Hauntings from the Past (by Jules)

Summary:   First story of a trilogy.
Category:  Sea Quest
Genre:  Adventure
Rated:  PG
Word Count:  34,800


 

The deck known as “C3” was designated entirely to scientific research and development. The area was divided into a number of laboratories and work stations on which experiments could be conducted and results correlated together.

In one such work station, the blond head of a young 17 year old teenager was bent over the lens of a microscope looking intently at the contents of the slides he had just prepared. This room was quite large and had two exits, one on each side of the room. There were a number of small portholes which were turned into windows with the inclusion of glass panels. The room could be made sound proof and sterile by sealing off both doors in a matter of minutes if the situation rose. On one side of the room, a long rectangular tank came through the room on the right hand side and continued through to the left side of the room, completely dissecting the wall with images of light and water. This tank was specifically designed to house the most curious member of the crew and continued throughout most of the vessel where possible. Occasionally, when one was watching, they would see a shimmer of grey through the water before it disappeared into the next room. This most curious member of the crew was of course, Darwin.

The boy’s concentration did not waver from his project, and so, when the doors of the room sealed with a quiet hiss, he was unaware that he was locked in. A silent figure had entered the room and played with the panel beside the door until the doors were shut. Now his attention was focused on the boy poised over the microscope. In his pockets he possessed three items, firstly a small brown bottle with clear fluid and a gauze cloth, in the other, a syringe with a sharp point which held contents of a yellowish tinge.

The boy had just gotten excited over his findings and with a sudden shift in position, he had unknowingly switched on the Comm Link which was located on the side of the work bench. The Comm Link was linked to an intercom system which could be heard in all rooms if necessary and the Bridge. On this occasion, the link went directly to the Bridge.

Captain Nathan Bridger, and his senior crew which included, Commander Jonathan Ford, Chief Crocker, Lieutenant Ben Krieg, Commander Hitchcock, Tim O’Neill the communications officer and Miguel Ortiz, were all in the middle of their routine duties when the sound of static came over the main intercom speaker indicating that a Comm Link had been switched on somewhere in the boat. The crew were a little confused at first and waited for someone to speak when they heard the voice of Lucas Wolenczak.

“Damn, the Captain and the other’s will never believe this when they see it,” he said excitedly to nobody.

The Captain moved in front of Tim O’Neill from where he was standing and pushed a little red button with the letters RECORD in white lettering on it. He gave a sly smile to all that were watching, and put his fingers to his lips, ushering them to be silent for a moment.

The rest of the senior officers, had thought his odd, that the Captain wanted to record any Comm Link conversations, but upon seeing the sly smirk on his face, knew that he was intending to listen to the young wiz kid and record what he was saying, maybe to hold it over him later, jokingly of course.

All of the crew knew what the Captain felt towards the youngest members of the crew. Lucas was like a son to him, and a little brother to the majority of the senior staff. It was hard not to like Lucas, he was the most gentlest, kind hearted and good natured kid, any of them had encountered. Those feelings often led the crew to be most protective over their young charge, although he sometimes rebelled against the choking closeness he would feel.

“Fifteen hours at this and I am almost finished,” Lucas stated to himself. “Bridger will never know how many hours of sleep I have missed and how many meals I have been too busy to eat just to get this completed,” he continued.

Nathan Bridger silently rolled his eyes and scolded himself for not checking up on the boy earlier. He and most of the crew had been very busy over the last two days, trying to align the new weapons systems for the vessel, and had failed to note that the youngest member had been allowed to go unsupervised for so long.

Lucas didn’t need supervision for the reasons most teenagers did, but when it came to sleeping and eating and generally making sure he was okay physically, Lucas was the last person to notice. If left unchecked, the boy would go for hours without breaks and worst of all, without so much as a bite to eat for days on end. He was a poor eater to begin with, and needed constant encouragement to make the effort to eat with the rest of the crew in the mess hall.

Commander Ford and Kristen Westphalen almost began to say something to Bridger before he silenced them with a brief hand gesture, signaling he wanted them to remain quiet for a minute.

Kristen Westphalen was not entirely happy about this, as the subject of Lucas’s eating habits were most concerning to her, the ship’s doctor. She had a professional obligation to ensure that the crew were all healthy and happy. This concern extended to unofficial members of the crew like Lucas. She genuinely loved the young man more than she would admit openly to the crew.

*****

The dark figure hiding in the laboratory decided that he would make himself known to his victim before carrying out his assigned task. He slowly came out of the shadows of the room and stood where he knew the young man would notice him eventually.

Lucas stopped at the movement and ceased the conversation to himself to see who or what else was in the room. He eyes came to rest upon a large man who was wearing a black wet suit which appeared to be still damp and carrying a small waterproof backpack.

“Who are you and what are you doing in here?” Lucas enquired nervously. He knew that if this person was a member of his regular crew, then he would not have been sneaking around the laboratory and would be wearing an official SeaQuest Uniform, not a wet suit.

The Captain and the Bridge crew had heard the question, and now wondered in alarm why an unauthorized person would be lurking about the ship. Bridger started heading for the door, when he heard….

“My employer requests your personal appearance, Lucas, to discuss a proposal with you,” the person said. “My instructions were to ask you to come immediately and not to take “NO” for an answer,” he now added with a sneer just to frighten the teenager a little bit.

The unidentified person did not know the conversation was being recorded, and thought that the boy and him were alone. He saw no reason to think that his plans would be interrupted or altered in any way, he would take the boy, and it was his intention to take him by force. He also saw no reason why he couldn’t let the name of his employer slip, just to add to the uneasiness he knew the boy was now feeling. “Sanderson,” the man said with an uninterested tone to his voice.

Lucas’s reaction to the name was more than he had anticipated and he grinned devilishly and then started to edge his way closer to where Lucas was standing.
“Sanderson,” Lucas said with a sharp intake of breath. “No, it can’t be, he’s dead. Who are you and what do you really want? It can’t be true, it can’t be true,” he repeated with obvious terror in his words. He had not heard that name in a long time, but the mere mention of it brought back haunting memories that Lucas had tried to bury deep a long time ago.

Lucas had failed to notice that the man was getting closer as he struggled with the name he had heard. The bridge crew were now collectively holding their breaths, as they waited to find out what was happening. All of them wanted to rush to the laboratory to make sure Lucas was not in trouble, but the conversation and the terror they had heard in Lucas’s voice, held them in their positions as if frozen.

“Stay away from me,” Lucas shouted as he tried to retreat away from the man approaching him. “Don’t you touch me, I am not going anywhere with you. How did you get on board?” Lucas kept asking the questions, but wasn’t getting any answers. The man continued to come closer and closer.

“You can’t take me away from here without anybody knowing, they know where I am, they will not let you hurt me, they will not let you take me away from here.” His voice was now cracking with small sobs in between what he was trying to say. He continued to back away, but then realized he was up against the door to the laboratory.

The man now reached into his pocket and pulled out the bottle and gauze, letting his young victim see what he had with an evil gleam in his eyes. He soaked the gauze with the liquid from the bottle and placed the both back in his pocket for a moment. He then went into his other pocket, making sure he had Lucas’s full attention, and pulled out the syringe.

Lucas had gotten a whiff of the fumes from the bottle and knew what it was. His eyes wide with fright, he tried to cry out for help but his voice was temporarily lost. His gaze now fixated on the man’s right hand and what it held, A syringe. What could be in it? What did Sanderson intend to do with him? Lucas’s was sure after the last time, he couldn’t go through it again, he wouldn’t go through it again. The nightmares and pain had been too much.

The man was approximately half way across the room now, fast approaching.

Lucas tried to grab the door handle and open it in one movement, but the action didn’t work and the door wouldn’t open. He was too afraid to note that the door was probably locked.

Help, somebody help me, Captain Bridger, Ben, Captain, help me please!” Lucas was begging and pulling on the door handle. He was screaming for somebody to help him.

Captain Bridger’s heart was in his throat, he was now yelling back into the Comm Link, “Lucas, Lucas, who is in there with you? Hold on we are coming, Lucas”.

No answer. In his efforts to get away from his attacker and his own screaming, Lucas’ had failed to hear the voice of the one person he was so desperately trying to get to help him.

He suddenly felt a strong arm grip him around his chest, pulling his arms back from the door handle, he continued to yell for help. This was immediately cut off by the man placing the retrieved gauze cloth with the pungent fumes over the mouth and nose of the young man. Lucas tried to struggle, he so desperately wanted to get away from this man, he couldn’t go back to Sanderson. Sanderson was supposed to be dead. He was trying to reassure himself that this was a bad dream and at any moment he would wake up safe.

The fumes now began to overpower his senses and he felt his arms go weak, he no longer seemed to have the strength to release the man’s grip. Slowly, his thoughts were clouded and within moments he felt his knees buckle.

The man felt the teenager collapsing, but continued to hold onto him with the cloth still placed firmly over his mouth and nose. After a few more minutes, he then removed his hand from the boy’s face, but continued to hold onto him. The boy’s body sagged and went very limp.

“Nightly night, sweet prince,” he said cruelly as he started laughing at the boy’s plight.

That comment was the one that seemed to release Bridger and his crew from their frozen state and now they were all running at full speed to help Lucas. Bridger was not a young man anymore, but the thought of Lucas’s in the grips of a madman, made his running feet look like to 100 meter final’s race at the Olympics.

Krieg closely followed his Captain, and silently swore to himself that if anybody hurt Lucas, then there would be hell to pay. Commander Ford and Kristen Westphalen’s thoughts were along similar lines as they struggled to keep up with Bridger and get to Lucas.

Back at the Laboratory, he was supposed to make it look like he was trying to take the boy from the boat. Firstly though, he had to make sure he carried out his main task, the syringe. He thought briefly where would be the best place to inject the drug without any tell tale signs of the injection site. He wanted to inject the substance into the young man, but let it remain a secret until it’s effects started working. It would take approximately 48 hours for the effects of the yellow liquid to start showing. In the mean time, he didn’t want to let on to anybody, especially the boy, that something was wrong.

When his employer had asked him to take on the job of killing Lucas Wolenczak, he thought the task would be simple enough. That was until Sanderson insisted that he wanted the death to be drawn out and painful.

Initially, he would make it look like someone else had interest in the boy. Wanted to kidnap him for ransom or use his genius mind for some hideous crime.

The fact was that the drug was intended to make the boy sick for a few days, just make him sick long enough for him to become very weak, too weak to fight off any other attack he had in mind for him. Then slowly, very slowly, he would kill him. He wanted the crew of the SeaQuest to see their young squire in a lot of pain, he wanted to inflict both physical and emotional pain. And then, when it suited him and only when it suited him, he would kill Lucas Wolenczak.

The man’s thought’s were abruptly interrupted with the sounds of violent banging on the locked door. He could see faces trying to peer through the porthole window. He could hear them shouting the teenager’s name. With the door’s securely locked for a few moments, he could afford to take his time a little.

Quickly, without any resistance from his victim, he placed the syringe inside the slack jaw of Lucas and injected the virus into the boy’s mouth. The boy involuntarily swallowed the substance. The boy did not even flinch at the small sting from the needle.

Once he was satisfied that the syringe was empty, he placed the empty needle back in his pocket.

With that completed he know bent down slightly and picked up the unconscious boy and placed him over his right shoulder. The boy seemed to weight little more than a piece of paper and was no extra burden to the big man.

He went across to the other side of the room again, and stood at the door and the control panel he had tampered with upon entering. He once again played with the controls and waited for the doors to release with a loud escape of air. He placed the unresponsive boy on the floor just inside the air lock. He placed his fingers on the boy’s neck briefly just to be sure the boy was still breathing.

Good, the boy was unconscious; the dose he was given suggested he would be for quite some time to come, but at least he was still alive. He dreaded to think what his employer would do if he had to relay the message that the boy was dead before Sanderson’s little game of cat and mouse begun.

Then in haste and before he could be caught, he climbed through the air lock into the corridor that led to the launch bay. He retrieved his face mask, oxygen tank and goggles from their hidden location and proceeded to swim out of the launch bay into the vast sea outside.

*****

Five or six people then almost fell through the door to the laboratory onto each other as the door released. Once inside, all eyes surveyed the room for one thing – Lucas. Once their eyes grew accustomed to the room, they spotted what they were looking for.

Commander Ford and Ortiz took on the task of trying to go after the attacker. They had heard the door to the launch bay open and close and proceeded in that direction.

O’Neill took it upon himself to call to the Med Bay and call for a medical team and anything else that might aid the situation.

Ben and Nathan were the first to reach the fallen boy.

Lucas lay on his side facing away from them, with his left arm tucked up underneath him. Bridger gently touched him, calling his name, beseeching that this boy be alright. No response. Lucas continued to lay in the drug induced coma.

Ben had also started to call the boy’s name, when Kristen finally pushed her way past both of them, and said “Let me take a look at him.” Her stare at both of them read “Don’t mess with me at the moment”, and they reluctantly let her by.

Kristen called upon all of her professionalism to stop the tears as she gently tried to turn Lucas over. “Lucas, can you hear me? Lucas, please wake up.” Her eyes now glistened with tears. Lucas never heard their pleas, his mind was far, far away, in the midst of past memories which seemed to pull him into the darkness and wouldn’t let him go.

Behind the trio, the medical team had arrived with a stretcher and first aid kit. “What’s wrong with him, Kristen? Why won’t he wake up, what did he do to him?” blurted out Bridger.

“I don’t know yet Nathan; let’s get him back to Med Bay and let me do a full examination on him. There doesn’t seem to be any physical injuries just at the moment. Why he is unconscious remains a mystery for the moment, until I can take a better look at him.” She then proceeded to placed her fingers on Lucas’s neck where the unidentified attacker had, to feel the steady and continual throb of his heart.

The medical team wanted to place the unconscious boy on the stretcher, to take him back the medical lab, but Bridger wasn’t haven’t any of that. “I’ll carry him,” he said with a little venom in his voice. Enough for the medical team to back off slightly and look to Ben with questioning looks.

“Let Bridger take him,” Ben repeated. “If he doesn’t I will,” he added. The medical team just looked at each other and sighed, they were not going to win this argument.

Ben assisted the Captain in helping get Lucas into his arms. Just like for the attacker, Lucas was no burden to Bridger, and he proceeded to hold the boy firmly in his arms, the boy’s blond head resting on his shoulder, Bridger then started back towards the Med Bay. He wanted reassurance that Lucas was all right; he had still been calling the boy’s name to no avail. Somehow he thought he had failed in the role of protector. Lucas had gotten hurt and he hadn’t been there to prevent it.

Once back at the Med Bay, Bridger reluctantly and cautiously laid Lucas down on a waiting bed, to enable Kristen to do her job and help him.

Commander Ford and Ortiz had closely followed the medical team. They had not been able to capture the intruder, but had picked up a clue as to what happened outside the airlock.

“Lucas, can you hear me, Lucas?” Kristen was still trying to arouse the unconscious young man before her, whilst looking over his body for obvious signs of injury. They removed his sneakers, his trousers and then t-shirt to leave him in his boxer shorts underwear.

“What’s wrong with him Kristen?” Nathan asked impatiently.

“To tell the truth. Nathan, I don’t know, He’s got no evidence of physical violence, no contusions to the head, no bruising to his body. His body temperature seems to be a little low, so I will cover him with two or three warm blankets while he is in here, just to keep his body heat up. His blood pressure seems to be normal.”

Just as she proceeded to place the blankets around Lucas to stop his chills,

Commander Ford entered the room holding a small white gauze cloth some distance away from him.

