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Hostage

Allison, Abby and Jodie



Gunfire erupted outside Joe's office door.
 
"What the hell...?" He glanced at the door then dove for cover under his desk, while grabbing the desk phone at the same time. He immediately dialed 911.
 
"911 emergency, this is operator # 1238. What is your emergency?" he heard a minute later.
 
"This is Joe Maxwell, DA's office. I just heard gunfire..." Before he could say anything else, he was roughly pulled to his feet by an unknown figure.
 
"Sir? Sir...Sir...?" They could hear the voice coming from the phone's speaker. The man snatched the handle from Joe's hand, pulled the wire from the wall then backhanded Joe and knocked him to his knees.
 
Catherine lay slumped over her desk; one of the men was standing over her holding a 45mm handgun against her head. Peter noticed small drops of blood dripping on the floor in front of him as he crouched over Father after pulling him to the floor next to Catherine's desk.
 
"God! Cathy's hurt!" he whispered as he pointed the blood out to Father.
 
"Good lord, Peter, what are we going to do?"
 
"I don't know but I hope to God Devin can keep Vincent below for the time being. We have enough to worry about with Cathy hurt; Vincent would make things a hell of a lot more complicated." Peter stated.
 
"I know. Especially since its still daylight. And with Catherine hurt, he must be going crazy. Devin's got to keep him below till it's dark, then he can try and get to us." Father said.
 
"Nobody move. You two..." pointing to two men standing by Joe's door, "bring everyone to the center of the room. Where's Maxwell?" the man standing over Catherine inquired.
 
"Duncan's got him in his office." one of the men answered, as he started to bring everyone else as ordered.
 
"Get him out here with the others,” the man ordered.
 
As Joe was pulled from his office, he noticed the two officers lying on the floor. "What's going on?" he questioned as he was pushed toward the others.
 
Peter helped Father to his feet as the man gestured to two of her co-workers. "You two, come get this bitch and take her over there," He pointed to where the others were gathered. The two men gently picked Catherine up and placed her on the floor. Peter and Father quickly went to work to see how badly she was hurt.
 
"Is anyone else injured?" Peter inquired as Father started to examine Catherine.
 
Joe looked at everyone else as they shook their heads no and then he turned back to Peter. "No, just Cathy. What happened? How did she get hurt? I heard gunfire and then..."
 
"I'm not sure," Peter started. "When I heard the guns go off, I grabbed my friend here and pulled him to the ground. I tried yelling to Cathy, but she looked like she was ducking for cover when we went down. When the shooting stopped, that's when I noticed small drops of blood dripping onto the floor, and I knew then that Cathy must have been hit somehow. Don't worry, Joe, we'll take care of her." He then proceeded to help Father examine Catherine.
 
* * *
 
It took Devin, Kanin, Cullen and Mouse considerable persuasion to convince Vincent to stay at Catherine's threshold. Vincent paced restlessly in the tunnel as Devin went above to find out what was going on. After initially feeling Catherine's shock and a sense of pain, he could not sense anything from her except the continued hum of the bond reminding him she lived. Mouse stayed with him to keep him company until Devin returned. He also worried about Father, as he remembered Peter asking Father to dinner with Catherine above. They were going to meet her at her office and then go to a restaurant nearby.
 
Devin made his way through the huge crowd outside the DA's building. He spoke to a couple of people in the crowd, trying to find out more information, but each person had a different opinion about what was going on. One of the men gathered around the back of a police van noticed Devin as he drew near the van. Recognition came a few minutes later. "Excuse me," the man told his colleagues and stepped toward Devin.
 
Tapping him on the shoulder as Devin walked past, the man inquired, "Devin? Is that you?" Devin turned and recognized the man who stopped him.
 
"I don't believe it. Greg? Greg Hughs? You're, uhh," snapping his fingers, "Sebastian's son, right? The last time I saw you was..."
 
"Yeah, I know. What are you doing here? I wish I could talk, but I've got my hands full with a hostage situation. My dad didn't tell me you were back in town. I heard you were here a while back but left again."
 
