Ford turned and walked away from the beach as the shuttle disappeared under the waves on its way to the seaQuest. He looked up as the rain started to fall again.
"The shuttle will inform Captain Bridger of our situation as soon as it is free of the electromagnetic field," he informed his group. He looked at Miguel. "Any idea on where Mariah might have taken Brody and Henderson."
Oh, yeah…we sat down for tea and chatted before she chased me. "No, sir," Miguel replied. "But there are a lot of ideal hiding places on this island."
Tony stood up from the log he had been sitting on. "Well, her hidey-hole is probably on the same side of the island you were on."
"And why is that?"
Tony shrugged. "Well, she didn't nab anyone from the other team…."
Miguel stared at him. "You know something, Tony? Sometimes you are absolutely brilliant."
"Hey!" Tony sounded insulted, until he realized that it was meant as a compliment. "Thanks."
Ford turned to Miguel. "Do you think you might be able to find the same clearing that you were in when Mariah made her move?"
Miguel thought for a few moments. "Maybe. I'm not sure…we were lost when we found it. I don’t even know if I could find it if we went back to the cliff.” He looked at the ground. “Uhh…I do know that there were lots of trees…and rocks."
"That does not narrow it down," Ford said. "Anything else?"
"No," Miguel sighed. His head jerked up as he remembered something. "Yes. I think I remember hearing a waterfall. At the time I thought it was just the sound of the wind, but now…" He looked hopeful. "Yeah, I think that I definitely heard a waterfall."
Brody sighed as he looked down into the water from his perch. Damn it!! I thought I had her convinced! Stark showing up was lousy timing!!!! He glanced over at Lonnie as she sat on the bottom of her cage. Home sweet home he thought sarcastically. He gave her an encouraging smile.
"Jim?" Lonnie said. "When Mariah said ‘the same fate as your friend’, what do you think she meant?"
Miguel. "I don’t know," Brody answered.
"Do you think she meant…Miguel?" Lonnie sounded worried and scared. "Could she have…killed him?"
"Don't think like that, Lonnie," Brody said in an angry voice. "Use your energy to think of a way out of here…again." He looked up at the new locks on the top of the cages.
Lonnie stared at him. "You think she did kill him…don’t you?"
"Lonnie," Brody sighed. "Migs is fine."
"Then why don't you sound like you believe that?" Lonnie asked angrily.
"Ensign," Brody said in a warning voice. "Don't do this."
"Don't do what? Discuss a dead friend?"
Brody stood and glared at her. "Why are you so quick to write Miguel off?" he demanded. "Damn it, Lonnie! We are in no position to be discussing anything but how to get out of here!!"
Lonnie leaned her head back against the bars of her cage. "Did you know that Miguel had dreams about dying?"
Brody's anger disappeared as quickly as it had surfaced. "What?"
"He told me about them…that day Bridger told him to sign off for the rest of his shift." Lonnie looked at him. "I found Miguel beating up on a punching bag, and after a while he told me about the dreams." She sighed. "He was on an island…alone…being chased…" she trailed off.
"And then he jumped off of a cliff," Lonnie finished quietly.
I'm gonna die on this stupid island. The words echoed through Brody's brain. "It was only a dream Lonnie. I'm sure Miguel is fine."
"I hope your right." Lonnie stood. Please be right.
“Okay, I think this is it,” Miguel said as he looked around.
“That’s what you said about the last three clearings,” Tony muttered. He stepped back slightly as Miguel turned and gave him a very dirty look. “Sorry.”
Miguel walked to a tree and bent down. “No, this is the clearing!!!” He stood back up. “Here’s my weapon.” He held it out.
Ford looked at the weapon, then around the clearing. “All right, we’ll start our search from here. Which way did you go when Mariah was after you?”
Miguel thought for a moment, then pointed. “I went this way…Only thing there is a cliff.” He paused. “When Mariah showed up, she came from over there.” He motioned to a clump of trees.
Wendy walked over to the trees and looked. “There’s something that resembles a path here.”
Ford joined her and looked. “Resembles is right. That thing’s not big enough to qualify as a path.”
“It’s all we have for now,” Miguel said as he started to follow it. He turned. “You guys coming?”
“Just what did you think that you were doing?” Stark asked angrily.
“No! Do not try to defend yourself, Mariah. You were going to let them escape.” Stark began to pace the small room she called her office. “I did not think that you would turn against me so quickly.”
“I have not,” Mariah said. She glanced at the men in the room, knowing full well that they were now here to guard her.
“Do not lie to me, Dagger!!” Stark yelled. “It is obvious that you have turned against me!” An evil look filled her eyes. “Well, have no fear, because you will now join your new-found friends in their misery.”
Mariah looked as the men took out their weapons. “Those weapons are useless on this island.”
Stark laughed. “Oh, they are…out there. In my fortress, they are quite productive.”
Mariah stared at her. “The electromagnetic field does not extend to this cavern?” She frowned as Stark nodded. “Then you have lied to me.”
“So sorry,” Stark said with a hint of sarcasm. “But I could not let you in on all my secrets, now could I?”
Mariah opened her eyes and looked at the person who had spoken. “What?”
“Are you all right?” Brody asked.
“What do you care?” Mariah said as she sat up and leaned against the bars of her cage.
Brody sighed. “I don’t…really. I just wanted to know if you were all right.” He stretched lightly. “Seeing as though your new best friend shoved you in a cage like the rest of her enemies.”