”I think I know why Lucas is unconscious, Doctor Westphalen,” he stated as he handed her the cloth.

Upon bringing the cloth closer to her nose, she abruptly held it away from her as Ford had immediately. CHLOROFORM. “This is absolutely soaked in the liquid. No wonder he doesn’t respond. I can safely say that he should probably remain asleep for a great many hours given the amount of the drug on this cloth. There is enough on here to bring down an Elephant, if they still existed,” Kristen said. ”Now that we know he was drugged, we should let it work through his system, and let him sleep it off. Just keep him warm, and watch him for any nasty side effects”

“We should probably move him to his room or somewhere a bit more comfortable than the Med Bay, given the number of hours he is probably going to remain unconscious,” Kristen continued.

“Will he be all right?” Ben and Bridger chimed in together

“He should be all right, once the chloroform has worn off. I just don’t know when that will be. I would suspect that he would sleep through most of tonight anyway,” she answered.

“Let’s move him into my quarters,” Nathan suggested. “I can keep a good eye over him.”

Nathan saw that the others were looking at him sympathetically and knew that he wanted this for both his benefit as well as for Lucas.

”All right, Captain, but just for tonight, and you keep a good eye on him,” she said. “Call me if anything changes or he begins to wake up, immediately”.

“Yes, doctor,” he said with a sheepish grin.

Ben said his goodnights to the Captain, the doctor and fellow crew members before walking over to where Lucas lay sleeping and gently placed a hand on his forehead, and affectionately brushed the hair to one side. Lucas didn’t even blink. Ben tried to give a wry smile, but knew that he was hurting inside to see his friend like this. “See you in the morning, Luke”, and went back to his cabin.

Captain Bridger, then tucked the woollen blankets around the boy, generally acting like a mother hen, and then hoisted the young man back into his arms and went to walk to his own quarters. “Goodnight, Kristen,” he said without looking back. His only thoughts for the moment were for the still form snuggled in his embrace.

*****

Bridger kicked the door open with his foot and entered his cabin still carrying his precious cargo. He gently laid the young man down on his own bunk, making sure that his efforts were slight and not enough to jostle the unconscious youth too much.

The Captain would cheered for joy if he could only get a response from Lucas. He would be happy with a grunt or a groan, a movement of his eyelids……. anything. But to no avail; Lucas remained enclosed in his cocoon unaware of the outside world.

The time seemed to tick by ever so slowly for the remainder of the night and Bridger reluctantly fell asleep on a hard chair seated next to Lucas. His shoulders were slumped and his head was bent forward towards his chest, he was emotionally drained.

A few times during the night, he had awoken with a start and thought for a moment that Lucas had made a sound or noise, but the boy remained deeply asleep and oblivious to the concern shown by the Captain and the crew.

*****

Bridger’s alarm clock suddenly whirred into life at 6:00 am, jolting Bridger from what had been a peaceful hour’s sleep. He slammed his hand down angrily on the top of the clock until he remembered that Lucas was still in the room. His gaze shifted and his mumblings about the clock soon evaporated.

Lucas seemed to be in the same position he had been in all night. The blankets remained securely about his shoulders probably from the lack of movement throughout the night.

Bridger stood up and tried to stretch his muscles from the position they had become knotted in.

Just as he was about to walk out of the room to find Kristen and a cup of coffee, a noise from the bed made him stop.

Nathan quickly grabbed Lucas’s sleep limp hand and watched with great anxiousness to see if he had heard the young man beginning to stir. His patience was rewarded with the eyelids of the youth starting to flutter.

“Lucas, please wake up,” Bridger said soothingly. “Please let me know you are all right, son.”

Lucas could hear a familiar voice, but it seemed to be a long way away and he couldn’t quite hear what it was saying. He tried to open his eyes, but they seemed to be bolted down and refused to open.

Lucas now tried to use what little strength he had, and pooled all of his thoughts into one. With a mammoth effort, he managed to get his eyes open to very thin slits. They quickly closed again in protest to the light that stabbed into them from the fluorescent lights.

He tried to use his voice to ask the other presence in the room to ask him what happened and what the license plate number was on the truck that ploughed into him.

He tried to reopen his eyes, but only managed them to slits again. This time they seemed to tolerate a small amount of light. His throat burned from thirst and for one strange moment he thought he could taste blood in his mouth.

He tried to gesture with his hands for a drink of water and found a cup placed gently under his chin with a hand lifting his head from the pillow allowing him to swallow.

“Lucas, are you all right? Please let me know how you are feeling,” Bridger continued to asked a steady stream of questions to the boy, but they went unanswered.

Lucas’s head felt like someone was on the inside trying to get out with a sledge hammer. Any movement he made with his head only resulted in shocking stabs of pain through his skull. He winced aloud at the pain and once again found his throat very dry and unable to form any words.

Even though he had only just opened his eyes, these efforts seemed to be overwhelming and his short burst of strength was now totally spent. With the continual pounding in his head, the burning sensation that the light in the room brought to his eyes and the residual effects of the chloroform, his eyelids once again closed and he seemed to be losing his slim grasp on consciousness.

“No, Lucas, stay with me please. Stay awake, Lucas,” Bridger was now shouting at the boy without realizing it. However, his beseeching had been in vain as he watched the youth before him once again fall into the darkness and beyond the reach of the people who loved him.

Lucas had heard the requests, but was unable to stop his slide into unconsciousness, the boy’s head now fell to the side and his jaw became slack, his breathing evened out signaling that he was already deeply asleep.

The captain was just about to run down to Med Bay and get Kristen, when the very person who he was looking for came into his quarters.

“Kristen,” he began, “Lucas just woke up, but only briefly. I tried to keep him awake to come and get you, but he just seemed to stare at me and then went back to sleep.”

Kristen Westphalen now walked over to the bed, looking down at her young patient and then said “Good morning, Nathan. I was just coming to see if he was awake. Don’t worry; he is bound to be tired for the rest of today anyway until the effects of the drug work out of his body.” She proceeded to place her stethoscope to Lucas’s chest and listen to his heart beat and then placed her fingers on his wrist to check his pulse. She smiled when she saw how innocent Lucas looked while he slept and she shuddered a little when she thought how close they had come to losing him to some madman.

“Let’s keep him here just until he wakes sufficiently to know he is safe. Tell the rest of the crew to keep the noise down a little around your quarters, Kristen said. “I will check up on him regularly just to make sure he’s all right, but other than that, it’s all up to Lucas now. Who was the person in the laboratory that tried to kidnap him?” she asked.

“Commander Ford and Ortiz said that after they tried to follow him, the person escaped through the launching bay. He must have had scuba gear and there was no sign of any craft to take him away from the SeaQuest,” Bridger answered.
“Why would someone try and hurt Lucas?” she repeated. “Lucas never hurt anybody in his life. It’s not fair to see him like this, Nathan; it just isn’t right,” she now said angrily.

”I know how you feel Kristen; believe me, the rest of the crew and me feel the same way. Ben is ready to go on a hunting expedition, and everybody else has just been just as angry about this as you and I,” Bridger continued, placing a reassuring hand on the doctor’s shoulder.

“You’d better get some rest yourself, Nathan,” she now added and she walked towards the door. “Let me know the minute there is any change.”

“You know I will”, he said with a tired smile.

*****

Bridger decided that before he tried to get some more sleep, he would indeed help himself to that elusive cup of coffee, just to make him feel a little human again. He closed that door ever so quietly and then headed towards the mess hall.

His entry into the mess hall only succeeded in bringing looks from his crew that seem to bore right into his soul looking for the answers. He tried to avoid the looks at first, pretending he didn’t see them and went about pouring the coffee into a small china cup. He looked at the food offered for breakfast and decided against it; his stomach was still twisted into knots and probably wouldn’t appreciate genetically engineered eggs or bacon. He sat down at the table with his senior crew and looked into the curious faces of Chief Crocker, Benjamin Krieg, Commander Ford and Katie Hitchcock. It may well as been the entire crew of the SeaQuest, for the looks were intense and anxious.

“He’s all right,” he started to say. “He woke up for a minute, but is now resting again. Kristen has taken another look at him and said just to let him rest for as long as he needs.” The crew seated with him collectively relaxed slightly. “Commander Ford, you have the bridge today, I’m going to try to get a few more hours of shuteye. Please inform the crew to keep the noise down around my quarters, to avoid waking Lucas,” Bridger stated.

“No problem Captain, Sir.” Ford answered, “Anybody waking Lucas before he is well enough will have to answer to me. Do you think a guard outside you door would be prudent, Captain, under the circumstances?” he asked.

“No, let’s not go that far just for the moment, Commander. I know you are worried about security on this boat since this event, but it may only serve to make Lucas more nervous after his ordeal, should he see people watching him all the time. Let’s just take it slow, and try and treat Lucas as normally as possible over the next few days. I’m sure we would all like to know what he is feeling and find out more about his attacker, and the conversation we overheard, but for now, let’s just concentrate on getting Lucas well again and being there for him. He may not be willing to give much information about the attack. Lucas tries harder than anybody I know to hide his feelings and emotions, especially when he is frightened. Lucas has to make the first step,” Bridger continued to say to his crew reassuredly. He knew they were all worried about Lucas, but confronting him too soon or the wrong way may be more harmful than good.

With this, Bridger now yawned loudly and said excused himself from the table and went back to his quarters. The coffee cup was still full; somehow it tasted more bitter than ever this morning.

*****

It was approximately 11 am before Lucas gave any indication that he was waking again.

Bridger had returned to his quarters and laid down on the visitor’s couch and proceeded to fall into a deep, dreamless sleep. He did not hear the sounds that showed Lucas beginning to stir.

Lucas slowly became of his surroundings, and opened his eyes. At first, he seemed to forget where he was and what had happened. He looked about him and saw that the Captain, was asleep on the couch in the room. He wondered at first why he was in the Captain’s bunk. He thought at first it might be that he had been talking to the Captain and just fallen asleep.

Then, with horrific speed, the events of the previous day suddenly became very real in this mind. His eyes suddenly were the size of saucers from fright and he remembered the man who had attacked him. His head still protested at any movement with a pounding headache, but at this particular point in time, with his senses on full alert, Lucas forgot all about his physical pain, his weakness from the drug and lethargy he felt from being asleep for so long.

He suddenly jumped off the bed, looking around wildly in the room for his attacker, unsure if the man was still around. His thoughts about what had happened, his last desperate feelings of having to escape somehow were rekindled.

With a rush of adrenaline, he tried to run to the door of the cabin. Dizziness plagued him from getting up too quickly, but didn’t prevent him from staggering to the steel, air locked door.

Bridger who had been blissfully unaware that his young friend had awoken with such fright, was jerked awake from the sound of Lucas’s strangled cries to flee the room.

Lucas managed to get the door open before the Captain could make a grab for him.

The Captain hadn’t been thinking about Lucas’s mental state, just the fact that the boy was awake and out of bed, when he should be resting. He proceeded to place a hand upon the boy’s shoulder as the young man tried to take flight. Lucas’s reaction to the hand on his shoulder was immediate and devastating. The boy let out a scream that could be heard all over the ship and somehow willed his body to try and move even faster.

Lucas was trying to run with everything he had, but only ended up barreling into a very confused Doctor Westphalen, sending both of them tumbling onto the floor outside the Captain’s quarters.

“Lucas, what are you doing out of bed?” she asked scoldingly, until she saw the look of absolute terror that was coming from the boy’s features. She tried to grab a hold of him also, but was not quick enough and Lucas was once again on his feet, trying to flee for his life.

“Wait, Lucas, stop, were are you going?” Kristen continued shouting at the disappearing shape of Lucas. Bridger had just managed to make it outside his door when he saw what had happened.

He also had tried to grasp the frightened boy before he could run again, but also was not quick enough.

Got to get away, the thoughts kept telling Lucas. If you stop running, he is going to get you. Sanderson will get you. Sanderson ……… SANDERSON.

The Captain had helped the doctor stand and they both now were trying to follow Lucas before he could hurt himself any further. They knew he was terrified. They were trying to run after him.

Lucas had managed to make it a further 50 meters down the decking corridor, before diving into a undisclosed cabin to hide. He shut the door and was too busy getting his breath back to notice who’s cabin he had run into.

The adrenaline rush was gone and he was quickly tiring again. His breathing was coming in short and raspy gasps. He couldn’t seem to get enough oxygen into his lungs.

The person who was in the cabin, stared at the back of the young man for a minute. Lucas has unbeknowningly entered the cabin of his best friend Ben Krieg. Ben saw Lucas enter and was alarmed at the pale, sweating face of his friend and noted how the boy was trembling.

Ben startled Lucas by doing the same action as Bridger, placing his hand upon his shoulder, and the reaction was the same. This time however, although there was the blood chilling scream, Lucas didn’t have the strength to run, his body just wouldn’t move and he was forced to curl up into a tight ball on the floor, hoping to be swallowed up.

“Lucas, oh, I’m sorry buddy, I didn’t mean to frighten you,” Krieg said soothingly to his friend. “What are you doing out of Med Bay? Are you all right now? Has the doctor seen you yet?”

Krieg’s questions went unanswered. The only sounds that came from Lucas was sobbing . Ben felt useless, and knelt down beside the still shaking boy and try and comfort him a little.

Ben pulled Lucas away from the doorway, and started to lead him to his own bunk to sit down. He managed to signal to Bridger and Westphalen outside in the corridor, where the young man was. Lucas continued to cry softly, now exhausted from the running, the crying and still not being very well.

*****

Lucas looked up at the two people entering the cabin, and then looked at the person who had been comforting him, instantly recognizing them and now feeling very stupid and foolish for running like he had.

“Sorry, Captain, I’d didn’t mean to run, it’s just that …………” and left the sentence incomplete. “Doc, I’m sorry I ran into you, are you hurt, sorry ………. Ben, thanks Ben, I’m sorry I reacted the way I did when you touched me, and you Captain,”

Lucas said. His crying had now ceased, but his eyes were still red and swollen. His face was still pale, his heart was still slamming into his rib cage, but he relaxed a little, knowing that people were there he knew and trusted.

“You don’t have to be sorry,” Ben said to Lucas, trying to convince that young man that every thing was all right.

“Do you want to talk about it, Lucas?” Kristen asked, already knowing the response.

“No” came the curt reply. He did not want to talk about it because that meant he had to remember Sanderson and he dreaded that. He couldn’t hold in his fear and anxiety when he thought about that man.

A shudder from him, drew the attention to the adults in the room, and they knew that the young man was not wanting to remember anything of what had happened yesterday.

“Okay, Lucas, you don’t have to talk. If you are feeling alright, I will just give you a quick look over to make sure you feel fine and you can go and have something to eat,” Kristen said in a very gentle voice. She knew that Lucas was far from well, but forcing him to rest would only make things worse. They needed to get some normality back on the ship and getting Lucas to start eating would a good step in that direction.

Bridger was about to protest about not talking to Lucas more about his attacker. One look at the good doctor, claws out, ready to strike down any person who dared to tell her different, told him to keep his comments to himself for the time being.

“Come on, kiddo,” Ben said trying to sound a little cheery and lighten the mood in the room” “I’m starving; how about you?”

“Yeah,” Lucas said, “I could eat a little.” “His stomach was protesting and told him he could probably eat a lot.

“Just take it slow, Lucas,” Kristen warned him. “That chloroform will still be wearing off.”

Lucas didn’t even want to acknowledge that he had been drugged with chloroform, and just gave the doctor a curt nod to say he heard her words. Before any more uneasy scenes started to play out, he quickly got up from Ben’s bunk and gestured to Krieg to follow him for breakfast. Bridger and Westphalen were left in the Lieutenant’s quarters to ponder.

