They got me into the squad truck and the last things I heard were the honking of the loud squad horn to get the coroner’s truck to back up, and the sirens on the squads cranking up. Then I blacked out. I started to come to as they were moving me into the Emergency Room and somewhere in the background the P.A. was blaring, “CODE BLUE, TWO G.S.W., EMERGENCY OPERATING ROOM, STAT.” Then I blacked out again.

When I came to the second time, a blurry figure in greens was stitching up my cheek without benefit of local anesthesia. There was an IV in my left elbow, a blood pressure cuff on my right upper arm and a pulse/ox clip on my left index finger. The machine they fit into was buzzing, clicking, and dinging above my head. Then I blacked out a third time until I was well into my hospital room bed.

The Bomb Squad in their protective gear ambled up to the door and then stopped when they saw a chunk of C4 around the knob the size of a small loaf of bread with a detonator sticking in it. They ordered Lady Chief and Elizabeth, still nude, out of the house, walked with them down the lawn and ordered all the cops and assistant medical examiners milling around completely off the block and back into the next one.

They didn’t have time to go house to house, so they just brought up the reinforced box, carefully pried the plastic explosive off the door, without in any way touching the detonator, and dropped it into the box, which they closed and carried, one on each side handle, trotting to the reinforced bomb truck. We learned later that the stupid bomber was using enough explosive to destroy the entire house and take his hiding place with it.

The Bomb Wagon drove off and everybody else drove or walked back to the scene of the crime. The four officers picked up the rolls of yellow Crime Scene tape that they had abandoned, and the CSI electrovan arrived with techs in blue nitrile gloves carrying boxes of little yellow numbered plastic triangles along with Electrocameras.

In the confusion, Elizabeth slipped back into the house to finally get decent. Then David arrived. He located the chief detective at the scene and brought out his Dictapad to talk with the Chief of Portland police. David had declared this a National Security Emergency and went over with the chief detective and the Police Chief why (an attack on a clandestine safehouse) and what were the rules.

The police could photograph all evidence in situ, but could not take any item from the house for further examination. They were encouraged to get the bodies photographed quickly and then remove them from the house to the morgue. Autopsies would proceed as usual. All interviewing of survivors would be done by David and a PISS team. The physical evidence would be permanently placed in the hands of PISS, who would talk to the county District Attorney about indictments, if any.

David told Lady Chief and Elizabeth, when she finally returned dressed, to pack up a week long stay bag for the Fortune. PISS would handle the desk signature. He said that, having seen a reasonably upgraded safehouse turned into a real estate “fixer upper” in what probably took about fifteen minutes, he had no better place to put them than the Fortune with their names off the record while they kept exclusively to their suite with a guard in front of the door, and ordering meals from Room Service.

He let Elizabeth keep the snubby for an interior, security, firearm at the Fortune suite. He also said that he, at least, would be sure to look for and lose any tails that might be following since there had to be at least one GLCIS spy still at large who found the location for the Truth Team. Lady Chief agreed and remarked, in her languid and elegant Dutchess of Kumquat manner, that she was sorry David had missed a good dinner. Whatever David may have thought, what his face said was: Jesus! Tough isn’t the word for her! Only “ice queen” would even come close!

As Lady Chief left to pack, Elizabeth saw David’s face age with fatigue and grief as he looked down at the ground. Donald may have been slow on the uptake and a pain in the ass, but he was still David’s friend. Ralph was an employee, but shared the common secret life. She put her hand on his shoulder saying just, “I understand.” David replied, “Thank you.” By then Elizabeth was so suffused in Kuan Yin’s light that even if you didn’t see it, you felt it’s compassion in her touch and her words, so she was saying less and less even to strangers and not just Lady Chief and I. Her message came across loud and clear no matter what.

There’s really nothing to report about their return to the Fortune, so I’ll move the narrative back to me. I was in a hospital that was, mercifully, designed not to have patients in pairs together with one Electroscreen and flimsy drapes for “privacy”. The trade-off, however, was that each room was the size of a well-appointed designer built bathroom, and the toilet/shower was the size of a well-appointed broom closet with the sink and mirror outside it and in the room itself. There was the usual horribly uncomfortable high-backed upholstered chair and two folding chairs hanging on the wall just in case, as well as the ordinary convertible rolling patient table and a miniature chest of drawers.

I woke up staring at the Electroscreen near the ceiling where somebody was selling horribly overpriced items, paid for monthly, to engagingly witless viewers who couldn’t do arithmatic in their heads.

I had been under sedation since my wound was sewn up, probably because I had acted out when I first woke up. In the Emergency Room they didn’t bother to numb the wound area, and I woke up and started screaming saltily at the doctor, waving my hands, pulling the pulse/ox clip off and pulling out my IV! There was a lot of rushing around while a nurse tried to calm me down and the doctor languished in fear of my pulling out the stitches he’d already sewn.

I had managed to quiet down when, “Here’s something to ease your pain, dear. I’m sorry it’s a little arm stick instead of your IV but you pulled that out. Sweet dreams.” Yeah. Dreams of well practiced killers, nasty thugs, and multiple gunshots let loose on me by Lady Chief and David in a storyline of wholesale betrayal instead of the retail ones we had to endure. But at least the hospital got me sewn up.

My chin had been down as I was cowering back to cover and the .22 bullet plowed a path across my cheek which just missed my ear. If I hadn’t been moving left it probably would have landed right between my eyes! It easily might have missed me entirely and the wound, though nasty and bloody, was unlikely to scar.

Elizabeth had (as usual) nerves of steel and ice water in her veins as she calmly stood there naked firing at the killer’s head and hitting his throat. The autopsy report stated that my bullets through the killer’s head were the cause of death. Having been the only one who got bullets through the shotgun thug, the killer was my second up close and personal acquisition of espionage bodies.

It didn’t feel very good to have finally become, unequivocally, a killer, myself.

I gained insight into both my sisters, Elizabeth and Lady Chief, who had each carried the moral weight of killing through the entire time I knew them. I knew now that having this responsibility to drag around had immediately taken away a great deal of my will to live, and it had left Lady Chief within inches of suicide for all the years I was in cover after I had absorbed her feral self. I now knew what Elizabeth’s fear of our sister’s suicide was driven by from the inside. And I shivered at what might have happened had we given Lady Chief a gun.

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