Consider the Possibilities (cont.3-4)

By: Heidi




Part Three

Swimming up through the pain, Ezra worked himself to a state of consciousness.  He opened his eyes; only to have them blinded by a light so powerful his eyelids snapped shut in an automatic response to protect them.  It was then he became aware of the rest of his body's pain and the fact that he was cold. 

A jumble of voices swirled around, but he could not make out the individual words.  Trying only made his head hurt more.  He attempted to talk, but no words came out.  Even with his eyes closed, he felt the bright light sweep over him again, a flash over his eyelids.  The relevant thought that he did not know if the voices were friend or foe gave him motivation to try and remember; with memory, he could wake up knowing what happened to him.  He could not remember what he had been doing before he got to this state.

Everything hurt, and it was so cold.  Thinking was too hard right now.  Maybe remaining in the darkness a little while longer would be advantageous.  He could deal with the consequences when he woke if he made the wrong decision.

"Rise, Morgan."

He felt something nudge his side.  Who was Morgan?  What was the current assignment? 

"Morgan, ya best rise 'fore Cap'n Vengeance comes on deck and sees ya lyin' there."

At the strange warning, Ezra forced his eyes open, closing them immediately when the bright yellow sun speared directly into his corneas.  Retina burn, he mentally whined.  He could not seem to get his thoughts coherent, but even if the speech and accent were different, he recognized the owner of the voice – Vin.  His friend would protect him until he unscrambled his gray matter.  For some reason he hurt, shivering when he felt a bit of a chill.

Something nudged him in the side again, this time with more force.  "I hear 'im comin', m'friend.  Move.  Ye already made an arse of yerself."

He trusted the voice.  If the Texas drawl was a little off from the normal delivery, it must have something to do with their current case.  Without opening his eyes, he pushed up to a sitting position.  If he were on assignment, drawing displeasure from someone in authority would not help his cause.  Ezra felt wood beneath his fingers where they made contact with the surface under him, and a faint but warm breeze blew across him, straight up his –

Dear Lord!  He was wearing a skirt!  Green eyes snapped open to stare down at what covered . . . or more to the point what did not cover his legs.  It wasn't a skirt, per se; it was a kilt, and only a kilt, ending in a pair of archaic boots, but nothing between the boot tops and the material.  All legs, and tanned.  Ezra scrambled to his feet, pushing the wool down as far as it would go.  His head pounded, making him wonder what happened to him.  Fingers gently rubbed the spot right above the back of his neck, encountering the mask he wore. 

"Knocked it good, didn't ya?  What were ya thinkin'?  Ya know ya can't forget ta duck the booms when we're tackin' like this."  Vin chuckled.  "Piss poor wind when we can get it, British Navy chasing us, and yer gettin' yerself hit by booms." 

"I seem to have misplaced my brain," Ezra replied, looking at his friend dressed in black breeches with a dark mask covering his face, and a bandana around his neck.  He watched Vin pull on a black shirt to cover his bare and deeply tanned torso.  Standish frowned, finding it strange to see Vin in black.  "Thank you, V-"

"Shut yer mouth or I'll run ya through.  Get yer wits together; remember where ya are."

The threat brought his attention back to his companion, and his knowledge that something was off.  This Vin was leaner, and sounded meaner, than the one he knew, but even unable to see his face he was certain this was his friend.  Maybe it was all part of the act.  Behind his friend, men dressed similarly worked ropes and sails.  Ropes and sails?  Where the heck was he?  Looking around, he saw he was on an old ship, a schooner, he thought, if his knowledge of history wasn't as addled as the rest of his brain.  Moreover, they sat in the middle of the water, no land in sight.

"First time ya silenced yerself," Vin commented.

"My apologies; it won't happen again." 

"Do you need t'see Raven?  Hit yer head that hard?"

Taking note of the antique sword and pistol hanging from the belt around Vin's waist, he shuddered to think who Raven was in the scheme of things, and what tools he may hold.  "Not necessary."

