just a few miles west from them. That would be the quickest way to get Elisa to the emergency medical treatment she needed. Cody's possible twisted knee, and Agent Brown's possible sprained ankle were not nearly as severe as Elisa's burns, cracked ribs, and fluctuating blood-sugar situation.
"Well, that's it," Pierce said. "You two take this chopper out with Cody. Elisa and I'll catch the next ride. How's that, precious?" he said as he smiled at the little girl.
Elisa looked at Reyes, her eyes revealing slight fear. She did not know this agent. The only agent she trusted was Agent Reyes. And why not? Agent Reyes was the one who had rescued her.
Reyes smiled. "It's okay, sweetie. He's my partner and he'll take care of you," she soothed as the first Rescue helicopter hovered in even closer then landed on the helicopter pad. "I'll see you soon! At the ER!" she yelled to the little girl, giving her a quick, motherly little kiss on the forehead, then grabbed Cody up, then ran through the sprinkling rain towards the waiting chopper. One of the flight medics then rushed to Agent Brown, helping him up and over, too, as he hobbled towards the waiting chopper.
Within seconds, they were in the air, on their way down off the roof, headed for the large gathered crowd down below, with several ambulances, the local Fire Department, the FBI, the US Coast Guard, the local SBPD and the local SBSD squads, gawking bystanders, news reporters, and Cody and Elisa's families waiting in the wings. Obviously, the two families had learned about the successful rescue mission and had made their way through the large gathered crowd to meet their rescued children.
Reyes glanced back out the window towards Pierce and little Elisa for a moment just before the chopper lowered too far below the roofline for her to see them anymore. "Oh God, thank God," she sighed relieved.
Brown looked at her with such admiration twinkling in his eyes. "Agent Reyes? God. Fantastic job. I'm so honored that I was with you on this one."
She smiled. "Well, you didn't do so bad yourself, Agent. But we need to work on that roll."
He laughed, slapping his thigh. "Yeah, I never did get that down quite right at Q."
She laughed, too. "Yep. It's not as easy as it looks, is it?"
"Nope. The movies make it look so easy."
Then they both laughed some more as little Cody snuggled in more comfortably in her arms.
"Hey, sweetheart. So you remember me from the mall the other day?"
"Yep," the little boy said. "Mon-ca. I, I member."
"Umhum, and look at us now. Way up high in the air, in a big, bad, bright red-white-and-blue helicopter," she teased him.
"Umhum," he grunted leaning his head against her shoulder.
One of the medics continued to examine his bruises, then his knee, then began to immobilize it, wrapping it securely, as the little boy remained comfortably in her lap. The wrap would work just fine until they could get him transferred to an ambulance and then sent to one of the local hospitals for an X-ray. But, other than complaints of a hurting knee, he seemed fine – just fine.
"C… Could you… come home with me… and play?"
…Oh God… "Well. I tell you what. As soon as everyone gets checked out at the hospital, and you and I both get some sleep, and some food, and some juice, and some milk, and a bath, and…" she began to tickle him, "…maybe some ice cream, and some cookies and some pizza and fries and all that good stuff, then I'll come over for a visit. How's that? I know you're hungry," she teased him again.
He giggled and laughed then wrapped his little arms around her neck once again. "Umhum… Know what?"
"I love you, Mon-ca," he said.
Brown grinned at the sweet, heartfelt and so very innocent sentiment.
Reyes smiled, too, then winked, "Well, you know what? I love you, too, Cody. And soon, you're gonna be back home with your mommy and daddy. And your Uncle Todd is here, too."
"Really?" his baby-blue eyes lit up.
"Umhum. Oh look! See? There they are!" she said, instantly recognizing the Chamberlain family, as the chopper began to land just to the west of the large Oil Refinery Plant inside a large parking lot. He looked out the window then held on even tighter around her neck. "Oh, come on, sweetie. Let's go get your knee checked out, okay?" she said beginning to lift him up in her arms again, preparing to exit the rescue chopper. He nodded still somewhat shy about the prospect.
The nearest medic then opened the exit door as news cameras and newscasters crowded in all around them. She then stepped down to the ground with little Cody in tow then began to push her way through the media, quickly stating, "No comment, no comment, no comment, please, no comment, let me through, this boy needs medical attention," to the obnoxious media piranhas.
