|Life with My Girl, Reyes|
|Rescue Me: Chapter 7|
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Small, private room inside one of the buildings near the Gulf Outlet Marina, Chalmette, LA:
Thirty Minutes Later – 8:57 PM (CT):
Reyes glanced at her watch again as she quickly stuffed the last of her ham and turkey sandwich down, then gulped more of her thick, rich milk-chocolate milkshake down. The thick, rich milk-chocolate milkshake should help to give her the quick energy boost, caffeine and sugar fix she needed to continue on with this little-girl-hunt. Moreover, it shouldn't be much longer until her latest several-law-enforcement-personnel-and-departments-combined fleet of FBI, USCG, OPSD and local SWAT Team rescue boats were gassed up, in place and ready to launch from this very marina.
She rose up from the small table, planning to leave for the ladies' room and change into her deep-sea-diving-wetsuit, when one of the local sheriff's department deputies came charging into the small, private room.
"Reyes! Agent Reyes!" he bellowed.
"Yes! Have they found something?" she gasped hurriedly spinning around towards him in hopeful anticipation.
"No! But there's an old man out there! Says he needs to speak with you! Stat!" he said as that same old man suddenly appeared inside the doorframe himself. "Sir? You can't go in…" the sheriff's deputy tried to restrain the stubborn old man.
"Outta my way, boy! Where's dat agent?" the stubborn old man said pushing his way through and into the small room in spite of the protective sheriff's deputy's clutches.
"George?" Reyes quipped, her eyes widening in utter surprise.
"Aw yeyah, dawlin'! Been lookin' fow ya haf da night!" old man George Clayton quipped himself.
"Agent?" the sheriff's deputy bellowed yet again in frustration.
"No, it's okay, let him in. I know this man," Reyes stated calmly. "What…? What are you…?" she stammered.
"Well now, dawlin', you listen ta ole Geowge heyah. Ya need my hep. I know dem watas like da back a my hand. Now ya need my hep to run dem boats."
"Oh no, I… I can't let you do that, George. I…"
"Ya wanna find dat li'l girl, now don't cha?" he quipped again chewing on the tip of his long-ago burned-out cigar.
Reyes cocked an eyebrow. Well of course she did.
"Now you go on, git yowsef in ta dat suit, and din we be a headin' out towawds da channel."
"I… George… I appreciate your concern, and willingness to…"
"Un-uh. Now I ain't gone be hearin' no mo' no fow an answer. I been runnin' dem boats up and down these watas fah fifty yeyahs! So I ain't gone be hearin' no mo' hedgin' round fow an answer. Sides, I's retired from da fowces mysef."
Just then, Cunningham walked in smiling, "He's right. He's an old-hand around here."
Reyes raised an eyebrow again in utter surprise. "The forces? FBI?" she chirped.
"Nope. Coast Guawd," both men chirped.
"George Clayton!" she cried. "You… You didn't…" she stammered again.
"Ya nevah asked. And we nevah had no women on da fowces back din. And, dawlin', you still ain't a fittin' fow da jowb."
"Oh! I'm not you say!" she chirped in disbelief. … For Godsakes! The gall!...
"Un-uh, ain't no way, dawlin'. Yow bedda dan anythin' we eveh had back din. I jus wish we da had a li'l one like you when I's in chawge."
She cocked a dark-raven eyebrow at him again. Was he actually trying to give her a compliment – in his roundabout way?
"She is one of the best. I'd have to agree," Cunningham chimed in.
"Well hah," she huffed again flabbergasted. "I don't feel like 'one of the best' right now this very minute, thank you very much," she huffed again, then suddenly realized just how nice a compliment both men had given to her in their roundabout, male-oriented, almost sexually-harassing way.
"Come on now! Let ole Geowge heyah hep ya run dem boats and give ya a hand."
"Hah," she huffed again looking at her boss for some backup on the matter.
"Now Agent. Ya need my hep. Ya need me ta hep run dem rescue boats and find dat li'l girl," the stubborn old, baldheaded, well-fed man said, chewing a little more aggressively on his long-ago burned-out cigar, then walked around the table and stopped just in front of her. "Come on now. Let ole Geowge hep ya."
She continued to watch the smiling older gentleman for a moment, then thought about his sweet little wife, Bessie, so frightened before the plane had finally landed yesterday morning, then looked at Cunningham. He just raised an eyebrow. "George, I… I can't do that, I…" she stammered again. "I can't knowingly put you in danger… and… well… I appreciate the offer, but…" she hesitated glancing down to the floor and shaking her head.
"Reyes? He's offering," Cunningham said speaking up for the older gentleman.
"Yes, but… Sir? My God!" she retorted. "We can't… I can't… It's against government protocol! And I…"
"Fuck gov'ment powtacol," the old man, George Clayton said. Cunningham just smiled. "Now you listen heyah, Agent. Ya need my hep. Now I'm yow best shot. You knowed it and I knowed it."
She cocked an eyebrow at him yet again. Well. That might very well be true at this point. "Hum," she sighed in frustration then glanced down at the small table again. "Okay. So, you say you want to help me? Then, tell me this. Have you ever seen anything out there in those swamplands that resembles this?" she said as she reached down inside her pants-pocket then handed him a penciled image hand-drawn on a piece of paper depicting a rounded, rise of land rising up out of the water, with a large odd, pear-shaped tree with a twisted, battered-up trunk, and some twisted, spiraling branches with numerous, stubby tree-roots sticking up out of the dense, murky water, creating a very unusual – almost eerie - pattern along the water's surface.
"Aw now, dawlin'! Where'da hell'd you git dat?!'' the old man's eyes widened.
She shrugged cocking an eyebrow at him yet again. "Have you seen it?"
"Aw! Heyall yeah! But I knowed betta dan to go neah it."
"Really," she chirped. "And how is that?"
He began to shake his head, "Aw naw now, dawlin', dat's a bad place. Ain't no fool goin' go neah dat area a swamp."
"Really," Reyes chirped again. "Hum." It appeared that she might be onto something, with her hand-drawn, vision-induced, pencil-sketch.
"Well... On second thought. I reckon I could take ya dere, deah hawt, but… we ain't a goin' any where neah dat place unless you got yowsef a whole lot a backup," the old man said shaking his head.
"Okay," she replied, watching him for a few moments then glanced over to Cunningham. "We can do that," she said.
Cunningham nodded, "Yeah. Okay. Let's do it. Let's get the team out there on it."
Reyes nodded in agreement then stuffed her hand-drawn, vision-induced, pencil-sketch back inside her pants-pocket.
Inside the Ladies' Restroom – Five Minutes Later:
"Ngh," the tall, tired, slender and weary brunette grunted again as she pulled the black, neoprene deep-sea-diver's wetsuit up a little higher along her waist then began to push and shove her slender, tightly-muscled arms down through the armholes. "Ngh. Frig!" she fussed again. It was so hard to slip on a wetsuit and especially with no underwear on underneath. The frickin' crotch of the suit could sometimes pinch in all the wrong places if one did not slip the thing on quite right. "Ngh, ngh," she grunted again, eventually finishing her task, then zipped up the small zipper in the back, and then zipped up the longer zipper in the front along her chest. "Whew," she sighed as she glanced up in the mirror for a moment. …Oh. Uh-oh. Hum… She glanced down along her tightly-muscled midsection for a moment quickly thinking that she might need to lose a couple of pounds down there – even though her abdomen was already tightly-muscled with its own little six-pack ripple of muscles showing through - then turned and glanced down along her tightly-muscled ass. She smirked as she thought about the character on Star Trek: Voyager - Seven-of-Nine - and the actress …Jeri Ryan, is it?... that played the part, always having to traipse around in that skintight hardly-leaving-a-thing-to-the-imagination rubber suit. She grinned then cocked an eyebrow as she looked at herself more closely in the mirror. …Hum. Well. Not too bad, Reyes, not too bad… she grinned again. She didn't have "the stack" that Seven-of-Nine had, but she certainly had the nice, tight, washboard-like abdomen and well-rounded ass. And she'd never had any complaints about her soft, cushiony attributes up front along her upper chest either. Besides, donning this skintight, deep-sea-diver's wetsuit would keep her body temperature up and keep her from possibly slipping into a bad case of hypothermia just in case she ended up in the water for very long again. She certainly hoped that she didn't end up in the cold murky water for very long, but, just in case, she wanted to be prepared.
