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Monday, November 2, 2009, 11:37 AM, Central Time Zone, GMT

Inadvertently disclosed location, Secret Ops Temporary Facility



Holcomb gnashed his teeth in rage as he stared in disbelief at the monitors. An armada of media vehicles had added itself to the riot surrounding his Secret Ops Centre. At the sight of the news cameras, his men had lowered their weapons like guilty schoolyard bullies caught in the act.

'Now what?' Frederick Sutter demanded, his tone dripping with sarcasm.

'We're not done yet!' Holcomb rejoined testily. He went to a radio, picked up the mike. 'Air unit one.'

"Standing by."

Holcomb gave Sutter a triumphant look. 'Get that chopper here, now! We'll be on the roof.'

"Understood."

Unnoticed for the moment, Yelina stared with wide eyes at the array of sophisticated electronics.

Sutter raised an eyebrow. 'I take it there's a destination involved?'

Holcomb gave him a withering look. 'Going on the lam without a plan is for common thieves and imbeciles. I intend to remove this creature to a secure location where we can work, uninterrupted. I suggest you help me get it up onto the roof.'

'I'm not a "creature",' Yelina scowled, 'and I'm not an "it", and I'm not going for a ride in your stupid helicopter.'

'You'll do as you're told!' Holcomb snapped, though he appeared rattled that Yelina had spoken to him in plain English. 'If you give us any trouble,' he added, pulling out a hand-held taser and arcing it menacingly in front of her, 'you'll get a taste of this!'

'You're nothing a big meanie!' Yelina rejoined. 'Jack is going to kick the crap out of you!'

'I think not,' Holcomb said, prodding Yelina in the small of the back, urging her to proceed him to the ladder on the wall which led to the roof. From outside they could hear the helicopter nearing, fast, coming in for a landing.

With a reluctant sigh, Yelina began the ascent.

Reaching the trapdoor, she shoved it open-

'Hey!'

'Hiya, Short Stuff!' It was Matthew Thunderchild, who deftly reached down, grabbed her by the back of her pants, and hoisted her onto the roof. 'Bye, asshole!' He kicked the trapdoor closed, sending both men tumbling to the floor.

Yelina jumped up and down, clapping her hands, and hugged him. 'Yay! My big, strong warrior hero!' On the roof with them were a dozen well-armed young native men. Above, the helicopter hovered in frustration.

'Let's go back down the ladder!' Yelina urged.

Matthew gave her a look. 'What? Whadja want to go back in there for?'

'I wanna go back and kick some butt!'

Matthew's answering grin was like a scimitar. 'Okay, but let me an' the boys go in first! We'll soften 'em up for you.' He lifted the trapdoor open with the toe of his boot. 'Hey, assholes! Incoming . . .' thirteen young native men began letting out a war-whoop like Indians in an old cowboys 'n' Indians flick, and one after another went sliding down the ladder.

In their younger days, both Holcomb and Sutter had been deadly martial artists, and even in their middle age they managed to parry the blows that rained on them from all sides, but age soon began catching up with them as they became winded.

Meanwhile, Yelina disappeared through a door labelled Control Room.

Realising they were done, in his arrogance Holcomb produced a gun from a hidden holster. At the sight of it, the young men took him down, hard, slamming him to the floor. As his colleague went down, Frederick Sutter tried to salvage what remained of his dignity, stopped fighting, and straightened his professorial tweed sport coat. Fearing a ruse, Matthew slapped an arm-lock on him and bent him over a desk.

'Unhand me, you-'

'Shut up, you cowardly piece of work,' Matthew bit off tersely as he checked Sutter over for weapons and released him.

The young man's poise and diction threw Sutter a moment, causing him to reappraise what he had presumed to be an unsophisticated lout.