Cunningham then quickly ran in beside her to rescue them from the media frenzy. "Out of the way! Give her some room! Give her some room, people!" he yelled as he led her through the wall of reporters and to one of the ambulances waiting in the wings.
The Chamberlain family arrived at the waiting ambulance just as she did carrying their little son. Mrs. Chamberlain did a quick once over of her little son. He looked fine, except for his troubled expression.
A medical technician then walked up.
"His knee. I think his knee might be sprained or something. I'm not sure, but he's complaining of pain," Reyes told her.
The tech nodded then the Chamberlains walked up, all three of them hugging both Reyes and their little son. Mrs. Chamberlain then took him from the weary brunette's arms as she began to cry, "Oh God, thank you, thank you, I don't know how to thank you, oh my baby, Cody, my sweet baby," over and over and over.
Reyes smiled and nodded, nibbling on her lower lip, as she swallowed a big lump in her throat.
Mr. Chamberlain was crying happy tears, too, along with Todd, Cody's uncle. Both men and the woman were mumbling and rambling all sorts of thank-you's and how-can-we-ever-repay-you's and how-can-we-ever-thank-you-enough's for-bringing-back-our-son, etc, etc, etc.
Reyes just stood there, totally oblivious to the media news cameras and flash cameras going off all around her. She was the Cajun City hero tonight. She had just saved to small children from eventual horribly wicked deaths. But then, it was all in a day's work for her. That was part of her job, to save innocent little children gone missing.
She glanced up at the other chopper moving in, hovering over the smoking building. Three local fire trucks - with the help of the beginning rain - had slowed the raging fire, if not completely snuffed it out inside the red-brick building. But there was still much smoke pouring out from the broken windows. The Fire Departments' ladders were all over the place, with their big, long water-hoses snaking up and ultimately inside the red-brick building through the broken windows.
…Oh wow… Was she ever glad to be on the ground. And she could hardly wait to hear the latest on Cody and his knee, and then to hear the latest on Elisa and her blood-sugar levels, her burns, and cracked ribs. Both children had some bruising as well, but she had found them in time to save them from everything else that could have potentially happened to them over the next two days leading up to Halloween Eve.
She continued to watch the other chopper hovering over the building.
"Agent Reyes?" "Agent Reyes?" "How did you…?" "Where did you…?" "What made you…?" "Agent Reyes?" "Agent Reyes?"
All of the many questions and varying voices inside the crowd moving in closer to her just faded away into the distance as she continued to watch the second chopper hovering over the building, soon to be taking little Elisa over to the Louisiana Medical Center and to much-needed medical attention as well.
"No comment, no comment, no comment, please, no comment, excuse me," she replied as she began to walk away, the news reporters not knowing quite what to think about an agent willing to walk away from such positive national news media attention, ready to shower her with honor and praise for her tenacious leadership, gallantry and heroism in finding the two missing children and bringing them both back safely to their two families, both alive and well.
She then glanced over at the Garcia family. Señora Garcia smiled and waved. She smiled and waved in return, then nodded and pointed up to the other chopper yelling, "They're taking her to MC-East! Charity!" The older woman nodded in understanding, grinning from ear-to-ear, then began to tell her family and friends gathered around them to meet them at that particular hospital for little Elisa would soon be sent straight there to the Emergency Room.
Reyes then glanced back up at the hovering chopper yet again. …Oh come on, come on, come on, I'm tired, hurry up! What the hell?... she mused. She was exhausted; so exhausted she could just about crash inside the surveillance van that she had used to drive down to the scene. But she wanted to wait until she saw little Elisa and Pierce off. …Oh, for Godsakes, come on! Jeez! What is taking so long?... she mused again. And she could really use another hot shower, too, and another warm, soaking bath, and then a massage, and then another warm, soaking bath, and then another hot shower, and then a bed, a bed, a bed, then maybe a nice cold beer, and then a bed, a bed, a bed, then maybe a quick salad, then a bed, a bed, a bed...
She glanced back across the parking lot to the Garcia family again – leaving for the hospital - just as another wave of reporters began to surround her. …Oh God… "No, no, no. No comment please," she said as she began to walk away yet again.