Mariah stared at him. “You were right, Brody. She has betrayed me.”
“Are you with us?” Lonnie asked.
“Then use that devious brain to think of a way out of here,” Brody ordered. “You must know this place fairly well…how many escape routes are there?”
“Four,” Mariah said.
“Did you kill Miguel?” Lonnie asked suddenly.
Mariah looked at her. “I didn’t mean for that to happen,” she said, “he…he chose—“
“You bitch.” The words came almost too calmly from Lonnie. “You killed a wonderful person, and all you can say is that you didn’t mean for it to happen?!”
“He jumped over the cliff,” Mariah said.
“Go to hell!!!” Lonnie yelled, the pain of reality hitting her. “When we get out of here, you better pray that you are no where near me!!”
“Ensign.” Brody’s voice had a warning tone to it. “Now is not the time.” He looked at Mariah, and forced his face not to show the hatred and sorrow he was feeling. “Can you lead us out of here?”
“I do not know.”
“What will happen to me when you are free?”
Brody stared at her. “What will happen to you if you stay here?” he asked calmly. “I know that you hate me Mariah, but…” He trailed off as his anger rose to the surface. “I was only doing my damn job at the G.E.L.F. Colony…and I know that you would rather me be dead, but damn it!!!” He paused as he tried to collect his thoughts, but decided that the anger he was experiencing felt better. “You got us into this, and you’re damn well going to get us out of this! Understood!?!?!?”
“I understand that you are upset about this Miguel,” Mariah said, “but he is dead…and we are alive.”
Brody glared hatred at her. “It’s a little thing called friendship, Mariah,” he whispered, then turned away. He thought some rather unpleasant things about her, then faced her again. “Now, tell me the way out of here.”
Commander Ford crouched to the ground and studied the footprints he had found. “These appear to be fresh,” he said as he stood. “They lead into this cave.” He started to walk forward when Wendy put a hand on his arm.
“Someone’s coming,” she whispered.
Ford motioned for his team to hide, and quickly got out of the mouth of the cave. He crouched behind some large rocks, and peered out cautiously. Three men soon walked out of the cave and headed off in the direction of the beach.
When the men were a safe distance away, Ford stood up from his hiding place. “Looks like this is the right place…let’s go.” He walked in slowly, then turned. The rest of the team followed in silence.
After they had gone no more than one hundred meters in, Miguel jumped back as the flashlight on his gun came on. Everyone stared at the sight, then switched on their lights.
“It appears that the electromagnetic field does not extend into this cave,” Ford said.
Ya think?? Tony smiled slightly. “Means our weapons should work too.”
“Can’t test them though,” Coulter said. “That would bring unwanted attention to us.”
Ford nodded. “Right. Let’s move on.”
Tony moved in step beside Miguel. “Did that scare ya?” he asked in a mock tone of concern.
“Not at all,” Miguel answered. “I thought maybe I had died, and was in heaven…what scared me was the thought that you were there with me.” He glanced at Tony. “What a way to spend eternity.” He shuddered, then walked ahead of him.
Tony thought about what Miguel had just said, then realized that it wasn’t meant as a compliment. HEY! Wait a minute!!!
Brody grimaced in pain as the pin he was using slipped and stabbed him in the thumb. He pulled the safety pin out slowly, then continued to try to pick the lock on the top of his cage. His arms ached from holding his body up, but he was determined to succeed.
“How’s it going?” Lonnie asked.
“Almost…got it,” Brody gasped. He smiled as he felt the lock pop, and put the pin in his teeth before he opened the lock. “Told ya.”
“Where did you learn to do that?” Lonnie asked as she watched him climb out of his cage.
“Little thing I picked up from this girl I use to date.” Brody reached out, grabbed onto Lonnie’s cage, and hoisted himself onto the top. “Next time I complain about all the junk you take with you on a mission, tell me to shut up,” he said as he push her safety pin in to the lock, popped it quickly, and opened the top of her cage.
“That was fast.”
“It’s easy when you’re not trying to hold yourself up, or working on it from underneath.” Brody helped her out, stood, and leaned towards the cage Mariah was in.
“Let her rot,” Lonnie snarled.
Brody stopped, and looked at her. “We made a deal, Ensign. I’m going to stick to it.” He grabbed the chain, and hopped over to Mariah’s cage.
“I think they know that we are here,” Wendy said softly.
Commander Ford turned to her. “Do you sense that?”
Wendy nodded her head. “Yes…they must have video surveillance cameras in the passage ways.”
Everyone in the group looked at the ceiling. “Damn it!” Coulter said. He unconsciously ducked into the shadows against the cave wall.
“Oh, for…” Miguel sighed. “Mariah obviously knows that we are here!” He started down the hall.
“Chief!?” Ford said.
Miguel turned to him. “Commander?” He sighed inwardly when Ford motioned him. He walked to his superior officer. “Yes, sir?”
Ford stared at him for a moment before he spoke. “I realize that you are highly involved in this mission, but I want you to stop and think before you act.”
“Stop and think?” Miguel asked as if he had never heard those words before. “Of course, sir.”
“Miguel?” Ford put a hand on the other man’s arm. “I’m telling you this as a friend…not your commanding officer…”
Miguel blinked a few times, and smiled at him. “I’m fine Jonathan…honest.” He paused. “Okay…I’m a little anxious to get off of this damn island, but other than that…”
Ford nodded, wanting to save Miguel from the possible embarrassment of explain a weakness. “Good.” He looked around. “Since Mariah obviously does know that we are here, I see no need to be sneaky anymore.”
