Security hazard

Brains winched up the last stretcher, with a badly injured little girl in it. Then, as the ambulance took her to the hospital, he brought Scott and John up. They were bone tired, and John drooped even more than Scott did.

"They'll have to airlift her to South Carolina," Tin-Tin said as she approached. "That's what they did with Gordon. The local hospitals can't handle any more emergency cases."

"Gordon's in South Carolina?" John asked, amazed. "What a lucky coincidence that Bekkah happens to be there, too." He gave a tired grin.

"Yes, John," Tin-Tin winked at him. "He even managed to end up at one of the hospitals in Greenville."

"P-personally, I think he m-must have, uh, requested the t-transfer," Brains added.

Scott shook his head and smiled. "Just can't keep those two apart, can we? By the way, where is Virgil?"

"V-virgil should, ah, be coming b-back with the, uh, airlift h-helijet," Brains explained. This had been a draining day for him, too.

"Well, let's get these last cars out of the sinkhole and load up the pod. Then we'll be ready when Virgil gets back," Scott told his crew. There was an assortment of quiet moans and then a chorus of "FAB". The foursome wearily turned to the more grisly task of retrieving the bodies in the cars.

The International Rescue patient was wheeled into Trauma triage, accompanied by another operative in the more familiar uniform and a yellow sash. Staton was slightly surprised to see the walking operative warmly greet the woman he was escorting back to that portion of the Emergency Room. He had expected that the woman was a fraud, and thought that confronting her with the true International Rescue people would explode her little fantasy. Then he could deal with her accordingly. But as it turned out, she was telling the truth.

She walked over to the gurney where the injured operative lay quietly. He saw her speak to him and smile, then undo the strap of his helmet and pull it off gently. The uninjured operative joined her at the bedside and spoke to the injured one. Then he and the woman stepped aside and spoke together quietly. The woman pointed Staton out, and he strained his ears to listen to what they said about him.

Meanwhile, the Emergency Room crew was working on the patient, removing his boots and other clothing, either by tugging or by cutting. Once they got down to the orange sash, the woman held up her hand, keeping the crew from cutting this particular piece of uniform. She unfastened the sash and carefully slipped it off intact from the patient. She took the gun that was in his holster, and moved it to her own. Then she folded the sash up neatly and gave it to the walking operative.

A paramedic from the airlift service came over and spoke to the operative in the yellow sash. He nodded his head vigorously, then turned to his injured colleague to make his farewells. He spoke briefly to the woman, and they waved at each other, then the uninjured operative left. Staton chose this time to make his way over to the woman.

"The pilot there has to go back to Waynesboro, and the helijet people are giving him a lift. He has news that you can expect a badly injured girl in here soon, so you might want to prep the pediatricians for her," she said before he could ask any questions.

"Ah, what exactly are you going to do here?" Staton asked.

The woman smiled. "I'm going to act as his bodyguard while he is here. At least until the pilot gets back. Where he goes, I go," she explained.

"I'm afraid I can't allow the gun. Besides, we have very good security here..." Staton was beginning to get riled.

"I'm sure you do, Mr. Staton. And we're going to need that security," she continued. "No matter how hard we try, news of an injured International Rescue operative gets out into the media, and usually they find out what hospital he or she has been taken to. That means a media frenzy. We need you and your security forces to quell that and make sure no one in the media has access to either him or me. We'll also need you when the rest of the rescue crew comes to pick him up. So no one has access to our vehicles. You can handle that, can't you, Mr. Staton?"

Staton's anger was blunted. He looked at her shrewdly and nodded. "We can handle that." he replied.

"Thank you, Mr. Staton. As far as the gun goes, either I keep it with me or store it where someone unscrupulous might take it. I'd rather keep it with me. But even if I didn't have the gun, I'd still be armed. And dangerous." She turned to go back to the bedside.

"Wait! What can I call you? You must have a name."

The woman stopped for a moment. Obviously, this question had taken her by surprise. She conferred briefly with her injured colleague, and then turned to him. "You can call me...Bea. As in Ms. Bea." The moniker seemed to please her, for he saw a mischevious twinkle in her eye.

All right, Ms. Bea. We'll take good care of you two, Staton vowed silently. No reporters, no pictures, and no hassles. He nodded at her, then he left to brief his security guards.

The trauma doctor came up to Bekkah and Gordon. Gordon looked very pale, and was keeping his eyes closed as much as he could. His face was pinched with pain from his injuries.

"Ma'am, I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to wait in the waiting area over there while we take him to...."

Bekkah interrupted. "Sorry, Doctor. Where he goes, I go. I won't go into the x-ray room, or the CT room, or the operating theater, should he need surgery. But I will be waiting just outside the door. No waiting areas. I am his designated bodyguard."

The doctor was not pleased. "And I suppose you are going to carry that gun around with you, too?" he asked disdainfully.

Bekkah took a good look at Gordon's gun. He had taken a stunner that day. "Yes. I am." she replied quietly.

"I'm not happy about it. Guns don't belong in a hospital," the doctor maintained, "but as long as you know how to use it, I will keep my objections to myself." He turned to Gordon. "You'll be pleased to know that you have been given priority over other patients with similar injuries. Not over life-threatening cases, of course, but when we get down to X-ray, you will be first in line."

This did not please Gordon at all. He had been raised not to take advantage of other people, but to take his turn and be polite. Bekkah could see his discomfort, and smiled, taking his good hand in hers.

"If it's all the same to you, doctor, I think I'd rather not have priority status. I'm no better than anyone else," he stated.