“He’s clamming right up, Nathan,” she said. “He doesn’t want to even acknowledge that he was attacked. Did you see how frightened he was?” she continued in a sad voice.

“Yeah, that was partly my fault,” Bridger explained. “I should have known better than to come up behind him like that, but all I saw was him trying to leave. He is still not very well, but he won’t admit it.”

With that, the two of them also left the cabin. The two of them decided it was best that they left Lucas alone with Ben for awhile. Even though both were very worried, at least Lucas seemed to relax a little in the Lieutenant’s company. They would let him have breakfast in peace and try to sought out his problems later.

*****

When Ben and Lucas entered the mess hall for breakfast, they too felt all eyes upon them, inquisive and intense, just like it had been earlier with Captain Bridger. Ben glared back at the crowd wanting them to leave Lucas alone. He knew they were all worried, but Lucas had also seen the looks, and wanted to back track and not entertain any notion to talk to his fellow crew members. It was only due to the fact that Ben was standing directly behind him, almost propelling him forward that prevented Lucas from taking off in a run again to escape.

Breakfast tasted like cardboard to Lucas. It seemed to have no meaning other than keeping Ben happy by watching him eat it. His eyes still held a haunted look. The puffiness had subsided, but dark rings of fatigue had started to reappear underneath the boy’s sky blue eyes.

Trying to break the ice a little, Ben tried to inject some form of normality back into Lucas’ world with trivial conversation about who was seen with who aboard the boat, what new contraband Ben was able to obtain from his contacts if Lucas wanted. He offered new computer components, dates with girls, tickets to sporting events and of course, more girls.

Finally, trying anything, he started asking for Lucas’s assistance to plan a bash for the other members of the crew. Drinks, party food, old movies, popcorn (microwaved after being freeze dried) and plenty of fun. ”You pick out the movies, Lucas.” Ben said trying to sound excited. “I’ll get O’Neill to pick out the music and Ortiz to organize some tables and chairs in the senior staff lounge for tonight. If we are lucky, we might even be able to drag Commander Ford away from his mundane existence for a few hours. Lord knows he could use a good night on the town. How about it Luke?”

Lucas raised his head to look at Ben for a moment, and Krieg thought he had failed until he saw the shadow of a smirk on the young man’s face.

“You’re going to let O’Neill pick the music, Ben?” Lucas stammered. “What did we all do to deserve that?” he laughed. The laugh was very false but Ben Krieg though it was the best sound he had heard in his life.

With breakfast over, Lucas tried to shut out the events of yesterday by throwing himself into the task of helping Ben plan this party. He knew that if he stopped to think, even for a brief period of time, ghosts and demons from the past would soon interrupt his mind once again. He hadn’t forgotten what had happened, just the opposite, he couldn’t forget, but he also didn’t think that he had the right to burden any of his friends with it.

*****

The day dragged on, and it seemed everywhere Lucas turned, he saw people looking at him. He knew that they were watching him, waiting for him to break, waiting for the first tear to fall. He was determined that he wouldn’t do that in front of the people he considered a second family.

Lucas’s own family had deserted him a long time ago and from then on, the boy knew that he had to rely on himself and only himself to get through this world. If he let himself trust too many people, even close friends, then all he was doing was setting himself up for more heartache.

Commander Ford had tried to keep Captain Bridger’s mind off Lucas during the day as well, and decided that the best way was to get the Captain heavily involved with what was happening on the bridge.

“Captain, Mr. Ortiz and Chief Crocker are making sure that all security measures are now at full operating capacity,” Ford started to say. “We have checked all the weapons decks, the restricted areas, the staff living quarters and bridge just to make sure that all is well. Nobody should be able to get in or out of this vessel without us knowing now, Captain,” Ford continued.

Captain Bridger had listened to Ford’s speech, trying to sound interested. Upon hearing the final sentence, he remarked with disgust, “Pity that these measures could not have worked properly yesterday Commander.” He was not unhappy with Ford, although, Lord knows, that the young Commander often took over when Bridger found himself unable to cope.

*****

As afternoon began to turn into evening, most crew members aboard the SeaQuest were looking forward to the party to end all parties that Krieg had been planning.

Lucas had done his assigned task and picked out a few old movies: oldies but goodies. The tiredness that he had felt earlier now grew tenfold and he feared that if he stood still for more than a few moments, he would be asleep on his feet.

Over the last few hours, his headache had returned with venom and his throat had been so dry at times that he found himself drinking water as though he were a camel. His skin had become very itchy and chalky and irritating. His eyes now burned and looked like road map they were so bloodshot. His condition had not gone totally unnoticed, especially by Doctor Westphalen, but he found himself continually telling those concerned that he was okay and would soon take to his bed to get a good night’s sleep. The little white lie seemed to taste bitter sweet in his mouth. Sleep was the first thing he probably needed, but the last thing we wanted.

By 9:00 pm the party was in full swing. Everybody who attended seemed to be enjoying themselves. Only the senior crew members, and those thought necessary had been informed about what happened to Lucas the previous day, so most of the crew were just out to have a good time. Parties were very rare aboard the SeaQuest, and so they were making the best of it.

Bridger and Kristen Westphalen had attended about an hour ago, sampling some of the weird concoctions that Krieg and Ortiz had laid on the tables. Devilled eggs, cheese, crackers and various other finger foods adorned the checkered table cloth.

Both the Captain and the Doctor had only really attended the party just to keep things under control. They knew what Ben’s intentions had been when he suggested the party, and inwardly thanked the Lieutenant for taking things into his own hands concerning Lucas.

Upon surveying the room, they saw Lucas perched on a couch next to Krieg, watching a movie called “Terminator”. The movie had been made many years ago, but an action flick was called for tonight and all who were watching, seemed to enjoy it.

The party seemed to be going quickly and soon a number of the partygoers started says their ‘goodnights’ to everyone and making excuses of having be on duty early the next morning.

The room was almost empty with the exception of Bridger, Westphalen, Krieg, O’Neill, Ortiz and Hitchcock. All had forgotten about a certain blond headed boy for a few minutes due to the continual stream of well wishers.

Bridger suddenly wanted to know where their young friend was. He surveyed the room and his eyes soon rested upon a most heart wrenching site.

On the couch, curled up, with his knees almost up to his chest and his arms wrapped protectively around his legs was Lucas. His blond head rested upon the arm of the couch and his face was poised in deep slumber.

The other people in the room soon saw what the Captain had been looking at, and each of their hearts also missed a beat at the scene. The boy looked so alone, too young to have gone through something like a kidnapping attempt.

Kristen was the first person to approach the sleeping form. She gently checked him over with her eyes and with her hands where she could. She did not want to wake the poor boy, and so went about doing her doctoring duty as best she could with a most unwilling patient. “Let’s get him to a nice warm bed for the night,” she said to the others. “Nathan, I hate to impose for another night, but it would be best if someone could keep an eye on him.” She knew that the Captain would have jumped at the chance, but also saw that the Captain was looking somewhat peaked himself.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way, doctor,” he announced.

They pondered how best to pick up Lucas, to avoid waking him, but decided any way they did it probably wouldn’t make the boy stir very much. Exhaustion was etched on the young face, the dark circles had become darker and his skin seemed awful pasty in color.

Once again, Bridger found himself nudging his cabin door open with Lucas nestled in his arms. He didn’t mind one bit. He would not have been able to sleep anyway if Lucas were put in his own bed.

*****

Approximately 1am that morning, Bridger was awoken to low moaning sounds from Lucas. The boy seemed to be entangled in the bed clothes and had a fine sheen of sweat about his brow.

Bridger gently laid a hand on the boy’s forehead and almost pulled it back in haste when he felt the heat radiating from the boy. The Captain’s own heart was now missing a beat, hoping and praying in vain that whatever demons sought Lucas were not about now.

He quickly went to his desk and pressed his PAL communicator, attempting to page Kristen. A sleepy and annoyed voice answered the Captain’s plea to answer at such an ungodly hour of the morning.

“Nathan, what in the world possesses you to wake up good honest people at this hour,” Kristen said to her own PAL communicator.

“Kristen, I think we have a problem. Could you please come in here,” he said. He did not add what the problem was, but hoped the urgency in his voice was enough to get Kristen’s attention.

The doctor’s attention was now alerted, “Lucas,” she blurted out suddenly, with a sudden intake of breath. “What’s wrong, is he having nightmare’s already?” she asked.

“No, I think it’s a little more urgent than that Kristen. Please come immediately.” Bridger stated.

Bridger felt he had only finished his sentence when he heard the knock on his steel door. Kristen hadn’t waited for Nathan to open the door, and proceeded to barge into his quarters without even blinking. She rushed over to the sleeping young man and noticed immediately that his disposition had changed considerably from when she had last seen him.

The young man was now very restless in his sleep, moaning and fighting with an invisible enemy, tearing at the bed sheets. His entire body was now burning hot to the touch. She tried to rouse him from his slumber, but moaning only got louder to her attempts.

“No, get away from me,” Lucas said. “Sanderson ……….. No he can’t be alive.. …………….. I can’t go back ………. Sanderson .. ………… You’re supposed to be dead ……….Nooooooo.”

Kristen took the young man’s body temperature and gasped aloud at the reading …….. 101 degrees. She showed the thermometer to the Captain who also paled when he read the results.

“This fever shouldn’t be the result of the chloroform, Nathan,” Kristen said to him clearly concerned. “There has to be another cause to this high temperature,” she continued.

“What can we do?” Bridger said hurriedly. “We have to cool him down, he is going to cook at this rate.” He placed his hand once again on the boy’s forehead to confirm his theory.

“I’ll need to take a blood sample and analyze it. I can’t remember any strains of flu going around the ship lately, have you?”

“No, not that anybody has mentioned,” Bridger answered.

Their thoughts about the cause were temporarily interrupted from another moan from Lucas, who continued to struggle against an unseen enemy. Kristen raced to her surgery to obtain a vial of medication and two empty syringes and sample tubes. She returned to find the situation the same as she had left it, a very sick young man and a very worried Captain Bridger.

She moved in front of Nathan and proceeded to prepare Lucas’s arm for the sample of blood to be taken. She swabbed the area with a small cotton ball and alcohol, then without seeing if there would be any objections, inserted the needle into the boy’s white skin.

It took a few seconds for the blood to collect in the sample tubes, but when she was satisfied that she had sufficient samples from the two tubes, she removed the needle carefully and asked the Captain to hold a cotton ball over the injection site until the blood flow stopped.

Kristen then placed a small amount of liquid in the second syringe and the injected this substance into the other arm of Lucas. When Bridger looked at her questioningly, she stated, “It’s an antibiotic, to help fight whatever is making him sick. Until the fever is down, we need a few people on roster to help get his temperature down. Know anyone who might volunteer?” she asked.

Nathan didn’t even need to be asked, but Kristen insisted that there be more than one person to help. The Captain then proceeded to wake Commander Ford, Katie Hitchcock and Benjamin Krieg to ask for temporary nurses.

*****

Ben Krieg took the first watch with the Captain. They proceeded to make up cold compresses as instructed by the doctor and place then on Lucas’s brow and over the rest of his body.

“How much more can he take?” Ben said bitterly. “How could this sweet boy, and the best damn friend I ever had, be so sick and hurt?”

Kristen laid a comforting hand on Ben’s shoulder, trying to reassure the Lieutenant that Lucas would be all right. “He needs time, Ben.” she said. “With all that has happened over the last two days, the kidnapping attempt, the stress, the terror, the lack of food and sleep: his body just cannot take anymore at the moment. He is exhausted, both physically and emotionally. He has hit rock bottom.”

‘But,” and she made sure she held Ben’s attention to say this, “He needs all of us to be strong for him. Be the crutch to lean on until all of this ugly mess if over. Can you do that for him, Ben?”

”Sure doc, I am sorry for the way I sound. I’m just angry and afraid for him right now.”

“We all are” Kristen said with her own eyes getting moist.
*****

Kristen had left Lucas in the capable care of Ben and Nathan for the remainder of the night. Now as dawn approached, she went about joining Katie for their turn at helping their young friend.

Katie and Kristen laughed softly at the sight they came across. Nathan and Ben were seated on opposite sides of Lucas’s bed, both with their heads on the bed, both snoring loudly, both very tired and sound asleep.

Their attention was drawn to Lucas, who was awake, looking at his two nurses, trying to laugh, but making a lousy attempt.

His eyes came to rest of the two girls as they walked over to him. His eyes were still very hazy looking and his color seemed to be worse if that were possible.

Kristen took the fact that he was conscious as a good omen, but frowned when she leant forward and placed her hand on the boy’s forehead. The temperature had not gone down at all. It didn’t seem to be higher, but sweat was pouring off Lucas, making his skin look very glossy and very sickly.

“How are you feeling, Lucas?” she proceeded to ask.

“Tired …………. doctor. Tired and very hot,” was the answer from Lucas.

“I’m not surprised,” she answered. “I wish there was something more I could do for you to ease the discomfort.”

”Do you know why you got sick?” she asked just on the off chance Lucas knew the cause.

“No,” he said simply. ” I still felt tired all of yesterday, but it was only after the party started, that my throat began to burn and my eyes began to sting. “Can I have a drink of water?” he asked.

“Of course.” Katie Hitchcock said, jumping to fill a glass from the pitcher that was sitting on the Captain’s night stand. “Here you go, Lucas,” she said gently.

Lucas thought that the water tasted great, it seemed to quench the thirst he felt and appeared to douse the flames that rose from inside his body.

“Thanks” was his response along with a candid smile.

He now tried to lay back on the pillow. He wanted the merry-go-round that his brain was on to stop and let him off. He wanted to be swallowed up by the darkness and let the headaches, the stiffness in his joints and the heat from the fever leave him alone.

His eyelids drooped, although he tried to stay awake. He was fighting a losing battle. He didn’t feel the second shot of antibiotics that the doctor injected once again into his arm.

Nathan and Ben had awoken just as Lucas was drifting off again. They were both surprised to see Kristen and Kate standing beside the bed and wondered how long they had been asleep.

“Why don’t you two go and get some proper rest,” Kristen said. “He will probably be asleep for a few hours again.”

*****

The next two days and nights were a blur to the senior crew as they tried to juggle their duties to the ship with the need to help with the roster helping Lucas.

Lucas’s temperature remained high, and his moaning and thrashing only seemed to abate when the boy was totally exhausted and had nothing left to give. It was very painful for his friends to watch, not able to help more.

Kristen had spent long hours when not with Lucas, at testing his blood samples for a clue as to the cause of his fever and a probable cure. She analyzed the samples over and over again, checking and rechecking. It wasn’t until she was about to give up totally that she spotted something very unusual in the last sample.

She now hit the Comm Link in the laboratory and summonsed the Captain to view her findings.

Nathan had hurried to see what the results could mean. He was reluctant to leave Lucas, but he desperately wanted to know how to help the young man some more.

Upon reaching the laboratory, he spotted Kristen gesturing for him to come and look at the sample she had just tested. He peered into the lenses trying to look for a clue, trying to see the virus that was making Lucas sick.

“You see those small yellowish cells on the slide, Captain?” she asked. The Captain nodded and waited for her to explain more. “Those cells are contaminated,” she continued. “Contaminated by a substance that is very rare and not well known any more.”

Bridger’s curiosity and impatience was getting the better of him. “Just tell me Kristen,” he said curtly.