She then wrapped the missing little girl's small 14K gold chain and crucifix around her wrist then tucked the fragile crucifix in underneath her black, neoprene sleeve. She was still experiencing quick, short, and to-the-point visions of little Elisa somewhere out in those bayous. And that was a very good sign, because it meant that the little girl was still alive, and able to communicate with her on a spiritual level. The little girl had "shown her" the area where she was being held through one of those quick, short, and to-the-point visions well enough for her to quickly draw out the image on that small piece of paper. And now, luckily, the older retired gentleman that she had met on the plane yesterday morning – old George Clayton - knew the general location of the spooky area and was willing to take her and her taskforce there of his own freewill. And what were the odds of that? This case was so vibed it could almost blow the empathetic, telepathic brunette's mind with all the implications. But, she was just going to "go with it", and see where it all led, hope for the best, and try to be prepared for the worst, just in case it made another quick, spiraling turn for the worst.
Cunningham knocked on the door. "Reyes? You about ready?" he asked through the door.
"Oh," she chirped. …Wow!... had that reminded her of another Agent in Charge pecking on her door before she was quite ready. Although on that particular occasion, she had had a gorgeous little redhead inside her clutches kissing her like there where no tomorrows.
"Yeah! Be out in a sec!" she responded then grabbed up her folded clothes, stuffed them inside her overnight bag, quickly buckled the last strap on her diver's boot, then headed for the door.
Cunningham, Gordon and Pierce were all standing out in the hallway waiting for her. Pierce still had a 3"x3" skin-toned bandage over his left temple, covering the slight gash along his forehead, and covering his mild concussion. In spite of his earlier injury up on that rooftop, he was bound and determined to finish out this case and find the missing little girl. Gordon had decided to change into a wetsuit himself, along with the rest of Reyes' squad, just as she had. None of the four squads with twelve persons on each team was negligent when it came to taking care of their own physical bodies. The water could be quite cool and life-threateningly dangerous for this time of year, bringing on the possibility of hypothermia, if one had to stay in it and wade through it for very long. Therefore, that situation in and of itself could present a problem for the forty-eight-member taskforce as they worked towards finding and rescuing the little girl once and for all.
Reyes cocked an eyebrow at her appraising audience then asked if the boats were ready. She had seen where all three sets of eyes had dropped and landed - right squarely on her tightly-marbled nipples, all perked up and ready for some action, trying to push through her tight-fitting neoprene deep-sea-diver's wetsuit leaving hardly any area of her sensually-curvaceous, wondrously-alluring, sexually-enticing body to the imagination.
They all three nodded then Pierce spoke up, "You taking me with you?"
"No Brian," she said lowering her eyes.
"No. And I think you know why," she stated matter-of-factly as her sad, pensive, penetrating eyes penetrated his.
"Hah," he huffed again as she began to nibble on her lower lip then walk away from him, her dark, pensive, penetrating eyes revealing such deep sadness and inner hurt all of a sudden.
"Well? What was that all about?" Cunningham asked as he watched her walk away intrigued with whatever had caused her sudden change in demeanor.
Pierce just stood there, frustrated, then shrugged halfheartedly, then hung his head in humiliation as he began to walk away, too.
Cunningham cocked an eyebrow in confusion then looked at Gordon. "Well? Guess you're with Reyes then. I'll put Pierce on it with the third Squad. So hurry up, catch up to her."
Gordon nodded then rushed down the hallway towards the sleek, sexy and alluring, dark-suited woman.
Somewhere on an Airboat floating along the murky, muddy waters
Deep inside the dark, tunneling thickets and overhanging trees.
Inside the Bayous of Southern Louisiana – Thirty Minutes Later:
Reyes glanced at her watch – 9:51 PM – then observed as another decently-sized alligator slithered off into the cold, murky water while her old-hand-river-man, Retired US Coast Guard Commander George Clayton, eased their way towards their final destination. They were on an airboat – the lead SAR boat - and had just cut their engines, trying to ease their way quietly through into the deep, dark heart of the shadowy everglade.
George hissed slightly imitating the sounds of a young alligator to get the black-neoprene-clad woman's attention. She glanced up. He then pointed up the bayou towards the overhanging trees and then to a specific pear-shaped tree with its odd-shaped trunk baring the oh-so-familiar etch-marks of the sadistic teen gang's graffiti pattern along its base. She nodded, recognizing the unmistakable pattern, too, in addition to the eerie resemblance of the area to her pencil-drawing as well, then glanced over at Gordon. He nodded, too, winking in recognition. It meant that they were close – very close - and drifting in even closer to the area overtaken by the young teenage cult. She then glanced back, around the large fan of the airboat, to the second boat floating quietly just behind them.
She had three boats assigned to her, and all three boats – the other boats loaded with extra team members of her taskforce - were obviously getting a little antsy with their surroundings. The place was eerie – the sounds, the smells, the shadowy scenery, the Spanish Moss circling down from the overhanging trees, occasionally tickling them across their necks, shoulders and crowns - the place was downright creepy, just as George Clayton had indicated. No wonder no one ever floated up through this area of the swamps to fish. It was just downright spooky.
She sniffed, then sighed softly, calming her own feelings of trepidation back down so she could focus more intently on the task at hand. This was no time for her - the taskforce leader herself - to get the willies and then spread that fear out among her team. "Whew," she barely sighed again then glanced back up the waterway in front of them.
Luckily, the rain had stopped about thirty minutes ago, the thick rain-clouds had moved off, and now intermittent rays of bright, full moonlight were fingering their way down through the dense, overhanging trees and sporadically illuminating the marshy area, giving them just enough light to see all that they needed without compromising their covert rescue mission.
Reyes' taskforce had the entire area surrounded on all four sides by FBI, USCG, local Police and Sheriff's Department officers and agents, along with SAR boats – airboats, johnboats, speedboats – all types of necessary boats, officers and agents that might be of need as they floated their way in, closer and closer, to the target zone. She was determined to not lose this child again, even if she went down herself trying to protect her.
"Um," Gordon grunted lightly then sniffed trying to clear his nostrils. The breathtakingly foul smell of dead fish, dead animals, and possible slow-burning fire was getting stronger and stronger with each passing minute.
Reyes glanced over towards him for a moment, winked in understanding, then glanced back up towards the winding, narrow waterway. She then glanced up towards the ceiling of dense, overgrown trees and obscured sky, hearing the sounds of two local NOPD helicopters hovering with their floodlights on way off in the distance. She had ordered them to back off, move out and hover around in two different areas, a good five miles off from their present location, in hopes of fooling and confusing the teenage cult members into thinking that they were well-hidden and not in any immediate danger of being caught performing their wicked, sadistic shenanigans. She then heard another chopper buzz by overhead, without his floodlights on, slowly passing over within a mile or so of their location. …Good, good, good… The sadistic gang would just think that this particular chopper was on its way to another location. Reyes had ordered another chopper to do the very same thing, occasionally buzz overhead, without any real sense of instruction or direction, but just buzz over, leaving the impression that they were on their way to some other location. And yet all four chopper pilots were at the ready - ready to instantly fly down lower into the target zone, flip on their blindingly-bright, bluish-white floodlights and give the combined team of agents and local officers the lighting assistance they needed to chase down, round up and apprehend all of the remaining gang members, gang leaders and little girl.
Reyes sniffed softly then rubbed her nose. Her nose was really beginning to itch and tingle from all the gross, breathtakingly foul smells of the swamp, too. Something had obviously died in this area of the swamplands. "Whew," she sniffed again then rubbed the tip of her nose yet again.
George glanced down at her then winked grinning from ear-to-ear. She cocked an eyebrow at him. He began to quietly chuckle, his big, brawny chest and shoulders bouncing into his silent, stifled chuckles. He was used to such foul smells as this permeating the air when one was this deep inside the heart of the swamps. She cocked an eyebrow at him again, then grinned herself shaking her head. He then nodded up towards the area just in front of them. She pulled her night-vision, cat-eyes-binoculars up to her eyes then began to study the dark, shadowy terrain a little more closely, too. Just ahead one could see the slightly orange tint of a possible low-burning fire bouncing off the dark green ceiling of dense, thick trees, indicating a small fire, or maybe even several, scattered through the area.
They were getting closer – much closer.
She then pressed her transmitter button radioing in to Cunningham and the three other squad leaders their latest visuals and general location. Pierce quickly responded letting her know that his third squad of boats was easing in on the opposite side and beginning to flank farther to the right closing in on the area tighter and tighter. She acknowledged his transmission just as the other two squad leaders broke in from the east and the west to acknowledge spotting the same slightly orange hue flickering below the dense ceiling of trees indicating that their squads would soon be in position to move in by foot, too. She acknowledged all of the short-and-to-the-point transmissions then resumed radio silence as George continued to quietly maneuver the airboat up the waterway closer and closer to their final destination.
