The Pandora Effect Ch. 05byboneams©
My last chapter had people scratching their heads. I hope this next installment answers those questions and everyone goes "Oh, now I get it." Thanks to my wonderful editor Dawn and a few of my close friends that are now screaming for number 6, enjoy.
Lieutenant Commander Dobson tied off the surgical thread and held his hand out for the scissors. As John placed them in his hand, he swabbed the area around the wound for the hundredth time. He looked up at the screen showing Kevin's vital sign. His pulse was still too weak from the amount of blood loss.
When Dobson was done, he tossed the bloody tool into the tray and wiped his brow with his forearm. He looked at the clock on the bulkhead and realized he had now been in surgery for a little more than two hours. "Not bad for someone that hasn't cracked open a chest since medical school."
The doctor looked at the small green screen to check his patient's condition. The sub only had a limited supply of blood on board and Dobson knew he needed more surgery to repair the artery. He did what he could, but the Tarpon Springs just wasn't set up for battle field surgery.
"I gotta hand it to you Petty Officer Balch. You did very well with the procedure. I've never seen a corpsman with the talent you have. You should really think about med school," Dobson told him.
"Thanks Sir. I did two years in the O.R. at Portsmouth."
"Think you could close up while I go talk to your teammates? I'm sure they're anxious for some news on Mr. Dvorska's condition."
"Not a problem Sir. Let them know I'll be out as soon as I can."
The doctor pulled off his bloody gown and tossed it in the small red container. When he walked out of the room, he leaned up against the cold steel bulkhead and let out a heavy sigh. After collecting his thoughts, he started towards the control room to brief Commander Reinhardt first.
Adam Dawson sat quietly in one of the small booths that surrounded the Officer's Mess. He avoided eye contact with his team and Garrett, as he sipped the hot coffee and deliberated what his next move should be. He wasn't going to broach the subject of what everyone saw on the bridge of the Naqada if he didn't have to.
He closed his eyes and laid his head back. The image of his wife filled his mind and he found himself silently wishing he were there with her instead of with his team. The image of Laura sobbing uncontrollably took the place of Kristine. His heart grew heavy at the thought of telling her bad news. He prayed that the ship's doctor and his crack medic would get his friend through surgery.
The deafening silence that filled the room was shattered when Commander Reinhardt and his Executive Officer opened the door and walked inside. The doctor followed closely behind them carrying a large mug of coffee.
"Lieutenant, this is Doctor Dobson. He'd like to brief you on your friend's condition," Reinhardt said. The entire team gathered around the table as Dobson sat down across from Adam.
"Nice to meet you Doc, is he going to make it?"
"I'm not going beat around the bush here Lieutenant, he's lucky to be alive. Due to the amount of blood loss and the extent of the wound, he slipped into a coma. It could last a week or it could be permanent. I did what I could to stabilize him, but my training is in nuclear accidents not front line surgery."
"Is he stable enough to transport off the sub?" Adam's voice betrayed his feelings as the team turned their eyes towards him.
"He needs more care than we can give him here. To be brutally honest with you, he has a fifty, fifty shot -- less if we try to move him."
"How do you want to play this Dawson? Your friend here -- Mr. -- Brown, wants me to sink that merchant ship and the sun will be up in a few hours. I can't get you to port until at least tomorrow evening," Reinhardt said.
Adam weighed the decision to follow orders against the life of one of his team members. He needed to get his friend to a real hospital -- but at what cost. His mind flashed to the image of the crew of the Naqada, the zombie like beings, wondering aimlessly in the aft hold. Did his team kill all of them that escaped? There had to be a solution for both problems.
Garret could see the Navy SEAL contemplating the idea of turning for port. "Listen Adam, I'm sorry about Kevin. It sucks to loss one of your men, but my orders are specific. Sink that ship and everyone on it at all costs. You know damn well we can't let that ship get near land."
Adam quickly snapped his head to the far wall. A large map of the Mediterranean was on display and he rushed out of his seat towards it. "Where are we Commander?"
Reinhardt joined him and pointed to an area just south of Sicily. "I could give you a better location in the control room, but somewhere about here."
"This could work. Can you transmit a flash message?"