She then glanced back up at the hovering helicopter again narrowing her eyes. …What in the hell is going on up there?... she thought. She then pressed the earphone to her headset a little more snuggly against her ear so that she could hear the fast, broken dialog between the chopper pilot, the hospital dispatcher and the gravelly-voiced Agent Pierce a little more clearly. "Fuck!" Her eyes shot wide-open as her lower lip dropped. She instantly hit the transmitter button on her headset. "This is the Taskforce Leader! Shut down Algiers! NOW!" she yelled into the transmitter as she began to run fast - damn fast, lightening speed fast - towards the floodwall and largest loading dock, Cunningham quickly noticing her fast-moving dash towards the river then followed in behind her.
Scully's Apartment – In the Living Room - Georgetown District, Washington, DC:
"She looks so tired," Margaret commented as the cable news station ran another clip of the tall brunette carrying the little blonde-blue-eyed-chubby-cheeked boy through the crowd of reporters, pushing her way through, with a set, determined look on her face, her eyes set on the ambulance and Cody's parents just ahead.
"Yes, she does. So tired," Scully commented, too. "God. Well. Thank God this thing is over and she's found them. Sounds like they've found an entire network, full of organized crime. This one will go down in the Bureau books."
"Umhum. Usually, with this much media attention and such a magnitude of arrests, the Bureau uses it for future references … and to pat themselves on the back of course," Scully teased.
"Of course," Margaret grinned. "Oh look. I can’t imagine what that woman must feel," she commented again as they watched the pretty young mother take her darling little son from the tired brunette's arms.
"Oh my," Scully groaned again. …Oh baby, you're so tired, so sleepy, and exhausted. Bet you haven't been eating right either, have you?... she thought as she watched the changing scenes and reruns of the breathtaking events and awesome rescue of the two little children, her lover being caught up right in the middle it.
Her lover was a hero – a true hero – for this particular day in history. But her lover's deep, dark-circled eyes and the slight change in her gait showed signs of possible injury, heavy strain, and extreme exhaustion.
"Did she hurt herself? Sprain an ankle or something?" Margaret asked noticing the slight change in her gait as well.
"I don't know, Mom. Guess I'll find out when I talk to her."
Scully chuckled. She knew that it was Doggett, or maybe even Skinner.
"Scully," she answered.
"Our girl done good," Doggett teased in that charming Southern accent of his.
Scully chuckled again. "Yes, she did. Very good."
"Well, I'm proud. Some of the best work the Bureau's done in years. Just hope they give her the credit she deserves."
"You think they will?"
Scully laughed as the news reports began to list all of the many gang members and gang leaders that had been arrested over the last two days across the screen - some of the gang leaders having records dating back several years - then listed the rumored possibility of two bad cops being killed in the crossfire, too. Hopefully, the FBI would have enough evidence on many of these repeat offenders to put them all behind bars once and for all.
"Them two bad cops was a concern," Doggett said.
Yeah. It had me worried, too," Scully agreed.
They continued their telephone conversation as they watched the unfolding news, both very interested and intrigued with the positive news media coverage the Bureau was receiving over the case. Many times the FBI got a bad rap for things that they ultimately had nothing to do with. But, for once, the FBI was enjoying positive media coverage, being portrayed in a good light, as heroes, and especially one specific heroic female federal agent. She would be the talk of the town for several weeks to come.
Margaret got up to pour herself another cup of coffee, then poured her daughter another, then came back over to sit back down on the couch.
"Dana!" she yelled suddenly just as Scully quickly looked back up at the TV. She and Doggett had veered off onto another subject, work related, and had not been watching the reruns quite as closely.
"Oh God! John? Are you…?" the redhead gasped.
"Hell yeah! I'm seein' it! What the hell?"
The news channel had broken in with the latest events unfolding in Southern Louisiana, this time showing the tall, dark and gorgeous, dark-raven-haired beauty in a full-out run, sprinting up a long ramp of a large loading dock, then jumping over onto some type of wall – like a floodwall, or something similar, to keep the Mississippi River inside its banks - then jumping off that wall towards the churning river, diving down onto a waiting boat, a good twenty feet below.
"What the...? Damn!" Doggett gasped. "What the hell's she doin'?! Wonder Woman?!"