"Morgan, ye best remember yer brogue, or someone will ask questions, questions none want asked."  The threat came veiled in a suggestion.  "Ye know ye pushed enough with the Cap'n wearing yer kilt as ye are.  Couldn't blame ye due ta the heat, though."  Vin was tugging at his recently donned shirt, obviously wishing he could pull it off again.

He must be more addled than he thought.  His brogue?  Missing the obvious clue of his kilt to use with the brogue was not like him.  And heat.  Almost shivering at the chill, he felt, he looked around.  It was true; the sun was blazing and the breeze that was giving him a draft was warm.  Yet, still, in his bones he felt as if he was standing in a blizzard.

"Is he fit for duty?"  A not-so-gentle cuff to the back of his head inspired shooting pains in that region, resounding thoroughly within his skull. 

To hit or not to hit Buck, Ezra thought, recognizing that familiar voice too.  He closed his eyes a moment to fight back the dizziness, taking a deep breath.  He understood everything now.  "Aye, I be fit.  More fit than ye, Rakehell, especially with women."

"An empty boast, Morgan Ambrose Roth."  Rakehell chuckled.

"Ye never know, for this man rarely boasts when the fairer sex is involved."  The banter helped clear the cobwebs away.  Whatever fanciful thought he held about not knowing how and where he was were just that – fanciful thoughts.  Perhaps he should avoid sampling the ship's bounty of ale for level of quality when they were stranded in a heat wave with stale wind, and pay more attention to the ship's master's call to tack.  For now, there were more important things to worry on – such as the British or those hired by others to catch and sink them.

"Rarely boasts because he's rarely seen with the women," Buck/Rakehell retorted.  "Hunter, you've been spelled from your wheel long enough.  Vengeance wishes to confer." 

"Aye, First Lieutenant."  Vin tried – but it didn't escape Ezra's notice – the sarcastic humor on the words 'First Lieutenant', which inspired a smile from the Scot.  Vin/Hunter walked to the ship's wheel where an imposing figure watched them, missing nothing.  The figure patiently waiting tipped his head in question to Ezra/Morgan, who nodded once in reply.

"He decided against the Chesapeake," Rakehell muttered.  "They can blockade us in."

"Our infamy hinders us when we need anonymity most," Morgan replied.  "Out to sea?"

"Depends upon provisions."

"It will be close.  We might be eating our shares."  He shuddered at the though of loss of profit.

"The food we can take for loss.  The rest, well, you will need to obtain better prices."

"For those prices, we must aim for the Georgia Colony."


"Strict, if we wish t'break even."

"We'll do more than break even, Morgan, and well you know it."  Rakehell grinned behind his mask, his white teeth clearly visible.  "Well I know it, as does the Captain.  Three-quarters rations, starting tomorrow.  Though we must last the day first."

"As ye order, First Lieutenant."  Ezra left the deck to find Peacock – aka Rafe Mosely – to prepare for rationing.  His function as Quartermaster required him to keep strict inventory on all supplies, shares, and goods aboard, therefore knowing to the day when they would run out of something.

"Sail ho, not British!" cried the lookout from the crow's nest.  "Starboard."

"Hell's bells," Rakehell swore.  "We were finally getting the wind to help us," he commented.

"Prepare for battle," Captain Vengeance yelled.  "Hold on changing the flying jib until my signal.  Rascal, try to identify."

"Aye, aye, sir," reached the captain's ears at his place by Hunter at the ship's wheel. 

Orders flew fast and furious above and below decks.  Marines climbed into the rigging with their weapons to be topmen; sails were trimmed, decks cleared, and most importantly, cannons readied for firing. 

Rascal, known to others as JD Dunne in his true life, climbed into the crow's nest with one of the lookouts.  He extended a spyglass, staring hard into the device toward the other ship. 