…Oh jeez… She then glanced back down towards the loaded 12-guage shotgun leaned up against the captain's – ole George Clayton's - cockpit, then at George himself for a moment, then glanced back out along the dark, marshy terrain.
…Oh God, baby… Her rapidly beating heart began to beat more fretfully as remnants of Scully's earlier ramblings began to enter her thoughts once again. …'…love me enough to 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 come back to me? And that you'll stay alive, Moni, you'll stay alive, you'll stay alive, you'll stay alive…'… Scully's pleadingly-heartfelt words echoed over and over and over again inside her head.
"Oh… God," she barely whimpered in response to the somber, pleadingly-heartfelt words. …Oh God, baby, I'll try. You know I'll try. I'll do everything in my power to come back to you. I promise. I promised you that, but… God, baby… She glanced back down at the loaded shotgun once again. …Oh honey, I'm just not sure what all I'm up against tonight. I'm just not sure… she mused as she starred at the loaded 12-guage shotgun for a few more seconds then glanced back up at George. He caught her gaze then winked. She watched him closely for a few seconds more then glanced back down at the loaded shotgun once again.
...'And watch out, for a shotgun'… Scully's earlier warnings echoed through her thoughts yet again.
"Oh… God," she whimpered softly yet again in response to those chilling words of warning then closed her eyes shaking her head and trying to clear her thoughts of such anxiety-producing words once more. If she were ever going to make it out of these swamplands alive tonight she had better keep her head clear, her thought processes sharp, and not get too overly concerned about George's standard-issue loaded 12-guage shotgun lying within a couple of feet of her.
…'Wake up, and clear your head'… Scully's earlier words echoed once again.
…Oh God… The exhausted brunette smirked. …I'm trying, baby, I'm trying, I swear I'm trying…
"Well, that's not good enough," Scully's soft, yet somewhat stern, voice suddenly echoed inside her head.
"What?" Reyes chirped in response, barely audible.
Gordon looked over at her cocking an eyebrow.
Just then, another young alligator made its presence known…
…raising its head above the water, then hissing in warning as the boat slowly drifted by the perturbed little reptile.
"I can't lose you tonight, Moni, I can't. Not tonight. I can't take it. I can't take another loss," Scully's anguished, pain-filled voice echoed once again inside the brunette's head.
…What?... "Dana?"… Reyes instantly responded telepathically as she closed her eyes and concentrated.
"Honey?" she tried again.
Nothing but silence.
…Oh God… She really did need to concentrate on clearing her thoughts – her mind, her head – of any distracting musings, just as Scully had asked her to do, and begin to concentrate even more intently on the present task at hand. She focused her mind, her head, her thoughts on little Elisa. She would be successful on this mission tonight. She would find little Elisa. She would save little Elisa. And she and little Elisa would make it back out of these swamplands alive tonight. And then she would go back to Scully. She would stay alive and then go back to the little redhead, and never leave her lonely again, just as she had promised.
Gordon then barely touched her forearm, breaking into her silent musings, then pointed up ahead just to the right of them.
She nodded as they all began to see several small torches lit and dimly illuminating the surrounding area. She then whispered into her headset, "Target, eighty yards, just ahead."
Pierce, and the two other squad leaders, responded then instructed their teams to move in closer, too.
The two local helicopters that had been circling two other areas approximately five miles away began to fly towards the location, shutting down their floodlights, and moving in as fast and as inconspicuously as they could without giving away their sudden change of location. The two other helicopters that had just buzzed overhead turned, too, ready to suddenly fly in low and shine their big, bright floodlights in all over the area, giving the taskforce the extra light it needed to help aid in a successful rescue mission.
"Oh," Reyes whimpered suddenly in pain, clutching at her left side again, just as she felt the stirrings of severe pain along her ribcage. "Um," she whimpered again beginning to pant a little to ease the pain.
George glanced down towards her. "Dawlin'? Yow aw right?" he barely whispered.
She nodded, wrinkling her brow and still lightly panting, yet quickly regained control of her empathetic side, as they drifted in even closer to the source that was causing her increasing pain – little Elisa – and little Elisa's cracked ribs. "Um, shit. I'm okay. I'll be okay," she whimpered into the darkness as she glanced back up towards the older man.
He nodded then refocused his eyes on the dark, narrow channel, carefully maneuvering the boat up through the waterway.
Gordon then nodded towards the mound of ground rising up out of the murky water. "Whew," he shivered for a moment. …Creepy… The place was so eerie, odd, and sinister - almost evil - in its feel. It was downright scary.
Reyes glanced over to him then up to George. "Okay. Stop," she mouthed lifting two fingers up to her lips.
George instantly stopped his forward strokes with the long paddle then did a couple of quick reverse strokes to stop the boat.
She then glanced over at Gordon. He nodded. She nodded in return then whispered, "Move in," into her headset, then eased off the boat and down into the murky pelvis-deep water beginning to wade through the murky wetland as Gordon eased in right behind her. Agents positioned all over the area began to do the same, leave the safety of their boats and ease down into the dangerous swamp-critter-infested water, beginning to move in closer towards their final destination.
Reyes' and Gordon's heavy, cumbersome bulletproof vests made it much more difficult for them to ease through the murky water quietly without much disturbance as they waded their way in closer and closer to the target zone – wading their way in, closer and closer, foot by foot, yard by yard, closer and closer – as George allowed the airboat to slightly drift quietly in closer just behind them.
Both had pulled their weapons carrying them at the ready above the water and just to the edges of their shoulders easing their way in through the swampland when suddenly Reyes stopped then nodded over towards the left bank.
…Holy shit!… Gordon thought as he watched the young alligator's bright yellowish-orange eyes, reflect an eerie beady-red towards him, watching him, too.
…Okay… Reyes thought. They needed to remain calm and still. ...Perfectly still… she mused as she glanced back over at Gordon. She could practically see his heart pounding inside his chest. And hers was pounding just about as fretfully.
The old retired USCG Commander quickly perceived the situation then instantly made the unmistakable sounds of a barn owl then threw a couple of pebbles into the water just behind him.
The young and inexperienced alligator turned its gaze towards the sound and slight movement along the top of the water.
George then made a popping sound along the top of the water with the paddle, causing the water to ripple with small waves – plenty of small, interesting waves - to distract the young alligator.
The young alligator then slithered down the slope and into deeper water to go check out what had created all of that strange movement back there behind the big, grey and intrusive metal machine floating on top of the water. The next airboat captain did similar maneuvers, throwing a few pebbles closer to the left bank and up against some small trees, helping to skillfully "guide" the young and inexperienced alligator farther and farther away from the squad of agents as well.
Reyes and Gordon looked at each other. They both quickly decided that they needed to get their wet asses up and out of the alligator-infested water as fast as they could without making any more unnecessary waves.
They each then inched their way up towards the shallow bank of the mound then eased up out of the threateningly dangerous, alligator-infested water. But then the shallow bank was not that much better as they both peered around looking for any other swamp-critter-infested areas that might require their immediate attention before casting their eyes upon the sights, sounds and smells just ahead of them.
They both then refocused their eyes upon the hand-built rock altar positioned right in the center of the small mound of land as brush, small sticks, tiny branches, and small stones surrounded the small altar. A little girl lay dressed in a flowing white robe upon the altar, gagged, blindfolded, and capped with a flowing white hood placed upon her crown, with her arms stretched out into a crucifix pattern, and her hands tied up to a post on each end, with her legs and bare feet positioned in a straight line all the way down to the foot of the altar, with her feet tied to another post at the end.
Reyes then glanced over to the left, maybe six feet, and saw another hand-built rock altar with another human sacrifice lying on top of it, gagged, blindfolded, tied up and robed in white, lying on that altar and left to die as another human sacrifice. …Shit!… When had the gang abducted another child? Although, as she studied the captive more closely, the child looked to be somewhat older, maybe fifteen, sixteen years of age, and certainly not as young as little Elisa.
She narrowed her eyes then began to listen more closely to the bizarre chants - apparently Latin in origin - as she scanned the area just across and to the left of the two centered, side-by-side altars. All types of corpses, bones, and innards appeared to be stacked up over there. No wonder there was such a raw stench of dead, decaying carcasses in the surrounding area. …Jeez!…
So, in spite of Lt. Manning's highly-profitable, drug-dealing shenanigans, it did appear that this gang he had helped develop truly was into some sort of Ritualistic Crime – not necessarily Satanic Ritual Abuse – but most definitely some sort of ritualistic, sadistic crime.
She then saw movement to the right of her as she quickly recognized more of her taskforce moving in.