Scully didn't respond as she turned up the volume yet again then began to watch the stirring scenes unfolding more intensely.
Several boats, including that boat, began to speed off towards somewhere. Scully and Doggett had no idea where. Neither were familiar with the terrain, or the river channel, down in southern New Orleans.
Aboard a US Coast Guard Rescue Boat speeding Southeast towards the Belle Chasse Ferry - New Orleans, LA:
"I DON'T CARE! WE NEED TO CLOSE IT DOWN NOW!... YES!... BELLE CHASSE!" Reyes yelled over the headwinds and the sounds of the powerful speedboat engines and into her headset again, holding on with one hand to keep her balance through the rough water, as she pressed the button on her headset down with the other.
"REYES, WE CAN'T DO THAT! A FERRY'S OUT THERE ON THE WATER RIGHT NOW! AS WE SPEAK!" Cunningham answered back, both needing to yell, just so they could each hear each other over the loud engines and headwinds.
"OH CHRIST! WE'RE HEADED STRAIGHT FOR THEM! CUNNY? DAMN! YOU'VE GOT TO GET THEM OFF THE WATER! NOW!" she yelled again into her headset.
"WELL, WHAT THE HELL DO YOU EXPECT ME TO DO?! HE CAN'T JUST STOP THAT BOAT!"
"OH CHRIST!" Reyes responded closing her eyes for a moment at the horrible events beginning to unfold.
And that was the truth. The forward-momentum and wake of the ferryboat would carry it several yards downstream even if the ferryboat skipper cut his engines instantly. But if that ferryboat did not get out of the path of several speeding boats chasing after a front runaway boat, and back to shore soon, innocent people would get hurt and quite possibly even killed, from the runaway boat, or two or three others, crashing into the ferry.
Suddenly the runaway boat that Reyes and her USCG fleet of boats were chasing made a swift turn to the right, then back to the left, barely missing two fishing boats, a shrimp boat and an ocean-liner, then turned, doing a complete 180*, then sped right by them, probably flipping them the royal bird as they passed by.
"CHRIST! SHIT! THE BASTARD!" Reyes fussed as the USCG Captain of her boat quickly made some fast maneuvers through the wake then followed in behind the speedboat yet again in hot pursuit.
"YOU SURE THE GARCIA KID'S ON THAT BOAT?" Cunningham yelled again through his transmitter.
"YES! ALONG WITH THE OTHER BAD APPLE OUT OF 'THE BIG APPLE'!"
And how the hell had they missed that? - the other dirty cop remaining inside the building even after his cohort, Jerry Manning, had been gunned down, just waiting for his chance to recapture either one, or both of the kids. He had managed to overpower Pierce, quickly taking the veteran agent by surprise, then had easily taken the little Garcia girl back into his clutches. He had had a boat already waiting for him and had managed to use one of the fire-escapes on the other side of the building to get to that boat in just seconds practically before anyone had noticed that anything had gone array. Although, Reyes had continued to watch the second helicopter - her gut instincts trying to tell her that something on top of that rooftop was going down bad with the little Garcia girl and her partner, Pierce.
Thank God, she had given the little girl her insulin injection, or they would have no chance at all in saving this little child. But …God!... Reyes was so angry she was beside herself with pent-up rage. This man had practically stolen little Elisa right out from under her protective wing. And what she wouldn't give if she could somehow take back the last fifteen minutes, and redo, stay with Elisa herself, and then ultimately protect her from this second kidnapper. …Damn!... She should have let Cody go with Pierce. Or let Elisa go with Brown, or …Hell!... do what her original plan had been in the first place, and get both children off of that roof, at the exact same time, on the first chopper out. …Damn it! Shit!... she mentally fussed as they turned north up the Inner Harbor Canal towards the US Coast Guard Station Lock still in hot pursuit of the runaway speedboat.
Suddenly, it was as if a stretch of tight, thin rope caught fire near the USCG Lock as big, huge ships and ocean-liners waited in line to pass through the lock.
"What the fuck?" she reacted under her breath as their boat suddenly cut its engines trying to stay out of the narrow wake of flames. "Well, damnation!"
"Reyes! We got a shit-load a problems here!" the Captain yelled into her ear.