"They've seen us, Cap'n, I have a glass trained on me.  Changing course to intercept.  I've got her lines.  It's the Lost Maiden, one of the hunters for Stewart James."  Given JD's job as pilot for the ships crossing the channel between the protective sound surrounding New Berne, the capitol of North Carolina, and the Outer Banks to the Atlantic Ocean, he knew by sight most of the vessels in the lower Colonies, having taken most of them safely through the channels. 

"Lost cause," Ezra muttered to Barrel.

"There's always hope, Brother Morgan," Barrel replied in his distinctive voice.  The former monk Josiah Sanchez could not stop himself from calling those he considered friends Brother.  It was a habit those friends instructed him he needed to break.  As they pointed out, it was a tell that could easily identify him if someone turned traitor aboard the privateer schooner Vengeance

"Hope for whom?  I was referring t'them attacking us."

"Just means more wounded for me," Raven sighed from behind them.  "Captain, we're ready down below for injuries!" 

"Many thanks, Raven," Captain Vengeance called back. 

Ezra knew Chris Larabee, in his guise as Captain Vengeance, commanded a tight ship, and kept his crew prepared for anything.  That included the inevitable of being ready to receive wounded for immediate treatment down below.  The Captain and the crew were lucky they had someone as competent as Nathan Jackson, called Raven by his choice, to tend their wounds.  It was also their luck his duties saw him doubling not only as Ship's Surgeon but as Cook as well.  His skill at both kept their crew fitter than most could boast in these troubled times.

"I'll be below if anyone needs me.  Barrel, make sure your Marines come down this time, and don't make my people chase them all over two ships before their limbs fall off.  I can do many things, but I can't reattach heads," Raven chastised his friend.

"Saying they have heads t'reattach," Ezra commented.

"They're turning for us," Rascal yelled.  He agilely traversed the rigging back to the deck, shouting more orders for the changing of the sails.  His job as boatswain required he stay on top of that, especially when faced with a battle.

"They fire first.  We fire last," Captain Vengeance called out, as he waved to Rascal to show their colors. 

"Jib away," Rascal called.  The flying jib, a painted, distinctive sail showing a skull with a bleeding dagger through the eye, shot up the lines and unfurled.

The act of sending the flying jib up was meant to intimidate their attackers, along with making sure that their identity was known.  Stewart James wanted a monopoly on all Colonial trade, going so far as to send pirate ships after the Colonial merchant ships to sack them and take their cargo.  Innocent men and passengers had been killed so James could resell their cargo as his own.  James was rumored to be in league with the British, yet it was known to a few that he would attack their ships as well, so long as he could shift the blame to others.

One of the many missions of the Vengeance was the protection of Colonial shipping; life was hard enough without a greedy man stealing from the hard working among them to make himself richer.  The schooner crew made their message clear by attacking the pirates Stewart James sent out to sack Colonial shipping that they would not tolerate this behavior; conflict between the pirates and the privateers was inevitable.  Unfortunately, this came at the worst time.  They were already on the run from the British Navy for an incident, which after beating them in a surprise attack involved the dropping of trousers and exposing of backsides to the crew of the bested frigate.  With the British having already set a bounty on their heads, perhaps it was not the wisest action, but it felt good and boosted morale.  Once they reached their home waters in the Outer Banks, they would be able to avoid any patrol ships.  They just needed to get there first, but being off the coast of Delaware in relatively unfamiliar waters did not help their situation, nor did the pathetic wind.

"They saw it," a lookout called.  "Gots activity on the gun deck."

"Ready for boarding," Captain Vengeance yelled.  "Us to them, or them to us, I'd prefer us to them." 

"Us to them it is," Second Lieutenant Raphael Cordova de Martinez, known as Caballero on board, answered.  "Ready the grappling hooks, we're going for a visit."

"Marines, weapons loaded!"  Barrel called out.  "Prepare to fire on the Captain's signal."

"Aye, aye, sir," the topmen yelled.  From their position high above the deck, they could fire at the other ship's deck and take out resistance against Vengeance boarders.

The two ships neared each other, just out of cannon range. 