“The contaminate is a strain of virus that was around long before you and I were born. This particular strain of virus had been around since the 1950’s and 1960’s. It used to reek havoc on populations about thirty years ago. But with the advancement of medicine through the years, a cure was thought to have been found. A vaccine was invented and proved to work for a great number of years. It seems that somehow, someone has gotten hold of this particular virus and altered it slightly. Just enough to make it immune to any of the antibiotics that I have been using.” Kristen waited to see what the Captain’s reaction was to this information.

“How does a seventy-year-old virus appear on my ship out of nowhere, Kristen?” he asked skeptically.

“I don’t know, but I am sure of the test results,” she replied.

Their conversation was interrupted with Katie appearing at the door to the lab, asking that they come back to check on Lucas.

They all raced back to the young man, fearful of what had happened. Their worries were quickly dispelled when Kristen examined Lucas’s heart and pulse, checked his temperature and noted his skin color.

Lucas’s skin was no longer a sick pasty white. His temperature was just a little above normal, signaling that the fever had broken, his pulse was steady and his breathing now regular and quieter. They all sighed aloud with thanks to the gods.
“He’s seems to be a lot more at ease now,” Kristen began. “His fever seems to have broken and his body is now taking time out to replenish and rejuvenate.”

Kristen rubbed her tired eyes and relaxed for the first time in almost a week. She noted that the Captain now had the slightest hint of a smile upon his face as he realized that the person he show dearly cherished, was going to be better.

Katie had a smile also and quickly added, “I’ll go tell the rest of the Bridge and Ben that he’s better.”

“Thanks, Katie. I appreciate that. Let’s all get some much needed sleep and let our young patient get some rest too.” She continued to beam down at the sleeping form who seemed to defy all obstacles placed before him.

*****

When Lucas awoke this time, the first thing he noticed was that his head was not pounding and he could move a little without fear of stabbing pain. He gingerly opened his eyes, tried to move his stiff joints, and tried for the first time in days to sit upright on the bed.

“Whoa,……… where do you think you going, young man?” Bridger said to Lucas as he attempted to restrict his movements.

“I feel better this morning, Captain,” he said. “I need to get up and stretch, I feel as if I have been lying down for days,” he continued.

This brought an astonished look from his friend, surprised the boy didn’t know how sick he had been over the last four days. Had he not been aware of the fever burning within him.

“You don’t remember the last few days,” was all Bridger could manage to get out once he got over the initial shock.

“No, should I?” Lucas asked innocently. ”The last thing I remember is going to sleep on the couch at Krieg’s party last night,” Lucas stated.

“Lucas, it has been four days since Krieg’s party,” Bridger told him.

“What ……… How, When ………” Lucas stammered, not believing what he had heard.

“You have been a very sick boy, Lucas,” the Captain said. “The crew has been very concerned about you. We had a roster of nurses scheduled each night just to take care of you. “

“Glad to see you awake again, kiddo,” Ben Krieg announced loudly with a grin.

The captain’s door burst open, and in stepped Kristen, followed by Katie, Ben and Commander Ford. All were relieved to see Lucas sitting upright and talking to Bridger.

“How’s it going, Luke?” Ben said, not being one to hold back.

“Fine, Ben, just fine,” Lucas answered. “Have I really been sick for four days, Ben?” he asked sheepishly.

“Yeah, kiddo, but you are going to be all right now,” he replied. “Ain’t that right doc?”

“Let me do the diagnosis please, Lieutenant,” Kristen said dejectedly. “Even if he says he feels better, his body has been through a lot and needs to rest.”

This brought a over exaggerated groan from Lucas, but a smile from Bridger and the others.

“Can’t I please just sit up for a while, doctor?” he pleaded. “I feel like a dried up piece of toast that somebody forgot to throw out. I really need to have a shower and something to eat. “

Kristen couldn’t have been happier at this statement, and reluctantly said that as long as he took things easy, he could have his shower and then sit down to a nice big meal.

*****

Lucas found himself improving health wise for the remainder of the day. He was acutely aware again that his shadows were doing their best to follow him without being noticed.

Kristen and Katie were hopeless at the task, trying to look inconspicuous, but if Bridger and Krieg were trying to be spies for a foreign country, Lucas felt sure he would be defecting.

Bridger had made more open attempts for the rest of the day to see how Lucas was fairing, trying to gauge any stay feelings, any signs of relapse. But anything Lucas didn’t want to share, he managed to keep under his hat. He could truly be a master of disguise if it suited him, and due to the dark thoughts that had been surfacing during the day, he made extra sure that his feelings remained locked away.

Kristen had come up to him throughout the day, checking his temperature and pulse. While he appreciated their efforts and concern, it really was beginning to annoy him just a little.

Late in the afternoon, he had sought the sanctuary of his cabin for some solitude. Away from the prying eyes and the poking fingers. His body was beginning to show signs of fatigue again. He flatly refused to go back to sleep upon various requests, but now was running out of excuses and steam.

Lucas had managed to keep himself entertained for the majority of the afternoon and had been very happy surfing the Internet, trying to find out what had been going on in the world since becoming sick. He even came across some great scientific seminars that were being advertised during the time of the next shore leave. He was trying to think of an excuse to tell the Captain in order to attend, but his mind was getting fuzzy and thick from lack of sleep.

Bridger lightly tapped on the door to Lucas’s quarters less than 15 minutes later, when making one of his umpteen visits for the day. The Captain found Lucas sound asleep over the top of his keyboard. He silently sighed to himself and proceeded to place the boy in his bed, tucking him under a warm blanket. He looked back at the teenager on his way out, content with that thought that at least for one night, Lucas may get some sleep.

*****

Over the next few days, things seemed to return to almost normal. Routine seemed to betaking over the SeaQuest once again. But then, just when they thought it was safe to assume that there was no longer any threat ……………

Lucas had been sitting at the keyboard of his console on the bridge for eight hours now. With the last few weeks of illness behind him, his body tolerance to lack of sleep continued to increase gradually.

He had almost daily checkups from Doctor Westphalen, but he didn’t mind the attention. If he let her fuss over him a little, maybe she would miss how tired he was getting.

He still insisted to himself that he wasn’t going to let the dreams tamper with his head at night. He had been getting approximately two hours of sleep roughly each day and that included short naps he stole while on duty that nobody seemed to notice.

“How you feeling today, Lucas?” Kristen had asked him this morning at breakfast.

“Great now doc,” he lied. “Even slept a little more last night without the dreams.” he said cheerily, trying to put on a mask to hide his real pain.

The logic was simple enough, Lucas thought: If he slept Sanderson would come, if he avoided sleeping for longer than an hour at a time, then Sanderson was kept at bay.

The demons that threatened to overwhelm him were somehow kept at arms length when he tried to concentrate on his daily duties and kept working himself without stopping. If he stopped, he would start thinking and thinking was not good.

On the bridge that morning, the normal humdrum of almost ritual-like mock maneuvers were put into action. Trying to assimilate the “What if” scenario, Lucas thought these exercises were a waste of time and effort, but Commander Ford thrived on them and made sure that every one knew he was in command.

Bridger had let his younger Commander take over the helm and play his mock war games. He knew the dark skinned Commander was good at his job, but sometimes felt like the youngest crew member, that the efforts were often overkill to the pretend situations.

Lucas’s mind was starting to wander. He was trying to stay focused on the task at hand.

Then, without warning, the crew were startled by a large thud that echoed in the room.

Lucas had fallen asleep at his post, but instead of laying over the top of the keyboard as was customary, on this occasion he had been leaning back on his chair. He felt the chair start to topple backwards, but was too slow in stopping in time to right himself.

Bridger and Ben were immediately at his side, trying to ask too many questions at once whether or not he was alright. All Lucas could do was give a very embarrassed and lopsided grin. His face was now bright red underneath his shock of blond hair.

Kristen Westphalen had been entering the main doors to the Bridge to consult the Captain on a scientific matter when she saw Lucas fall backwards.

She too, took no time in going to the young man’s side. However, where the Captain’s voice had been gentle and full of concern, the doctor’s was full of nothing but remarks about taking care of himself, what was he doing on the bridge in the first place, who was responsible for Lucas being irresponsible: the list went on and on.

Upon hearing the comments, Kristen and Bridger expected the young man to jump up in anger and give a torrent of rebuttal. Instead, Lucas’s shoulder seemed to slump from fatigue and his face seemed to fall even further in embarrassment.

Kristen’s mood changed suddenly when she looked at Lucas and saw for the first time, that he had tears streaming down his face. She knew that Lucas was a very private person and the fact that he had showed such emotion in public was a total shock to her.

Captain Bridger just became more worried and the bridge crew more concerned about Lucas. He knew that emotionally, Lucas had been on a roller coaster the last few weeks, and now it seemed that he was at the end of his rope.

Kristen looked at Lucas with very motherly intentions and put a comforting arm around his trembling shoulders. She knew that this open display of weakness, by falling asleep at his post and then opening crying in public was the straw that would break the camel’s back.

She whispered in the teenager’s ear, making sure that only the two of them were privy to the topic of the conversation.

Lucas looked at her with a tear stained face, and slowly nodded to her suggestion.

Kristen looked at the rest of the crew to signal that they should return to their duties to avoid and not place any more stress on Lucas by the stares and words of concern.

Bridger let the doctor do her part, and did not try to stop the two when Kristen helped Lucas to his feet and started to exit the Bridge’s doors.

He desperately wanted to know what was going on. To take the sobbing young man and let him know that everything was going to be alright. To help his overcome his deepest fears. He started to follow them to Kristen’s office.

Kristen looked back over her shoulder, and a simple curt shake of her head told the Captain that he wouldn’t be needed. She knew that Nathan wanted to help Lucas, but right now, too many people was not a good idea.

Lucas had not bothered to look back at his fellow crew. He just wanted the floor to swallow him up and let him die in peace.

How could you cry like a baby in front of those people, you idiot. You are supposed to be an intellectual genius and here you are sobbing on the floor. At the first sign of a problem, you just cave in. You really are worthless with a capital USELESS Lucas Wolenczak. He continued to talk like this silently to himself as they made their way back to the Med Bay.

*****

Half an hour later, Kristen made her way back to the Bridge to let the crew’s concern over Lucas come to rest.

She walked over to the middle of the room and starting speaking in a soft and low voice. Not that she thought Lucas would be able to hear her, but just out of respect for the young man’s pride and feelings that he had not meant to show openly.

“I suggested a mild sedative to help him get some rest,” she began. “I gave him the pill and told him to go back to his room and sleep for awhile. He is very upset that he cried in front of you all.”

“Keep it quiet around his quarters today, and for goodness sake, when he wakes up and roams the ship, just carry on as normal as possible,” she pleaded . “Please let him know you are still his friends. He really needs to know you care about him”.

*****

The crew did as they were asked and keep their goings on as quiet as possible for Lucas.

It was mid afternoon when the Kristen asked the Captain if he could check on Lucas for her. She of course, already knew the answer, she didn’t even need to ask the question.

Bridger knocked on the steel hatchway to Lucas’s quarters. When he didn’t get any response, he thought one of two things: Firstly, the boy was still soundly asleep due to the mild sedative: Secondly, he was actively ignoring the knock at the door.

The captain knocked a second time and this time when he didn’t get an answer, entered without an invitation.

He also gasped out aloud when he noticed that Lucas’s bunk was empty. He looked about the room, trying to locate him, but all he saw was the normal chaos Lucas called home. Clothes were still on the floor were he had left them, his computer was still switched on, books laid in various conditions over the decking and an a half full glass of water sat upon the desk beside the bed.

Bridger was still muttering some colorful words under his breath when he rushed in Kristen’s office.

“He’s not in there,” he stammered, trying to catch his breath after running.

“That’s strange,” Kristen answered, not wanting the knots beginning to form in her stomach to grow any bigger. “I told him when I gave him the pill to make sure he was in his quarters when he took it. It is only a mild sedative, but acts quickly once ingested,” she commented. “I wonder where he is?”

”I knew somebody should have been with him,” Bridger said sounding very annoyed with the doctor. “He needs somebody to keep a close eye on him at the moment, Kristen”.

Westphalen knew that the Captain was only worried about Lucas, she didn’t take his remarks personally. When it came to talking about Lucas, Nathan was just about impossible to get messages through to.

“He also needs time, Nathan,” she said gently. “After his very public display this morning, the last thing he needs is somebody hovering over him, trying to watch his every move.”

“I’m sure he hasn’t gone very far, especially if he did indeed take that sleeping pill,” she stated. “Let’s have a quiet look around for him between you and me, before you decided to call in the entire UEO search and rescue team”.

“Where would he go, Kristen?” Bridger asked genuinely. “Would he be hiding someplace, do you think?”

The doctor thought for a moment; where would I hide if I was a very tired, very frightened teenager on a boat of 300 crew she asked silently.

Then with a smile she then got a notion of where he might be and gestured the Captain to follow her.

The Captain was confused, where did Kristen think Lucas would be hiding out. His logic had all but disappeared when concern had taken over.

Bridger was most surprised when the journey ended and he found himself standing outside the doorway of his own quarters.

“Do you really think he would come back here?” he asked.

”Well, there is only one way to find out, Nathan,” she replied. And proceeded to open the door to the Captain’s quarters very cautiously.

Inside his own private sanctuary, they found who they were looking for. But the way they found him, only made their worry double over the young man.

Lucas lay curled up in as tight a ball as he could get on the Captain’s bunk. The boy was still asleep. He was nestled underneath the blankets and held the pillow close to his chest, in between his knees. He looked like he was trying to shrink up as much as possible, to avoid anybody. Anybody, the Captain, the Doctor, His Parents, Himself.

Bridger was then overcome with the feeling of being a fool in front of people. He seemed to have a rush of color to his cheeks as he looked at the doctor nervously. “Sorry, just worried about him I guess,” he managed to get out.

“It’s all right, Nathan,” she answered. “When you stop worrying about him, that’s when I will begin to worry about you.” She decided to return to her surgery to allow the Captain some time alone for himself as well.

*****

Bridger walked over to the bed and couldn’t get enough of looking at Lucas as he lay sleeping. He also noticed the position Lucas lay in, and tried to untangle the young man into a more comfortable sleeping posture.

He quickly stopped his efforts, when Lucas began moaning softly at his touch. The boy was trying to curl up even more and was grasping at the sheets, almost tearing at them.

A frown had crossed over Lucas’s face when the Captain had touched him. Bridger withdrew his help and sighed aloud……..

“How can I help you, Lucas?” he asked the sleeping figure. “Please let me in.

“I want to make the pain go away. I promise that I will not let anybody hurt you again,” he continued.

He then looked over a the visitor’s lounge and thought about the back ache he would have in the morning. With his mind continually ticking over, about Lucas, about his crew, about why he ever came back to the SeaQuest, he also fell into a dreamless sleep.

*****

When Lucas appeared on the Bridge late the next morning, looking a lot better, but still a little nervous, the crew was trying their best not to let the young man see their concern.

Lucas took his place at his station as normal and then caught the sudden downward glances of the crew and they hurried tried to hide the fact that they had been staring at him.

Bridger had almost stopped in mid sentence, but now continued, although he stole glances as much as he could when opportunities arose.

Kristen had again examined Lucas that morning after he had awoken from the sedative. She tried to get him to talk about his fears and problems, but the boy had begun to stiffen at her questions, and she decided against going on.

With a less that convincing smile, she told him he could return to the Bridge after he had breakfast as long as he only worked for a few hours. He was to let somebody know when he felt tired, and he was to take regular breaks from looking at his computer screen throughout the morning.

He had reluctantly agreed to the terms of the truce. And tried to return a even less convincing smile to the doctor.

*****

Later that same morning, just as Lucas was taking one of the agreed breaks, Ortiz was wandering around the crew doing the mail call.

