Disclaimers: See Chapter
One of Storm Surge for all the legal yada, yada.
All had been quiet as Catherine and Karen talked during the day about the upcoming raid on the warehouse. They had eaten a light lunch with agents close behind and taken a leisurely stroll through the residential neighborhood where Karen had been moved to the previous day.
Catherine had arrived a little after six the same day as Karen and had explained that Donald, Alex, and a team of Special Operations Agents intended to raid a warehouse where Malcolm Hernandez was expected to be the next night. Karen's first reaction was of panic at the thought of Alex returning to face the man who had almost killed her a year before. It was only after Catherine explained that Alex was healthy and doing well, that Karen relaxed somewhat. She knew Catherine would never agree to help them if she thought that Alex was in any more danger than was absolutely necessary.
Still, Karen felt tense knowing Alex would once again be facing Hernandez You said Donald was with Alex now, but didn't he just get out of the hospital?
Catherine strolled alongside Karen. Yes, he left against his doctor's orders. I knew there was no way I could get him to stay with the raid about to go down, but I tried anyway.
Karen looked up as a light colored sedan began slowing as it approached. What time is all of this supposed to happen, and why was I moved here?
Catherine stopped and touched Karen's arm, Alex didn't want to take any chances with your safety Karen. I know you have some issues about this case with Alex, but her primary concern has always been your safety.
Karen smiled sadly and nodded, I know. It's just that, well, I'm so isolated from everyone, and I have been for almost a year now. I'm ready to get on with my life, but I can't as long as that monster is still out there. The two women continued their walking, each lost in their own thoughts.
Karen thought back over that fateful night at the warehouse. It had been almost a year since she had received a call from someone warning her to stop Alex from going to the raid that night. After trying unsuccessfully to reach her sister on her cell phone, Karen panicked and drove to the warehouse herself. Just as she drove up, all hell had broken loose.
During the course of the last year, she had often felt angry. She had tried to save her sister and ended up losing her freedom, and herself, in the process. When Karen arrived, the confrontation had just begun. Karen had raced back to her SUV and hid in the back, tucking between the camping equipment she had left there from a weekend trip.
She had heard and felt the impact of several bullets as they penetrated the exterior shell of the truck and tore into the tent and sleeping bags. One of the last bullets fired had torn through her leg and she screamed in pain. Two of Hernandez's guards had heard the scream and pulled the door of the SUV open eyeing her in the back of the truck. One of the burly men crawled into the driver's seat, the other into the back, and the truck sped off in the direction of the warehouse.
Karen had been smart enough to stay quiet as the men commandeered her truck. The last thing she wanted them to know was that she was 'The Shadows' sister. The truck had screeched to a stop and two more men jumped inside, before the truck sped off once again.
They had been just outside the city limits of Jacksonville when Karen felt the truck slow down and pull to the side of the road. One of the men got out, pulled open the back hatch, and hauled her out into the ditch. With a calm, calculating face, he fired a single shot before jumping back into the truck and speeding off.
She remembered lying there afraid and bleeding, wondering if this was how she would die, when a car stopped along beside her. The driver jumped out and ran to her while his wife called 911. Soon the area was lit up with flashing lights and she felt herself being lifted onto a gurney. Only after she had been placed into the safety of the ambulance did she let herself relax, as she fell into the warm, soft comfort of unconsciousness.
Karen had awakened two days later to find herself in the hospital. The bullet had penetrated her upper chest and nicked her subclavian artery. She was told that had it not been for the couple that had stopped, she would have quickly bled to death.
There was no phone in her room, and neither the nurses, nor the guard posted at her door, would answer her questions about the raid. She had been told that someone from the FBI would be by to see her soon. Karen had waited for six more hours before Donald walked in looking tired and stressed. One look into his eyes and Karen had known the news he brought wasn't good.
She remembered that Donald had sat on the bed and held her hand as he recapped the events of that night. All he would tell Karen was that Alex was alive and getting the best care possible. It had been another three weeks before Donald dropped by the house early one morning and sped off with her to visit Alex.
They had taken a private plane to Washington, D.C. and spent an hour driving around the city before re-boarding the plane and flying to Dover, Delaware. Once there they had driven for what seemed like hours, before pulling into a small diner, switching cars and driving another two hours to the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center.