"I guess so. Who do you want me to send it to?"
Adam went to the bulletin board and pulled a piece of paper down. He wrote quickly and then handed the paper to Commander Reinhardt. His eyes shot open as he looked back up at Adam.
"Are you out of your mind Dawson? You can't land a helicopter on a submarine."
"You can if the pilot has a big enough set of balls. Just send it Commander."
"Okay, it's your funeral." Reinhardt handed the message to his XO and shook his head as he left.
Adam went back over to his team to brief them on his idea. As he passed the doctor leaving the room, Dobson placed his hand on Adam's shoulder. "There is one more thing you should know Lieutenant.
"What is it Doc?"
"That medic of yours deserves a medal. If he hadn't placed those clamps on when he did, your friend would be lying in the ship's morgue instead of sick bay. I had him assist me during the surgery and I can honestly say he's the best I've ever seen. He should be a doctor, not a medic."
"One more thing -- if you move your teammate, it will be on your call alone."
"I understand and I take full responsibility for it."
After sitting down, he discussed the extraction with everyone. Garrett was not happy about helicopters that close to the water, but if they could pull it off, at least he'd be off the sub. When Adam got back up to fill his coffee, Garrett followed him.
"You need to explain about that thing I saw. Mansur turned into some kind of..."
"This is neither the time nor the place for that discussion. Once we get to a secure location, I'll brief you on whatever you want. Right now I just want to get my point man to a hospital."
Adam and Garrett were speaking in a low tone, but there was one person in the room who picked the entire conversation up -- Jake Newton. He had taken extreme precautions never to let anyone know about his true self. Now the Director of the Special Activities Division was going to be briefed soon about the existence of the deadliest animals on the planet -- werewolves.
Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Mediterranean (CJSOTF), Aviano Italy.
Commander Neal Hawkins sat at his desk and thumbed through the offers of civilian employment. His retirement was just a few months away and his wife really wanted to move back to the states. As he stopped on one of the offers in Florida and began to read, his secretary knocked and entered quickly.
"I'm sorry Commander, but there's a flash message addressed to you."
"Who the hell wants me that bad to not use a phone?"
Neal read the message and quickly picked up the phone. "Jesus Dawson, now what the hell have you gotten yourself into?"
The sun was brilliant as the golden rays pierced through the trees of the forest. Kevin's eyes blinked open as he sat upright in the lush green grass. He had no idea where he was and his normal SEAL reaction should have been to look around for his weapon, but instead he felt calm.
He heard something soothing to his ears and turned his head. Just off to his right, there was a waterfall unlike he'd seen before. It started two hundred yards above him and cascaded over levels of outcropping plateaus. The white frothing water made him smile at the sheer beauty of its elegance.
He looked back to the left and saw a small trampled down path that led deeper into the forest. At first, he thought maybe it was a natural animal path but as he looked around, he didn't see any prints in the soft earth.
Kevin stood and as he did, he noticed he was wearing a faded set of denim jeans and a plain short sleeve tee shirt. He started to wonder if his mind was playing tricks on him. He couldn't remember putting these clothes on.
As he started down the tiny path, he became aware that he wasn't scanning the area like he was supposed to in a strange place. He could hear numerous birds chirping as he moved among the large oak trees. They didn't seem frightened, but sang to each other in a joyful tone.
He continued deeper and began to smell smoke. It reminded him of the camping trips he used to take with his father many years before. They would spend long weekends, hunting and fishing for food. He taught him how to survive off the land and enjoy nature along with its sheer beauty.
The smell became stronger and he started to make out voices ahead. He couldn't tell how many there were, but one of them was distinctly female. He thought maybe a group of campers or someone else. Either way, maybe he could get directions to a phone so he could call Laura and let her know he was safe.
He soon entered a small clearing. The bright sunlight seemed to dance among the branches and leaves of the tall trees as they swayed in the light wind. A small fire glowed softly in the center of the clearing, and he saw three people gathered around it.
What he couldn't understand was why his dad and grandmother where laughing and smiling at each other. Another man across from them was sipping some water and turned to look at him as he approached. When he cleared his throat to get the other's attention, Luka Dvorska turned his head and smiled at his only child.