"Steady," the captain bellowed.  "Hold steady."  He stood beside the side rail, his left hand in the rigging for balance, his right holding his sword. 


The first shot came from the Lost Maiden, landing short of the Vengeance, but sending a spray of water onto the deck. 

"Return fire."  He did not yell; all voices on the schooner were silent in anticipation of that order. 


Two cannons fired back at the Lost Maiden while they drew near each other.  They hit twice, a testament to Yosemite's training of his gunners.

"We have their attention, sir," Rakehell reported.  "They're preparing a broadside."

"Morgan, take the wheel for Hunter.  Hunter, you see your target?"

"Aye, sir!"  With practiced ease, Hunter turned the ship's wheel over to Morgan. 

The Scot held the schooner steady, allowing the two ships to line up to fire upon each other while passing.  Smoke filled the air from the cannons, sporadically firing. 

Hunter picked up his rifle, lined up his shot, and fired once.  It only took one bullet to drop the ship's captain to his knees, the man's hands holding his side.

"Ye missed his heart," Morgan commented as he turned the wheel back over to Hunter.

"Weren't aimin' at his heart.  Figured Cap'n wanted him alive ta question."

The broadside began, cannons rumbling while the two ships passed each other, spewing hot balls of lead.

"Marines, fire," Captain Vengeance yelled.

Muskets and rifles sounded as the schooner's topmen started shooting onto the deck of the Lost Maiden, pelting the crew with grapeshot and bullets.  Many men fell back from the rails, some to the deck to move no more. 

More gunfire filled the air when the topmen on the Lost Maiden returned the favor, injuring some of the crew aboard the Vengeance

Morgan cursed.  He caught a piece of grapeshot and splintered wood in the leg, knocking him off balance.  A quick glance showed both his thigh and his lower calf bled, the kilt catching it where it covered his thigh.  "May I?"  He indicated Hunter's weapon, wanting a bit of revenge.

"If ya think ya can hit somethin'," Hunter replied.  The Master's second-in-command was on hand to help turn the wheel for the combat maneuvers, and so Hunter could divide his attention as needed for his sharp shooting skills.

"Oh, aye, I can."  Morgan leaned against the rail, lined up his shot, and watched in satisfaction when a topman fell onto the Maiden's deck. 

"Yer bleedin' more, Morgan.  Mayhap ya should see Raven."

"Not yet," he replied, gritting his teeth.  He reloaded the gun.  "I will take them all out a'fore I see Raven." 

"See the one with the blue scarf?"


"He's issuing orders fer boarding us."

"How rude."  Morgan took aim and fired as his leg collapsed.  A shot went right over his head, nearly singeing him in the process. 

"Good shot," Hunter praised.  "Got him in the throat."

"I was aiming for his head."

"Reckon that leg didn't want ta see the mess." 

"I'll shoot from down here."


A cannon on the Lost Maiden fired again, this time the lead ball's trajectory aimed at quarterdeck.  The concern for Morgan's injury was forgotten in the blinding flash of the explosion.


Part Four

If the air wasn't already blue, Chris Larabee would cuss it that color.  That was saying he would be in any condition to speak; his throat hurt pretty bad.  So did his neck, his side, his leg, and the rest of him for that matter.

He tried to make his way through the blinding pain in his head to think about why he felt so bad.  Somehow, he imagined the feeling of flying.  Ignoring the pain that was his entire body now, he tried to grasp the concept and latch onto it like an anchor, hoping it would lead him to the core of his problem.

Flying, he was certain he was flying, but he wasn't a pilot and had not been in a plane, at least he didn't think so.  It was a van.  Slowly the clouds stuffing his mind parted and he thought he remembered riding in a van.  Then it wasn't a curtain that dropped over the scene but a blinding flash of light and the pain was back, and the only thing that stayed with him was the clearly remembered sense of flying that refused to leave.  Moreover, he was glad because that was the only memory he could come up with at the moment.