“Aye, sir.” Miguel started to turn, but paused. “Thanks.” He turned, and walked away.
Mariah stopped at the corner, peered around it, then stepped out into the passageway. “It is safe.”
Brody followed. “Good…how much further until we are above ground?”
“This is the only passage way that does not have cameras,” Mariah explained. “It is still a long way till the surface.”
Brody sighed, and followed her as she started off again. He stopped, walked back, and grabbed Lonnie by the arm. “You coming?”
“I don’t trust her.” Lonnie looked at him.
Brody paused as he stared into Lonnie’s eyes. He sighed again, turned and dragged Lonnie along with him until they caught up with Mariah.
“Thank you, Brody,” Mariah said.
Brody glared at her. “For what? I’m trusting you to get us out of this cave…you let me down, and…” He trailed off, leaving the threat up to her own imagination.
Mariah stared at him. “You are different than you use to be.” She turned, and started down the hallway.
“How so?” Brody asked. He wasn’t really interested in her answer…he was more interested in keeping her mind off of any thoughts of following through on her threat to kill him and Lonnie.
Mariah stopped at another corner, looked around it, then continued. “You are…kinder?…than you use to be.”
Brody hesitated slightly, then continued walking. “Really?” He was suddenly interested in her answers.
“Yes.” Mariah walked into a small passageway and pointed. “This shaft will take us to the surface.”
Marilyn Stark smiled as she stared at the video screen in front of her. She reached out, ran her fingers along the image of Commander Ford.
“How nice of you to join me,” she whispered. “I have special plans for you.” She smiled as another figure came into view. “Oh! I’m glad that your famous luck is still with you, Ortiz…I would have so hated for you to miss out on all the fun.” She turned to the men standing behind her.
“Bring them to me.”
Stark turned back to the screen as her men left to do her bidding. “Jonathan, Jonathan, Jonathan… whatever will Nathan do when he finds out that I have his two executive officers?” She leaned back in her chair. “Will he come here himself to find me? Or will he send more of his precious crew to deal with me?”
Wendy faltered slightly as she walked, and had to put a hand out to keep from falling.
“Are you all right?” Ford asked as he took her arm.
“I think so.” Wendy stood straight. “There is an evil mind here…one that hates you…I don’t think it’s Mariah.”
“You’re going to have to be more specific,” Ford said. “Any images?”
Wendy closed her eyes. “Marilyn?”
Ford and Miguel looked at each other in shock.
“Marilyn?” Miguel’s voice was hard. “You sure?”
“I…I…” Wendy opened her eyes and nodded. “Yes.”
Miguel turned away in disgust. “Figures.”
“Who?” Tony asked.
“Marilyn Stark,” Coulter answered. “Ex-Captain Stark…of the seaQuest.”
“Oh.” Tony frowned. “That Marilyn Stark.”
“We are going to have to be extremely careful,” Ford said as he checked the charge on his weapon. “If that woman is involved in this, then we are in great danger.” He looked at Tony and Wendy. “Stark’s not exactly the most stable person around.”
“That’s putting it mildly,” Miguel said as he too checked his weapon. “We going straight in?”
Ford was silent as he considered the limited possibilities they had. “Stark knows we’re here…we’re going—“
His words were cut off as the passageway became bathed in a bright light. The group instinctively scattered into whatever shadows they could find, and raised their weapons. Ford peeked out from the indent he was in, and pulled his head back quickly as a shot hit the wall above him.
“Return fire!!” he yelled as more shots were fired in their direction. He heard Wendy yell in agony, and glanced to where it had come from. He watched, angry, as Tony pulled an injured Wendy further back in the cave. Damn it, Marilyn! Ford positioned himself lower to the ground and fired back at the unseen attackers.
Ford was about to give the “fall back” order when the lights suddenly dimmed back to normal, and the shooting stopped. He looked out cautiously, then motioned for Miguel to check it out.
Miguel stayed low to the ground as he inched his way forward. He approached the area the gunfire had come from, and stared in angry amazement at the machine in front of him.
The automatic laser defense system sat in the middle of the hallway, the three guns positioned on top pointed menacingly in the direction he had come from. He reached out to the large machine, turned the key from automatic to manual, then slowly walked back to the group
Ford looked up at him. “Well?”
“Automatic defense system,” Miguel reported. “We must have set it off somehow. I switched it to the manual setting.”
Ford stood in disgust. Automatic defense?? “Go back and disarm that thing…and see if it’s hooked up to the main computer system…see if there are any other surprises waiting for us.”
“I’ll see what I can do,” Miguel said as he walked back to the row of guns.
Brody stopped and turned at the noise. “What was that?!”
Mariah listened for a few seconds. “That could be the automatic defense system. It is set to repel intruders.”
“Repel intruders?” Brody asked in disbelief. “We have to go back.”
Brody turned. “That could be a search team from the seaQuest being ‘repelled’…they may need our help.”
“We are almost to the surface,” Mariah pointed out.
Lonnie turned to her. “Look, you can run away if you want to, but we have an obligation to help whoever it is being fired on!”
Mariah looked at her, then down the passageway. “I have no obligation.”
“Then leave while you can,” Brody said. He turned to Lonnie. “Come on.”
Mariah watched as they hurried off in the direction the gunfire had come from, then she continued on her way to the surface…and freedom.