Suddenly, the eerie, gravelly chanting became louder as cult members dressed in deep, dark-maroon-colored robes and hoods began to file across the rise and up towards the first altar that was holding the little girl, carrying their lit torches towards the rock pile, brush, and kindling surrounding the small altar. …Oh, my God!… The cult members were planning to burn their two victims alive!
…Oh sweetie, hold on. Don’t be afraid, we're here… Reyes focused her eyes more intently on the little girl all dressed in flowing white for a moment.
Elisa suddenly turned her blindfolded eyes towards the empathetic brunette, almost meeting her gaze, almost meeting her eyes, almost piercing her right through to her very soul even as she wore the thick covering blindfold over her eyes.
…Oh! God!… Reyes' heart skipped a beat at the almost supernatural phenomenon, then quietly pressed the transmitter button on her headset whispering further instructions to the surrounding taskforce waiting patiently for all to move into position as two more tall members - apparently gang leaders dressed in lighter deep-khaki-colored robes and hoods, with beige and gold tassels draped over their shoulders and around their necks - filtered out from the small, chanting gathering and inched their way up towards the two altars carrying long, black-gold-and-silver, shiny steel swords high in the air, obviously ready to use those long, bright and shiny swords on their two blindfolded and unsuspecting victims.
…Oh! God!... They could wait no longer Reyes quickly realized as she instantly made her final transmission through her headsets, ordering all in position to instantly move in, and all boats and helicopters to instantly shine their big, bright bluish-white floodlights into the surrounding area, then began to rush up through the trees and brush, Gordon just behind her, running towards the two innocent victims lying on those two altars shouting, "HALT! Federal Agent! On your knees! Hands above your heads! Drop to your knees! Drop to your knees NOW!" she yelled as she and Gordon lunged up into the air and pounced on both ringleaders dropping both men to the ground and causing them both to lose their grips on their long, bright and shiny swords.
Within seconds, the forty-eight-man taskforce was storming the area just behind them, rising up out of the murky waters, running up through the bushes and trees, shouting, "FBI! Don't move! FBI! Don't move! Stop there! FBI! Halt! And no one will get hurt!" over and over as big, bright, bluish-white floodlights from the surrounding boats and helicopters from above instantly flashed before the panicked gang's and ringleaders' eyes, the officers and agents pouncing on them, dropping them to their knees, and taking them all completely by surprise without so much as one gunshot being fired, rounding them all up, one-by-one, arresting them, handcuffing them, and reading them their rights as Reyes and Gordon continued to struggle somewhat with the two aggressively determined ringleaders spinning and rolling around on the ground until Reyes and Gordon had both finally had enough, then grabbed and pulled hard on their concealing hoods revealing the two top ringleaders, the kingpin and his right-hand man.
The evil man - the top ringleader, the kingpin, the same man that Reyes had a mug-shot of hanging inside the Situation Room back at FBIHDQ - grunted and rolled around on the ground underneath her yet again, trying his best to get away from her, then spit towards her but missed as she suddenly popped her knee and thigh up towards his jewels scaring him with the painful possibility.
"OH! But… you… can't… do that!" he yelped in fear.
"Wanna bet? Just watch me, you bastard! Cause you're mine! You're mine now, you bastard!" she yelled. "Now stop moving! Or I'm going to hurt you! Got it?!" she yelled at him again placing her left knee against his very vulnerable jewels and the barrel of her cocked SIG-Sauer P226 against his very vulnerable right temple.
He instantly stopped his struggling.
"I could have killed you, you bastard! Probably should have! Now don't make me regret that change-of-heart!" she yelled at him again.
He narrowed his eyes at her then looked away.
"Get up! GET UP! You son of a bitch!" she yelled at him again as she pulled him up roughly off the ground. …God!… She wanted to shoot this man, and just kill him during his arrest, saving the taxpayers the trouble of a trial then keeping this scum-of-the-earth, bag-of-bones alive and incarcerated for the rest of his life inside a nice, well-heated/well-air-conditioned prison, depending on the time of year, with plenty of food, water, drink and entertainment to satisfy him to his little heart's desire. …You damn son of a bitch!… He did not deserve such nice treatment and nice accommodations especially when the homeless population continued to rise steadily in the United States.
Gordon glanced over to them as he handed his catch over to one of the other officers. He knew she wanted to hurt him - if not kill him - for branding little Elisa on the cheek and shoulders with his wicked gang graffiti.
Another agent then walked up.
"Take him!" she ordered the other agent. "Read him his rights! And get his sorry ass out of my sight before I change my mind!" she warned again. The other agent nodded, understanding her frustration and desire to just get it over with, and end his sorry life, as he began to read the man his rights, handcuff him, and then lead him away.
She and Gordon then quickly made their way the final few steps towards the two young, innocent victims waiting patiently upon the two altars. Reyes instantly ran to Elisa as Gordon ran to the other occupied altar. She quickly glanced over to the other blindfolded captive for a moment then hurriedly began to remove the tightly-bound blindfold and hooded cap from Elisa. "Hey sweetheart. It's Monica. Are you okay?" she said smiling at the little girl as she then quickly cut the ropes that bound the little girl's hands and feet.
"Umhum. Sí. I knew you were here. I could feel you," Elisa said smiling, too, then wrapped her little arms around her rescuer.
"You did? You knew?" Reyes replied cocking an eyebrow.
"Umhum. I could feel your spirit."
"Oh baby," Reyes sighed hugging the little girl close to her breast. She then glanced back over at the other young captive.
He raised his head up then looked at her.
"Iván? My God!" she gasped.
The young Tavares kid nodded.
"My God! Iván? What happened?" she gasped again as she then rose up securing little Elisa in her arms and walked the few feet over to the other altar. Gordon continued to untie the ropes as the young Tavares kid – Kemen's older brother – began to tell her all that had happened to him since little Cody Chamberlain had been rescued.
After members of the gang had lost little Cody to Reyes and Brown, the top kingpin and his right-hand man had grabbed up young Iván Tavares, and had decided to use him instead of the little boy as their other male human sacrifice tonight. For one thing, the young Tavares kid had had a change-of-heart, and had tried to help little Elisa escape her captors just an hour or so earlier. Plus, his younger brother, Kemen, had told on the gang, telling the taskforce leader too much incriminating information that had almost led to their capture three times already. And so the young Tavares kid needed to pay for his younger brother's actions and for his own personal disloyalty towards his fellow gang members and ringleaders. Sixteen-year-old Iván Tavares was a very lucky young man. Reyes and her taskforce had not even realized that this young man's life was in danger until storming the area, and yet they had managed to save him, too, from pure evil and ultimate death.
Gordon then helped the young man sit up. "Think you can walk?"
Reyes then reached over and put her arm around the young man for a moment. "Iván? Let me help you. Let me help you stay away from all this madness, this craziness."
He nodded as his eyes watered up. "How…? Where…? Is Kemen all right?"
"Umhum," she nodded. "He's fine, and so is your mamá and little sister."
He nodded again.
"Come on, son. We've got a boat waiting," Gordon said as he began to help the young teenager down from off the altar.
Reyes then smiled at little Elisa squeezing her tight in her arms for a moment. "Oh, sweetheart, I was so afraid I wouldn't make it in time," she whispered holding the little girl so protectively close in her arms.
"I knew you would. I always knew you'd rescue me," little Elisa said.
"Oh, baby. Well, I'm glad that one of us kept the faith," Reyes chuckled.
" Sí, señorita, my hero, mi salvadora."
"Oh," Reyes smiled as they just stayed there for a few moments, basking in each other's company, while the rest of the taskforce finished rounding up, securing, and leaving the area with their offenders caught red-handed in the criminal, ritualistic behavior. Elisa sighed then rested her little head along Reyes' shoulder. She was tired, hungry, thirsty, still in need of emergency medical attention, but she was safe now, safe and secure inside her rescuer's arms. Moreover, there was something very unique, very special, and almost supernatural between the two telepaths. Neither had words for it, but both understood it, the great unseen, metaphysical mysteries of the universe.
Reyes watched as Gordon and the young Tavares kid boarded the waiting airboat. George had eased the airboat in a little closer during the raid until the front tip of the boat was resting atop the slight incline of the small marshy island.
She then lifted the little girl back up more securely into her arms. "Okay, sweetheart, here we go."
"Kay," Elisa nodded then rested her little head along her rescuer's shoulder once again.
"How is your side? Still hurting?"
"Umhum. Sí," the little girl nodded again.
"Okay. Well, we're gonna get those ribs checked out, pronto."
Elisa nodded again then suddenly yelled, "¡Mónica! ¡Cuidado atrás!" …Look behind you!...