He grabbed at that sense, and got the flash of the van again.  Then there was the light, that giant flash.  Then flying, hitting something hard.  The van!  Something happened with light, the van, and he went flying out the back.

At least he thought he went airborne out the back of the van; trying to think this hard clearly hurt.  He didn't know how much longer he could stand the stabbing spear through his head.  For the few seconds he could get a handle on that, he then realized the rest of him hurt just as bad, and now he felt a new sensation.  He was wet on one side.  Wet and cold; his two least favorite conditions, accompanied with the ever-popular pain.

He groaned, or at least thought he did.  He was not sure of any of his thoughts and feelings, if it was real or a terrible dream.  Through the pain and nausea beginning to make its presence known, he sensed someone.  Dragging his eyes opened he blinked as an infusion of light brought the pain surging forward again and he gasped, fighting the nausea surging unchecked.

Through the haze, he felt a steady but gentle hand on his shoulder keeping him down.  He blinked and managing to hold his eyes open looked up into concerned but questioning eyes.  Before his eyes drifted close again, he noticed the flash of metal and glimpsed the badge on the man's shirt.  Eyes flicked open when the concept of badge reached higher brain functions, realizing he looked up into the eyes of a police officer, an officer with obvious experience.  What the hell happened?  What was going on? 

"Welcome back to the living, Agent.  I imagine you're not finding it very pleasant, though."

Chris swallowed, silently agreeing with that statement, as his eyes drifted close and he took a deep breath trying to quell the persistent nausea.  Vaguely he thought the nausea was bad enough, but if it turned into actual vomiting, would hurt him more in the end. 

"Keep your eyes closed – the helicopter's taking off, wouldn't want you blinded."

The suggestion was a sound one; right now, the only thing Chris could think of was that he wanted the pain to end.  A close second came the wanting to know what happened.  As if the officer could read his mind, his next words gave him the information he wanted to know, yet upset him further that he couldn't remember too clearly.

"Figure you'd want to know.  The accident was bad, no bullshit, but everyone's alive, some in better shape than others, from what I've seen."

There was an accident; hearing it cleared some of the fog in his mind, provided some explanation.  'Everyone's alive?'  Who is everyone?

His team . . .his friends, that's who.  Chris swallowed hard but finally lost the battle.  He felt strong hands help him roll over as he finally lost his control over the pain and his rolling stomach.  Even worse was the fact this officer had to remind him he wasn't alone, that the people he cared most about in this world never even entered his thoughts.  They were his men, his responsibility, and he forgot them.  What kind of horrible person was he?

"Everything is going to be okay," the voice comforted.  "They'll get you all out of here just as soon as they can."

Chris tried to speak, to ask the questions that were slowly pushing through the haze.

"Everyone is being taken care of."  The comfort came with a gentle pat to his shoulder.

The light, there had been an accident, he was hurt, his friends?  The officer said they were all alive, but they were hurt.  Some of his pain – the kind inside his soul – receded.  If they were alive, and he knew they were all stubborn, they would all fight for their recoveries.  Now he just needed to focus on himself to get better. 

"Hi there."  Another kind face appeared in his line of vision.  "Since you're awake, I'm going to advise you not to move.  I'm going to check you out."

He groaned as a light flashed into his eyes again, this time checking for his responses.  In a mind that was clear and pain free, he might know this was necessary.  However, for Chris, he did not appreciate the reawakening of the stabbing pain or the pin light flashes left behind.

"Take it easy, we'll get you taken care of," the voice soothed as the competent hands continued to check over the rest of his body.

Within minutes, he found himself strapped to a backboard, then lowered into a Stokes basket.  Unable to lift his head, he could only follow events from his line of vision, and that line of vision did not inspire confidence.  He watched the world tilt at different angles, men on either side of him, lifting him off the ground.  If he weren't already woozy, he'd be dizzy from the sudden shifts. 