Wendy sighed lightly as Tony applied a bandage to the wound on her shoulder. She leaned back against the automatic defense system and closed her eyes briefly.
“Next time someone shoots at ya,” Tony said, “remember ta duck.”
“I’ll try to remember that,” Wendy replied. “Okay…now make sure the bandage is secure.”
“You’re an awful patient,” Tony said as he followed Wendy’s instructions. “There! Done…do ya need anything for pain?”
Wendy shook her head. “The shot only grazed me Tony…I’ll be fine.” She glanced at the row of guns, and shivered. She jumped in slight fear as the machine sparked.
“Damn it!” Miguel yelled from behind the guns. His tousled head popped up. “I don’t suppose anyone has a spare memory chip for one of these things on them, do they?”
Ford sighed. “What happened?”
Miguel stood slowly. “As Lucas would put it, this thing is ‘hacker protected’. Every time I try to access the system, it starts to crash.” He absently began to rub his injured side. “The best I can do is disconnect the guns, and the surveillance cameras.”
“Do it then.” Ford turned back to watching the passageways.
“Aye, sir.” Miguel crouched behind the machine again. He caught Wendy’s worried look, and smiled at her. “I’m fine.”
Marilyn Stark screeched in anger as the row of surveillance screens in front of her went blank. She pounded her fists against them, then stood. “How could they?!” She took a few calming breaths, and walked to the door. “This little charade is going to end…now!”
Miguel rubbed his dirty hands against his shirt, winced in pain as his side began to hurt again, then went back to work on the security system. He pulled a few wires out, looked at them, then went to put them back. He paused, and brought a wire up for closer inspection. Huh. Well, whatta ya know?
“Come here,” Miguel said. He waited until Coulter crouched down beside him. “Hold onto this wire for a sec…I want to try something.”
Coulter took the wire, looked at it, and then dropped it. “I don’t think so, Migs…I know a high voltage input when I see one.”
Miguel rolled his eyes. “Oh, come on…It won’t hurt you.”
Coulter looked at him in slightly veiled disbelief. “Then you hold it while I run any hair-brained tests you had planned.”
“What are you two doing?” Ford asked as he looked over the top of the system.
“Miguel was trying to electrocute me,” Coulter said.
“I was not!” Miguel insisted, then looked at Ford innocently. “I found a high voltage input, and I wanted to run a few tests with it…see if I could work my way into Stark’s files by shorting out this system.”
“Can you really do that?” Ford asked.
Miguel shrugged. “Never know until I try.” He looked at the wire. “But,” he continued in a serious voice, “I might put it in the wrong slot, and blow this thing up.” He reached forward with the wire.
“That’s all right!” Ford said quickly. “Don’t do it unless you’re sure.”
Miguel sighed. “No one ever lets me be destructive.”
“I think I’m going to go now,” Coulter whispered and hurried away.
Miguel laughed and looked at Ford. “He rattles easily, don’t he?” He put the wire into a slot, and leaned back slightly. “There you go…access to Stark’s files…am I good, or what?”
Ford sighed and shook his head. “Be careful you don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back.” He looked at the small built in computer, and began to type. “Password?” He frowned. “I thought you said that this would get us into her files?”
Miguel stood slowly. “You are in her files…they just happen to be password protected.” He leaned against the top of the system. “You were her X.O. for awhile…what would she have used?”
How the hell should I know? Ford typed in a few phrases, each one being denied. He sighed. “I have absolutely no idea what she would use.”
“Try Nathan,” a voice said from the end of the hallway.
Ford turned quickly to the voice, and stopped. At the end of the hall, Marilyn Stark stood with six men, their guns all pointed at the seaQuest crew.
“Marilyn,” Ford said calmly. Damn it!!!
“Jonathan…what a pleasure to see you again.” Stark walked towards him. “And Miguel…nice hair.”
Miguel remained stone-faced as he stared at his former captain. He hooked his boot through the strap of his rifle, and slowly raised it off of the dirt floor. He grabbed onto it with his hand, and held it by his side.
Stark stood in front of Ford, and smiled. “Welcome to my island…you will never leave it.”
“We’ll see,” Ford said in a low voice. He watched as two of the men carried the still form of Coulter to him, and unceremoniously dumped the unconscious man at his feet.
“Sorry about him,” Stark said. “Now, come with me, please.”
Inspiration struck Miguel as he slowly grabbed a wire with his free hand, and blindly put it back in place. I hope I know what I’m doing. He glanced around…Tony was standing against the wall, near him, and Wendy was slowly inching her way to the side of the defense system. The only problem to Miguel’s impromptu plane was Ford, who was standing right in front of the guns. He looked at the men with Stark. No of them had seen what he had done, and they could not see his hands behind the machine.
Tony, however, had seen what Miguel had done, and knew what he had planned. He nodded as Miguel glanced at him, and tensed.
“Now!!” Miguel yelled, as he leaned forward quickly and slammed his hand against a button. Tony launched himself at Ford, knocking the both of them into the wall, and out of the way of the now active guns.
Stark reacted quickly, diving in the opposite direction. She covered her head, and cursed loudly as the guns fired over her.
Miguel quickly turned the guns off, hurried out from behind the system, and pointed his weapon at Stark’s men, who were now laying in agony on the ground.
One of them looked up at him. “You shot us!”