Reyes instantly stopped. She could feel the prickly sensations of impending danger running up and down her spine as a loaded 12-guage shotgun was aimed directly at her back, between her shoulder-blades, and about twenty feet behind them.
Little Elisa began to pant with fear as she watched the fanatically determined man step in a little closer.
"Shhh, baby, it's okay," Reyes whispered. "But I'm going to put you down for a minute, okay?"
"Nooo," the little girl began to cry.
"Shhh. Yes. I need to put you down for a few minutes," the quick-thinking brunette whispered beginning to shift slightly to the left.
"Nooo," little Elisa cried again.
"Give her to me!" the gravelly-voiced man yelled then pumped the shotgun loading a shell into the chamber.
"Umum. Nope. I'm afraid I can't do that, Brian. That won't work," the calm brunette stated simply to her partner of almost two years as she inched her way closer to the protective rock-pile then placed little Elisa behind it. She then stood back up - very carefully - keeping her back faced towards her partner as he kept the loaded shotgun aimed directly at her back.
I said give her to me!" he yelled at her again.
Reyes closed her eyes for a couple of seconds then eased her way towards the right - farther and farther away from little Elisa and the sheltering rock-pile, protecting the little girl in the only way that she knew how at the moment - as she kept her back faced directly towards her fanatically crazed partner.
…Oh Brian, God… She had not wanted to believe it. She had never wanted to believe it, what her gut instincts had been telling her all day and since the wee hours of this very morning, that her very own partner, Special Agent Brian Pierce, was the fourth man who had actually been creating most of the interference in rescuing the two small children, causing the first two rescue attempts to go array. But now, as she stood there with a loaded and pumped 12-guage shotgun aimed directly at her back, there was no doubt.
"Give her to me!" he yelled at her again.
"No! Damn it! Give her to me!" he yelled again.
"But, Brian? I don't understand. What has she done? What have I done? To cause…"
…Okay. Wow!... So it was true. Her own partner of two years really had turned on her. "Brian?"
"No! Shut up! Shut the fuck up! You've ruined everything!" he yelled at her again.
…Oh. Okay. Everything, huh?… She cocked an eyebrow. "And how is that? How have I ru…?"
"You're a witch! You're a fucking witch! And I should have killed you on top of that roof! All of you!" he yelled again referring to little Elisa and the little Chamberlain boy as well.
"What? What are you talking about?" she replied stunned. …A witch?... she mused as she tried to get that erroneous term to quit spinning around mind-bogglingly inside her head.
"Shut up!" he yelled at her again.
…Oh. Okay… She quirked her lips as she suddenly heard another 12-guage shotgun - way off in the distance - being pumped into action. …Oh God… There was going to be a shootout on top of this small mound of ground, apparently no matter what she tried to do to prevent it. She glanced over at the sobbing little Elisa for a moment. …Oh baby, God. I hate for you to see this… she groaned inwardly.
"DO IT!" Pierce suddenly yelled at her again.
…What?... "Do what?" she said furrowing her brow.
"DO IT! You've got the power!" he yelled again.
…The power?... "I… Brian?... I don't know…"
"NO! DO IT!" he yelled at her again.
"I… What the hell are you talking about? Do what? What power?" she asked baffled.
"Same as hers!" he yelled pointing the shotgun towards the sobbing little girl sheltered behind the rock-pile.
"Brian? I… What the hell are you talking about?" she asked again.
"Fuck you!" he yelled. "Fuck you! Every single one of you!" he yelled again.
"Oh. Okay. Wow! You are really not making any sense to me right now," she stated calmly.
"Fuck you!" he yelled again.
…Okay. Jeez… She shook her head. …Christ! If you want to fuck me, tell me. Ask me. But don't kill me!… She mused continuing to shake her head in disbelief. "Brian? Talk to me. Tell me what…"
"No! No! I have to kill you! I have to! I have no other choice! I have to! So that I can sacrifice the little Princess to the Master and…"
"What?! Brian?!" she gasped again. …The little Princess? The Master?... she thought beginning to turn around so that she could face her killer. And yet everything made perfect sense to her now. Everything. In her partner's perverted, misguided, twisted mind she, little Elisa and Cody were either the elusive enemies, or the sacred saviors of the world because of their extrasensory gifts, and in his perverted, twisted mind they needed to be offered up, as living sacrifices, to whatever perverse "Master" he believed in. She was not quite sure which they were in his perverted, misguided mind – enemy or savior - but either one was about to lead to their ultimate deaths.
"No! Shut up! Shut the fuck…! Turn around! Turn back around!" he yelled at her again.
"No! I won't!" she argued standing her ground and turning all the way around to face him. "No Brian! If you're going to kill me, you're going to have to look me in the eye first!" she said starring into his eyes, piercing him right through to his very twisted, misguided soul.
He began to tremble with fear.
…What the…?... She cocked an eyebrow in response to seeing his obvious fear. "Brian?… What is going on? What is wrong with you?"
"No! No! Don't look at me!" he yelled at her again, trembling uncontrollably, as he tightened his grip on the loaded shotgun aiming it directly at her heart.
"But… Brian?…" she stammered as her eyes began to flood over with unshed tears. "I… You… You're going to kill me?... Why?" she whimpered as her unshed tears threatened to flow.
"I have to," he muttered softly as repentant tears began to flood his own eyes as well.
"But… Why?" she whimpered again, beginning to plead for her life, as she began to step slowly towards him.
"No. No. No! Stay there!" he yelled through his beginning tears.
"But… Brian?" she whispered as she instantly stopped. "I… I'm your friend... And you're my friend, and... And we…" she hesitated searching his remorseful, pain-filled eyes for an answer. "I… Brian?... I don't understand. Please… Tell me what's wrong, what you're thinking, and…"
"No! No! You're a witch! A Shaman! A Priestess! With powers to see into the spirit world! And see into the future! And read peoples' minds! And cast spells on them! And make them do things that…"
"What?" she gasped in utter disbelief. "I… Brian?... No!... No! I can't do that! I can't do any of that! What in the…? Where the hell are you coming up with that?!" she yelled, utterly flabbergasted with his accusations.
"I have to kill you, Monica. I have to. I have no other choice. I have to kill you, so that I can finish the sacred rites, and sacrifice the little Princess," he said again glancing over at the frightened and sobbing little Elisa for a moment then back to Reyes. He then began to tighten his grip on the shotgun once more as his eyes glazed over with rueful tears. He had to kill her – the Sage, the Shaman, the Protector, his partner, his confidant, his trusted friend - or her extraordinary, extrasensory gifts would destroy everything, preventing him from doing the work of his Master. He had to. He had no other choice he thought inside his twisted, perverted, misguided mind.
He began to squeeze the trigger.
"But Brian?... Wait!" she tried to plead again then quickly jumped, dived, pulled her weapon and rolled to the ground just as...
…BLAM! BLAM!... POW!...
…two powerful shotgun blasts and a SIG-Sauer 9mm round rang out.
Pierce lay on the ground, his body shivering from the first powerful shotgun blast to the shoulder, side and chest.
Reyes lay on the ground as well – perfectly still, perfectly motionless – as her SIG-Sauer P226 still lay securely in her hand, smoking from the one 9mm round she had managed to fire off in defense, even as it had strayed off into the dense ceiling of thick, overhanging trees. The second powerful shotgun blast had hit her right squarely in the center of the chest and had literally knocked her up in the air and backwards, her whole body landing hard against the ground, as the powerful impact had hit her so hard knocking the very life out of her.
"¡Mónica! ¡Mónica! ¡No! ¡Mónica!" little Elisa began to scream at the top of her lungs as she dashed out to her rescuer lying perfectly still upon the ground.
Old George Clayton and Agent Gordon came running up through the trees to the two injured agents, Gordon quickly running to the critically-injured Pierce, as George Clayton quickly laid his smoking shotgun down and ran to Reyes.
"Aw, dawlin', aw dawlin', aw dawlin'," he rambled in fear for the young agent. "Aw dawlin', you gone be aw right now, you gone be aw right!" he rambled as he quickly secured her smoking weapon then undid all the buckles, loops, and velcro on her big, black, heavy and bulky bulletproof vest, still smoking from all the shotgun shell remnants splattered all over the front of it, then began to pull it up and over her head, completely off of her. "Aw, dawlin', aw dawlin', Jeezus, Mary and Joseph!" he said lifting her lifeless body up into his lap. …Aw, dawlin'! What have I done? Lawd be, what have I done?... he thought. He had not expected that his first shotgun blast to Pierce's side and shoulder would have caused Pierce's finger to squeeze the trigger anyway, causing a second shotgun blast to fire, that would ultimately hit Reyes right squarely in the center of her chest anyway, in spite of all he had tried to do to protect her from the rambling fool.