"I know! You gotta get this fire out!" she replied in understanding. And they did. They were practically right in the center of town, near one of the older historical districts, just a little over a nautical mile from the historic French Quarter and Riverfront Walk itself. Granted, they were on the water, but even in the water, a fire was never a good thing.
Just then, their lovely little runaway boat that they had been chasing went cruising by taunting them with the royal bird and his brazen maneuvers all over the river.
"Well fuck-n-ay!" All four USCG officers and one federal agent yelled in response as they watched the powerboat speed back by them and back down the river.
Reyes had four of the United States Coast Guard fleet of boats and four of the Orleans Parrish Sheriff's Department fleet of boats helping her chase down this boat in hot pursuit. But now, her USCG boats would need to be pulled off the chase - out of necessity - to help fight the sudden oil-and-gasoline-fueled flames all across the water. And Reyes just knew it in her gut that this sudden oil-and-gas fire was not a coincidence either. …God!... How far up the ladder did the bad guys go? Where some feds involved, too? To help sabotage the case? And hurt the little girl? At least Cody Chamberlain was in safe custody now – she hoped. …Jeezus!... Surely, nothing had gone wrong again where he was concerned.
Her boat pulled off the main river channel and over to the nearest dock. Within seconds, one of the other Sheriff's Department boats came up along beside them. She quickly changed rides, and then was off again, speeding down the river once more, hoping to catch up to the runaway boat.
The lead boat, a few nautical miles ahead of them, reported back that the speedboat in question had practically disappeared among all of the other huge ocean-liners, large ships, shrimp boats, fishing boats, steamboats, and river casino boats, the river traffic was so full on this particular Saturday night. That was the main reason why Reyes had wanted the ferries to be shut down, to try and help control the river traffic. But it had not helped. She knew they would be in trouble if the pursuit ever made it out onto the water.
Another report came in from one of the local NOPD choppers in the air following the water pursuit from the air. The passengers of the small boat, including little Elisa, had been spotted crossing over the floodwall, the railroad tracks, and then boarding another boat just on the other side and back down into the Violet Canal channel of water and headed straight for the swamps.
"Oh God, Elisa!" Reyes hung her head. Her worst fears had come true. The perps were taking the little girl into the swamps, the bayous, the marshlands. …God!... The chase had just grown ten times, twenty times, a hundred times, maybe even a thousand times, worse. One could stay lost inside of those swamplands for months if they wanted to! …Oh God, please! Don't let this happen. Please, help me find her. Please, God! Please! I screwed it up, but, please! Please, give me another chance. Please!… Her eyes watered up from her silent thoughts and prayers.
The boat she was on soon approached the loading dock where she had first boarded the other USCG boat, near the ExxonMobil Plant. "Captain! Let me off, here!" she yelled as she pointed towards the dock.
He nodded then slowed his engines and began to steer the boat towards the dock.
It was time to go back to the drawing board, regroup, reassess, and redevelop another plan. They would never find Elisa this way, just cruising up and down the frickin' river. Besides, she needed to get a clearer picture of the waterways and swamplands before heading back out there on a boat.
Cunningham ran down the dock towards her, news media, crewmen, the local PD, helicopters and everything else buzzing about all around them. Reyes glanced up towards the sky at the two helicopters still in hot-pursuit trying to keep their floodlights positioned on the boat in question before losing it into the swamplands. But she knew that it was just a matter of minutes until the boat ultimately lost them inside the thick, dark, murky brush of the bayous.
"They just saw 'em turn up towards the Castle!" Cunningham yelled.
"I heard!" she yelled back over the loud sounds of choppers and speedboats roaring up the river.
Some of the local press began to press in on them again.
"Back off!" Cunningham yelled at them. "Can't you see we're in the middle of a chase?! Now back off, damn it!" he yelled at them again as he then quickly put his arm around the tall, dark and remorseful brunette then led her to another waiting chopper.
They both quickly slid into their seats, Reyes taking the front passenger's seat, as Cunningham slid in just behind her. She shivered for a moment from her wet clothes then concentrated on the next task at hand. The chopper pilot instantly began to fly them up and out over the river canal and high in the air as she peered out over the various bayous.
"Over there! Fly in over Martello Castle!" she instructed.
The chopper pilot nodded then did as she wished.
She then turned back to her boss. "Where's Brian?! How bad is he hurt?!" she yelled.