“It was set on stun,” Miguel pointed out coldly. “You’ll be fine.” He glanced at Ford, who was just getting to his feet. “You okay, sir?”
Ford nodded as he rubbed the side of his head. “Next time give me a little warning, okay?”
“Of course, sir. Sorry, sir.”
Ford approached Stark, and dragged her to her feet. “I guess we won’t be taking you up on that offer to stay here.”
Stark smiled lightly. “I still have your crewmates…remember?”
Lonnie stopped and looked around. “I think we’re lost.”
“Wouldn’t be the first time,” Brody said, and peered around the corner. “It’s safe.”
“We’re not going to be able to help anyone if we can’t find them.”
Brody looked at her. “Do you want me to stop and ask for directions??” He sighed inwardly.
“Hold it!” a voice ordered from behind.
Lonnie and Brody froze, and put their hands up. They slowly turned to face two men with guns.
Brody sighed. “Get captured…escape…get recaptured…escape again…get re-recaptured.” He looked at Lonnie. “You starting to see a pattern here?”
Lonnie nodded. “Yes, I am.”
“It’s monotonous,” Brody replied. “And getting very annoying.”
“Where are they?” Ford demanded.
Stark smiled at him coolly. “Come now, Jonathan…do you actually think that I am going to give away my one bargaining chip?” She looked at her watch. “In fact, if I am not back in twenty minutes, then your crewmates will no longer be alive.”
“I leave nothing to chance.” Stark smirked. “If I am released, I will spare your friends.”
Miguel looked up from the small computer on the automatic defense system. “Sir?”
Stark glared at him. “Really Miguel…can’t you see that we are talking? Mind your manners.”
“What is it, Miguel?” Ford asked.
“Could you come here for a moment?” He turned back to the computer and closed his eyes against the pain his side was causing.
Miguel opened his eyes, startled, and looked at Ford. “Uhh…” He motioned to the computer. “I found what could be a schematic of this place…it’s quite large…about ten tunnels, and a central…opening.”
Ford studied the map. “Well, the central opening seems as good as any place to start. Copy this and plan our route.”
“Aye, sir.” Miguel reached for his pack, stopping as pain stabbed through his side. He inhaled deeply, then took out a pen and paper to copy the map.
Ford looked at him in concern. “Are you all right?”
“Fine,” Miguel said, almost too quickly. He locked eyes with his commander briefly, then turned back to the computer.
Ford watch for a moment, then walked away. “Watch her,” he said and motioned to Stark.
“My pleasure, sir,” a now fully recovered, and fully annoyed Coulter said as he pointed his gun at Stark.
Lonnie looked out the small opening in the door and smiled slightly. “No one around…what do you have planned?”
Brody glanced at her from the cot in the corner of their new accommodations and shrugged. “I was planning on getting a little sleep…all this escaping and capturing is tiring me out.” He closed his eyes.
“Sleep?!” Lonnie shrieked. “How can you sleep at a time like this?”
Brody propped himself up on one elbow. “Well, I won’t be able to sleep if you keep shrieking like that. Besides…I’m tired…and you have to admit, this place is a lot more comfortable than the cages.” He laid back down and put his arms behind his head. “I suggest that you try to get some sleep too…you’re going to need it.”
Lonnie looked at him in disbelief. “I can’t sleep.”
“Why not? Jim…we’re locked away in a cell…at the mercy of that woman…and you expect me to sleep??” She paused. “Besides, there’s only one cot in here, and you’re on it.”
“So we’ll share.”
“I’m not sleeping with you!” Lonnie turned in anger and stared out the door again.
“That’s not what I…” Brody stopped, and smiled mischievously at her back. “Why not? I mean, look at it this way, Lonnie…this could very well be our last night on Earth,” he said seriously. “What’s the harm in…”
Lonnie whirled around and glared at him. “How dare you?!” She walked to him and stared at his completely straight face. “Do you think that I am just some chick for you to conquer?”
Brody tried not to laugh, but he couldn’t help it. “I’m sorry, Lonnie…I didn’t mean to insult you.”
“What are you laughing at?” Lonnie demanded…then it dawned on her. “You were joking, weren’t you!”
Brody nodded as he laughed. “I’m sorry…it was mean.” He sat up and leaned against the wall. “Still…you’re anger did give me an idea on how to get out of here.”
“Really?” Lonnie asked, her anger almost, but not quite, forgotten. “What?”
“We stage a fight…they come to see what’s going on, and we overpower ‘em.”
“You’ve been watching too much classic television with Tony,” Lonnie said. “Everyone on those old shows tried that trick.”
“True,” Brody admitted. “And it always worked.”
Marilyn Stark stared up at the empty cages with a mixture of silent anger and relief. She was angry because her prisoners had escaped once again, but she was relieved because now she had more time to figure out a plan on how to turn this to her advantage.
“See?” she said. “They are not here.”
Ford looked at her. “Where are they?”
“Oh, I don’t know…perhaps they escaped…perhaps my men took them to a safer place.” She smiled slightly. “It really does not matter, because now you will have to release me if you want to find them.”
Ford sighed to himself. “I’m not going to release you, Marilyn…You know the navy’s rules on dealing with terrorists.”
Wendy watched the ‘battle of wills’ with interest, until a feeling started to creep into her mind. She closed her eyes, shut off the nagging pain of her injury, and concentrated. Her breathing became shallow as she latched onto the feeling, and her hand automatically went to her side. She opened her eyes, looked at Miguel, and walked to him.