Little Elisa continued to scream, "¡Mónica! ¡No! ¡Mónica!' at the top of her lungs as Gordon finished checking on Pierce, then began to radio into Cunningham that something had gone horribly wrong with Pierce and Reyes, and then quickly ran over to them, too.
"What? What the hell is going on down there?!" Cunningham's voice rang out through all the agents' headsets.
Gordon looked at Clayton. He hadn't a clue what the hell was going on down there. All he knew was Pierce had suddenly turned on Reyes and was planning to kill her - literally shoot her in the back, or the chest, one or the other - with a shotgun blast, then kill little Elisa, too. And he had no idea why - the reasoning, or the motivation behind Pierce's absurd actions - only that he had called Reyes and little Elisa witches, princesses, priestesses, shamans, and was planning to kill them, sacrificing them to his "Master" as some type of living sacrifice, or some crazy, fool notion as that. It was nuts! Simply nuts! for a fellow federal agent to turn on his own partner like that and try to kill her, and then try to kill an innocent little child. The man was nuts! Simply nuts! But he did run back over to him to see what he could do to try to help him as he bled out all over the ground. After all, he was a fellow agent gunned down in the line of duty.
Ole George Clayton continued to rock the limp brunette in his arms. "Come on now, dawlin', come on now. Wake up. Wake up now, deah hawt. Dat blast jus knocked da breath outta ya, dat's all," he said.
Little Elisa began to speak more calmly to her, too. "Mónica? Mónica, please, wake up," she said beginning to stroke Reyes' soft, smooth, slightly bruised left cheek with her little palm.
Reyes' eyes barely fluttered open for a couple of seconds. …God… She could hardly breathe. …Air, air, air… She needed air as she concentrated on just breathing, and filling her depleted lungs with life-sustaining air.
"Aw yeyah, dat's it. Come on now, dawlin', dat's it. Don't cha be a givin' up no ghost quite yet. Ain't nothin' done happen to ya to cause dat. Jus had da breath knocked outta ya. Dat's all," George said encouraging her with every breath as he continued to rock her limp body in his arms. He really cared about this agent. He had liked her from the moment he had first met her yesterday morning on that plane.
"Mónica? Please," little Elisa whimpered again leaning down and resting her head against her shoulder.
Reyes' eyes fluttered open once again, just for a few seconds, then she closed them again. She then lifted her hand up and ran her fingers through the frightened little girl's dark-raven hair, calming her, and letting her know that everything would soon be okay. She just needed a little more time to recover the oxygen depleted from inside her emptied lungs.
George grinned as the young Tavares kid walked up, too. The young teen then knelt down beside the raven-haired beauty, too, and took her other hand squeezing it for a moment, then began to whisper soothing, encouraging words to her, too, in their shared native-tongue, perfectly content to just wait it out and give her the time she needed to regain her strength and breathe in the much-needed oxygen to refill her emptied lungs.
She began to breathe easier as she listened to his sweet, encouraging words he whispered in their native-tongue. It was so nice to hear someone else speak to her in Spanish for a change, especially when she felt so weak and vulnerable.
"REYES!" Cunningham suddenly yelled through the headsets once again. "WHAT IS GOING…?!"
"Shit damn!" George jumped at the sounds then quickly removed her blaring headset from her ears. "Hey! Hey now! Don't yow be a yellin' in ta her ears right now! She's down! We got two agents down!" he yelled back into the headset.
"What? How the…? What are you talking about?" Cunningham responded.
Gordon then took over command trying to explain to the befuddled ASAC what had just happened. But he really did not have a good explanation for what had just happened either. But old George Clayton had done what he had needed to do to stop Pierce's criminal intent, or Pierce would have killed Reyes, and then little Elisa, too, in cold blood.
Emergency Room Ward – Louisiana Medical Center
11:33 PM (CT) – A little over an hour later:
Cunningham, Bailey and Brown paced back and forth outside the Emergency Room Ward and inside the Visitor's Lounge waiting for any word about their two fallen comrades and little Elisa. Reigel was back at FBIHDQ already interrogating Ole George Clayton and Agent Gordon hearing each man's side of the story as to what had happened out there on that last raid causing ole man Clayton to feel the need to shoot, and possibly kill, one of his agents. Soon, he would be interrogating the young Tavares kid, too, to hear his side of the story as well. Luckily, there were three eye-witnesses besides Clayton and Reyes to tell their versions of what had happened out there in the swamps. At some point he might interrogate the third witness – little Elisa – too, but then he might not. The little girl had already suffered through enough - much more than any little child should have to endure - so why put her through that type of interrogation now? It was doubtful that he would.
Cunningham glanced over at the hobbling Brown again. "How's the ankle?"
"Okay. God! I can't believe… Reyes almost bit the dust? By Pierce? Jesus!"
"Yeah. Appears so."
"Dadgum! What was he thinking?!"
All three men began to shake their heads in confusion and disgust. How could one of their own almost take out another of their own? And especially one partner against another? It made no sense.
Inside the First Triage Curtained-Room of the ER Ward:
Reyes eased up into a sitting position for a moment then eased back down once again against the hospital bed. …Oh. Jeez… Did it ever feel good to actually be lying down on a bed. She didn't care what bed. It just felt good to be lying down on a bed. She then glanced over at little Elisa lying comfortably in her own hospital bed just to the left of her in the next triage area.
The little girl smiled.
"Mmm," the weary brunette smiled and sighed herself then eased back up again.
Little Elisa grinned happily as her expressive little eyes sparkled with delight.
"Whatcha doing over there?" Reyes smiled back, teasing the little girl. "Are they checking on your ribs? Getting an X-ray?"
Elisa nodded enthusiastically.
"Well, I've had a couple of broken ribs myself in my time," the brunette said as she then got up off the bed and walked over to the little girl's bed then sat down on the edge.
Elisa grinned again reaching up to clasp her hand.
"Oooh, yucky, all of these old tubes," Reyes teased again, referring to the abundant amount of IV-tubes, heart-rate monitors, EKG monitors, blood-pressure cuffs and the like surrounding the little girl, as she leaned in and kissed her on the forehead.
"It's okay. I've had them before," the little girl said.
"Umhum," she nodded again. "See?" she said as she moved the hospital gown up and away, then showed Reyes a long, deep scar along her left thigh.
"Oh, my goodness. What happened?"
"I was in a wreck, with my papá."
"But it's all right now."
Reyes smiled again then leaned in and rested her lips along the little girl's temple, gently rubbing her thumb along her bruised-up cheek. The ER doctors and nurses had already examined, washed, and dressed the little girl's burns along her shoulders and other cheek. "Oh sweetie. Yes. You're all right. Safe. Safe and sound," the brunette whispered as her eyes watered-up.
"No. Don't cry," the little girl said.
"Hum," Reyes grunted. "I'm not. I'm just…"
Reyes smirked then rose back up cocking an eyebrow at the very brave, smart and perceptive little girl.
Elisa smiled again. "You are the Shaman. The Healer. The Sovereign. He was right."
Reyes furrowed her brow in curiosity studying the little girl's dark-mahogany, expressive eyes for a few seconds, peering into her very soul for a few moments. "What are you talking about? What do you mean?"
"You are the Princess. The Protector."
…The Princess? The Protector?... Reyes wrinkled her brow yet again in curiosity continuing to study the little girl's dark, emotive eyes. "I… Sweetheart? What are you talking about? The Protector of what?"
Reyes chuckled a little bit.
"You mean Cody?"
Elisa nodded, "Sort of. But there will be another."
Elisa nodded again.
"You'll know when the time comes."
…Ohhh. My goodness… Reyes just sat there gazing into the old soul inside the little girl's eyes.
Little Elisa smiled that knowing smile of hers once more almost reminding Reyes of her own grandmother.
She studied the little girl's dark, emotive eyes once again. What the little girl was saying did not appear to be hero worship after all, which was quite typical in a rescue situation such as this. …What in the world are you trying to tell me?... The inquisitive brunette wondered again. …The Sovereign? The Princess? The Shaman?... She let those mysterious, almost frightening, terms spin around inside her head for a few moments, then finally asked, "You… You know things, don't you?... You see things… Like maybe an Oracle?... Maybe?"
The little girl nodded enthusiastically yet again.
Just then Cunningham walked into the room, "Reyes?"
Reyes continued to study the little girl's deep, dark, emotive eyes for several more seconds before finally breaking the penetrating contact. "Yes, Cunny. I'm fine. We're both fine," she said looking up and smiling at her concerned boss.