He got the sense of floating again and realized that they must be moving him, but it wasn't an easy process.  Pain made a spectacular comeback with the jostling, reminding him just how damaged he was from the accident.  The firefighters, accompanied by paramedics, clung to a thick rope, pulling him and themselves up the slope.  With six people trying for balance, and some slippage, the basket tipped, bobbed, and weaved. 

He closed his eyes, not wanting to vomit again from motion sickness.  His eyes closed at the point that his head went above his feet, his weight sliding him a slight distance back against the restraints.  This was definitely not the way he preferred to travel.  Hell, getting hurt was not how he wanted to spend his evening.  The gallows humor, second nature to his line of work, manifested itself through his thoughts that at least this time injuries were not received before, during, or at a bust.  Travis might like that.

"Oh, shit!" 

Chris didn't like those words, nor did he like the fact that the front of his basket listed downward at a steep angle, barely keeping his feet from hitting the ground. 

"Watch it, jackass.  You don't want him hurt any more than he already is.  He'll own half the department."

"Slipped, man.  Buddy, sorry.  I'll be as graceful as a dancer."

Images of Buck's YMCA dancing flashed in the leader's mind, yet another visual he did not want, require, or need. 

"Let's go," he tried to croak out, not realizing all he did was groan.

"Get your ass moving," the man on his right side near the blond's head ordered.  "We've got more to transport."

Bruno sighed with relief when the first basket reached the top without further incident, and the second was not too far behind it.  He reached for his cell phone, checking for service.  Amazingly, he had a signal.  Punching speed-dial, he waited for the other half to pick up the phone.

"Communications, Loretta, recorded line."

"Retta, it's Bruno.  Do me favor."

"Whatcha need?"

"Call the local ATF office, let them know we have seven – yeah, seven of their Agents in this wreck.  All alive, but pretty banged up.  We'll need someone to respond."

"Got it.  Do you have any names for me?"

"One…Chris Larabee.  He's on his way to the hospital, and the others will be shortly.  We're just securing their weapons and worrying about getting them medical treatment.  The hospital can sort out their ID's for their patient records, and I'll get what I need from them.  The local office will probably know whom Larabee might be traveling with anyway.  Call me back and let me know.  I don't want too much over the air.  We're also going to check into the driver of the truck, see if we can make notification."

"On it."

Inside Communications, Loretta hung up with a sigh.  "Sometimes I hate this." 

"What?" asked her coworker. 

"Making these kinds of notifications.  It was ATF involved in the accident.  I’m calling the local ATF to get someone to respond both to the scene and the hospital."

"Good luck."

"Tell me about it."  Loretta found the speed-dial for the ATF, connecting her with a phone tree that gave her several options, the last being the offer, under the direction of having a dire emergency not falling into the previous criteria, to push the number nine.  Which, knowing the government, meant miles of red tape for her to go through before she could finally reach a living person. 

"Agent Wilferton, May I help you?"

Loretta nearly threw a fist into the air in triumph; the number they had for the ATF was a good one, and one that connected her almost immediately with a living person.  Only one phone tree, which gave her the following option:  "If you are from a law enforcement agency and need to speak with the on-call Agent, press one pound star now," getting her to the live person.

"Yes, this is Loretta at Denver Police, on a recorded line.  I need to make notification relating to a traffic accident involving ATF Agents."

"I can assist you.  May I assume you have names?"

"That's correct, Agent.  The first one we recovered was Christopher Larabee."  Loretta heard a sharp intake of breath. 

"How bad?"  A sense of urgency entered the Agent's tone.

"They're alive."

"They?  How many?"

"There's seven in the van, and a truck driver.  Do you know, or are you familiar with, who to contact about it?  The local police have recovered weapons, but not ID's, specifically for the hospitals."

"Tell me again how bad they are."

"Fire department's still cutting them out of the van."

"What exactly happened?"

"I'm sorry, they haven't told me much."

"Who can I call on scene?"

"Hold on," Loretta requested.  She punched the hold button, as she contacted Bruno by radio, requesting him to call in. 