'Look,' Sutter tried sounding reasonable, 'there seems to be some misunderstanding-'

'Don't talk,' Matthew rejoined with a grimace. 'You're a snake and a liar. That's all I need to know about you.' He noticed Yelina's absence, then. 'Hey, Short Stuff! Where'd you get to?' Her continued absence causing him some alarm, he left his companions in charge of the two prisoners, went to the Control Room, and opened it. And gaped. 'What is all this stuff?' The room was filled with sophisticated electronic gear, all or most of it of unguessable purpose. 'Hey! Short Stuff! C'mon, let's get out of here!' He went to her and tried to dislodge her from a rack of hand-held equipment whose entire compliment of artifacts she seemed determined to stuff into her pockets.

'This isn't a good idea!' he said, propelling her to the door. 'Yelina!'

She gave him the slip, momentarily, grabbed a prodigious piece of equipment, and began stuffing it up underneath the front of her jacket.

'Okay, that's all you're taking!' he ordered, not taking "no" for an answer this time. At that moment, he wasn't sure whether to be relieved or not that she seemed satisfied with what she had.

As the young people exited the building with their two prisoners, they were spotted by a crowd of reporters surrounding Jack and Ian. Jack was saying, 'There she is! There's my niece, and those are the freaks that kidnapped her!'

Sutter and Holcomb tried unsuccessfully to hide their faces from the news cameras that were shoved in their faces from all sides. With their hands tied behind their backs, it was impossible for them to cover up.

'Why did you kidnap this girl?' a woman shouted, thrusting a microphone in Sutter's face. Sutter's appearance acted on the reporters like dog-dirt to flies, and he tried using his distinguished looks to gain some advantage.

'I am a professor of physics,' he said, summoning his dignity, 'and I am in the employ of the federal government! It is I and my colleague who are being illegally detained by this gang of common thugs!'

'You're a big fat liar and a meanie!' Yelina shouted, bursting into tears. 'You stuck me with a needle, and you beat me up and hurt my kitty!' Arley had arrived with Boom-Boom Kitty as she spoke, and with a surreptitious wink handed the little grey furball to his mistress. You could almost hear the reporters collectively say, "Aw-w-w-w-w!" Rising to the bait, they turned their cameras and their attention to Yelina.

Sutter became apoplectic with rage. 'She's a filthy little liar! I did absolutely nothing of the sort-' He groaned in frustration as the little alien girl turned on the waterworks with renewed gusto.

'You- you're j-just a mean, ugly old man! What did my kitty and I ever do to you-?'

In no mood for any further duress to be inflicted on his mistress, Boom-Boom Kitty shifted in her arms, tail and hair bristling, and hissed at the object of her distress. Mesmerised, the camera operators jostled to get the best view of this phenomenon.

'Cat's don't lie, you sonofabitch!' the woman reporter challenged. 'They don't know how to lie! Maybe you'd like to explain why this animal doesn't like you?'

It was then that Sutter made his fatal error. 'It's just a dumb animal, defending its owner-'

'Oh, so you admit you attacked her, then!'

As the feeding frenzy commenced, Jack took the opportunity to extricate Yelina from the circle of reporters. To his surprise, she was glad to see him, but uncharacteristically only gave him a furtive, cursory hug.

'Nice going, kid. You almost had me convinced.'

She grinned. 'We buried 'em with baloney!'

They were joined by Arley and Ian. Ian could barely conceal his excitement upon seeing the little alien girl, but Arley was more subdued. Before Ian could speak, she said to Yelina, tousling Boom-Boom Kitty's head, 'This cat of yours saved the day.'

'He's not a cat!' Yelina protested. 'He's a kitty.'

Ian sobered at that. 'Well, he saved my girlfriend's life. Look, Jack, we really need to talk.'

Jack took stock of what was happening with the reporters. The police had arrived, and were nervously trying to figure out how to handle the situation. When it was revealed that CSIS wasn't forthcoming about the kidnappers' relationship to their organisation, the police made what everyone sensed to be a show, of taking the offenders away in handcuffs. Jack heaved a sigh as he watched the men in black handcuffed and deposited in the back seats of the police cruisers.

'Okay, let's go back to my place and talk.' He looked Ian and Arley in the eye, then. 'But let's be clear about something: this is not over. In my opinion, it's just beginning.'



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