"Oh God, thank God," he smiled then rushed over to the bed.
"Elisa, this is my boss, Agent Cunningham."
Elisa nodded and smiled as he stepped in even closer to the bed.
"Hi there, dear heart," he said as he reached down and gently caressed the little girl's temple. "You okay? Need anything? Your daddy and grandma are just outside."
"I know," she responded smiling again.
Reyes chuckled. There was no telling what all this little girl "knew".
He winked then glanced back up to Reyes. "Monica? Could you come with me for a moment?"
"Sure. I'll be there in a minute."
He nodded then stepped back out into the hallway.
Reyes then gazed into the little girl's prophetic eyes once more.
Elisa just smiled then closed her eyes in satisfaction. She was happy, alive, and would soon be going home with her papá and abuelita.
"Hum. Well. I need to go, see what he wants," Reyes said as she leaned back in to give the little girl one more motherly kiss before rising up from the bed. "I'll see you later?" she said.
"Umhum, later," the little girl nodded just as another nurse stepped into the room, bringing the little girl's father and grandmother in with her once again.
Reyes smiled as Señora Garcia wrapped her arms around her once more thanking her for rescuing her darling little granddaughter – a little girl that was extremely, mysteriously, almost supernaturally wise beyond her years.
Reyes then stepped out into the hallway.
"You all right? What did the doctor say?" Cunningham quickly rattled off.
"I'm fine, just bruised, really bruised up."
"God. Thank God you were wearing that vest, or..."
"I know. I don't even want to think about it, okay?"
Cunningham nodded. "Okay, well, here. I brought you a change of clothes," he said as he handed her a plastic bag filled with another fresh, clean change of clothes.
She peered down inside the small bag. "Cunny? You were rummaging around inside my suitcase?!" she fussed recognizing the change of clothes and quite revealing set of underwear he had chosen for her to slip into. …For Godsakes!...
"Well?... I… You needed something to wear besides that wetsuit," he defended himself.
"Well, I, yeah, but… Jeez!"
"Why didn’t you just bring me the whole thing, instead of…? Jeez!" she fussed again. No telling what all he had seen inside of her private, personal overnight bag.
"Well... I…" he shrugged.
"Oh, for Godsakes," she rolled her eyes at him. "Cunny? God!"
He just shrugged again. One thing was for sure. He most definitely liked her taste in underwear. Oh yeah. That was for sure. Wow! Now, if he could just get his wife to be so uninhibited with her choice of underclothes. And another thing was for sure. He would never look at the tall brunette the same way again when she walked into his office every morning - first thing - knowing what she might possibly be wearing – or not wearing – underneath her outer clothes.
She looked at him again, cocking an eyebrow and quirking her lips. She knew what he was thinking, and she did not need any extrasensory, almost supernatural abilities to know what he was thinking. …Umhum… Her Victoria Secrets preferred store for underwear was out – all of her tight-fitting, lacy little teddies and merrywidows, bustiers and v-string panties, thongs and low-rise bikinis, with even a couple of little Brazilian tongas and boy-shorts mixed within. "Hum… Well… Okay... Thank you," she finally said.
He chuckled, "You're welcome."
"Umhum… So… Let me get changed, and then…" she trailed off as she headed for the nearest area to clean up, wash up and change clothes yet again – for the umpteenth time it seemed.
He smirked as he watched her slip away inside the ladies' room just down the hallway carrying her little bag of fresh, clean clothes.
Within minutes, she came walking back out all dressed up in some faded-out tight-fitting blue jeans – extremely tight-fitting - with a bright, cheery-red tank-top – extremely tight-fitting as well - with an inch-thick, midnight-black, leather-belt, and a light-weight midnight-black sweater, with black leather boots to finish off the outfit. She looked more like a college student out of LSU than an FBI agent. She could easily work undercover for the Bureau. …Hum… He'd have to think on that.
"Better?" he teased her appraisingly.
"Yeah. Where's Brian?"
"They're still working on him."
"Will they let us in to see him?"
"Well. I need to see him. Now," she said as she began to walk down the hallway towards the critical emergency care area.
"Cunny, I need to see him, talk to him, now, before he…"
"Monica? They're not going to let you in there. He's still… They're trying to stop the bleeding and…"
"I know that but I need to see him, talk to him."
"Talk to him? Are you nuts?! He can’t…"
"Cunny? I need to… I… I need…" She then broke into sobs.
"Oh God," he gasped then instantly wrapped his arms around her. "Monica? Now what happened out there, I don't understand what all happened either. I'm just getting bits and pieces from Gordon and Clayton but… ohhh, God, shhh," he finally stopped his ramblings as he just held the sobbing brunette close.
Brian Pierce's Hospital Room – Critical/Intensive Care Ward - Louisiana Medical Center
12:37 AM (CT) - A little over an hour later:
Reyes walked back over to the bed – her bloodshot eyes so swollen and tearstained from her most recent round of tears - then reached down and touched her gravely-injured partner's hand. The doctors were not even sure if he would last through the night. SAC Reigel had called his ex-wife and other family members, informing them of the grave situation. Most of them, including his ex-wife and two young sons, lived out-of-state. It was a very, very sad situation, because, ironically, Reyes was one of his closest chums, if not the closest, at least here in the New Orleans area; and yet he had tried to kill her, his own partner, and closest friend in the area. It made no sense. They had shared many a lonely night together, just bullshitting around the big party town, dance-bar hopping, blues-bar hopping, juke-joint cruising, and getting drunk off their asses, on many an occasion, covering for each other when one or the other showed up for work the next morning late. They had had a wonderful working relationship, or so Reyes had thought. Nothing about what had happened out there in the swamps tonight, or over the last few months for that matter, made any sense. How the hell could Pierce have been the one behind this gang's wicked ways? It just made no sense. And then for him to try to kill her, too? His best buddy? His best chum? His best drinking companion, too? It just made no sense.
She then barely squeezed his cool, pale-blue hand for a moment, then reached up and caressed his cool, pale-white cheek. He did not respond. He was comatose. She then glanced back over to her boss.
Cunningham quirked his lips then began to shake his head in utter disbelief as well. He could hardly believe what all had gone down out there in those swamps tonight either. Was the place haunted? With some type of evil, sinister, supernatural force, that could make a man lose his mind, his logic, his senses? What had happened to Pierce out there to cause him to turn on his own partner and especially on an innocent little six-year-old child? It just made no sense. Special Agent Brian Pierce had been one of the best agents he had had assigned to his New Orleans Field Office; and the man had never shown any indication of getting involved with some type of crackpot religious organization. Nothing about the events that had happened out there in those swamps made any sense. Nothing about them did.
He glanced back up at the mournful, tearful brunette again.
"I… I'm not even sure if he… if me being here is the right thing. I mean…"
"Oh, I think he… well… shit."
"Yeah," she replied.
Cunningham quirked his lips again as he began to shake his head in frustration and confusion.
"I… But I… I can't imagine being anywhere else but here right now… as he… as he lies here… about to…" …die… she choked again with pent-up emotion.
"Oh Reyes," Cunningham instantly came over to the bed to stand beside her.
"I… God, I… I don't know what to do."
Cunningham then reached up and put his arm around her.
She then leaned down closer to the comatose man's ear, gently stroking his cheek for a moment with her thumb. "Brian? Can you hear me?" she whispered into his ear as she then carefully caressed his cool, lifeless hand once more. "I… No matter what… you're my friend, my partner. And I forgive you… I… I don't understand what happened tonight… But… I forgive you. Okay? I forgive you," she choked stifling a sob once again.
Cunningham just shook his head. She had more guts and grace, all wrapped up into one, than most anyone else he could think of in this great, big world.
"Oh Brian," she choked again. "God… I don't know what to do. I don't know if you want me here, or want me to leave. I… God… Brian, please forgive me if I leave you here tonight, all alone. But, I'm afraid that you don't want me here anyway, so… so I… I'm… I'm going to…"
Suddenly she felt a slight squeeze on her hand. She instantly looked down wondering if it was just her imagination, or if he really had just lightly squeezed her hand – the very same man that had just a little over two hours ago tried to kill her.
"Brian?" she whispered again.
Nothing. No movement. No squeeze of the hand.
"Brian? I… I'm going to leave you for a little while, okay? I need to go home, get some sleep. I'll be back tomorrow morning, okay? Cunny is going to stay here with you tonight, through the night... I would, but... I'm not sure if you'd want me to stay anyway, so… I'll see you in the morning, okay?... Goodnight… See you later alligator," she teased the comatose man then gently planted a little kiss on his cheek before rising up to leave him for the night.