Miguel was leaning against the wall, staring blankly at the lagoon. He did not look up as Wendy approached. “Yes, Wendy?”
“How long have you been having trouble breathing?” she asked as she opened her medical bag.
“Have you been prying?” Miguel looked at her calmly, then sighed and motioned her closer. “Damn it, Wendy,” he whispered. “I can’t catch my breath.”
Wendy took his arm and led him to a rock. She took a few things out of her bag as he sat down. “Are you in pain?”
“Sometimes,” Miguel admitted. “Comes and goes.” He sat silently while she checked him over, and ran whatever tests she could.
“You have two cracked ribs…and one broken,” Wendy informed him. “How did you injure yourself further?”
Miguel exhaled lightly. “I think it was when I leaned over the defense system…leaned to fast, to hard.”
Wendy nodded. “I’m going to give you something for the pain.”
“Shouldn’t you be giving yourself something, too?” Miguel raised his eyebrows at the look she gave him. “Hey, I’m no psychic, but even I can tell that you’re in pain.”
Brody glanced out the small window in the door, then nodded. “Okay, there’s someone in the hallway…you ready?”
Lonnie nodded. “But I still think it’s a dumb idea.”
“Lodge a complaint when we get back to the seaQuest.” Brody walked away from the door, exhaled, then faced Lonnie.
“How dare you?!” Lonnie yelled.
“Give it a rest, Ensign!” Brody yelled back.
“I will not!!! It’s your fault that we are here!!”
Brody walked to the door, peeked out briefly, then continued. “What did you just say? How dare you?!” He slammed his hands together loudly.
Lonnie jumped, startled, then she realized what he was doing. “You hit me??!! Don’t you ever do that again!”
“Is that a threat?!” Brody yelled as he peeked out the window again. He ducked back. “He’s coming,” he whispered.
“That’s not a threat, Lieutenant…that’s a promise,” Lonnie said deadly, getting into the game.
Brody blinked at the tone. Whoa! “Don’t make promises you can’t keep, little one.”
“Who the hell you calling little one?!”
A face appeared in the small window. “What going on in here?” he demanded.
Lonnie pointed at Brody. “He’s being a pompous, arrogant, self-centered jerk!”
Brody gaped open mouthed at her. “A jerk??!!” He walked up to her. “It’s time to put up, or shut up…little one.” He grabbed her roughly by the arms, and glared at her.
“Let me go!!” Lonnie shrieked. She looked at the door. “Help me!!”
The door opened, and the man walked in. “Let her go,” he ordered as he pointed his gun at Brody.
Brody smiled slightly at Lonnie, winked, then let her go. He turned quickly and jumped at the man, knocking him into the side of the door. Brody grabbed the other mans head, slammed it against the door, then let him drop. He bent down and relieved the now unconscious man of his weapon.
“Coming?” he asked Lonnie, as he looked out the door.
Mariah sat calmly on a stump and watched the opening she had come out of. It had been nearly an hour since she had exited the cavern, and she did not know why she was still waiting around. Mariah sighed, stood up, and walked back to the tunnel.
“I hate you, James Brody,” she said as she entered.
Wendy stood and looked down at the person on the ground. “Now, I want you to stay there for at least ten minutes,” she ordered. “Give yourself a rest.”
Miguel sighed. “Aye, ma’am.” He tried to make himself more comfortable as he leaned against the wall.
Ford motioned Tony and Coulter to him. “Make a quick check of this cavern,” he ordered.
“Aye, sir,” the both replied and then set off.
Stark started to stand from her position on a rock, but one look from Ford made her think otherwise. She glanced to the side, and smiled.
“It’s about time!”
Ford turned, and then raised his hands. “How many men do you have?!” he asked in annoyance as a dozen men walked in with guns drawn.
“More than enough.” Stark relieved him of his weapon, motioned for Wendy to join him, then turned to Miguel. “Where is he?!”
Ford looked to where Miguel had been just moments before, and smiled at the empty spot. “It seems that he has escaped you.”
Stark shook with anger, and took a few deep breaths. “It makes no difference. I shall find him myself.” She faced her men. “Take them to their new accommodations.”
Tony paused as he was about to enter the cavern again and listened to the voices. He was about to enter with his weapon drawn, when a sharp pain exploded at the back of his head. He slumped to the ground.
Coulter put his hands up and dropped his weapon to the ground. One of the four men facing him gathered it up, and motioned for him to walk. I’m really starting to hate this island!!
Lonnie stood by the lagoon and looked at the ground. “A lot of people were here…recently.”
Brody nodded as he stepped back to get a better view. “These boot marks are from UEO regulation boots. They must have been here looking for—“ His words were cut off as he stumbled on a rock and fell backwards into the lagoon. He sat there, stunned for a few seconds, then he remembered what the water contained.
Lonnie watched in horror as Brody fell, and then in amazement as he made his way back to the shore in less than two seconds.
“You okay?” she asked as he turned to look at the water.
“Fine,” Brody said. “Wet, but fine.”
“You sure can move fast.”
Brody stood and smiled awkwardly. “Well…I didn’t think that I wanted to play with the sharks just at this moment, so—“ He cleared his throat and looked in the water. A fin glided through the area where he had been. He shivered and turned away. “Maybe they went looking for us,” he said in an attempt to change the subject.
“Where should we start?”
“The detention area we were in sounds as good as a start as anyplace.”