"I haven't been back that long, haven't had the chance to catch up on the entire goings on. The hostages...are they here?" He gestured to the building.
 
"Yeah, someone grabbed the D.A.'s office about thirty minutes ago. I'm about to call and see what they want."
 
"D.A.? Cathy Chandler's office?" Devin glanced at the building in concern.
 
"Yeah, she's one of the hostages, we think. Why? Do you know her?"
 
"Not as well as Vincent does."
 
"Vincent knows her?"
 
"Yeah, they're kind of..." Devin's voice faded away but Greg understood his meaning immediately.
 
"Wow, Vincent and Catherine Chandler? Didn't even know she knew him. Hey, wait a minute, is she the Catherine everyone talks about once in a while with him?"
 
"Yeah, that's her. Listen, I've got to go tell Vincent what happened. Can I come and talk to you later?" Devin asked as he turned to leave.
 
"Sure, I'll clear it with the watch commander; tell him you're some hot shot from the FBI that I know." Greg laughed.
 
"Thanks Greg, appreciate it. See you later."
 
Devin returned to Vincent’s chamber fifteen minutes later. “Thanks, Mouse. Catherine's office has been taken hostage. Greg Hughs told me. He said to come back later when he knows more."
 
Mouse slipped quietly away while Devin spoke to Vincent.
 
* * *
 
"What the hell happened? I wanted this nice and quiet," the man yelled as he walked around Catherine's desk.
 
"Those two yo-yo's walked in," pointing to the police officers on the floor, "that's what happened. One of them must have recognized me. He yelled 'freeze' and pulled his gun. That's when all the shooting started," Davis tried to explain.
 
"Who hit Chandler?" he growled.
 
"Must have been one of them. I guess she must have zigged when she should have zagged," Davis said, laughing.
 
"Hey, old man, do I need to finish the job?" Duncan chuckled.
 
"If you mean to kill her, the answer is yes." Father told him, responding to the implied threat against Catherine.
 
The man started walking toward her. Joe stepped in front of him before he could reach Catherine. "Whoa, whoa, wait a minute. The police are probably already here. You're going to need her alive to help you get outta here."
 
"Yes, if you kill her, there is no place on earth for you to hide," Father stated from Catherine's side.
 
"Who's gonna do anything about it? You?" he gestured to Father.
 
"No. Someone very close to Catherine. That I promise you. And it won't be pretty when he does. Let us get her out of here," Father requested.
 
"If you kill her, he'll never stop; and he will find you," Peter added.
 
"That's Morrison, “Joe whispered as he recognized the man gesturing for the other one to stand down.
 
* * *
 
Devin had his hands full trying to keep Vincent from going above. He stood in front of the threshold blocking his way.
 
Vincent paced the tunnel floor. "I must go to her. She's hurt and I must be there."
 
"Vincent, you can't. Not yet anyway. The police have the building surrounded. They probably have S.W.A.T. covering the roof and the men have threatened to kill the hostages if anyone attempts to enter the building." Devin explained. "Remember, Greg said he would talk to me later. Stay here and I'll get more information…see if he knows how badly Catherine is hurt. Promise me you'll wait till I get back."
 
"I'll wait. Hurry back."
 
"On my way, pal." Quickly leaving, he went back to where he found Greg earlier.
 
* * *
 
Catherine slowly began to regain consciousness. "Did anyone get the number of the truck that hit me?" she laughed weakly.
 
"Cathy...Thank God. We managed to stop the bleeding for now," Peter said as he cupped her cheek.
 
"Bleeding? How...? Owww..." she moaned softly.
 
"You've been shot. Jacob and I were able to stabilize you for now," Peter explained.
 
"Vincent...?"
 
"I'm sure he knows something's happened. Devin is probably with him," Father told her.
 
"Hey, Radcliffe. How's she doing', doc?" Joe leaned over.
 
"She's hit in the shoulder but she's okay for now. She should be in a hospital though." Peter commented.
 