"Well it's about time Kevin. I was beginning to think you wouldn't figure it out."
"I was just reminding your father here that I actually had to walk out and meet him when he showed up. Don't let him give you too much grief sweetie," Marta said with a gleaming smile.
"Grandma Marta?" Kevin had a look of confusion that seemed to amuse the other person by the fire.
"Luka, I won the bet. He has no idea who I am, even after the Predjama mission," he said with a hint of amusement.
Kevin cocked his head towards the stranger, as the others saw him trying to come up with a name. He mentioned the Predjama mission but that was impossible, it was classified. Even during the fight with Kordic, it was just him and Adam. Then, the vision of the strange mists filled his thoughts. He remembered he was not alone in the fight. His family came to help.
His great, great Grandfather smiled and nodded his head. He knew Kevin was slightly stunned at the realization that his family members were gathered around a fire. He just hoped that when he figured where he was, he would remain calm as he started his new journey.
"It sure seemed you wasted a few brain cells coming up with that one Kevin," Baldomr said with a slight chuckle.
"I don't understand. I was on a mission with..."
"Kevin, why don't you pull up a log and have a seat for a while, it seems you have more than a few questions," Luka interrupted as he reached down and grabbed a cold beer out of a small tub of ice.
The Navy SEAL sat down and stared at his Grandmother with a blank stare. Even though she was smiling at him, her eyes seemed to have a hint of sorrow for her werewolf grandson. Marta kept her smile as she reached into the cold water and retrieved a beer. She tossed it to Kevin who deftly caught it with one hand.
"Now this is what I call dreaming. Sitting around and getting to talk to you two again, drinking a few brain grenades, seems like old times." Kevin took a long drink and sighed heavily as he placed the cold can on his knee.
He looked at Baldomr with a stern glare. "I have some questions for Baldomr. You came up with some strange rules for your decedents to follow."
"Nice to finally meet you too Kevin. You sure have made something with your life. In my day, it was hard to meet friends and do the things you do."
"Well then it's nice to know times really don't change much. The only way I was able to make friends was to hide what I am. Do you have any idea how much I just wanted to be a normal kid with a life?"
Luka placed his hand gently on Kevin's forearm. "We really should learn to control our tempers Son. If you want to blame someone, it should be me. Maybe I screwed up on how I raised you."
"It's okay Luka. Let him get it off his chest if it makes him feel better."
"Sorry Baldomr, I guess I should be a little more respectful. You did come to that cave and save my life along with my best friend."
"It's okay Kevin, and you have a right to know about those rules. I didn't come up with them -- he did," Baldomr said as Gabriel walked up behind Kevin.
15 miles southeast of Aviano Air base, Hospital Civile Sacile, Sacile Italy.
Adam Dawson stared at the glossy tiled floor just outside of the surgery room. His team members surrounded him as they too sat silently for any news to come out of the room. Throughout the flight in, John monitored Kevin's medical condition. He knew he should have told his team leader that he was fading slowly, but he just couldn't bring himself to do it.
When a nurse would walk towards them, he tried to ask about his best friend. They all ignored him as they rushed quickly inside. He knew it was a bad sign as more nurses went in but never came out.
Garrett had the same thousand yard stare, but his was directed to the bright white wall on the other side of the corridor. The thoughts of his own men that lost their lives to whatever that thing was on the bridge was, filled his heart with a deep regret, and an even deeper rage.
Adam's attention was quickly drawn to the large entrance door as an older gentleman in scrubs exited. He had a serious look on his face, as he looked around at the men in their green flight suits.
"Which one of you is the team leader?" Adam jumped to his feet in hopes of news about Kevin.
"I am Sir. Lieutenant Adam Dawson. Is he going to be alright?"
"I'm Major General Douglas Fairwood. Is your team's medic here with you Lieutenant?"
"Sir, I'm the team medic, Petty Officer Balch," John said quickly as he stood at attention.
Fairwood was silent as he trembled slightly. It was many years ago when he last lost his temper, and he fought hard not to lash out at them.