"Being checked out now! Got a bad hit on the left temple! Said he was knocked out for a few seconds! Don't know any more!" Cunningham responded.
She nodded, "And Brown?!" then pointed towards the fork in the river silently instructing the chopper pilot yet again.
She nodded again then yelled, "Go down! Low! Fly in low! Along that marsh!" pointing towards the nearest wetland. "There!" she yelled again as the chopper pilot instantly aimed his floodlight towards the speeding runaway boat.
She then began to radio in to the Orleans Parrish Water Rescue Fleet. "How long before you can launch another squad?!" she asked, then listened as the dispatcher relayed her imperative question to the local OPSD's Water Rescue Commander then listened to the answer. …Okay, that's not good enough… she mused, closing her eyes in frustration for a moment, then watched the speeding boat snake and wind its way closer and closer to ultimate cover.
Suddenly, the boat snaked into the greenery completely out-of-sight from the three hovering choppers' floodlights, taking cover underneath the thick, dense trees.
"Go down! Closer!" she yelled again to the pilot. He nodded then flew their chopper in a little closer aiming the big, bright floodlight all through the thick, dense greenery. She then took over the controls shining the big, bright, bluish-white floodlight through the deep, dark, dense thickets herself, shining the beam up through the thick brush, the dense trees and thickets.
Nothing. Not a one of them on that hovering chopper could see a damn thing through the deep, dark, dense brush – not even the runaway boat – much less the perps and little Elisa.
"Damn! Damn it!" she finally reacted. But she was not surprised. What she had feared the most had just come to pass. Little Elisa's captors had vanished – taking the little girl right along with them - into the deep, dark thickets of the swamps.
"I know. I know damn it!" she fussed again. "Okay. I want two choppers hovering this area 24-7 until further notice," she said into her headset - instructing the two local NOPD choppers of their next mission - then glanced back at Cunningham. "I don't know what else to do until we get some boats down there."
He nodded in agreement then instructed the pilot to take them back to their starting place. They had no other choice. They could do nothing from the air, especially since they could not see anything from the air - the perps or the little girl. It was time – past time - to go back to the drawing board, go back to the local precinct, regroup, reorganize, reassess, and redevelop a further line of attack for rescuing the little girl.
The pilot nodded as he began to raise and turn the chopper back around towards the ExxonMobil Oil Refinery parking lot leaving the two other local choppers to hover and search the general area.
Within minutes, they were back at the large parking lot slowly hovering down to the ground. Cunningham glanced out towards their waiting vehicle.
"There he is!" he yelled as the pilot quickly landed the chopper.
They both then rushed out through the sprinkling rain towards their latest ride, sliding into the rear seat, as Agent Gordon then quickly sped them off towards the Saint Bernard Parrish Sheriff's Department once again.
"Gordon? What are you doing here?" Reyes asked surprised and slightly concerned.
"Bailey wanted to watch over the Tavares family. Is that okay?" he answered.
…Oh God… She thought. She had no idea. She certainly hoped so. She hardly knew whom to trust anymore, even inside the Bureau.
Situation Room - Saint Bernard Parrish Sheriff's Department
Ten Minutes Later - 8:15 PM (CT):
A few minutes later, they were inside the Sheriff's Department discussing the next approach for rescuing the little girl. It was absurd - simply absurd - that the little girl had not been successfully rescued from the perpetrators after two - practically three – rescue attempts. …Damn it!... The perps were not that smart. They had just had some members of the local law enforcement helping them. That was all. And these local law enforcement good-guys-turned-bad-guys good times would soon be over by the time this case was over, once Reyes and her taskforce had identified them, found them, arrested them, interrogated them, and ultimately indicted them for all of their criminal activities. It was just a matter of time before she and her taskforce found them all. And they would - without a doubt - they would.
"Oh God," she mumbled softly under her breath, rubbing her aching temples with her fingertips, then closed her eyes. Cunningham glanced over towards her obviously worried about her, her lack of sleep, lack of food and state of mind. She caught his troubled gaze then excused herself from the small office for a moment, in need of the ladies' room.