"Well, that's not going to happen anytime soon. Let me see if I can find out what Morrison wants," Joe whispered. "This guy is very dangerous. I...Holy s***! His dad! His dad is scheduled to see Judge Radnor. He's probably going to try and trade us for him."
 
"Where's Maxwell?” Morrison asked.
 
"There, checking out Chandler," Davis responded.
 
"Bring him over here,” Morrison ordered.
 
Joe was grabbed by his collar and yanked to his feet. "Hey!"
 
"Shut up," Duncan told him.
 
One of the phones started to ring. "Answer it." Duncan shoved Joe toward Catherine's desk,
 
"D.A.'s office, Joe Maxwell."
 
"Give me that," Morrison grabbed the phone and shoved Joe back toward the people in the middle of the room. "Look, I've got seven people here, alive so far." He put the phone on speaker.
 
"Is anyone injured?" Greg's voice asked.
 
"Yeah. Chandler…but she's got some doc taking care of her for now."
 
"Anyone else hurt?"
 
"Never mind that. Now, the feds are bringing my dad into town. The hostages stay alive until my father is released and here with me."
 
"Look, Morrison, you know we can't make a deal like that."
 
"Tough ^%$&. If he's not released, then I start shooting," Greg heard his voice through the speaker in the police van, while the machines recorded everything he said. "Just to show I mean business, throw one of those bodies out the window."
 
Greg heard movement through the speaker. Duncan and Davis grabbed one of the dead officers and carried him over to the window while the rest of Morrison's men covered the hostages. They threw the officer's body out the window and stepped away. The body slammed into the hood of one of the police cars parked in the street next to the van.
 
"Now you know we mean business," Greg heard Morrison say," Call me back when you have the information I want. Make sure my father's release happens. Chandler and the rest of the hostages' lives depend on it." He slammed the phone down.
 
***
 
Devin arrived just as Morrison made his threat and hung up. He gave his name to the policeman standing outside the van and was immediately allowed inside to where Greg was.
 
"What happened?" Devin asked as he pointed to the dead body lying on the ground covered with a sheet.
 
"James Morrison is the one holding Cathy and the others. Morrison said that he wanted his father released or he'll start shooting hostages. He's already killed one officer that we know of, and Cathy's been shot. He blames Cathy and Joe for his father's imprisonment, so he'll have no qualms about killing them or the others. "
 
Devin showed a look of alarm even though Vincent already told him she was hurt. "How is she?"
 
"Don't worry, there's a doctor there taking care of her," Greg reassured him.
 
"Do you know how many men Morrison has with him?" Devin wanted to know just how many men Vincent would be up against.
 
"My men said they could see four men besides Morrison, they think."
 
"Thanks, Greg, for telling me this. I really appreciate it. Was anyone else hurt?"
 
"No. She's the only one,” Morrison said." Greg turned back as he noticed one of the officers come up behind them. "Hang on a second," he said to the officer then turned back to Devin and whispered,” Devin, what are you up to?"
 
"Greg, Father is there with Cathy. Vincent and the rest of the community will do whatever is necessary to get them out of there."
 
"Just watch your back. I know better than to try and talk Vincent and the others out of it," Greg replied.
 
"You just keep an eye on the bad guys. As soon as we come up with something, I will let you know," Devin told him.
 
***
 
Devin hurried back with the information Greg gave him. "Vincent, is there a tunnel entrance under the D.A.'s building?"
 
"Yes, Catherine used it if she had an emergency and needed to reach us."
 
Devin grabbed him by his arm. "Let's go. Maybe we can get inside that way. We just have to make sure the coast is clear when we get there."
 
Vincent went back to his chamber first to pick up his Shinai* and mask-just in case. Catherine had introduced him to Isaac a few months back. After starting to train with Isaac, Vincent was surprised to learn that he was a second-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and a sixth Dan Shogo(expert) in Kenjutsu^. He never liked to advertise these skills due to his popularity with the street kids and was known in the community for his "New York City Street Fighting" program. Since he started training with Isaac, Vincent found he could channel his violent side using the Japanese art of Kendo instead of using his hands. Devin and Isaac met him at his chamber doorway.
 