“O’Neill,” he proceeded to yell. “Look’s like a pretty envelope for you and smells nice too,” he said sarcastically as he handed his pay envelope to the communications officer.

“You’re just jealous,” O’Neill said trying to keep up the cheerful conversation. His answer was greeted with laughter from all that were on the Bridge. Even Lucas felt a small smirk trying to force it way onto his lips.

“ANDERSON,” Ortiz continued to call as he handed Lonnie her pay slip.

“FORD”

“KRIEG”

Lastly, he help up an A4 size envelope to the light, trying to see the contents. “Hey, Lucas, looks like there’s something here for you today,” he said. He wasn’t willing to make a joke of Lucas this morning and handed the teenager the envelope.

Lucas took the envelope from Miguel, but had a very confused look upon his face. “I didn’t order anything,” he stated. “Krieg, is this some sort of joke?” he asked the Lieutenant seated beside him.

Krieg tried to feign a look of falsely accused hurt and commented, “Why, Lucas, it’s that new secret part you ordered. You know, the one you wanted for ages that I got of some guy in a back alley.”

”Oh, yeah,” Lucas replied with a grin, “I remember,” trying to keep up appearances.

Bridger and the rest of the crew had collectively breath in relief at the humorous conversation between Lucas and the Lieutenant.

Lucas placed his thumb underneath the envelope flap and proceeded to tear it off to open the mystery package. When he pulled out the contents he knew that it was indeed a joke, but a joke of the very worst kind.

He could not hold back the loud gasp and sharp intake of breath as he held what looked to be a photograph in his hand. He continued to stare at the photograph for a moment and then, without warning, let out a groan. His face lost all of it’s natural color and his eyes seemed to roll back as he crumpled to the floor in a dead faint. The photograph fell limply from his hand where it had fallen.

Ben’s face had also lost some color as he watched his friend fall unconscious to the deck of the Bridge. He quickly knelt beside Lucas, feeling for a pulse, checking that he was still breathing.

Bridger had stood for a moment, then barged his way through the room full of onlookers and bystanders. He looked down at Lucas and found his gaze shiftily to look at the piece of paper that lay beside him.

Ford had been the one this time to summons the doctor when Lucas fainted. Kristen once again found herself ordering the young man to be carried to the Med Bay for examination.

She again left Ben and Bridger where they stood, looking at the source of the boy’s state.

The photograph seemed to be nothing more than a picture of a very pretty girl. She looked to be about 15 years old, with chestnut hair and blue eyes. They turned to photo over to see if there were any clues to her identity on the back.

The only thing written on the back of the photograph, was the name Alison. Bridger and Ben looked at each other with very confused looks.

*****

Back at the Med Bay, Lucas was beginning to stir. Kristen had place a vial of smelling salts just far enough away from his nostrils for the fumes to creep into his sinuses.

“Ohh,” he moaned. He tried to sit up but was quickly restrained by the doctor and two assistants.

“Lay still, Lucas,” she asked quietly looking at the young man to gauge his emotional state.

Lucas heard the words, and suddenly regained the look of embarrassment that he had one again made a fool of himself in front of the crew. You did it again, Wolenczak. You just can’t help yourself, can you? Big man, aren’t you. Just fainted in front of the entire crew. What’s the next trick up your sleeve, a invitation affair to see if you can cry in front of them again? YOU WEAK BASTARD.

Bridger and Ben had now made their way to the Med Bay to check on Lucas. The captain had collected the photograph and empty envelope and held in his hand as he entered.

Kristen just started to think that the boy’s blood pressure and breathing might be returning to normal when Bridger stepped through the doorway.

Lucas spied the envelope and photograph as he came through the door, and put his hand over his eyes, moaning again. “Alison,” he said softly “Alison.” he repeated. Hot tears were now streaming down in face again in full view of everybody.

He flinched when Bridger and Kristen tried to calm him down again. Lucas grabbed the photograph from the Captain’s hand and held it tightly to his chest. He continued to cry and felt comforting arms around his shoulders from the doctor and his friend Ben.

Kristen motioned for Bridger and Ben to once again leave her patient and her alone for awhile. They reluctantly left, thinking that this scenario had been played out too many times in the last few days. Lucas crying, Lucas needing to be held and soothed. Lucas needing protection from unknown demons and monsters.

*****

In a high rise building, in an office, far away from the depths of the ocean, a man sat at his desk and wondered if his package had arrived yet. He knew that this fight had only just begun, he had only just started playing cat and mouse.

He knew how Lucas would have reacted to the photograph. It was time to let him be scared just a little more now before he brought plan B into effect. He was just starting to put together the pieces of the plan that would ultimately destroy everything the boy held close, everything that he held dear: his friends, his freedom and finally his sanity.

*****

It was Saturday night. Two weeks after Krieg’s legendary party and three days after the latest incident on the Bridge involving Lucas.

Krieg had wanted to plan another swinging party, but the enthusiasm of the help from the rest of the crew waned dramatically. Nobody seemed to have any drive. The visions of Lucas fainting on to the Bridge deck were still too fresh in everybody’s mind.

Lucas had pretty much remained secluded in his quarters since being declared fit and released from the Med Bay yesterday. He didn’t want to talk to anybody. He didn’t want to do anything. He just sat on his bunk and stared at the ceiling.

Ben Krieg knocked on his door about 6:00 pm and asked if Lucas was going to eat dinner as the mess. He decided to take matters into his own hands.

Lucas had begun to shake his head in a negative response, when suddenly he felt himself pulled up gruffly from his bed and hoisted over Krieg’s shoulder and being physically carried out of his quarters.

He was protesting loudly as they made their way down the corridor.

“Ben, what are you doing?” he said crossly. “Let me down, you idiot. I said I don’t want to have anything to eat. Ben, let me go”.

The site of a 17 year old teenager carried roughly over the broad shoulders of the Lieutenant through the decks of the ship brought smirks and smiles from the remainder of the crew.

Lucas was still protesting to the best of his ability about his treatment when they arrived at the mess hall.

Bridger and Kristen and most of the senior staff had been seated at a table enjoying a hot meal when they heard the distinct shouts and swearing coming from Lucas and Ben carried him into the room.

“Ben, put me down, you bastard,” Lucas yelled. “I’ll get you for this, you, you…” and stopped mid sentence as he was plonked unceremoniously on a chair at the table and came face to face with Captain Nathan Bridger.

His face took on a look of steel and he immediately stopped his tirade of swearing and tried his best to smile sheepishly at the Captain.

Bridger had been inwardly laughing the situation as much as all who saw, but his laughing stopped when he looked at Lucas and noticed that the boy was now angry. Blood boiling angry and was staring at the people seated at the table with cold, unfeeling blue eyes and a firm, unmoving grimace on his lips.

“Oh, you think this is funny, do you Captain?” he asked angrily.

The Captain and others winced at the sound of venom and hate that came from the words.

Ben interjected before the situation got out of control, and dumped a tray in front of Lucas with a loud clang.

Lucas tried not to laugh out loud when he looked at what was offered for dinner. He wanted to let these people know that he could make his own decisions about whether he was hungry or not. He wanted people to remember that he could function on his own, no matter what had happened over the past few weeks. No matter how scared he had appeared to be, he was entitled to a little respect and should be aloud a little personal space when he needed it.

“You actually dragged me down here,” he said incredulously “and you expect me to eat what looks to have been cooked and reheated from last week’s menu?”

”You can have anything you want, pal,” Ben replied “So long as you have something to eat. You cannot keep going with little or no food, no sleep and high on adrenaline. You’re going to burn yourself out, Luke”.

Lucas now regretted that he had been so harsh on Ben. He only wanted to help and was trying to make things normal again for him. He smiled genuinely at his friend and then said, “Okay, just as long as I get something that looks better than Miguel’s left shoe.”

This comment brought about a riotous bout of laughter from the crew and seemed to lighten the mood in the room a little.

Bridger had been holding in a breath when Lucas had shouted at him, but now allowed it to escape slowly and started breathing in oxygen again, laughing with the rest of his crewmen over the dinner remarks.

Ben had gone into the kitchen and was rummaging around, trying to locate something quick to prepare that would Lucas want to eat it. He decided that it needed to be fast to cook, because Lucas probably wasn’t going to wait around for a full banquet.

He suddenly spied a loaf of bread and some strange fillings in the pantry and went about making the “Krieg Specialty of the Day” sandwich.

Ten minutes later he placed the food in front of Lucas and was rewarded when the boy was staring at the ingredients intently and attempting to take some interest in providing his body with much needed fuel.

*****

After what could have been described as a very uneasy meal time, the Captain, much to the surprise of many, suggested that they retire to the Ward Room and play a game of cards.

All knew that Bridger was trying to lure Lucas out of going back to his solitude in his cabin.

Ben Krieg saw the opportunity to make a quick buck and his eyes lit up at the idea of playing poker.

“What game do you want to play, Lucas?” the Captain asked his young friend trying to make the young man feel easy in their company again.

Lucas looked at the faces of his friends, and decided that he probably should stay with them for a while, just to keep things smooth. Just to keep the demons at bay he said silently to himself.

He thought for a moment, going through the list of card games filed away in his brain. He quickly read through that list, the rules for each game, the number of players and the chance of winning for each.

“Poker,” he said simply, hoping that this choice agreed with everyone else. He had chosen this game due to the fact that he knew the Captain played the game. If the Captain wasn’t going to join in, then he wouldn’t either.

Bridger smiled at the answer. Ben just saw dollar signs and Kristen just rolled her eyes thinking about what night it could turn out to be.

O’Neill gave an excuse of having to work that night and politely got up from the table and headed towards his cabin to get ready.

*****

Once they were all seated in the Ward Room, it appeared for the first two hours that this was going to be a very enjoyable evening.

Ben was already up to his neck in debt, leaning over once in a while, pleading with Lucas to lend him some money.

The peaceful of the night was brought to an abrupt and sudden halt with the voice of O’Neill over the Comm Link announcing that there was a phone call for Lucas.

Phone call, Lucas thought. Nobody ever rings me here. Who would be calling me? His fears suddenly started to reassemble themselves in great numbers. He was trying not to show his nervousness, but it was damned difficult.

Bridger and the others were also curious about the call, but failed to see the fear coming from Lucas.

“Patch it through, Tim,” Lucas said to the Comm Link with a very raspy voice.

Lucas then proceeded to rise from the table and walk over to a desk just beside the one he was seated at. He wiped his sweaty palms on his trousers before picking up the receiver.

The other card players, including the Captain, had now sensed the boy’s fear and watched his face with growing concern.

“Hello,” Lucas spoke into the receiver.

He could hear breathing on the other end of the line and was thinking that it may have been a prank call until he heard a voice on the other end.

”Hello, Lucas,” the voice said.

The reaction was immediate. Lucas dropped the receiver as if red hot and was now holding his chest trying to breath through very tight lungs. His eyes grew with the terror he felt bubbling to the surface. He tried to back away from the desk, but found his legs very rubbery and frozen in one spot.

SANDERSON……….. No…………. SANDERSON…………….. No ………………..It can’t be…………….

Bridger and the others had seen the young man’s face go almost transparent and were about to rush to Lucas’s side just in case he fainted again.

A quick gesture from his hand tried to convey to them that he was alright. He gingerly picked up the receiver again and placed it near his ear.

Lucas was trying to say something into the phone when he heard the voice on the other end tell him to turn on the Video Link Screen.

He again dropped the receiver and with trembling fingers, tried to find the switch to turn on the screen.

He had to use his other hand to steady the first, but then managed to find the appropriate button on the console to work.

SANDERSON ………….. It can’t be ……… I can’t do this………. I can’t. ……..

The video link suddenly whirred into life and the black screen was replaced by the picture of an empty office apartment.

Captain Bridger and the others remained at the table, but were now aware that something was about to occur that was very bad indeed.

Bridger had tried to say something to Lucas when he was interrupted with the voice of another person on the Video Link.

“Hello Lucas,” came the voice. Lucas was slowly trying to retreat back from the desk. ”How are you Lucas. It’s been a long time.”

Lucas was trying to scream, but nothing would come. His breathing was threatening to cause his to hyperventilate, and his hands were clasped together, his finger nails embedded into his palms, causing them to draw blood.

“Lucas, I want to talk to you. I want to let you know that I have been watching you lately. Watching your every move. Waiting for the right moment.”

“Did you get my letter. Tell me how is Alison. Tell her Hi from you next time you see her for me.”

“LUCAS??? ANSWER ME”

Lucas was trying hard to remain conscious. The blood in his veins was coursing through his body like it was on fire. His head was reeling from the memories and now started to have a dull ache.

His feet seemed glued to the floor. He was trembling violently and sweat poured from his brow, pooling in various crevices before soaking his shirt and the waistband of his trousers.

“I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR A LONG TIME FOR REVENGE, LUCAS.

Now for the first time, since the transmission began, a figure appeared in move in the shadows and made it’s way towards the light in the room.

NOOOOOOOOOO… It can’t be ……….. I can’t do thing again . …………… NOOOOOOOOO….

Now suddenly a man was standing in full view of everyone. Lucas retreated even more, as if this person could reach through the screen and touch him.

I HAVE WAITED A LONG TIME FOR MY REVENGE AGAINST YOU, YOU LITTLE BASTARD…………. I AM GOING TO KILL YOU, SLOWLY AND VERY PAINFULLY BUT KILL YOU ALL THE SAME.”

”REMEMBER THE LAST TIME WE MET, BOY?”

“THAT’S GOING TO SEEM LIKE A KINDERGARTEN PICNIC BY THE TIME I HAVE FINISHED WITH YOU………….. THERE WON’T BE ENOUGH OF YOU LEFT TO PUT IN AN ENVELOPE.”

“REMEMBER MY SCAR LUCAS ????????? THE SCAR THAT YOU PUT THERE, YOU BASTARD………. WELL LET ME TELL YOU THAT I WILL MAKE THE SAME MARK ON YOU …… ONLY THIS TIME IT WILL BE ON YOUR HEART WHEN I RIP IT OUT OF YOUR CHEST………………”

Everyone who stood looking at the screen was trying to figure out what was going on. They could see a man, yelling abuse and snarling at Lucas.. They could see a very distinct scar running down the left side of the man’s face. They heard the words that he would hurt Lucas.

Lucas could hear it too, he heard the words, felt the fury in them, and the scar. OH GOD, he remembered the scar alright. It was etched into his brain. He knew how it got there. He knew about the puckered skin and the length of the scar, everything about it; yes, he even remembered it was him and how it go there.

“SEE YOU REAL SOON, LUCAS…… REAL SOON……………. HEH HEH.” Laughing could be heard at the end of the sentence.

Without warning, the Video Screen turned black and the transmission ended.

With the transmission now finished, Lucas seemed to be able to move again.

And move he did. Just like when Bridger had startled him, he was trying to escape the room with great haste. He was half way across the room to the door before anything registered with his poker playing buddies.

He had suddenly found his lost voice and was now screaming for all he was worth. He was screaming like somebody possessed. His logic was once again replaced with a rush of adrenaline which allowed him to move like the wind.

Bridger had heard the screams, the look of terror in Lucas’s eyes. He had never seen Lucas so scared, he had never heard him scream his lungs out like he was at this very moment.

The Captain and the others now seemed to find their own legs, and tried in vain to stop the escape of the terrified teenager. They tried to restrain him before he could dive out the door. They tried to hold him gently at first, but soon realized that in his present state, he was bucking wildly. They increased their grip on him, three pair of arms were trying to prevent him from leaving.