Donald had tried to prepare her for seeing Alex for the first time. She had sustained three gunshot wounds, any of which should have been fatal, and numerous injuries from flying debris as the warehouse had exploded. He explained that Alex had been in a coma since being transferred to the facility the day after the raid, and the medical specialists, although optimistic, couldn't say for certain if she would ever regain consciousness. The only thing the specialists could say was that Alex's will to live was stronger than that of any other patient they had ever seen, or any medicine they could prescribe.
When Karen had entered the room and saw Alex, she gasped. Her sister's form was shadowed by numerous pieces of equipment, monitoring and measuring her vitals, and delivering fluids and medications. Karen was glad that Alex was asleep, not having to experience the pain and fright associated with all the wires and tubes running to her body.
She had sat beside the bed, holding Alex's hand for hours, before Donald entered the room and told her they had to leave. Karen had kissed Alex on the forehead and had whispered in her ear that she loved her, before quietly leaving the room.
She and Donald had taken another roundabout route back to Jacksonville, and on the way home, Donald had explained very delicately how her life would change. She had identified Malcolm Hernandez as one of the men in the truck and because Karen had been the only witness to live, who could positively identify Hernandez, he was now placing her in protective custody, until Henandez could be apprehended.
After arriving back in Jacksonville, he gave her only six hours to pack and close up the house before again whisking her away to an unknown destination. She spent the first three weeks inside a safe house, not knowing where she was, until late one night she was again moved to yet another unknown destination.
For the last year, her life had been a series of moves. She had never known from one day to the next where she would sleep, and it had become almost more than she could bear. The only thing that had kept her going was Donald's news that Alex's was recovering and his assurance that their continuing investigation into the warehouse raid would lead to Hernandez's arrest. He kept promising that one day the nightmare would be over. Now, as she walked along with Catherine, she felt a surge of excitement knowing that maybe after tonight it would all be over, at last.
Donald's stomach lurched as he listened to the agent on the other end of the line describe the scene earlier in the day. Apparently, their careful planning had failed and someone had followed them to Miami, where Catherine met with Karen, the day before. The women had decided to take a walk after lunch, and had been kidnapped as they were strolling through the neighborhood.
Why the hell didn't someone notify me? Donald was furious as he listened to the agents reply. Who told you not to contact me?
Donald sat down heavily in the chair and took a deep breath, trying to focus, Have you received any communications from the abductors since they were taken? Donald listened as the agent responded; You tell Assistant Director Albertson that I would like to speak to him as soon as possible.
He slammed the phone shut, and headed for the door. There's only one person who would want Karen. As Donald hurried to the bank of the river in the dinghy, he thought about the possibility of Karen and Catherine being in the warehouse. As he jumped from the craft and sprinted across the open field, his one and only thought was that of saving the three women that were being held captive by Malcolm Hernandez. He never saw the sniper on top of the Colorado Container building, nor did he immediately feel the bullet that penetrated his back. All he heard before stumbling to the ground, and falling into the darkness, was the loud popping sound of the rifle followed by his own voice as he screamed out Catherine's name.
Dennis Andrews heard the crack of the rifle fire, just as he rose to move towards the door. He saw someone running toward him, then heard a growling scream as the figure fell to the ground. Looking on top of the Container building, he saw one of the guards watching the fallen figure. Andrews knew the wounded person had to be Donald, as he was the only member of the team not accounted for at the moment.
With a quick move, he tapped Gabe Watson on the shoulder and pointed in the direction of the Container building. Watson immediately spotted the guard, and in one smooth motion, raised his rifle to his shoulder and fired one shot. A couple of seconds later the guard fell and Andrews took off running in Donald's direction, while Watson covered him from the warehouse.
Andrew's reached Donald and quickly accessed his condition. He had a weak pulse, but he was alive. Using as much care as possible, Andrews lifted Donald onto his shoulder, and hurried back across the field to the warehouse. Once there, he and Watson decided to place Donald in the shadow, along side the building. They were ready to move in, and knew they didn't have the time or manpower to move him back to the boat. Watson felt a lump in Donald's pocket as he carefully laid the man out on the ground. Pulling out the cell phone, he quickly placed a call to 911, gave the operator Donald's location and told him to forward the message to the backup team and rescue unit as well. He and Andrews then moved back towards the door to join Quincey, and waited for the signal to storm the warehouse.
Catherine caught a movement to her left and slowly turned her head to see a female peering around a large shipping crate. The woman slowly brought a single finger in front of her lips and made a circular motion. As a shadow covered the majority of the woman's face, Catherine squinted in hopes of recognition as she couldn't be sure who the woman was or what the signal meant. She decided to go with her gut feeling that things were about to happen Taking advantage of Malcolm's shock over Karen's declaration, she softly touched Alex's leg. When Alex turned to look at her, she moved her eyes in the direction of the woman, and heard a soft gasp come from the woman beside her.