"I heard about what happened at Cathy's office. I came to help."
 
Vincent grabbed Isaac’s hand in welcome. "Thank you."
 
"Do you have a way of getting in there without the police shooting you in the process?" Isaac asked as they left.
 
"Vincent says there is a tunnel entrance that Cathy used sometimes," Devin answered. "Beyond that, we're playing it by ear."
 
Isaac whispered, "How's he holding up?"
 
"So far, so good. Cathy's hurt but he's holding it together. If anything happens to her, we won't be able to stop him."
 
"Let's hope it won't come to that. I heard the others saying that Father and Peter are there too?"
 
"Yeah, they were going to have dinner with Cathy."
 
As they travelled through the home tunnels, they were suddenly met by a large group led by Jamie, William, Kanin and Cullen.
 
"We want to help," William stated.
 
"Let us check out Catherine's office," Kanin suggested, "and see what you are up against. Between all of us, we should be able to give you an exact idea of where the hostages are gathered and how many men are there."
 
"Kanin has a good point. The cops think Morrison has four men with him but they aren't exactly sure. Or how well armed they are." Devin argued when Vincent started to protest.
 
"Where's Mouse?" Vincent asked when he didn't see him in the crowd.
 
"We already put our plan in motion. To start with, Mouse and Geoffrey are checking out the ventilation system on the floor beneath Catherine's office. We believe there's a way in there," Cullen began.
 
"Since the building was empty, we thought Mouse could sneak in and check things out." Kanin added.
 
"Depending on what Mouse and Geoffrey find out, it is a possibility," Devin said.
"Vincent, Isaac and I can come up the stairwell."
 
"We plan on backing you up," William stated, "Father is with them, and Catherine is family. We take care of our own, help each other. We can get the hostages out while you three take out the bad guys."
 
"Okay. We'll get a message to Greg so he knows what we plan on doing. See if he can maybe meet us in the basement of the building." Devin wrote a brief note, handed it to Kipper and sent him to Greg with the note.
 
Vincent clasped each man on the shoulder and smiled. Together the group gathered what they needed and went toward the area where the tunnel entrance was.
 
Kipper managed to get the note quietly to Greg. It read:
 
Greg,
We have a plan to get Father
and Catherine out.
Meet us in the basement in the back
of the building.
Devin
 
Greg scanned the crowd, spotted Kipper and nodded his head in acknowledgment.
 
* * *
 
Mouse and Geoffrey were examining the rooms on the floor beneath Catherine's office. They opened one of the HVAC closets, and Mouse found an access panel in the ceiling. He also noticed an A/C vent in the wall. Mouse told Geoffrey to check out the vent while he checked out the panel. While Geoffrey went into the vent, Mouse examined the access panel and found that it led to a closet on the floor above. Mouse climbed through the panel and peeked out the closet door. He noticed the same panel in the ceiling above Catherine's desk, went back down and made his way to the floor above them. The panel was in a closet just like the floor below. "Okay good, okay fine. Access for Vincent from above. Devin and others from Below." After that he made his way back to the A/C vent to wait for Geoffrey to return.
 
Geoffrey crawled into the vent and up a slight incline to a grate in the floor above. He peered out the grate and noticed he was in the middle of a small group of people. He spotted Father bent over a figure with Peter looking over his shoulder.
 
"Pssst," Geoffrey whispered.
 
"What was that?" Joe whispered, looking around.
 
"Pssst," Geoffrey whispered again.
 
"It's coming from the floor next to you," Peter told Joe.
 
Joe leaned over and suddenly noticed a face under the grate.
 
"Who are you? How did you get here?" Joe whispered.
 
"A friend," Geoffrey said, "I need to speak to him," pointing at Father.
 
Joe tapped Father on the shoulder. "Hey, come here a second."
 
"Go ahead, Jacob, I'll watch Cathy," Peter assured him.
 
Father turned and Joe slyly pointed to the grate.
 
Father looked closer at where Joe pointed. "Geoffrey! How did you get here?"
 
"Through the ventilation system. An access panel in the office one floor below this one. Mouse thought it led to a closet near someone's office here."
 