He continued to scream. He screamed long and hard. He screamed until he thought his lungs would explode.

Kristen Westphalen had heard the screams from her cabin. She had paled at hearing them. She appeared at the door in front of Lucas. She held a small syringe in her hand.

She hated doing this to Lucas; God knows, he had been through enough pain lately, but if they couldn’t calm him down, they risked him hurting himself.

Lucas continued to struggle against the people that wanted to help him the most. Questions about who the stranger was and what had happened long ago would have to wait.

Kristen quickly injected the small dose of sedative into the young man’s upper arm. It only took a few moments to start working. Lucas’s struggles began to waver.

Three sets of hands still held onto him, but then held him gently as they lowered him to the floor as he started to collapse from the drug and drift off to sleep.

Lucas’s screams and struggles only seemed to stop when he was too tired to go on. He had fought like a tiger and screamed like a banshee, but now lay on the floor, very still and quiet.

His face was streamed with tear tracks, his hands remain clenched into fists and his body remained tense for a few moments longer.

Bridger, Ortiz and Krieg were exhausted too. It took a combined effort to hold on to their friend. They also had tears running down their cheeks as they remembered the Video Link and looked at their friend on the floor.

*****

Lucas awoke the next morning to total silence in the Med Lab. He was trying to piece together his thoughts and the events that led up to this day.

His head ached from the sedative that Doctor Westphalen had administered. His muscles felt lethargic and tight. His mouth was extremely dry: probably another side effect from the sedative. His eyes felt very tired and gritty.

He saw nobody in the near vicinity and slowly took his own time to sit up, just pleased that he was allowed to be alone in his current misery.

The solitude was short lived as Nathan Bridger appeared through the door, surprised to see the young man awake. He was unsure how to start the conversation after the events of last night, so decided to take it slow and avoid the obvious.

“How are you feeling this morning, Lucas?” he asked. At least that came out all right he thought to himself.

“I suppose you will be throwing me off the SeaQuest” was the response from the boy trying to avoid eye contact with the Captain.

“Throw you off SeaQuest?”, the Captain said cautiously. “Is that what you want, Lucas?”

“No,” came the quick reply. “I just thought after last night that you would be glad to get rid of me. Everybody must be laughing behind their backs at me. Thinking that I proved to them that I can’t handle being a teenager on a boat full of adults,” Lucas had said the words with a little more bitterness than intended, but at the moment, he felt just lousy enough not to care.

Kristen Westphalen stepped to be alongside the Captain and answered before Bridger had a chance.

”Everybody is not laughing at you, Lucas,” she commented. “Just the opposite. The worried faces of your friends have been poking in here all morning, wondering if you are alright, when you will be up and around again, if there is anything they can do They are all genuinely care very much for you.” Kristen normally would have given a stern lecture to the young man about feeling so badly about himself, but her own concern for his emotional and physical state overtook any slight annoyance she felt towards him.

“Ben was dragged out of here about five minutes before you woke up, after being here since last night,” she added. “The Captain here hasn’t left at all.” She looked at Nathan waiting for him to add some positive addendums to the speech she was making.

“That’s right, pal; we were very worried, not laughing at you,” Nathan said after being about to get a word in after Kristen.

Bridger now walked over to the bed Lucas was sitting on and put an arm around the too thin shoulders. “We’re all here for you,” he said softly. “I don’t know what last night was about, or what has happening in your mind since that man attacked you, Lucas, but I only want to help. I really do,” he repeated with emphasis.

Lucas looked at the Captain for the first time since walking in, his expression one of utter surrender. He didn’t know what else to do. He didn’t know how to beat his demons alone. Maybe talking to Bridger would help. Maybe it wouldn’t.

Maybe Sanderson would kill him after all was his after thought.

”I don’t know where else to go. I don’t know where else to hide, Captain,” he said with the tears threatening to overtake him again. He started trembling again at the thought of being in the presence of his enemy again and Bridger felt the terror start to rise again.

“How bout you start at the beginning,” Bridger said. “I want to help, but I need to know who wants to hurt you. Who was the man on the phone, who was the girl in the photograph; Help me help you please, Lucas,” his own voice threatening to break in response to the pure emotion he felt for this young person sitting beside him.

Lucas opened his mouth wanting to talk to his two friends, when Ben Krieg walked back into the Med Bay area. Lucas abruptly shut his mouth again and looked at his friend as he walked in.

“What are you doing back here, Lieutenant?” Kristen hissed at Ben. She knew he was worried about Lucas, but he had not had any rest himself all night.

“I heard the Captain’s speech, Lucas,” he said avoiding Kristen altogether and focusing on his young friend. “I want to help too, Luke. Please, let us help you get over this.” He didn’t know what THIS was but he was determined to stop anybody from harming Lucas again.

“Three against one, huh,” Lucas said trying to smile. “Looks like I haven’t got much of a choice, do I”.

“No” came in unison to confirm his comment.

Kristen closed the doors the Med Bay and locked them so no other person could enter, Nathan remained sitting next to the boy and Ben pulled two chairs closer to the bed for himself and the doctor to hear the coming story.

Lucas thought for a moment and wondered how best to start. Like the Captain said, it was probably best to start at the beginning, the real beginning, and go from there.

“Well,” he started nervously, looking from one person to the other trying to gauge their real feelings towards him right now. “Here goes”.

“A couple of years ago – two to be precise – my Dad…” how that word caught in his throat, he thought and it was noticed by everyone else in the room too…”asked me to work with a colleague he knew about a new program he was developing. His name was Paul Sanderson.” A little shudder again pulsing through his body at the mention of that name. “He was apparently the best genetic engineer in the country, possibly the world, or so everyone thought at the time.”

“Dad told me that he was having problems with the final programming instructions to make the project operational and thought I might be able to help a little. Lord knows why; he never believed in anything I have been able to do up to that time before,” he said with disgust.

Kristen and Nathan sighed inwardly as they knew once again they would be hearing about the darker side of the relationship between Lucas and his father. Every time they heard the details, they shook their heads in disbelief and secretly wished great harm would befall Dr Wolenczak shortly, to get it over with and make life easier for Lucas and make the bad memories fade away.

“The first few weeks with Sanderson seemed to go well. We were able to talk to each other better than my father anticipated and he even thought I had some great input into the project.”

“After that initial few weeks, I began to wonder about the legality of the project. I had never up until then openly expressed my concerns, but when I was analyzing the processes he was trying to find a solution for, something told me things were not all good in Hollywood,” Lucas said.

”The girl in the photograph was named Alison. She and I were best friends. Had been since childhood. She was the only real friend I had and she helped me get through a lot of difficult times with my parents ………,” he left the sentence uncompleted.

The three listeners needed no further encouragement to know what Lucas was talking about. They knew all about the famous Dr and Mrs. Wolenczak, their esteemed careers, their high society parties and of course their secret neglect and abuse of their only son.

“I started to voice some genuine concerns about the project to Sanderson. He just laughed them off with stupid comments and wisecracks. I even tried to tell my dad about them when I became really concerned about people being hurt from the results, but he told me I was a worthless, no good whiner and told me I should be privileged to work with someone as Paul Sanderson.”

Strike number two hundred against Dr Wolenczak Ben Krieg silently thought as he listened intently to his friend.

“One day when I thought enough was enough,” he said, his voice dropping slightly. “I told him that I could no longer work on the project. That’s when the threats started,” stated Lucas. “At first, it was little things like,

Wait to I tell your Dad about what you said; “I really bet he will be pleased to make sure you know where you stand.”

“Then the threats started getting serious and a few times he had come close to physical violence,” Lucas continued whilst watching the face of the Captain turn a little paler.

“Lastly, when he thought that I needed a little more gentler persuasion, he told me that…” and Lucas had to pause a minute when the tears started “if I didn’t help him complete the project, or if I told anybody about what might happen as a result of his experiments, then Alison would be hurt and it would be all my fault.”

After that sentence, the tears did come and they almost stopped the story from being told and Lucas was barely able to recompose himself. Bridger tightened the arm around his shoulders in support and Kristen was talking softly to him about everything being all right and nothing being his fault.

“What happened to Alison, Lucas?” Kristen asked gently.

“One day,” Lucas said with a cracked voice, “after threatening to leave again, I got a note at home that night to say that if I wanted to see Alison alive again, then I had to come back to his laboratory alone. When I got to the laboratory, Alison was tied to a chair and duct tape over her mouth,” he said with a sob. “She had a few small bruises on her arms and had being crying.”

“I demanded that Sanderson let her go and even tried to untie her from the chair,” he said. “But then I was grabbed from behind by some big dude who wouldn’t let me go. Sanderson told me that if I wanted to see Alison set free, then I had twelve hours to complete the program and get it fully operational. Sanderson had a gun poised at me and was threatening to shoot both me and Alison if I didn’t do what he asked.”

“For one stupid moment,” stupid, stupid moment Lucas thought to himself, “I felt the grip from my capture to loosen a little. I thought this was my only chance to get free and help Alison,” Lucas said berating himself.

“I tried to lunge at Sanderson and grab the gun off him. I wasn’t worried about myself,” he stated and immediately regretted that statement as he heard the loud exclamation from Bridger, Krieg and Westphalen. ”I managed to avoid the big dude behind me and actually reached the gun and

Sanderson and started trying to wrestle it from him. But, something went terribly wrong and somehow in the struggle the gun went off,” Lucas said again with his voice betraying him and tears streaming down his face.

“The gun went off?” Bridger said worriedly.

“Yeah,” was the response as Lucas tried to shut the images out of his mind.

“But the gun actually went off twice,” he added. “Once into the face of Sanderson and that made the pretty scar on his face that he mentioned on the video link.”

“And?” Krieg tried to lure the rest out, knowing that it was hurting his friend to tell this part of his story.

“Yeah, a second bullet …………., a second bullet fired and hit Alison as she was still tied to the chair,” Lucas said also in a whisper and started to cry softly.

Kristen and Nathan felt their own hearts stop beating for a second as Lucas relived that memory. Their compassion and sorrow for Lucas knew no bounds at the moment. No wonder he collapsed when he saw the photograph, Kristen sighed to herself.

“She didn’t stand a chance,” Lucas managed to get out through heart aching sobs.

“It was my fault and stupidity that killed her,” he stated softly enough to be heard.

Bridger then had heard enough of this torment, and gently made Lucas look him in the eye and said, “You didn’t do anything wrong, Kiddo. Sanderson sounds like a monster. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault,” he repeated.

Lucas had stopped crying but the look on his face told the Captain that the kid did indeed blame himself for the death of his friend and nothing anybody said would change that.

”What happened to Sanderson?” Kristen asked not wanting to probe much further. Lucas was emotionally spent and needed to rest again or he would again collapse from mental or physical exhaustion.

“I thought that bullet killed him,” Lucas stated simply. “I was too concerned about Alison and what I had done for the best part of a year after the event that I never kept up with the newspapers or the media about what happened to him.”

“On the day it happened, I just ran. By the time the authorities found Alison, it was just assumed that Sanderson had killed her and there was no evidence to the contrary,” the teenager said.

“Didn’t your father say anything about Alison or Sanderson when he heard about Alison’s death, Lucas?” Bridger enquired.

“No, he just thought like everybody else that Sanderson had gone crazy; he didn’t even know I had been in the building on that night. He never really kept track of where I was at any time, he never really cared to know. His only comment afterwards was that it was a shame that I couldn’t have learned more from a person like Sanderson,” Lucas said bitterly. “He didn’t even acknowledge Alison’s death.”

By this time Kristen knew enough to know that the story would go no further. She gave a look to Krieg and Bridger which made them understand that Lucas had had enough and needed to get some rest. They also knew not to argue with the Good Doctor if they knew what was best for them.

“Ben, I want you back in your quarters on the double,” she said trying to sound gruff. “No buts about it, Lieutenant, or I will give you something to make sure you do not surface from you bed for the next 48 hours. Do I make myself clear?” she asked.

“Yes sir,” Krieg stated and give an attempt at a pretend salute.

She was a bit more gentle with the teenager, “Lucas, honey, you need to get some rest now. Your body needs to recuperate and the best way for that to happen is sleep.”

Lucas’s head had been bowed forward from the crying and now suddenly came up abruptly. “NO. I can’t sleep, Doctor. Too many memories,” he said scared. “Can’t sleep, Sanderson will come again,” he continued.

“No one on this boat is going to let anybody get anywhere near you to hurt you, Lucas,” Kristen said to the frightened teenager. “Isn’t that right Captain and Ben?”

“Damn right,” Ben stated sharply. “No one had better try Luke, or they will have guts for garters.”

“Lucas, everyone on this boat would protect you to no ends, if it came to that. I will personally guarantee that no one will hurt you whilst you are on this vessel.”

Ben now exited the Med Bay, hoping that the presence of Bridger and Kristen would calm the teenager down enough for him to rest properly.

“Would you like something to help you sleep?” Kristen asked.
Lucas was about to protest again about sleeping, but was just too tired and gave in with a brief nod.

Kristen went about getting the mild sedative for Lucas while Bridger continued to hold him securely. Bridger didn’t know how to help Lucas much except through love and physical presence. He kept reiterating to himself that nobody would hurt Lucas as long as he was around.

Kristen administered the mild sedative into the wrist of the young man without incident and waited to see it work.

”Would you like to go back to your cabin, Lucas?” she asked a slightly groggy Lucas.

“No,” was the slurred reply as the drug took effect.

Bridger and Westphalen just looked at each other and then nodded when they secretly knew where the boy would spend the night – Bridger’s cabin.

Before the drug took total effect, Kristen cautiously asked one final question to her young charge. “Lucas, what was the project that Sanderson was working on?”

“Viruses,” was the simple answer. “Trying to genetically alter viruses to make them more potent and last longer,” and the young man’s head bowed once more in drugged induced slumber.

Kristen and Nathan could only give each other a worriedly look and they remembered the result of the blood sample the doctor had taken from Lucas and the sudden illness he had suffered only weeks ago after the attack.

Bridger gathered a very sleepy Lucas in his strong embrace and then proceeded one more time back to his cabin.

*****

Bridger once again for the numerous time in the last few weeks was tucking an asleep young teenager into his own bunk. He placed the boy’s head in the soft pillow and then placed a thin blanket over the vulnerable figure.

He knew that he would be willing to look after the young man for as long as he was needed, but he was desperate to help Lucas get over the past few months as quickly as possible and prevent any more hurt, physical or emotion to him.

He then proceeded out into the corridor towards the bridge. He knew that there would be many anxious people wanted to know about how Lucas was doing. He was only to pleased to he the bearer of good news that Lucas was sleeping soundly. He didn’t know how they would take the story that he had just heard told.

*****

Lucas slept for the remainder of the day without interruption. Bridger and Kristen made sure of this, checking on him regularly and nearly running each other over when doing it.

About 5:00 pm that evening, Kristen decided it best to try and wake Lucas for some food. Bridger went with her to Lucas’s quarters just in case.

It proved difficult to wake Lucas at first due to the sedative, and probably the fact that Lucas was only getting a decent amount of sleep with an artificial aid. Kristen thought that the virus Lucas had been recovering from may be still in his system a little too.

“Wake up, sleepy head,” she said, trying to sound cheerful.

Lucas groaned slightly to her relief and further rewarded her efforts with opening his blue eyes and trying to focus them on the room. Bridger stepped forward from behind Kristen and smiled at him, trying to reassure him that he had friends around him.

“Thought you might want something to eat, Kiddo,” Bridger said attempting to get a positive reaction from the teenager.

“Yeah, ‘ Kay,” he said still very sleepily. He swung his legs over the edge of the bed, but had to hold on to stop himself from falling flat on his face on the floor.