Conner repeated the same motion, telling Alex that they had the area surrounded. She tipped her head towards Malcolm and Alex interpreted that to mean she wanted some sort of distraction. Alex was about to make a move, but then froze as Seth moved from the shadows to place his gun against the back of Karen's head. Malcolm walked slowly towards Olivia, pulled his own gun from his jacket and fired a shot point blank into Olivia's chest.
Alex 's body jerked as she watched her ex-partner and friend fall to the floor. A dark red stain saturated Olivia's white shirt as blood flowed from the wound. Alex couldn't tell if she was alive, but doubted the agent could have survived a shot from that range. Alex watched as Malcolm slowly turned towards her again and smiled.
I guess you'll have to choose another executioner, Alex. I'm afraid Liv is unavailable, at the moment. A dark menacing smile crossed his face as he regarded his adversary, I haven't trusted her for quite some time now. Turning towards Karen, he smiled, Thank you Ms. Hilliard, for clearing up that bit of confusion.
Karen sat in shock as she stared at the man in front of her. A wave of guilt surged through her body as she realized she had caused Olivia to be killed, You son-of-a-bitch.
Conner and Jack watched as the scene in front of them unfolded. They both heard the crack of the rifle fire outside and now, seeing this, knew something had to be done and quickly. Malcolm Hernandez was swiftly coming unraveled. They had to make their move now, before anyone else was killed.
Just as Conner was about to move, Frank Bivins emerged from the back of the room and walked towards Hernandez and Seth Thomas, Get her out of here Seth. You know how Mr. Hernandez dislikes blood. Bivins placed his gun to the back of Karen's head and dismissed the other man.
Alex recognized Bivins as one of Conner's fellow officers, and as the man she had confronted both on her beach, and in the garage of the police station. She was trying to process all of the conflicting information when she heard a sound to her left, followed by shots that began echoing throughout the warehouse.
Malcolm Hernandez turned to flee just as Bivins raised his gun from Karen's head and pointed it at his back, Freeze, Hernandez.
Hernandez stopped and slowly turned to face his most trusted guard, Not you too, Bivins? And to think you would have made such a great soldier.
Alex took the opportunity to pull Karen and Catherine, who were frozen in their chairs, and push them towards Conner, Cover them, Alex shouted as she turned back towards Bivins.
Alex could hear scuffling sounds from around the warehouse, but the sounds of gunfire had stopped. Jack held up a hand to everyone ordering them to stand back and allow Alex to handle the situation.
Good evening Agent Montgomery, Bivin's smiled. He pulled a Glock from behind his back and passed it to Alex. I think I'll allow you the honors. You've worked hard for this collar, take it.
Alex reached out with her left hand and took the Glock from Bivins, never taking her eyes off Hernandez. A rage slowly welled up from her gut as she walked towards him. She raised the gun to his chest, her hand shaking and her finger tight on the trigger. She had waited so long for this moment and now that it was here, all she wanted to do was pull the trigger and watch him die. Her rage surged even further as she saw a smile cross his lips.
You know you won't pull the trigger, Alex. It's not in you to kill a man in cold blood. I'm unarmed, totally defenseless.
Alex stepped closer, You're never defenseless, Malcolm. We both know it, but no, I won't kill you. I want to see you rot in prison the rest of your life. I want to know that every day I live, you'll be pinned up like an animal in a cage. I may even come by to see you on occasion, just to watch as your miserable life wastes away behind bars, and to remind you each time that I put you there. Alex smiled and stepped closer, For now, I'll settle for this. She brought her right hand up hard and smiled as Malcolm's head snapped backwards and he fell back onto the desk.
Alex quickly turned him over and pulled his arm behind his back. Reaching out behind her, she felt the cold metal of handcuffs as Bivins slipped them into her hand. Alex smiled as the ratcheting sound echoed through the warehouse, locking Hernandez's hands behind his back. She pulled him up and turned him around once more, Oh, I almost forgot Malcolm, this for Feryle.
Hernandez's body screamed as Alex's knee made solid contact with his crotch. She let go of her hold on his arm and watched as he fell to the floor retching. She bent down to lean in close to his ear. Well, Malcolm, how does it feel to be unprepared? Looks to me like you're the one caught in the vortex now. Alex smirked and as she was beginning to stand, she caught sight of Seth running across the warehouse floor.