Ford looked out the small window as Coulter was tossed into another cell. That’s all of us…except for Miguel. He turned away and walked over to the small cot in the room.
“You think splitting us up is going to defeat us, Marilyn?” he said to himself. “Guess again.”
Miguel ran through the tunnel quietly in search of the others. He knew he was hopelessly lost, and had no idea as to where he was going. He had taken a large chance in slipping away from the main area when Stark’s men had arrived. Miguel had hidden in a crevice as the men searched for him, and he was unsure of how long he had actually remained there, since he had fallen asleep due to pain, exhaustion, and the medication Wendy had given him. He woke sometime later; sore, hungry, and extremely annoyed at Stark.
He saw an opening ahead, and went toward it. He skidded to a stop, teetering on the edge of a cliff, overlooking the lagoon. “Whoops!” He turned around, and froze.
“Miguel,” Marilyn Stark said pleasantly as she walked towards him.
Miguel eyed the gun in her hand, and slowly brought his own up. “Stay where you are, Marilyn.”
“Now, now, Ortiz…no need to be rude.” She continued to approach. “And I happen to know that your weapon is out of its charge.”
Miguel glared at her. “Wanna bet?”
Stark pressed the trigger on her gun, and fired. Miguel jumped as the wall next to him exploded in a shower of sparks.
“Damn!” He stepped back.
“Now, if you had a full weapons charge,” Stark said calmly, “you would have returned my fire.” She looked around. “It seems that you have no where to go.”
“There’s always the lagoon.”
“There’s sharks in that lagoon,” she replied, quite enjoying herself. “Face it, Miguel…you’re screwed.” She started to approach again.
Miguel backed up until he was at the cliff’s edge. He looked into the water below, then looked at his former captain.
Stark smiled. “Just look at this as your final stand. Your…destiny, if you will.”
Destiny?? The word that had caused him so much grief echoed in his mind as his eyes grew wide. “You, lady, are one sick individual.” Anger overtook him as he glared at her. “I am embarrassed to say that I ever knew you.”
“That’s not nice!” Stark walked up and stared into his face. “I hold your life in my hands, and all you can do is insult me?!”
“You hold nothing in your hands!” Miguel spat back. He reached out quickly and grabbed onto the weapon she was holding. He twisted her arm sideways, not noticing the blast that came from the gun.
Stark screeched, and pushed at him. Miguel held onto her as his foot slipped off the cliff. He could feel himself falling, and reached out frantically for something to grab onto.
Brody paused as he looked around the corner, then continued. Lonnie walked silently behind him, checking behind her every so often to make sure they were not being followed. She banged into Brody as he stopped suddenly, and glared at his back.
“What?” she whispered. She moved from behind him, and sighed in annoyance at the sight of a man holding a gun at them.
“Again?!” Lonnie decided that enough was enough, and swung out quickly at the man. Her hand connected solidly with his face, and he fell in a heap to the ground.
Brody looked at her in amazement. “Nice move.”
“Why didn’t you try something?” Lonnie asked as she bent down and picked up the extra gun.
“Perhaps you didn’t notice, Lonnie, but that guy had his gun against my chest.”
Lonnie looked at him. “He did?” She shrugged lightly. “Sorry.”
Brody smiled slightly. “Apology accepted…The cells are around this corner.”
Miguel gasped in pain as he held onto the cliff, agony coming from his ribs with each breath. He looked down at the person who held onto his legs.
“Stop squirming! You’re going to make me lose my grip!”
Marilyn Stark glared up at him. “That’s the point! If I have to die, at least I’ll have the pleasure of taking one of Nathan’s crew with me!”
Miguel sighed, and tried to tighten his grip on the lip of the cliff. He glanced up as he heard a noise above, and his eyes grew wide as a multi-colored hand reached down and grabbed his wrist. Fear gripped at him as he was pulled up, and all he could think of was that Mariah had come back to finish the job.
Mariah pulled him up, stopping in surprise when she saw who it was. She placed him none to gently on the stone floor as she grabbed onto Stark. Miguel watched as Mariah held Stark in the air.
“You have betrayed me,” Mariah said. She held Stark over the opening.
“No!” Miguel said. “Don’t kill her!” He pushed himself against the wall. “Let her stand trial for all she has done.”
Mariah looked at Stark, then placed her on the ground. She backhanded her quickly, then laid her unconscious form on the ground.
Miguel looked at Stark, then his gaze slowly went to Mariah. He scrambled to the gun that Stark had dropped, and pointed it. “Move away!”
Mariah looked at him. “I am not here to harm you.”
“I don’t believe you.” Miguel winced in pain, and shook his head as his vision started to cloud.
“You are injured,” Mariah stated as she approached.
Miguel knew that she would reach him before he could pump enough energy from the gun into her to stop her, so he let the weapon fall to the floor. He laughed slightly.
Mariah stopped and stared quizzically at him. She bent down slowly, and looked into his face. “Why are you laughing?”
Miguel leaned his head back against the wall, and closed his eyes against the pain. “My dream is coming true…I’m going to die on this island.”
“I am not going to harm you,” Mariah told him again. “You have to believe me.”
Miguel sighed in reluctant acceptance. “It seems that I have no choice.”
Jonathan Ford crouched by the door and tensed as it slowly opened. He threw himself at the figure as it entered, knocking it against the wall and to the floor. The weapon the man had been holding clattered into the darkness when Ford kicked it. Ford grabbed the person, hauled him to his feet, and slammed him against the wall. He pulled back his hand in a fist, ready to strike the final blow.