“Just a little dizzy,” he said, trying to reassure the two worried people before him as they moved to stop his fall and steady him with an arm on each side.

”Take it easy, Lucas,” Kristen told him. “Your body has taken such a battering over the past couple of weeks, and the sedatives you have been taking have probably built up in your system.”

The dizziness had eased a little and Lucas found he could now stand without the room feeling like a merry-go-round ride. He started heading towards the door of his quarters. Kristen and Bridger followed quickly behind, just in case he decided to take a tumble.

*****

Lucas walked into the mess hall and immediately felt the same atmosphere he had felt after the attack on him and again he started to back out of the room.

“I can’t face them all at once, Captain,” he said to Bridger as the Captain had come up beside him noting his obvious nervousness about entering the room with his fellow crew members.

“That’s okay, Kiddo,” Bridger said to him, a arm again snaked securely around his shoulders.

Kristen had also noticed the young man’s nervousness and was looking for a solution.

“How bout having dinner back at my place?” Bridger suggested.

Lucas didn’t say anything and nodded slightly to show his agreement. Kristen also nodded her approval of the arrangements.

Bridger and Lucas exited the room and started making their way down the corridor to the Captain’s quarters. Kristen went about getting two trays organized from the kitchen.

When she arrived back at the Captain’s quarters, she held a tray with a bowl of soup, a plate of meat and vegetables and a small glass of milk. Ben Krieg was behind her with another tray with the same contents.

Ben quickly placed the tray on the Captain’s desk and left the room, giving Lucas a brief wink on the way past. He knew that Lucas needed to eat and decided that too many distractions at the moment would prevent that.

Kristen also decided that it would be best just to leave Lucas in the Captain’s capable hands for the time being, and also left the room to return back to her office.

“Doesn’t look to bad,” Bridger commented, eyeing what was on the plate and deciding that the only way Lucas would probably eat was to lead by example.

“Yeah, it almost look’s edible,” Lucas added and picked up the glass of milk and started to drink it.

Twenty minutes later, Bridger’s plate was empty and he placed his knife and fork on the plate and used the serviette to wipe his face. He looked at Lucas’s plate and noted that the plate was only half eaten. Oh, well he thought to himself. Half the battle won and half lost.

Lucas went about settling down on the couch in the Captain’s quarters and flicking through the television channels for something to watch. He didn’t feel much like mixing with anybody tonight and felt a night in front of the idiot box was best.

“What do you want to watch?” he asked the Captain as he continued to flick through the channels.

“You watch what you want, Lucas,” Bridger replied “I’m due on the bridge in a few minutes”.

Lucas was a little disappointed to hear this as he thought the Captain may stay with him, but he decided that the ship couldn’t stop running just because of him.

Bridger got up and packed up the trays and headed to the door. “You going to be all right?” he enquired, knowing that he really should be with Lucas.

“Yeah, I’ll be fine,” Lucas answered. “Go and do your captain bit; we can talk later.” He smiled at the Captain but felt it hadn’t done it’s job of reassuring his friend.

*****

Bridger wasn’t able to return to his quarters until almost midnight that night.

He knew that he was spending a lot of time with Lucas whilst he was sick and hurt over the last month, but given a choice between his work on the SeaQuest and the UEO and Lucas, there wasn’t even a contest. He would quit his job at a moment’s notice and go back to his secluded island if that what Lucas wanted. All he had to do was say so.

He heard the television outside his door and assumed that Lucas was still awake and maybe was waiting up for him to have that chat from earlier. But he was a little disappointed when he spied the figure curled up on his couch asleep.

He tried to toss up whether no not to move him, but quickly decided against it and opted to move the boy if he awoke later on. He was sure that Lucas would awaken with a least one nightmare tonight and let the monsters inside Lucas’s mind rest until later too.

*****

The next two days saw Lucas slowly returning to some sort of routine, even returning to a few minor duties on the bridge, but at the end of each shift, he would simply gather a meager meal on a tray and return to the Captain’s quarters. He didn’t socialize with any of the crew members, not even Ben, and spoke only when spoken to.

Kristen, Ben and Bridger had tried to lure Lucas out of his cocoon, but to no avail.

Finally, Bridger decided some sort of drastic persuasion was needed to get Lucas to come back to the real world. The young man was withering like a rootless plant and seemed to be taking most of the crew with him into his depression as they tried everything and anything to draw him out.

Late one afternoon, just as Lucas would have been finishing his shift on the bridge and going to the mess to get his evening meal tray, Bridger had been busy in his office talking to Admiral Noyce.

“I need a big favor, Bill,” Bridger said to the balding man on the vid screen before him.

“What sort of favor, Nathan?” Bill eyed his life long friend suspiciously.

“I need you to get some tickets for me,” Bridger replied.

“Tickets?” Bill answered, flabbergasted.

“Want to go to a concert, Nathan?” Bill joked at his friend. “A little too old now for that sort of thing aren’t you.”

“It’s not for me,” Bridger replied “It’s for Lucas.”

Admiral Bill Noyce didn’t need for anymore to be said. Nathan and Kristen had been keeping him up to date about what had been happening to Lucas aboard the SeaQuest over the last month.

He had a soft spot for the young man himself. It was him after all that had approved for the young teenage genius to come aboard the SeaQuest all those months ago.

He thought that the experience would not only help the young man, but also his old navy friend Nathan. Lord knew Nathan deserved a little family in his life after the death of Robert and Carol. The relationship that had developed couldn’t have worked out any better Noyce thought. The bond was now strong between the two of them and both benefited from the resulting love and companionship.

“I’ll see what I can do,” Bill said.

“I’ll expect an call from you in an hour, Bill,” Bridger said with a wink “I’m calling in all of my chips on this one,” and terminated the video link.

*****

Lucas had actually eaten his meal in the canteen tonight due to their being virtually nobody around to feel pity for him or ask him how he was feeling.

He now headed back to the Captain’s cabin to see what his friend was doing. Although he didn’t want to spend time with many other friends on the SeaQuest lately, he thrived on the chats he and Bridger had at night. Somehow the Captain being there made it easier to cope and stopped his mind from wandering.

He opened the door to the Captain’s quarters after a brief rapping and was greeted by the grinning face of his friend.

”What?” he asked simply.

“Hello to you today too, Lucas,” Bridger said hoping that the mood in the room wasn’t going to get any bleaker.

Bridger had been holding a white envelope in his hand and now held it out at arms length towards the teenager.

“What’s this?” Lucas asked suspiciously automatically thinking it couldn’t be good if it was in stationary headed up UEO.

“Open it and see,” Bridger said as Lucas took the envelope from him and unfolded the piece of white paper inside.

Lucas read the contents on the sheet of paper and then reread it just to make sure his eyes weren’t playing trick on him.

“Are you serious?” he asked nervously still not believing what he had seen.

“Definitely,” Bridger said with emphasis “It’s all approved. You just have to decide on who and I’ll take care of the rest.”

Bridger had seen the hint of a smile on the young man as he had read the contents of the letter, but he was totally unprepared for what happened next.

Suddenly Lucas let out a YAHOOOOOOO that could be heard some distance and just about bowled Bridger over with a bear hug. He blurted out phrases of thanks, couldn’t believe it, this is a dream and it couldn’t happen to him. He then let out a second holler of delight and scurried out of the room talking about packing his bags and going off to tell the people he wanted along on the trip.

Bridger had not seen Lucas that happy in a long time and it brought tears to his own eyes with relief at Lucas’s joy.

Kristen and Ben had heard the scream of delight from Lucas before he also knocked them over when they came running to the noise. He gave them the same gigantic grin and yell of YAHOO that he had given the Captain and continued down the corridor towards his own quarters.

Kristen and Ben just looked at each other baffled and then through the open door at the Captain who was still very pleased with himself.

“What did you do?” Kristen asked, wanting to know what the miracle cure had been.

Ben stood beside the doctor, hands on hips, with a questioning look. He thought that the grin from the Captain was almost as big as Lucas’s – almost.

“I got some tickets to a concert that he has been talking about for the last few months,” Bridger told them. “Came at a pretty price, but I think it was worth it, don’t you?”

“Oh, I could just kiss you,” Kristen exclaimed and then suddenly remembered the Lieutenant was standing beside her and she restrained herself with a hardy handshake and nod of approval.

Ben also had praise for the Captain as he too had not seen Lucas that happy in a very long time. It was Lucas of old.

Bridger proceeded to tell them what tickets he had gained and the arrangements for the accommodation he had arranged with the Admiral. The accommodation was to be booked at the same hotel the band for the concert was staying.

This was for two reasons, Firstly, to further boost the present to Lucas and enable to meet his idols from the band after the concert. Secondly, the security for the hotel would need to be first rate for the band and this would hopefully extend to all other’s staying there. This included Lucas as the recent attack on Lucas was still fresh in everybody’s mind.

*****

The launch bay was a hive of activity the next day, with baggage being stored in the shuttle ready to go up world.

Lucas Wolenczak was making sure that everything went smoothly and everybody would be ready to go on time. This was an opportunity that he didn’t want to miss. He still found it hard to accept what the Captain had done for him. He knew the tickets wouldn’t have come cheap. He had known about the concert several months ago and had tried to get tickets himself, but was told the concert was sold out. He was baffled as to how his friend had been able to pull some strings and get this trip organized at such short notice.

Commander Jonathan Ford was trying his best to help Lucas with the moving of passengers and baggage to the appropriate departing spot. Unlike Lucas, Commander Ford was very military in operational procedure but tried his hardest to with in with the teenager so that his spirit wasn’t dampened.

Lucas had come barreling onto the Bridge late yesterday afternoon after he had been the tickets and went about telling the rest of the crew with excitement written all over him.

He had chosen who would be the people to go. Ben, of course, Captain Bridger, Kristen Westphalen, Tim O’Neill and Miguel Ortiz. He would have liked to take the whole crew but knew that the tickets only numbered six.

Like Kristen Westphalen, the rest of the crew had been down right flabbergasted at the sudden change in mood of the young man. Yesterday morning on the Bridge, Lucas went about his normal duties without talking to anybody or indeed even looking up from his work station. But after the shift change his whole demeanor had taken a step back.

“Come on, doc,” Lucas said to Kristen as he waited impatiently for her to take note of her luggage.

“Rushing me about won’t help the situation, Lucas,” Kristen tried to explain, but knew that her lecture was to no avail. Sparkles shone in the eyes of the young man from the anticipation of something he was looking forward to and she found it hard to be even slightly cross with him.

She had the most appreciative comments and looks for the Captain as he walked towards the launch bay holding only a small overnight bag. Kristen had three for herself and most everyone else had at least two.

“Is that all your taking, Nathan?” she asked the Captain feeling a little guilty at the number of bags she was planning to take.

“Yeah,” Bridger replied, “I always travel light,” he added.

It wasn’t long before the launch was finally ready for undocking from the SeaQuest and on its way up world with all aboard.

*****

The crew had disembarked from the mariner and had made their way by taxi towards their hotel accommodation.

As they got out of the cab and walked into the lobby, they couldn’t believe their eyes at the luxuriousness of the hotel and its vast size. All stood agape in the front entrance and tried to take it all in their peripheral vision, along with the sounds and aromas bombarding their senses.

Bridger and Westphalen had made their way to the front counter and went about sorting out the booking arrangements. Kristen had wondered about the expense, but Bridger just said he would take care of it.

Kristen knew that the Captain had a little money stashed away.

Actually, the Captain had quite a lot of money put away and was only too happy to spend it on his favorite crew and especially Lucas. Lucas, although his parents were well off, had not been afforded some of the luxuries during his childhood that Bridger thought he needed. Vacations and social events were a few of those things lacking in Lucas’s lifestyle.

Bridger had barely got back to stand with the rest of the crew and tell them what their allotted room numbers were before Lucas took off ahead of everyone else at a run towards the elevators.

Kristen smiled at Bridger and the rest of the crew just looked on in amazement. This couldn’t be the same person that two days ago wouldn’t talk to a soul aboard the SeaQuest. The teenager was acting like this was his first trip to the circus or his first trip anywhere.

*****

The rooms were allocated on the third floor of the four storey building. Kristen, Bridger and Lucas were to share a room, and Ben, Miguel and Tim O’Neill another. C146 and C148. The rooms were side by side each other and at the end of a long hallway towards the rear of the building.

For the remainder of the day, the crew spent their time surveying their surroundings, working out how to get from their rooms to the restaurant and cafes downstairs.

Some of their time was spent relaxing by the pool deck. Krieg was trying very hard to get the local girls to notice him, but was unsuccessful. Ortiz and O’Neill just looked on with grins on their faces at the Lieutenant’s attempts.

Lucas, the Captain and Kristen Westphalen had gone to one of the cafe’s for a cup of coffee and something light to eat. Afterwards, all made their way back to their room. Kristen and Bridger sat talking at the table while Lucas was playing with the television remote controls on the couch.

The rooms were very spacious and luxurious. All had wondered about the cost, but again Bridger had said he was happy to foot the bill. The room where the Captain was staying had a single room for Lucas and a double room for himself and Kristen. Bridger knew it was pointless trying to hide his relationship with the doctor from the crew.

The room that the rest of the crew occupied next door had two rooms with two single beds in one and a double bed in the other. Krieg and O’Neill decided that due to the snoring habits of their Cuban friend, that Miguel Ortiz could claim the double bed for himself.

The concert was supposed to be the following night, so there was quite a number of hours just to wind down and relax, or in Lucas’s case, wind up.

*****

Later that evening, approximately 6:00 pm Kristen and Bridger decided that they would go down to the hotel’s restaurant and get an early dinner. They were about to ask their young friend to join then, and both looked over towards the couch that was in the room.

Both smiled at the sight of Lucas asleep with the sound of the television still radiating through the room. The boy looked completely at peace, so they decided to leave him a note about joining them when he woke later.

“Must have worn himself out with the excitement,” Bridger commented as he and Kristen closed the door silently and started down the corridor towards the elevator.

They stopped briefly at the room next door to see if anybody else wanted to join them. All three of their fellow crew members volunteered to go downstairs with them. They were all looking forward to a good meal and enjoying that taste of real food that wasn’t freeze dried or genetically engineered.

*****

Down at the reception desk at the Lobby of the hotel, a man was asking the girl at the counter about a certain party he knew to be registered there.

The man was in fact the same person who had been hired to bring Lucas Wolenczak to his employer, Sanderson, the first time. It had been made abundantly clear that he was to make the attempt a successful one this time. He knew the penalties for failing to do what was required.

The man had introduced himself to the receptionist as a friend of the Captain’s and the girl had believed him on face value and willingly showed him the hotel register with the allotted room numbers he requested.

Things couldn’t have gone smoother, the man thought to himself as he made his way to the stairway. In his pocket, he had a small device that resembled a hand gun, a pair of keys to a van that was parked at the front of the hotel and a pair of handcuffs and relevant keys.

*****

Bridger and Kristen decided that Lucas had been asleep long enough and that his friends should go and retrieve him from his room and come and join them in a meal in the restaurant.

Tim, Miguel and Ben made their way up he four storey building to the third floor by the elevator. They were only at the elevator door when they saw that down the far end of the corridor, almost at the end of the hallway, Lucas was at the door to his room. It looked at if he was coming out, so his friends decided to wait at the elevator for him.

Halfway along the hallway, there was a stairwell on either side of the hallway that gave access to the higher and lower floors.

Lucas looked up after locking the door to his room and gave a grin and quick wave to acknowledge that he saw his friends waiting for him at the end of the corridor. Ben gave quick wave in return.