Everything seemed to move in slow motion as Conner watched the scene unfold before her. One moment Alex was cuffing Hernandez, the next Seth was running with his gun pointed at Alex. Conner pushed off the wall and tore across the warehouse towards Alex, Nooooooooooooo.
Alex saw another movement to her right and saw Conner rushing towards her. The warehouse echoed as a scream pierced the shock-induced quiet. Alex heard the gunshot at the same moment Conner leaped towards her, and felt the hard impact as Conner's body crashed into hers, throwing them five feet from where Alex previously had been standing.
Seth's attack had taken Bivins by surprise and as he raised his gun to return fire, a second bullet fired from Seth's gun pierced the base of his throat. Bivins felt his finger pull the trigger then the gun slip from his hands. As his body collapsed to the floor, he heard a multitude of gunshots echo around him. He lay on the cold concrete floor staring at the ceiling, as the mayhem continued around the warehouse.
Although he heard screaming, he couldn't make out the words as the darkness began to overtake his vision and he felt a thick stream of blood run down his neck and pool behind his head. He tried to focus on the noise and activity around him but felt a chill, as his body responded to the loss of blood. Slowly he surrendered to the overpowering need to sleep, closed his eyes and let the darkness encompass his soul.
Jack saw Seth at the same moment Conner had and began running towards Alex. He heard the shots as they exploded from Seth's gun and brought his own up to return fire. He felt a blistering pain as the third shot pierced his arm. Helplessly, Jack watched Seth turn and quickly run into the shadows.
The warehouse was suddenly overrun with agents and police, and Jack felt someone pull him to a crate and sit him down. His head snapped up as he heard a primitive howl from across the room. Holding his injured arm, he stood and raced across the floor to see Alex cradling his best detective in her arms.
Conner's vest had been removed during her captivity earlier in the evening and she had argued the point with Donald earlier but insisted in going back into the warehouse unprotected. Now, Jack felt a flood of guilt wash over him as he watched the blood saturate Conner's white shirt. From where he was standing, Jack couldn't tell where the bullet had entered her body. He knelt beside Alex as the paramedics converged on the fallen women, Alex let her go. Come on babe, let the paramedics do their job.
Alex continued to cradle Conner in her arms, rocking her gently as Jack tried to remove her hands. Alex didn't hear any of them as she looked into the pale lifeless face of her lover, Come on baby, wake up. Alex stroked Conner's hair, panic rising with every second, Conner, come on now, please wake up.
Jack pried Alex's hands from around Conner's body and pulled her away, allowing the paramedics room to work, Alex
Alex. Jack pulled Alex against his body with his uninjured arm holding her back, Alex, you have to let them work. Although her eyes never left Conner, she finally fell back into his embrace, tears pouring from her eyes as she watched the paramedics work on Conner.
Alex felt the room spin as she saw one of the paramedics look at the other and shake his head. Nooooo Cooonerrrrrr. The anguished scream echoed throughout the building and Alex felt her body begin to fall. Two strong arms wrapped themselves around her body as she sank to the floor, oblivious to everything except her pain as Karen held her and let her cry. Minutes seemed like hours to Karen before Alex was finally placed into the ambulance and taken to the hospital.
The bullet that had penetrated Conners chest had passed through her body and into Alex's, lodging itself in her shoulder. Yet, the pain she felt was not in her body but in her soul. She lay on the stretcher staring at the ceiling of the ambulance as the flashing lights flickered across the landscape. The paramedic leaning over her spoke but she didn't absorb his words. From somewhere in her mind, she watched as he inserted the needle of a syringe into the IV tube and pressed the plunger. Soon her world began to turn gray, then black, and she let herself fall into the abyss.
When she woke up, Alex vaguely recalled arriving at the hospital and the warm reassuring hand that held hers during entire journey. She looked around the room taking in the equipment and monitors hanging from the walls. Turning her head, she saw Karen asleep in the chair beside the bed and felt her sister's fingers interlocked with her own.
When she tried to move, her body screamed its objection. The bullet that had passed through Conner's before entering hers had shattered her shoulder. She had lost a great deal of blood before arriving at the hospital and had spent six hours in surgery to repair the damage. Alex's body felt numb and empty as the events of the previous evening returned to her memory. A single tear slipped down her face as the image of Conner's lifeless body reappeared in her mind and she closed her eyes allowing the darkness once again to be the avenue of her escape.
Continue to Part
Twenty-Seven of Storm Surge
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