"Yeah," Joe said, "That's a maintenance closet for our air conditioning. It's outside my office. Every floor has one. What about it?"
 
"There was a vent in the wall big enough for me to crawl into where we were and..."
 
"What access panel are you talking about? I don't know anything about one." Joe stated.
 
"There's a panel on the floor that leads to the office below this one. The others are talking to Vincent to see how they could get up here and get you out."
 
"Are they crazy? These guys have guns; they already killed two people and got Cathy shot. Who's Vincent?"
 
"Mr. Maxwell, Vincent is my son, and when it comes to my son and our family, we are very resourceful. If there is a way, they will find it," Father told him.
 
"I need to know exactly how many men there are." Geoffrey said.
 
"Morrison has six men with him and they are heavily armed. Two men watching the office entrance, two more roam the office and Morrison and two other men are in my office at the moment."
 
Suddenly there was a slight tapping noise coming from the grate.
 
"What was that?" One of the men said as he walked near where the group was seated. He looked toward the grate that Joe was leaning over.
 
Geoffrey ducked further back into the vent as the man came closer.
 
"It's just the A/C vent rattling. It does that once in a while." Joe explained.
 
The man took a closer look at the grate, grunted and moved on.
 
"He's gone, Geoffrey," Father whispered as the boy peeked out from where the vent bent toward the front of the office.
 
"Mouse wants to know what's taking so long."
 
"Tell Mouse you'll be back in a few minutes," Father told him. Geoffrey tapped on the metal floor of the vent.
 
"Can you get word to the police outside?" Joe asked.
 
"We can try, but would they believe us? They wouldn't know where we got our information from."
 
"Greg might, if I sent him a note." More tapping was heard.
 
"Geoffrey, get back to Mouse and the others. Mr. Maxwell, quickly, write your note. Tell Vincent we are taking care of Catherine and to do whatever he has to do."
 
Joe pulled a notebook from his pocket, quickly scribbled a note and slipped it to Geoffrey. "Take this to Greg Hughs; he'll know what to do."
 
Father raised his eyebrows at the mention of Greg's name but didn't say anything. Nodding to Geoffrey, the boy took the note and quietly crawled back down the vent.
 
Joe decided to try and talk to Morrison into at least releasing Catherine so she could be taken to a hospital. "I want to talk to Morrison." Joe attempted to rise to his feet.
 
"Don't move, Maxwell. I'll let him know you wanna talk to him. Whether he'll answer you is another story," Duncan said as he made his way to Joe's office.
 
Knocking on the doorway, Duncan told Morrison that Joe wanted to talk to him. Following him back to the group, Morrison motioned that Joe could stand.
 
"Whatta you want, Maxwell?"
 
"I want you to release Cathy so they can get her to a hospital."
 
"No, absolutely not! I'll release anyone else you want but she stays. You and she are responsible for jailing my father in the first place. Why would I want to let her go?"
 
"Because if she dies, you'll be charged with murder," Joe stated.
 
"So what? Small price to pay to get my father back. Just to show you," he pointed to two people in back of the crowd, "You two. Go. Tell the cops we mean business and that the rest are alive for now."
 
Joe nodded at the two people Morrison pointed to, and two of Morrison’s men pushed them out the D.A. office door, leaving Joe, Edie, Catherine, Peter and Father with Morrison.
 
The two frightened workers scurried into an elevator and shortly disappeared. They reached the lobby and ran toward the entrance. Morrison's men disabled the elevator shortly after they left. Two police officers saw the released hostages and quickly ushered them toward the police van where the rest of the detail were waiting. They quickly told them what was going on in the D.A.'s office then were ushered away to safety.
 
Greg overheard the man say that there were only five hostages in the office and who they were. He and the other officers went over their options and also talked to the FBI representative who arrived on site a short time later.
 
* * *
 
Geoffrey reached Mouse a few minutes later. "I need to take this note to Greg Hughs."
 