She then walked down the short hallway barely able to make it in time before she burst into a flood of tears. She needed to cry. She needed a good, gut-wrenching, soul-cleansing cry. She had needed to cry since the beginning of this case. And now, with this most recent turn of events, she almost felt like giving up, giving in, and handing over the lead to Cunningham, or Bailey, or maybe even Brown at this point. The young rookie agent could not have done any worse than she had done over the last several minutes. …God!... How could this latest rescue attempt have gone so sour? And in just a matter of minutes? How could it? She had had the two children safe and in her custody. She had had them! Both of them! How could it have gone down so badly yet again? How?! But then she really had no way of knowing that one of their enemies was still lurking around inside that burning building and that he had still been hiding out just waiting for his chance to strike again. How could she have known that? How could she? She had assumed - just as everyone else had on top of that roof - that they were the last - the last to be rescued from off of that burning building's rooftop.
…Ohhh, God… She leaned down over the sink and began to cry more miserably. Her extreme weariness was not helping with her fragile control over her emotions either. "Oh God, Elisa. I'm so sorry," she mumbled through her repentant tears. How could she face the Garcia family now? How could she, after having their precious little, youngest family member in her clutches, safe and secure in her arms, and then get on that first helicopter out and leave her behind - soon to be in the clutches of the enemy yet again? How could she face them now? How could she? "Ohhh, God," she leaned over the sink, groaning in gut-wrenching pain, as she sobbed more penitently. "Ohhh, God, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, please, forgive me, Elisa, please, God, I'm so sorry, baby," she sobbed, needing to let all of her pent-up emotions out.
Scully's Apartment – In the Bedroom - Georgetown District, Washington, DC:
Scully had walked back into her bedroom without Reyes after all. She had to if she wanted to get any type of privacy at all from her mother tonight. But she still planned to sleep on the couch later and not inside of this bedroom. Although - as she glanced at the bed, and then at the soft, wrinkled sheets - she could just crawl up inside of those soft, wrinkled sheets and wrap them up all around her, hoping to feel Reyes' very presence wrapped up inside of those soft, wrinkled sheets and wrap her scent and essence all around her as well.
"Hum." She pulled the little touchstone out again clutching it inside her palm. According to the latest news reports coming out of New Orleans, the FBI team had moved itself back inside four walls, and was now reorganizing its search. Scully and Doggett could hardly believe what all had happened and what all had transpired right in front of their eyes as they watched it all – live – on the tube.
She hesitated for a moment then pulled her cell-phone out from her robe pocket. If Reyes could answer, she probably would. But is she was out on a surveillance detail already then she would probably just let it go to her voicemail. And that was okay. Scully could leave her a voicemail message to listen to for later on in the night.
She quickly hit the redial button then waited through three rings.
"Reyes," came through the earpiece so softly Scully could hardly hear her.
"Yes, baby, it's me."
"Ohhh… Dana…" the hurting brunette choked then began to cry all over again.
"Oh, shhh, baby, it's not your fault," Scully whispered.
"Then who's is it?" the sobbing brunette tried to argue.
Reyes cocked an eyebrow in spite of her tears. Scully hardly ever called her that.
"Now listen to me. What happened tonight was not your fault. You had no way of knowing, from what I understand. Now just regroup, reassess, and come up with another plan. You'll find her again, and this time, trust only in yourself, and nobody else, until you get her back home safely and to her family. Okay? Can you do that?"
"I… I don't know, I… I'm so… tired, and I… I don't know, I… I can't even think straight right now."
"Oh God, Moni, I know… God…"
Scully was growing so very concerned for her. When one was this tired and so desperately in need of sleep, their reflexes could potentially be so off until it could possibly be very dangerous for themselves and for everyone else around them.
"Moni? Hang in there, baby, but you've got to find the strength, and clear your head. You've got to stop this, stop blaming yourself, and find a way to reframe the case, reassess it, and then try again. Okay?"
"Okay," she muttered softly through her tears. "God, how I wish you were here."
…Oh baby… "Me, too. Me, too, baby. Now you've got to clear your head, wake up, and clear your mind. Okay? I'm serious. You've got to be sharp out there. I just, it's not over, and I… I don't…"
"Moni? You better come back to me. Don't you dare lose your head out there. You’ve got to be sharp. I know you're tired, but, baby, please. Drink a latté or something, but, please, I… I'm worried about you, okay?… There... I said it."
