Coming Home: Book 1
Chapter 13: Collateral damage

Copyright© 2007 by Brendan Buckley

Action/Adventure Sex Story: Chapter 13: Collateral damage - A man returns to the town he left 20 years before to find that sometimes time doesn't heal all wounds. His old friends have new lives and the people he left behind aren't the same as he hoped to find. Can he enjoy a rebirth in the town where he was born?

Caution: This Action/Adventure Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa  

The wait at the "command center" was interminable.

Jane and Beau sat in her vehicle a few miles from where her daughter was being held captive and the last words either of them had received were not encouraging.

Both knew well enough that they were better served there than anywhere else, but either would have been happier almost anywhere else but there. Yet there they were.

Jennifer Pearson — or Cobra, as she was known — had radioed the command center minutes before to alert control about the sounds of gunfire in the wooded area, but there had been no report since. Steve had let Jane know that his group had reached the house almost 45 minutes earlier, but she hadn't heard from him since. Neither Beau nor Jane was willing to try to establish contact because of the risk involved to the groups on the ground.

So instead they sat silently, sipping cold coffee and doing their best to put on an unaffected air while their insides were churning. Each had so much more in the fire zone than he or she was capable of losing.

Although she had barely spoken civilly to her sister in the past three days, Jane was worried when Allison had jumped into the helicopter. For reasons she couldn't place — perhaps because everyone else was so comfortable with his leadership — Jane trusted Steve to see the plan through successfully.

Allison was a different story. She had failed to protect Stephanie at her home and at school. Now she seemed to be an integral part in getting Jane's daughter back from where Allison's error had put her. Still, Jane was terrified that she never would see her baby sister alive again. It was only then she realized that Allison would do anything to save Stephanie — not to make amends, but because she cared so much about Jane and her daughter.

Steve had been frightening the past few days. Jane wasn't sure if the man had slept for more than a few hours since he learned of Stephanie's capture. Jane also was certain that Steve had been at work at any time she had been awake over that time.

"He'll get her back," Beau said quietly. "It's what he does best — rescuing people he cares about. He doesn't leave anyone behind."

Jane turned sharply to the man sitting beside her.

"He didn't rescue me," she said faintly. "He didn't come back for me."

Stephanie felt the blood rushing back to her arms and legs and for the first time in hours she was warm. She felt two strong arms around her but she couldn't see who was carrying her. The only thing she could see was trees and the back of a woman walking in front her. She was on the man's back in a fireman's carry.

She remembered waking up briefly on the floor and hoping the last few minutes — days really — had been a nightmare. But the ringing in her hears and the smell of cordite — even though she didn't know what the smell was — let her know it was real.

Now Steve was carrying her through the woods and Allison was leading them to safety. At least she thought that was what was happening until she heard the pair she was with speak.

"Control, this is Cobra, over," the woman said in weary tones. Stephanie couldn't hear the reply, but there must have been one, because the woman spoke again.

"Control, operation complete, Digger is safe and present," Stephanie heard. "Repeat, Digger is safe but scraped. Zero sum at Zone. Several Freddies lost. Repeat, Freddies lost. We'll need clean up. We're about two minutes away. Over and out."

Stephanie didn't understand much of what the woman said but she knew she had to be "Digger." That was Steve's nickname for her since she had demonstrated her volleyball ability.

When that was in place, she was certain that what the woman said meant at least two of her rescuers had been killed. That could only mean that Steve and Aunt Allison weren't coming back.

Her mind wasn't willing to accept that fact.

Jane was out of the SUV the instant she head Stephanie was safe. She was ready to race into the woods to meet Beau's team when he grabbed her arm.

"Just wait," he said, firearm in hand. "She's been injured, but not shot. There is a helicopter standing by to evac Stephanie to the hospital, but if it's not serious, I want to wait until I get a report before you take her there."

Jane was irate.

"You get that fuckin' helicopter ready to take off as soon as she gets here," she hissed, inches from Beau's face. But he shook his head.

"She's scraped," he said softly. "That means she has minor injuries. There might be others more seriously hurt and like it or not they take precedent. Jane, at least two of our people are dead and Jen didn't give a report on wounded. You need to be prepared for what Stephanie might have seen or heard. 'Freddies' are friendlies. We've lost two and I don't know which two."

The news hit Jane like a punch but before she could collapse she saw a woman and two men covered in blood come out of the woods. One of the men had Stephanie across his shoulders.

"Get the bird up, Able," Jen said as she reached them. "There's no one left back there to help."

After Stephanie and Jane took off to the nearest hospital, Jen gave her after-action report to Beau.

"Horse was hit before we made it to the house," Cobra said tonelessly. "An Ernie came down the hill on the fly and shot him. I eliminated the Ernie and we headed to the Zone."

The fire zone had been quiet by the time Team Vector had arrived, she told him. Joker and Ghost had secured the perimeter where they found a man's body.

"We assumed he was an Ernie," Jen said. "But he wasn't. He had a police T-shirt under his vest."

"Oh, shit," Beau whispered. "That's has to be the guy helping the Boss. Shit. Shit. Shit."

"Digger, Boss and Marker (Stephanie, Steve and Allison) did not clear the scene within two minutes and we were unable to make radio contact," she continued. "Joker and Ghost entered through the back. I came through the front. I'm still not sure what went on inside.

"Marker could barely speak and Digger was unconscious but unbound by that point. Boss was in bad shape."

Beau saw tears in Jen's eyes. It was the first time he'd seen anything close to emotion from the woman.

"He was against the wall," she said. "He was so pale and cold. There was nothing any of us could do."

At that point, the woman everyone called Cobra wrapped her arms around the big man's frame and held on for dear life.

"He just sat there holding on to Digger and Marker for dear life," she said. "Beau, I think Boss had pissed himself."

The second he stared down at Allison's weapon was the longest in Steve's life. He knew he was a dead man before he saw the muzzle flash.

Before his mind could register pain or shock, Steve heard a scream and the sound of a body hitting the floor behind him. His senses were still overwhelmed by the nearness of a gunshot but his mind snapped back into focus.

He spun around to see the body of one of the kidnappers sprawled behind him and a knife a few feet from the man's corpse. It wasn't as close as Steve had come to death, but it was close enough to scare the piss out him — literally.

Steve jerked his attention back to the room in front of him and he saw Allison sitting staring at him blankly with her gun still aimed at the door. As gently as he could, he took the weapon from Allison's hands and asked her to continue removing Stephanie's bonds.

The request seemed to shake Allison from her daze and she complied wordlessly. Steve managed to check the rest of the house again to ensure the other kidnappers were indeed dead before the emotion overwhelmed him. He gathered Stephanie's unconscious form and Allison's almost boneless body and cradled them to his chest. Then Steve Booth, aka Eric Cardwell aka Boss, cried as he never had cried before in his life.

When Cobra, Joker and Ghost found the three a few minutes later, Steve refused to allow the new group near Allison or Stephanie. It took almost five minutes before Jen could convince him to release his grasp on the women but finally Steve snapped out his mental state and wiped his eyes.

"Status?" he asked Jen crisply. Cobra filled Boss in on Horse's death and the death of an Ernie.

"Boss, there's another DB outside," she said. "A cop."

Steve's face hardened at the news. Paul McClung had been killed.

"You and Joker take Digger to Control," he stated. "Have Ghost follow to obscure the trail then have him come back. Marker and I will clean up here. You fill in Able and Lady on what's happened but I'll need ideas on McClung."

Steve turned to Allison who seemed to be drawing strength from his closeness.

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