"Okay good, Okay fine. Send message to Greg then we go tell Vincent and Devin." Mouse led Geoffrey back down to the tunnel entrance and then up to street level. He pointed to Greg as they came out of the alley.
 
As Greg came over to talk to one of the officers, Geoffrey managed to slip the note into Greg's hand. Greg felt the touch, glanced at Geoffrey then at the note and nodded. Quickly opening the note he read:
 
Greg,
Morrison has six men here,
and they are heavily armed. We are
in the middle of the office on the floor.
Do what you have to.
Joe
 
Greg showed the watch commander on site Joe's note, explaining one of the other hostages gave it to him. As he went to talk to the FBI representative, Greg told him, "I'm going to check with some of the other officers, see if they know of any other way into the D.A.'s office." Greg made his way toward the back of the building and slipped unnoticed into the basement entrance.
 
Greg heard a noise from the rear of the basement. Turning around, he spotted a small door slowly opening. Pulling his gun, he waited to see who would emerge through the door. He was relieved to see Devin, Vincent and the others exit the tunnel entrance. "I didn't know there was a tunnel entrance to the D.A.'s building. Anyway, there are only five hostages now. Catherine, Father, Peter, her boss Joe Maxwell, and a co-worker named Edie. They are in the middle of the office. Morrison has six men with him and they are heavily armed. The FBI just told my watch commander 'no deal' with Morrison's dad. Morrison hasn't called yet, so we don't have much time before he finds out."
 
"We can use the children as a relay system to let you know our progress. Try and give us a heads up when the police decide on taking any drastic action," Devin asked Greg.
 
"I'll try, but when they decide to move, you may only have a few minutes," Greg stated.
 
"You better get back. Thanks for the information." Devin and Greg shook hands.
 
"Oh, by the way, it's getting dark up top. That should help you, Vincent, if you decide to go in through the roof. Just watch out for S.W.A.T. I don't want to find out you were shot by one of them."
 
"I will, Greg. Thank you." Vincent put his hand out as well.
 
Greg returned to the officers outside while Vincent, Devin and the others went over their plan to help Father, Catherine and the others.
 
"Mouse...bring gizmos...shut lights out...confuse...help Father and Catherine. Vincent...comes down...Above... Devin...comes up...Below...Panels in floors."
 
"We'll have to go up the stairwell." Devin began, "Since S.W.A.T. will come down the stairs from the roof, Vincent can't use that way safely. We have to be in and out of there before the police make their move or we'll get caught in the crossfire."
 
"Do you think we'll be able to take out most of Morrison's men?" Isaac questioned.
 
"What we need to do is lure some of those creeps out of the DA's office," Cullen suggested.
 
"Yeah, if we can get them to come after us, then maybe Vincent, Devin and Isaac can take care of the rest," Kanin agreed.
 
William spoke up. "If we can lure them into the maintenance closet or out of the office itself, we should be able to snag 'em, bag 'em and tag 'em without any fuss."
 
"What exactly did you have in mind?" Isaac looked at each man in turn.
 
Mouse looked at William. “No offense...use William... Big mouth...yells...make noise, kids make noise, yelling...men come...investigate..." Mouse began.
 
"I don't think we should involve the children..." Vincent began.
 
"We wanna help," Eric chimed in.
 
"Yeah, we can help Father," Samantha said.
 
"Help Catherine too," Geoffrey stated. The other children started making suggestions as to how they could help.
 
"Okay, all right," Devin raised his hands. "Once we get a couple of Morrison's men out of the office, we can then check out those panels Mouse found. Make sure you bring some burlap bags, duct tape and some rope to tie the bad guys up with, and afterwards we'll take it from there. Keep in mind, the police plan on moving in soon, since the FBI told Greg and the other police officials 'no deal’ to Morrison's demands. Thank God, for now, he doesn't know that yet."
 
"When he does, all hell is going to break loose, and the first thing he's going to do is kill Cathy and her boss, since he holds them responsible," Isaac commented.
 
***
 
William stepped out of the stairwell. Suddenly he started yelling, "Where's the D.A.'s office? I wanna see that bitch, Chandler" Please forgive me, Catherine, William thought to himself. He continued to yell outside the office door.
 