He did, seconds later.  "Yeah, Loretta?"

"I'm bridging you with the on-call ATF Agent.  He's got questions I can't answer.  I'll still be here."

"I'll mind my manners," Bruno said.  "Put him through."

Loretta punched two buttons on the phone simultaneously.  "Agent, Officer, you should be connected."

"Officer, I'm Agent Wilferton, ATF.  I understand you have Agents involved in an accident?"

"I have seven.  We think all seven are ATF Agents."

Inside the warmth of his office, Agent Wilferton tried not to let his anxiety show.  He was up for promotion, done with this on-duty crap if that magical event happened, and he did not want to screw this up.  Of course he recognized the name; the procedures of Chris Larabee's team was required reading for what not to do for his promotion test he took last month.  To be fair, there was also an extensive list of accomplishments, some of which was fodder for legends.

Putting together what he learned so far, there was an accident, Chris Larabee was involved and injured, and six others were in the vehicle.  Those six could only be Larabee's team.  Pulling the duty roster, he saw they had a scheduled raid today, and the timeline somewhat fit.

"Agent?  Are you still there?"

"Officer, I'll need your cell phone number to have the supervisor call you; we will be sending someone to the scene, and I'll need to know which hospitals to send people to, also."  He scribbled down the information, disconnecting immediately thereafter. 

Wilferton did not want to make this call.  A quick entry of his password into the computer database, along with the password of the day, gave him Assistant Director Orin Travis' phone number. 

The phone ringing in the middle of the night was not an unusual occurrence for Assistant Director Orin Travis.  Not unusual, but not welcome, either.  It usually meant something went wrong somewhere, requiring his personal and immediate attention.  If he were a betting man, he would take three to one that Team Seven, his favorite collection of misfits, had either (a) gotten in trouble with someone senior to them, and probably gave said senior person a disrespectful attitude; (b) given a less than appropriate attitude to a member of the law enforcement community after the imbibing of fermented beverages, and the law enforcement community called him to "handle" the situation without getting into official reports; or (c), the option he felt most likely, and dreaded the most, someone got hurt.  Having already received the report all was well on their earlier detail, he figured someone stubbed his toe, got a bellyache, or somehow lost a finger to a pair of scissors, requiring amputation, or an expensive surgery and physical therapy.  With this group, a stubbed toe translated into physical therapy because of the orthopedic surgery required to fix the dislocated toe; a bellyache was the sudden onset of appendicitis, or perhaps gastritis, all of which requiring surgery; and, the amputation from a festered paper cut no one was willing to admit they received until the finger blackened and nearly fell off.  His imagination often took such strange directions, but what could he expected when his sleep kept getting disturbed in the middle of the night?


"Sir, this Agent Wilferton, Sir, and I have the duty."

"Go ahead, Agent.  What happened, where can I pick them up, and/or how bad?"

"Sir, Agent Chris Larabee was involved in a vehicle accident, and there are six other persons with him.  It is unknown if the other persons are all ATF Agents, but they were armed."

Car accident, he thought, figuring that the most common cause of injuries for most people was the last thing he usually thought of happening to his men. 


"They're still transporting, but from what the officer on scene said there is a rescue operation in progress," Wilferton told him.

"Where's the scene, and which hospitals?"  Travis scribbled the information on the notepad left by the phone for instances like this; there had been too many to mention.  He dressed quickly, calling Ellen Bishop, Team Six's leader, to help him coordinate efforts because he still had yet to master being in more than one place at the same time.  Ellen and her team had the experience to handle Team Seven, and to serve as buffers between an injured Team Seven, never a pleasant thing, and the hospital staffs around the area that were about to get struck by the unconventional, wouldn't know a rulebook if it was tattooed to their forehead, uncooperative, and frustrating-to-even-saints Team Seven, ATF, Denver. 

Giving his wife a kiss, saying a quick prayer they would be all right, Orin Travis left the warmth of his home to find out about his men.


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