"Oh, honey, I'll be okay. I'm used to going out on a detail without any sleep so…"
"No, Moni. No. Now watch your back. Are you wearing your vest?"
"You weren’t earlier."
Reyes cocked a dark-raven eyebrow yet again. "Yes I was. I… I was wearing the thinner one, underneath my jacket."
"Well, what good is that crap? Wear the other one, the A-III."
Reyes chuckled. "Are you that worried about me?"
"Yes, actually, I am. I don't… I don't want to…"
"Lose you. Okay?"
"Okay. But, you're not gonna lose me. I'm not going anywhere."
"Tell me. Tell me you love me."
"I… I love you, Dana. I love you. You know that."
…What?... Reyes wrinkled her brow in confusion for a moment. "I… So much that I… I would die for you, give my life for you."
"No," Scully countered. That was not what she wanted to hear at the moment. "How much? How much, Monica?" she asked again.
"I, um. Wow! I'm not sure what you're asking me."
Silence passed between the two women for a few seconds.
"No, Monica," the troubled redhead interrupted her. "Tell me. Tell me how much."
…How much?... Reyes mused in confusion wrinkling her brow yet again. She began to rub her throbbing forehead and temples with her fingers and thumb for a moment then ran those long fingers through her thick, dark mane. …God!… She wasn't sure what the little redhead was asking her.
"Yeah, I'm still here, I just… Wow!"
"Where are you?"
Reyes chuckled. "In the bathroom."
Scully chuckled, too. "Okay. Well. Monica. Do you love me enough to come back to me? Make it out of those wetlands tonight and come back to me? Promising me that you'll never leave me? And that you'll never leave me lonely again? But that you'll stay alive? You'll stay alive, Moni. You'll stay alive," Scully's voice cracked slightly from her inner turmoil.
"I… Wow!" Reyes hesitated again. ...Holy shit!... What was she really asking? "I, um. Yes. I'll try. I'll always try, but…"
"No, Moni. Promise me. You promise me that you'll do whatever it takes to stay alive tonight."
"I… Dana? I'm not sure if I can. I… I can’t control the future. And if it's my time, then..."
Tears began to roll down the anguished, sorrowful redhead's cheeks.
"Dana? Are you asking me to put my life before Elisa's, or my partner's, or another agent's?"
Scully swallowed hard. Could she really ask her to do that? Especially put her life before Elisa's? "I, um… No… You do what you have to do tonight. Okay?" she replied then pulled the receiver up from her mouth so that Reyes could not hear her ragged, pain-filled breathing from her stifled tears.
"Dana? I'll do whatever it takes to save Elisa, but I… I…" she hesitated yet again. She could hardly believe what she was about to say. "I, once I get her back, then I'll do whatever it takes, to come back to you. Okay? I'll do whatever I have to do to stay alive." …God!... She could hardly believe that she had just said that, putting her own life and welfare in front of her partner's, or any other fellow agent's, that might be in grave danger. "I won't leave you, Dana. I won't ever leave you lonely. I'll always do my best to come back to you. Okay? Always. I promise. That's how much I love you."
Scully burst into tears just holding the phone against her ear as the woman of her dreams said everything she had ever needed to hear into her ear.
"Yeah, I'm here," Scully sniffled through her stifled sobs. "God, I love you. And I need you. And watch out, for a shotgun."
"What?" the brunette wrinkled her brow in confusion yet again.
"A shotgun. Just stay clear of a shotgun tonight. Okay?"
"Okay," Reyes wrinkled her brow yet again. "I can do that. I'll watch out for a shotgun. No hanging out around any shotguns tonight," she teased.
"Right. Yes," Scully said beginning to regain control of her raging emotions. "I… I don't know why, but… I just have a bad feeling about you and shotguns tonight. I don't think that you're meant to be together in close proximity tonight."
Reyes chuckled then began to giggle.
"Better watch that kind of talk, Agent Scully, or someone might accuse you of being loony-tunes, psychic, clairvoyant, or something."
Scully began to chuckle, too. "Oh no, I think I'll leave that up to you. You seem to have the upper hand on that."
"Oh! I do? The upper hand? Or the lower hand?"
"Either hand is fine with me."
Then they both cracked up giggling.