"What's that?" one man, watching the entrance asked.
 
"Some guy yelling." the other replied.
 
"How'd he get up here? I thought you checked the other offices before we did this."
 
"I did. The offices were clear. We better go check it out and get rid of him."
 
The two men whispered to one of the men roaming the office that they were going to check something out in the hallway. The two men exited the office and started searching for William, who they could still hear yelling down the hall. As they got closer, William's shouts increased in volume and silently the tunnel dwellers snuck up and captured both men without injury.
 
"Two down, five to go," Cullen stated with pride.
 
"Mouse," Vincent began, "why don't you show Devin and Isaac the office under Catherine's where the access panel is. Take Cullen and Simon with you. Geoffrey can show me, Jamie and Kanin the office above. The rest of you, continue to try and lure the others out of the office, but be careful."
 
As the group split up, each going to their destinations, Vincent sent a quick prayer heavenward. "Please protect Catherine; she is my heart song." A few minutes later, Vincent and the others arrived at the office above the D.A.’s office. They quickly found the access panel Mouse had mentioned and were able to climb into the ceiling. Through a small grate they were able to see the hostages and the men circling the room.
 
In the meantime, Devin and Isaac found the access panel underneath that led into the HVAC closet. They climbed up and peeked around the door. No one had noticed the two men missing from the entrance as of yet. Suddenly they heard a noise and quietly closed the door.
 
"Where are Johnson and Brown?" Morrison asked as he came out of Joe's office.
 
"I don't know. They went to check out some guy yelling in the hallway. I thought they'd be back by now," Duncan said.
 
"You two," Morrison ordered, pointing to the two men who were roaming the office. "Go see what happened to Johnson and Brown." The two men nodded and exited the office. Morrison walked over to Joe and yanked him to his feet. "If the cops have found a way onto this floor, Chandler dies first, then you."
 
The two men Morrison sent out to investigate were quickly grabbed by the tunnel people and tied up like the others. Then the tunnel folks melted back into the shadows and sent a tapping message to alert Vincent and Devin that two more were incapacitated.
 
"That leaves Morrison and two men with the hostages," Isaac commented. "Come on. Let's see if we can get into the office where we can get a better view." Devin agreed, and they quickly moved out of the closet and behind the wall near Joe's office.
 
Again tapping sounds were heard through the office. Father understood the message and told the others to gather around Catherine. Devin heard the message too and told Isaac, "When all hell breaks loose, we'll go for the guy on the right. Vincent will take care of Morrison and the other man."
 
"What's going on?" Edie questioned quietly as she sat near Catherine.
 
Joe sank down beside her after Morrison released him. "I wish I knew."
 
"Vincent and the others are preparing to take out Morrison and his men. He wanted all of us in one place and wants us to keep our heads down." Father explained. Another tapping sound came through the air vents. It was Kipper letting them know that Greg said S.W.A.T. was making its move in five minutes.
 
The lights went dark and all they could hear was men shouting, grunting and a low growling was heard. The only light visible was the glow of moonlight through the windows. Not one shot was fired in all the excitement. When the lights came on Morrison and his men were out cold, and a dark, hooded figure was bending over Catherine. Devin and Isaac were standing over Morrison, and the tunnel people came in and quickly tied the others up.
 
"Vincent, you came," Catherine said weakly.
 
"Always." Vincent caressed her cheek.
 
"Mr. Maxwell, I trust you and your companion will not say anything about what happened here." Father said.
 
"No one would believe me anyway. Your secret is safe with me." They started hearing shouts from the hallway. Greg's voice among them. "Go. Get your people out. Greg and I will come up with something. Thank you." Joe raised his hand to the hooded figure near Catherine. "Thank you."
 
Vincent nodded to Joe but did not accept his hand.
 
"Vincent, go. We'll make sure Catherine is taken care of. We'll see you soon." Peter shook his shoulder and got Vincent to stand. Devin gave Father's arm a squeeze and then he and Isaac vanished into the shadows.
 