He stopped when he finally recognized the other face in the semi-light.
“Jim?” he asked in surprise.
Brody smiled slightly. “Nice reception. You usually attack your rescuers?”
Ford realized that he still had Brody pinned against the wall, and let him go. “Sorry about that,” he said. “I thought you were one of Marilyn’s thugs.”
Brody stepped away slightly. “Sorry to disappoint you. You ready to blow this joint?”
Lonnie popped her head in the doorway. “I found the others…I need your ‘key’.”
Brody passed her the small master electronic key. “Get them, and we’ll meet you at the end of the passageway.”
Marilyn opened her eyes slowly, and tried not to move as she looked around. She saw Mariah as she knelt in front of Miguel, her back to her. Marilyn slowly inched her way to the opening above the lagoon.
If I can get to the opening, she thought, I can get out of here. Her head was level with the side, and she glanced once again at Mariah’s back before she looked up. The small handhold was within reach, and she smiled slightly.
Mariah heard a noise behind her and turned. She stood and approached the figure of Marilyn Stark as it slipped over the side of the opening. Mariah looked out the opening, and ducked quickly as a foot swung at her face. She glared at Stark as she scurried up the side of the cavern, and disappeared into a cave a few meters above.
Stark looked down. “We’ll meet again, Mariah.” The she was gone.
Mariah turned back to Miguel. “She is gone.”
“Help me up,” Miguel whispered in pain. “We have to find the others.”
Lonnie put the key in her pocket and looked at Brody. “Do you remember the way out of here?”
“We still have to find Miguel,” Tony said.
Brody and Lonnie looked at each other in sadness. “Mariah killed him,” Brody said.
“No she didn’t,” Ford said.
“Mariah chased him off a cliff, but he’s alive,” Ford explained.
Lonnie smiled in happiness, and Brody sighed in relief. “Where is he?”
“We got separated in the main cavern,” Ford said as he started to walk. “If he’s smart, he’ll have stayed in that general area.”
“It’s this way,” Lonnie said and pointed. “I can smell the salt water.”
Mariah tightened her grip gently as Miguel’s body grew heavier. She readjusted his arm over her shoulder, and continued to walk.
“Put me down,” Miguel said quietly. “I’ll wait while you find the others.”
Mariah stopped walking and lowered him to the ground. “What’s to stop me from just leaving you here?”
“Nothing.” Miguel put a hand against his side. “I’m just going to have to trust you.”
Mariah stared at him. “You would trust me?” How long has it been since someone actually trusted me? A long time…And yet, both him and Brody were willing to. Mariah bent down, scooped Miguel up in her arms, and continued to walk towards the main cavern.
Marilyn Stark ran down the side of the hill, approached a hidden dock, and jumped into a small boat. She took one last look at the island. “Some other time then, Nathan,” she said. “I’m in no hurry to destroy you…in fact, I rather like this. You will have absolutely no idea as to when I will strike next.”
Stark started the small boat, and headed towards the mainland.
“Miguel?” Lonnie called out. She scanned the cavern slowly. “Migs?”
The group turned to the soft voice, and stopped. Ford, Tony, and Coulter raised their guns.
“Let him go, and move away,” Ford ordered Mariah.
“It’s okay,” Brody said. “She’s on our side.”
Tony looked at him. “She is?” He sounded doubtful.
“For now,” Mariah said as she slowly lowered Miguel to the ground. She stepped back as Wendy approached.
Ford kept his weapon on Mariah. “Where’s Stark?”
“She has escaped,” Mariah told him. She moved slowly to the wall and stood by an opening.
“Don’t move any further,” Ford said. “Lieutenant Brody, place her under arrest.”
Brody hesitated slightly. “Aye, sir.” He went to Mariah, and took out a set of restraints that he had taken from a guard earlier. “I’m sorry,” he whispered as he put them on her. “I know you risked a lot to help us.”
Mariah looked at him calmly. “I only wish that I could have gotten Stark.”
“Maybe next time,” Brody said in a low voice.
Miguel showed his identification at the gate, and walked into the prison yard. He made his way to the ‘Visitors Entrance’ and opened it slowly. He showed his I.D. again at the desk, then followed the guard to a small room. He sat in the chair slowly, and put a hand against his still tender ribs. He looked up as a door opened.
A man in a uniform walked in. “You are here to see prisoner 18364?” he asked.
“If that’s Mariah’s number,” Miguel said, “then, yes, I am.”
“Why do you want to see her?”
Miguel hesitated as he thought of why. “She saved my life, and I wanted to thank her,” he said simply.
The man nodded slightly, took Miguel’s visitor authorization and looked at it. “This is authorized by UEO Command.” Miguel nodded. “Then I am afraid that I have some bad news.”
Miguel stood slowly. “Bad news?”
“It seems that…and this is not to go out of this room, Chief,” the man paused as Miguel nodded again. “Prisoner 18364 is no longer here.”
“Where is she?”
The man blushed slightly. “She was in the infirmary, and sometime last night…escaped.”
Miguel stared at the man, and would have laughed at the irony of the situation had it not been so serious.
Brody opened the letter he had just received and read it. He stopped, looked at the envelope again, then back to the letter. It was only two lines, but the contents caused him to smile, and sent a little shiver of fear through him at the same time.
Brody put the letter back in the envelope and tucked it into his pocket.