"Sorry. I have my own orders. From the Chief of Staff herself. She said she'd be down later to greet you. I think she wants a photo op," the doctor told them.

"No pictures!" Gordon and Bekkah said in unison. "That's always been our policy." Gordon continued.

"Well, you'll have to be the ones to tell her that, then." The doctor finally picked up Gordon's chart. "Let's get you down to X-ray." An orderly came and took hold of the gurney and wheeled it away, Bekkah following along behind.

Bekkah hadn't been to the emergency room in quite some time. She had forgotten how much "hurry up and wait" there was, even for a priority patient. They bounced from X-ray, to CT, and finally ended up back in the ER. The doctor who had started them on this merry-go-round was no longer on duty, it seemed, but a new doctor had been assigned to Gordon. This new doctor didn't speak to them, just checked the chart silently.

Gordon and Bekkah looked at each other; this man was making them both very uneasy. Bekkah moved to stand on the same side of the gurney that the doctor stood on, putting herself between him and Gordon. She checked out his ID badge. The picture was obscured by the chart, but she could just see the pink and blue stripe identifying where this doctor was supposed to work. Last I remember, she thought, pink and blue were for Labor and Delivery!

Then she saw the name. Dr. Tonya Trilling. Okay, time to get Mr. Staton, she thought. This guy is not my gynecologist, Dr. Trilling.

Bekkah turned to the nurse at the nurse's station. "Call security! This man is an imposter!"

The phony doctor reacted. He pulled a gun from under his lab coat, grabbed a nearby nurse, and pointed the gun at the nurse's head. "Okay. You discovered my little secret. But you're going to let me walk out of here, or I'll blow her brains out." He began to back toward the double doors.

"What do you want? Why are you here?" Bekkah asked, her eyes fixed on him as she advanced slowly. She wanted to use the stun gun, but didn't want to hit the nurse, too.

"My assignment? To kill him, what else? And you, too, if I had the chance. My master would be pleased with me if I took out two birds with one stone." He leered at Bekkah. "You may have put my master behind bars for the moment, but he will be free soon. Just you wait."

The double doors swung open and Henry Staton stood there with a gun fixed on the phony doctor's back. The gunman glanced back at him. "Step away, Mr. Security, or I scrag her."

Staton stepped away, not lowering his gun.

The gunman's attention was now split. Bekkah had moved quickly between him and Gordon again. She reached into the pouch on her belt and took out a small white ball, about the size of a golf ball. She held it in her curled fingers, facing it away from the intruder, her hand obscuring the little ball. She turned her head toward Gordon and whispered, "Close your eyes tight!" He nodded and did as she said.

The double doors pushed open again and a petite woman in a lab coat came through. She squealed at the scene before her. The gunman whipped his head around to see the source of the noise. Bekkah slipped the ball into the crook of her fore and middle fingers. He swung back again and as he did, Bekkah pulled her arm up and back and pitched!

The white ball went sailing right toward the gunman. It struck the floor in front of him. Suddenly there was a blaze of blinding blue-white. The fake doctor screamed and clutched his eyes. Even Mr. Staton and the nurse hostage shouted as their vision was overloaded by that light. Bekkah, who had shut her eyes and covered them with her arms, acted. She pulled the nurse away from the now helpless gunman and used her weapon to stun him. He fell to the floor in a heap.

Staton approached her, still blinking, his eyes still smarting with the afterimages of that light blast. "Armed and dangerous, huh?"

Bekkah grinned at him. "Yup. Armed and dangerous."

The original ER doctor was found stuffed in a utility closet, unconscious. The petite woman who had come through the door became Gordon's new ER doctor.

"My name is Dr. Aristedes. I am Chief of Staff here." Gordon and Bekkah looked at each other in amazement. Chief of Staff?

"I understand that you allow no pictures. Very well, we will honor that. But whatever we can do to help International Rescue, we will. Now, down to your condition,"

"Gordon," he supplied.

"Mr. Gordon. You have a compound fracture of the ulna, a two hairline fractures of the radius. We will want to do surgery on the ulna before we can set it. Also, one of the disks in your neck is slightly herniated. Fortunately, the herniation is not impinging on your spinal cord. This will go away with rest, but you will have to wear a soft c-collar for at least two weeks. When was the last time you ate?"

"At about 5 p.m." Gordon answered.

"That's about 8 hours ago. I think we can do the surgery as soon as an OR becomes available." She looked at them both and smiled. "By the way, thanks for the heads up on the little girl. It helped to have the pediatric staff ready for her. She's going to be all right."

They were waiting for an operating room to become available when all the ER personnel quickly made their way to a bank of windows overlooking the back parking lot. There was a lot of pointing and oohing and aahing going on. Bekkah stopped to listen. The familiar sound of TB2's jets were coming from outside.

"Virgil's back," she said to Gordon. He grinned and closed his eyes again.

Bekkah got back to her parents' house about 4 a.m. Both of her parents worked odd hours, and they were getting ready for work when she came in, rumpled and sleepy.

"How is your friend?" her father asked.

"In surgery. Some of her family came to stay with her, so I wasn't needed any more." She hung up her coat. She had quietly changed into civvies before leaving the hospital and would get her uniform out of the van when she had a chance.

"I heard on the news that a member of International Rescue was brought to Greenville Memorial last night. Is that where you were? Did you get to see him?" her mom asked as she hurried to get ready for work.

"Yeah. There was one there. I caught a glimpse of him. He was wearing a helmet, so I couldn't really see his face or anything."

Bekkah was poised to head for bed. She hated lying to her parents, but there was no way around it. If they knew what she really did for a living, they would be targets of people like that creep at the hospital. And his boss.