Warm tears began to roll down her cheeks more uncontrollably as Cunningham then guided her towards the door. Soon they were standing outside in the hallway as a couple of nurses bustled about. But other than that, they were alone.
"Monica? Reigel wants to talk to you about what all happened out there tonight and what all led up to the shooting, but right now, we both want you to go home and get some sleep. Okay? He can interview you sometime tomorrow morning."
"Okay. I can do that. I can… Oh, God, Cunny… He was going to kill me! He was going to kill me, Cunny! My own partner! He was going to kill me!" she choked out again beginning to cry more fretfully once more.
"Shhh, you're tired. Been through one hell of a night tonight. Now I want you to go home, get some rest," he said putting his arms around her once again. "There's nothing more you can do here tonight, for him or for anyone else. You saved three kids tonight. And they're all safe and sound, surrounded by the people who love them. Now you hold onto that, you hold onto it. You did an incredible job tonight, with the odds so piled up against you, damn!… I… I don't know how in the hell you… Damn!… We may never find out what made him crack, especially if he never wakes up."
Reyes nodded, "I know. It's just that…"
"Monica? We may never know. You may never know. Be proud that you held your ground and beat him at his own game."
…Hah… She smirked. It had been no game to her. She had almost lost her life. And so had little Elisa Garcia and little Cody Chamberlain as well, not to mention the young Tavares kid.
"Now I want you to go home, get some rest. Need me to drive you?"
"No," she shook her head sniffling against his shoulder. "I'll be fine. But there's one thing I've got to do before I leave."
He nodded, "Okay, but you go home after you see her."
She smiled, "I will."
She then rose up from his arms and began to walk down the hallway towards the elevator. Soon, she would find little Elisa Garcia's regular hospital room so she could say one last, quick goodnight to her, or at least to check in on her one last time, before leaving the hospital for the night. But first, she had one more thing she needed to do before leaving this hospital.
The elevator doors opened. She entered the empty elevator then hit the first floor button to find the main lobby of the hospital.
Main Lobby – Five Minutes Later:
The sorrowful brunette leaned up against the wall next to the Information Booth, sighed heavily, then pulled out her cell-phone. She glanced at her watch. 12:51 AM. …Oh crock. Should I?... she wondered. After all, it was already ten minutes to 2:00, on this early Sunday morning, where Scully was at the moment. Should she interrupt Scully's much-needed-mother-to-be-restful-night's-sleep just so she could talk to her, hear her voice, imagine her touch, imagine her scent, imagine her here, instead of there, imagine her here, standing right here in front of her, holding her, talking to her, comforting her? Should she? Could she? Would she? Should she call? Or would it be too inconsiderate, too rude, too needy to call the woman of her dreams so late at night after such a long and dreadful day for the both of them? Should she? Could she? Would she?
In the Kitchen – Scully's Apartment – Georgetown, Washington, DC:
Scully's cell-phone began to chime that beautiful, melodious Reyes-chime.
"Scully," she answered rather quickly placing the phone against her shoulder and cheek as she finished rinsing out a coffee cup.
"I um… I hope it's not too late, I…"
"Shhh, shush, it's never too late," Scully whispered glancing over at her mother for a moment still sitting comfortably on the couch.
"I um… I made it out."
"Yes. You did. Just as you promised."
"Yeah," Reyes actually chuckled a little bit.
"So… I heard."
"You mean Pierce?"
"Ohh… Dana…" Reyes groaned beginning to cry all over again.
"Oh shhh, shhh, it's okay," Scully responded to her baby's cries. …Oh God!... She was so frustrated that she could not be there to hold her, talk to her and comfort her. "Oh Monica, God, I'm so, so sorry, I… I can't even begin to imagine what you must feel. I… I can't believe… Is it true? He tried to…?"
"Yes. Yes, he tried to… kill me…" the brunette sobbed.
"Ohh, shhh, Moni, shhh. And he was your partner?"
"Oh God, shhh, it's okay. It gonna be okay," the redhead whispered as she glanced back over to her mother once again still sitting comfortably on the couch. …Crap!… "Mom? I'm going back into the bedroom for a moment. Okay?"
"Okay, dear. Tell her 'hello' for me."
…Hah. Yeah, right… the redhead rolled her eyes and shook her head, smirking at the thought, and wishing that she could have at least a little bit more privacy, as she headed for her bedroom and quickly entered the nice spacious room shutting the door behind her.
"Dana?" Reyes' soft, childlike whimper sounded through the earpiece once more.
"Yes baby, I'm here," Scully whispered in response as she then eased down on the bed – Reyes' side of the bed, she had quickly decided – then ran her warm, soft palm across the soft, wrinkled sheets.
"I… Dana?" the worn, torn, battered and bruised brunette whimpered again.
"I… When…? How…? How soon can we… see each other?"
…Oh God… "Soon. Soon baby, very soon. I can come down as soon as you need me to, okay?"
"Okay. But, I need you right now and I…"
…Oh God… That little plea had cut like a knife. "I know. But I can't be there right now, sweetheart."
"I… I know. I'm just… rambling I guess… I can't really think very coherently right now, I… I'm so tired, and I… I still can’t believe that my own partner tried to kill me, shoot me in the back… God! God! God, Dana! God!" she rambled beginning to sob uncontrollably yet again.
"Oh shhh, Monica, Christ! This is ripping me apart, too! God! You know I'd be there, if I could, I just, I can't…"
"I know... I know. Frig… You don’t need to hear this shit anyway after everything you've been through today. Shit. I’m sorry."
"Hey. No. Don't you ever say you're sorry to me. Don't ever. Not for needing me, wanting me, okay? Don't you ever say that."
"Okay," Reyes whimpered through her tears. "Kind of like never saying 'goodbye'?"
"Right. Yes. Exactly like that," the redhead grinned then chuckled.
"Okay. But, I do need you, and I want you with me right now, and I love you, and I… I just…"
"Shhh, I know, I know, baby, I know."
Silence passed between the two sorrowful, grieving and lonesome agents for a few seconds.
"Um… Would it help to know that I'm lying on your side of the bed right now?" the redhead teased the hurting brunette.
"My side? I've got my own side now?" the tearful brunette replied.
"Umhum. Oh yeah. You most definitely have your own side of the bed at this point."
Reyes grinned through her tears.
"And I'm wrapping myself all up in the sheets, okay?" Scully teased her yet again as she then began to wrap herself all up in the sheets.
Reyes chuckled through her tears, "Yeah... Um, Dana? Are you anywhere near your touchstone?"
Scully cocked an eyebrow. "Yes," she said suddenly quite intrigued with that question.
"Then, could you, hold it for me?"
"Hold it?" the redhead grinned. "Yes, I think I can do that. Why?" she teased her hurting lover once again as she then reached down inside her robe pocket, pulled the beautiful little touchstone out, and then began to hold it rubbing her thumb across the smooth, slick surface.
"Well, because my Grams gave it to me and, and it just, it keeps me centered. And, if I know that you're holding it, then…"
"Monica? My God! Your grandmother gave it to you? And now you've given it to me?" Scully was breathless.
"But, baby, are you sure about that? I mean, you could always, we could get another one, so you could have this one back."
"No. Oh no. I want you to have it. It's a part of me, connected to me, almost... Well, never mind."
"No. Hell no. I was almost killed tonight because of… No… Hell no," she stuttered then choked back more tears.
"No. No Dana, just… hold it, hold onto it, hold onto it for me. That way you're holding onto me, okay?"
"Okay," Scully's eyes watered up. "I'm holding it right now, just above my heart," she said as she placed the little touchstone just above her heart covering the stone and her beating heart with her palm.
Reyes then leaned back against the wall closing her eyes - so tired and weary - yet needing to hear Scully's voice, even if she stayed silent on the other end. Just knowing that she was there, made all the difference.
Scully then lay down in the bed, wrapping the sheets up more snuggly around her, as she kept the little touchstone firmly planted against her steadily beating heart.
Reyes then began to slide slowly down the wall and ultimately sit on the carpeted flooring. She was just so tired, so weary, so emotionally battered up and bruised, and yet, she was not about to hang up on her honey, not until she had revitalized her senses with Scully's voice - Scully's soft, sweet and gentle voice – and Scully's light, gentle and easy breaths, her cute little chuckles, and her sweet little teases.
After a few seconds…
"Mon? You still there?"
"Yeah. Just… remembering."
"Remembering? What are you remembering?"
"You. Your touch. Your scent. Your kiss. Listening to your heartbeat… God… I need you tonight."
…Oh… Scully quickly stifled a sob. "And I need you. What the hell are we going to do?"
"I don't know. Just stay on the line I guess, until we can both breathe again."