"Tell her...tell her she's the lady of my heart and that I'll be waiting." Peter nodded and Vincent followed Devin and Isaac into the shadows.
 
Joe looked at Vincent's retreating form. "Man, he is big, and those moves. The way he and the others disabled Morrison and his men, I've never seen anyone move that quick!"
 
"The way he used that staff he had… Man, I'd give anything to have someone protect me like that," Edie sighed.
 
"When the lights went out, all I could see were shadows at first and then glimpses of everyone in the moonlight. Morrison's men were confused, and that certainly helped. I'm glad it's over." Joe commented to Edie.
 
"When he and the others jumped down from the ceiling, they scared the crap out of me. And then those three from behind us...I can't believe how fast they were able to take down those creeps." Edie hugged Joe in relief.
 
Suddenly Greg burst through the door, his gun pointing in Joe's direction. When he saw the unconscious men, he holstered his weapon and approached Joe. "Are you all right? S.W.A.T. told us the lights went out, and we rushed in, fearing the worse."
 
"We're fine, Greg," Joe said as he turned toward him. While the police officers rounded up the rest of Morrison's men, Edie went over to where Father was still tending to Catherine. "Girlfriend, if your man is as fine under that mask as the rest of him looked, MAN...I envy you!"
 
Catherine smiled weakly. "He is indeed, Edie. He is indeed."
 
"Any chance I can get an intro to him and the rest of our rescuers?" Edie asked Father.
 
He replied, "You'll have to ask Catherine."
 
As the paramedics helped Father and Peter get Catherine settled on the stretcher, Greg turned back to Joe as the officers pulled Morrison to his feet. "Nice try, Morrison," Greg stated, "Now you can spend the rest of your life with your father in some cushy jail cell."
 
"Get him outta here," Joe told the officers.
 
"Joe, who did this?" Greg asked, dreading the answer.
 
"Sorry Greg, we gave our word not to reveal who our rescuers were. Let’s just let S.W.A.T. take the credit and leave it at that."
 
"Okay Joe. I'll make sure that's what the press is told. You're sure you two are okay?"
 
"We're fine, Greg, thanks."
 
The rest of Morrison's men were escorted in cuffs out of the office as the paramedics started to leave with Catherine. "We'll see you soon," Father told Catherine. She smiled at him.
 
"I'll bring her down as soon as the hospital clears her," Peter stated.
 
"We'll be waiting." Father kissed her hand before she left.
 
* * *
 
A few days later, Catherine was watching the end of a movie when Joe and Edie walked into her room.
 
"Dear Claire:
 
What and if are two words as non-threatening as words can be, but put them together, side by side, and they have the power to haunt you for the rest of your life.
 
What if? What if? What if?
 
I don't know how your story ended, but if what you felt then was true love, then it's never too late.
 
If it was true then, why wouldn't it be true now? You need only the courage to "Follow your Heart". I don't know what a love like Juliet's feels like, a love to leave loved ones for; a love to cross oceans for; but I'd like to believe, if I ever were to feel it, that I'd have the courage to seize it, and Claire, if you didn't, I hope someday that you will...**
 
"So, are you going to join your 'Knight in Shining Armor'?" Edie asked after listening to the words from the TV.
 
"Yes, Edie. Peter is releasing me in a little while, and I am going to be with him. Joe, consider this my resignation, effective as of now."
 
"Yeah, I kind of figured," Joe sighed. "I'm gonna miss you, kiddo. Are we ever going to meet him without the mask, Cathy?"
 
"Someday, Joe. Someday."
 
Later that day, Vincent and Catherine were locked in a tight embrace, the fear of what happened finally behind them. Their love had endured once again and now they could
live the happy life that Catherine's parents wanted for her.
 
LOVE ENDURES
 
 
* Shinai--meant to represent a Japanese sword(Katana) and is made of four bamboo slats which are held together by leather fittings
 
^ Kenjutsu--meaning "Way of the Sword"--is a modern
Japanese martial art of sword fighting based on traditional Japanese swordsmanship.
 
** Quote from the movie "Letters to Juliet"