"I'm going to try and remain calm as I debrief you on the patient's condition. I've seen a lot of stupid things in my thirty five years as a surgeon, but you two clowns take the cake. I read the report of the surgery on the Tarpon Springs, fine job by the ship's doctor and the team's medic."
"So he's gonna be alright Sir?" Adam started to smile, but the look on Fairwood's face told him the answer.
"No, he's not going to be alright Lieutenant. You should have heeded the doctor's advice, and you -- Petty -- Officer Balch should have stood on his neck until he did." Fairwood's voice started to rise as John took a step back.
"Sir, it wasn't like..."
"Where the hell did you get your training from Balch? Even a civilian knows to move someone -- after -- they're stable. Thanks to you two bozo's, he probably has a slim to none chance of coming out of it, and if he does, he'll be a vegetable for the rest of his life."
"Sir it was my call to move him. I wanted to..."
"You wanted to what Lieutenant, play God? I hate to tell you this, but that job is already taken. Your -- friend -- is in recovery if you want to say hi, not that it will do any good. What happens next is up to him and the all mighty. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go to my office and call your command about pressing formal charges against both of you."
Adam kept his eyes on the door to the operating room as the Major General stormed past him. The feeling of guilt that flowed through his heart flooded his body. He wondered how he was going to tell Laura that Kevin is dead because of his hasty judgment.
Alpha fire team watched as their team leader clenched both hands in a fist. His eyes quickly filled with tears as he slowly walked towards the door with two small windows. They sat in utter disbelief as the Navy SEAL quickly sent a large powerful fist through one of them. Adam pulled his bloody hand back and turned to face the shocked team.
"Since I'm going to be court martialed for getting one of my men killed, I might as well add destruction of government property along with failure to disclose information to it," he said as he looked over at a conference room nearby.
Jake stood up quickly with a look of concern. He knew exactly what the SEAL was referring to, and it wasn't good. "Adam, we're all upset about Kevin. Maybe we should just get some sleep..."
"Thanks for the advice Jake. I think you better sit this conversation out, this is between me and my men."
"I've been waiting for this since leaving the Naqada, and I'm damn sure not going to miss out on this. Newton, guard the door. I don't want anyone in or out," Garrett said as he stood up. Adam looked over at the new medic. He had only been with the team a short while and didn't need to be involved with this, he was in enough trouble as it was.
"Petty Officer Balch, you are excused from this meeting. You will stay outside until we come out. I'm still a Lieutenant for the time being and that's an order."
"Can I at least take a look at your hand Sir?"
"No! With any luck I'll bleed out and save the Navy a bunch of money." Adam slowly walked the twenty feet towards the conference room door. He knew he had to keep Kevin's family secret and put the blame on him and Kordic. He promised Luka Dvorska that he would do that one thing, that long night ago in Predjama cave.
Luka Dvorska looked up at the archangel Gabriel as he stood behind his son. With his presence at the small clearing, he knew the time was close and his only son would join them. He silently prayed that his wife Beth would not take the news too hard.
She should have gone before her son, and now, Kevin would welcome her instead of the other way around. Luka knew he had to make lite of the situation to ease the news Kevin had coming. He did what came naturally, as he reached into the ice-cold water for a beer.
"Gabe, good to see you out and about among the little people. How about an ice cold beer to settle the nerves?"
"Good to see you too Luka, and you should know by now that I don't drink."
Kevin turned to see an older man wearing a long flowing white gown. He had shoulder length blond hair, and his deep blue eyes had a calming effect as he gazed back at Kevin. He placed a hand on his shoulder and the young werewolf instantly felt at peace with all his troubles.
"Hello Kevin, it's a pleasure to finally meet you in person."
"Hello Gabe. How come you're in my dream too?"
"Oh dear, we do have a sticky situation here don't we. Luka, you asked for this personally. Now it seems I have to do all the work."
"Well -- Gabriel -- he just got here and I didn't want to rush into it. You came too early; you should see a doctor about it. Women get annoyed when you do that," Luka said with a chuckle.
Kevin tried to stifle his laugh but he felt wonderful inside. It had been so long since he heard his father's quick wit. He looked up just in time to see Marta slap her son on the arm in retort. He looked back at Gabriel and saw the older man smiling and shaking his head in surrender.