Just as Lucas started down the hallway, his attention was drawn to the sound of someone ascending the stair case in front of him. It was about halfway between himself and his friends at the elevator.

The smile on his face turned to one of horror as he spied the person that now was almost at the top of the staircase.

Ben, Tim, and Miguel also noted the change in facial expression in their young friend, but failed to note the danger as they had not seen Lucas’s attacker before. They had only heard his voice on the Comm Link system.

They all wondered why Lucas’s demeanor had changed for the worst so suddenly until they heard the words: “Now I have got you alone,” the man said. He had failed to see Lucas’s fellow crew members at the end of the hall. His vision was focused on his intended victim and fulfilling his obligations to his employer.

The only sounds Lucas could get out of his throat as fear threatened to overtake him was a low moaning sound and an almost strangled “NOOOOO”.

Tim and Ben had heard the voice and knew it instantly as the man who had attacked Lucas aboard the SeaQuest. Both feared for their friend as did Miguel, and yelled at the man to stop where he was.

The man was surprised to hear someone else’s voice and whirled around to see the two Lieutenant’s and Miguel standing by the elevator.

That’s all Lucas needed, a slight distraction. He flew towards the opposite staircase to where his intended attacker was, and leapt down the stairs three at a time. His face was pale and he was trembling slightly at the thought of being trapped by this madman again.

The man swore viciously as he saw the teenager’s escape and darted after him, drawing the replica hand gun from his pocket so that Lucas’s friends spied it before he started descending the stairs.

Lucas’s friends did not know that it wasn’t a real pistol and now feared that the man would indeed shoot their young genius before they could save him. All of them took off after the man and after Lucas.

Suddenly, the lobby of the hotel was brought alive with the sound of running as Lucas ran past the front reception desk at a frantic pace. The attacker was about 20 meters behind him and Lucas’s crew members about 20 meters behind further.

Lucas knew that he was running for his life and he wasn’t intending to look at the disbelieving face of the other patrons who were watching the situation unfold before them.

Lucas didn’t keep track of exactly where he was in hotel, he just kept running. Not wanting to think that this man intended to take him back to SandersonAnd this time, the attempt wouldn’t be as easy as the last occasion.

He only briefly recognized the restaurant as he raced in the door, surprising not only the dining guests, but his Captain and Doctor Westphalen.

The Captain and the doctor had been enjoying a glass of red wine and were awaiting the return of the rest of the crew. What they saw of Lucas’s face, brought back all the fears from the past month that had eased over the last two days. They didn’t understand why the young man was running at full pelt through a crowded restaurant as if everyone wasn’t there.

Lucas was pale, sweating and had a look on his face of absolute terror. He didn’t quite look where he was going as he raced through the room and accidentally ran into a bus boy who was carrying a large tray of plates.

The plates were sent to the ground in a large crash. Kristen and Nathan inwardly winced at the sound, but were more worried that Lucas was more determined to keep running than apologize or check to see if anybody was hurt.

The room had an exit on the opposite side of the room, and Lucas just headed towards it. An empty table stood in his path between him and the door, but to everyone’s amazement, Lucas was running at such a pace, that with one leap he clean hurdled over the table and kept running through the door at the same desperate speed.

Just as Lucas’s figure disappeared from the doorway, the crowd in the restaurant were greeted by the man who had been chasing him. The man came through the same door as Lucas, and proceeded to run after the young man.

Kristen and Nathan spotted the replica hand gun in his hand and outwardly gasped, knowing why Lucas was now running, but still not completely understanding the situation.

Bridger spotted the rest of his crew coming through the door, apparently chasing after the person chasing Lucas. Ben yelled something out to the Captain, and then repeated it louder when he didn’t seem to get the message.

“It’s the same guy that tried to kidnap Lucas on the boat,” Krieg yelled loudly to the Captain as he gestured toward the man in the room.

The rest of the diners just looked on with confusion as the events taking place and the conversation being thrown around the room.

Like Lucas, the man made his way towards the other side of the room in pursuit of the teenager. However, instead of hurdling over the furniture as the young man had done, this man was just content to knock the chair flying on his way past. He overturned the table that had stood at the doorway and continued after the teenager, gun poised ready to shoot if he could get a clear view.

Bridger and Westphalen now joined their fellow crew members in the pursuit of Lucas’ attacker. Bridger again took on the form of an Olympic athlete as he thought of Lucas in trouble again with his man, but his best efforts were not enough to keep up with his young friend and the man pursuing him. The others had trouble keeping up as well.

*****

Lucas had dived out the door and now ran down what appeared to be a deserted corridor behind the reception desk. He ducked out of sight, leaning up against a wall adjacent to the reception desk.

His attacker appeared in the lobby, breathing heavily and leaning over with his hands on his knees, trying to get his breath back after the running as scoured the lobby looking for his victim.

He ended up walking quickly up the opposite hallway beside the reception desk to Lucas, and was thrilled to find that the corridor lead directly to the hallway the Lucas was watching from. The boy was peering from around the alcove, trying to see where the man was without giving his own hiding place away.

The man had come up behind Lucas very silently. The young man was watching the other way, trying to spot his attacker, not knowing about the adjoining corridor. He too was trying to catch his breath in case he needed to take off again.

Just when he thought he could take a breather, he felt a rough hand grab him around his mouth and jerk him backwards. He tried to scream, but any noise was cut off by the man’s hand.

“Don’t move or you’re dead,” the man hissed at Lucas. He was bigger than the teenager and used his sheer bulk to his advantage in order to subdue his victim.

Lucas tried in vain to struggle against the man’s grip, but his attacker was just too powerful.

Captain Bridger and the crew now came running into the lobby looking for Lucas and his attacker.

Lucas tried to scream, even a muffled one might be heard by his friends and they would come to his aid, but the hand over his mouth increased it’s pressure. He soon started to see black spots before his eyes from the lack of oxygen, but fought the feeling of unconsciousness.

He knew that if he was unconscious, then he would be fully at the mercy of the man and SandersonHe couldn’t go back, he couldn’t go back.

The man could see the people in the foyer, and he knew that they were looking for the young man. He knew also that he had to do something quickly to escape with his captive or the place would soon be crawling with UEO personnel, police and god knows who else.

The man was trying to access his best options quickly. He was trying to gauge what his best possible escape route was. He could see the van parked from where he was standing and decided that a full frontal assault was probably best, due to the fact that his presence and identity were no longer a secret.

He thought about his captive for another moment who was still trying in vain to struggle against his grip and scream through his hand to get the attention of his friends.

Without hesitation the man pointed the barrel of the odd looking pistol at Lucas’s back just above his waist band and proceeded to pull the trigger twice.

Lucas had felt the barrel of what he thought was a gun against his back. His fear trebled, but then he felt the two distinct small stings from the darts emitted from the barrel of the weapon. His mind immediately started to swim in fog and it only took a moment longer to be lost to the world and crumple back against his kidnapper, unconscious.

That’s the easy part, the man thought to himself as he felt the teenager collapse due to the two tranquilizers he administered from the dart gun. He continued to hold onto the boy and without much effort, proceeded to hoist the light weight over his shoulder.

The Captain and the crew were now all together in a group near the elevators. The man calming walked out from behind his hiding position, with Lucas limp over his shoulder.

Bridger and the rest of the crew saw the man and let out a loud group cry of terror as they saw that the men held what they were looking for. The boy was unconscious and had no way to defend himself or stop himself being carried out of the hotel.

The man saw the crew and simply held the dart gun against the boy’s temple, threatening to shoot if they came any closer. The man knew he was bluffing and hoped Lucas’s friends did too.

Bridger and Ben had to be physically restrained by their friends from trying to grab at Lucas and the man. They didn’t know that the gun was only a tranquilizer. They were desperate to help their vulnerable friend.

The man was now backing out of the hotel lobby, still threatening the unconscious teenager with the gun. He backed up to the door to the black van and unlocked it and with a little force, just to scare Bridger and his friends, threw his captive roughly in the back. Lucas never felt his body come into contact with the floor of the van.

The man then closed the door and dived into the driver’s seat and took of with all wheels screeching before Bridger and Ben could reach it. The van continued to drive at dangerous speeds out of the car park and out into the streets.

The man stopped the van a little way from the hotel when he thought he wasn’t being followed and placed the handcuffs on Lucas’s limp wrists and placed a cloth gag in the boy’s mouth. He didn’t know how long they would be in the van, and wanted to avoid the boy being able to escape or gain anybody’s attention until they go to their destination.

*****

The black van continued to travel in a northerly directed for about the next hour.

The place intended was far enough out of the city to stop any escape attempts the young man might make.

The man driving the van once again glanced back over his shoulder at the teenager in the back. The boy looked as though he might be coming around. The feeble attempt didn’t last long though and the slight movements he had been making with his hands and head soon ceased as he once again was lost to the effects of the tranquilizers. The man relaxed and continued the drive onto their destination.

Lucas had been awake and aware just long enough to look at his wrist watch.

He thanked God for small mercies that his hands had been cuffed in front of him and not behind his back. He was able to reach a small red button on the outside of the watch face. He pressed the button and then faded back into the darkness from whence he had come.

*****

Back at the hotel, the lobby was total chaos. There were four police cars parked out the front. There was a large crowd gathered in the centre of the room, all trying to shout at one another.

Police were trying to talk to all the parties involved, trying to work out what was happening. From the number of conversations going on, it was hard to determine what had exactly happened. At the end of things, enough was gained to know that some teenager had been kidnapped by a man welding a gun. The man had thrown the unconscious youth in the back of a black van and speed off down the highway.

The police were trying to find out if anybody had seen the number plates of the van and were trying to find out the identity of the young kidnap victim. When they heard the name WOLENCZAK, all knew they had seen the name somewhere. Some had even remembered something about a court case on TV involving that name.

The SeaQuest crew decided that not much was going to be down by the local authorities. Somehow they had to come up with a plan to find Lucas and rescue him.

Bridger was sitting on a couch, looking at the floor. Kristen knew he had taken Lucas’s kidnapping badly. The Captain was blaming himself for bringing Lucas on the trip and not being about to protect the boy from the man.

Ben Krieg was pacing behind the couch continually looking at his watch, trying to gauge how much time had elapsed since Lucas went missing. He was trying

to put on a brave face and was trying to act though about hurting the people who held Lucas, but inwardly, it was like somebody had reached in and punched his heart. He couldn’t bear the thought of somebody as gentle as Lucas being hurt.

The rest of the crew were gathered around trying to figure out what to do. They were all trying to look to the Captain for advice, but knew that the Captain wasn’t coping any better than them with what had happened to Lucas. All were trying to think about what they would do the people who had Lucas. All had fear for Lucas written across their faces.

“Ben, would you stop pacing the floor please,” Kristen yelled at the Lieutenant. She wasn’t angry at him but didn’t know how else to express her fear and anger. “If you look at your watch one more time, Lieutenant…” she warned.

That comment brought Bridger out of his depression. He looked up sharply and was looking intently at Ben’s wrist watch.

“That’s it!” he yelled excitedly. Everybody just looked at him with puzzled faces.

“What’s it?” Kristen tried to ask the Captain, not wanting to get her hopes up at a solution.

“The watch.” Bridger blurted out. “Ben, did Lucas have on his wrist watch when you saw him?” Bridger looked at Ben with pleading eyes, hoping that he was able to find something to help Lucas.

Ben tried to think hard. He knew that the Captain was holding on desperately to the idea that Lucas was wearing a watch. He didn’t know how it would help.

”I think so,” Ben said not soundly completely sure.

“Yes, he did,” O’Neill jumped up and exclaimed. “He looked at it when he was

locking the door to the room.” O’Neill now felt smaller with the eyes of the entire crew all focused on what he just said. All of them now turned to look at the Captain and waited impatiently for him to explain how a watch was going to help find the young man.

“A couple of months ago,” Bridger explained “I cheated a little bit and gave Lucas a special watch while we were on shore leave. He thought it was great and wore it everywhere. I picked it out especially. I didn’t tell him just how special it was.”

“What was so special about it?” Ben spoke out loudly the words that was on everyone else’s lips.

“It had a tracking device in it,” Bridger said. “I was worried with the other attempts people have made at Lucas’s life intending to hurt me and decided that I needed to know where he was at all times. I knew that he wouldn’t go for something like this if he knew what it was. So I disguised it as a watch and just never told him about the device inside.”

The crew just stared at the Captain. They also thought that the move about the watch was very bold. They knew that Lucas was often the target for people wanting revenge against the Captain. Maybe that’s why everyone looked out for him just that little bit more. But everyone couldn’t believe that the Captain had been sneaky enough to put a tracking device on Lucas. Nobody wanted to be there for the aftermath once Lucas found out.

Bridger was already talking to Commander Ford and Commander Hitchcock aboard the SeaQuest. “What sort of signal are we looking for, Captain?” Ford asked.

Commander Ford and Katie couldn’t believe the story that they had just heard. Lucas kidnapped? Probably by the same man that hurt him before. Both exchanged unseen worried glances as they thought of what Lucas may be going through, what the Captain was going through.

Commander Katie Hitchcock had been working furiously at her station since the Captain told her what to look for. “I’ve got it, Captain,” she exclaimed and also jumped out of her work station.

Captain Bridger couldn’t believe his luck. “Can you track it, Katie?” he asked.

“Yes,” she stated. “It is very faint but constant. Looks like its going in a northerly direction. Headed out of the city,” she announced.

That was enough for Bridger. He jumped up and began ordering his crew about what they needed, and how quick they needed it. “Keep in contact,” Bridger said to Katie and Jonathan as he and the rest of the crew piled into a waiting UEO transport and sped off out of the car park in a northerly direction.

*****
Lucas had reached his intended destination about half an hour later. He had not awoken again. The man picked up the unconscious teenager from the floor of the van and proceeded up the stairs of the building he had just entered.

A man was standing, looking out the window, when the man came into the room with his captive.

The man turned around to see and motioned for the man to place Lucas in a small room off to the right. The man proceeded to the small room and placed the sleeping young man on the bed.

He had noticed that the room was particularly cold and knew that Sanderson probably wanted his hostage to suffer a little. The man wasn’t particularly fond of hurting people and had only gone along with the second attempt on Lucas when threatened with his own life.

He looked down at the teenager on the bed and for once in his long criminal career, wished he hadn’t done what he had done. He inwardly wished that someone would come and rescue the kid, because he knew what ever Sanderson had in mind, couldn’t be pretty.

*****

Bridger and his crew were speeding down the highway. They hoped that they weren’t going to be stopped by any police. They knew that Lucas was in danger and could be lying somewhere at the mercy of a madman. Ben had been the one driving and thoughts like this made his foot press the pedal down even further.

They started to slow down approximately 80 kilometers from the hotel when they saw a large house off to the right hand side. The place looked deserted, but was the only structure along the roadway.

“That has to be it,” Bridger stated as the vehicle they were in pulled up to a stop and he tried to get a closer look with a pair of binoculars. The van had been parked around the back, but was partially visible from the roadway.

All wondered that now that they seemed to know where Lucas was, they were not crazy enough to go charging into the place without having a plan of attack. All surmised that if the man was crazy enough to kidnap Lucas in broad daylight with heaps of witnesses, then he would have a definite plan for their young friend.

*****

Inside, Lucas was beginning to stir from his drugged state.

He tried to open his eyes and found that the room he was in was very cold. He lay on a bed with his hands still restrained with the handcuffs and the gag still placed firmly in this mouth. He was trying to look around to try and take in his prison, but position he was in only seemed to send pain radiating down his shoulders and down his arms if he tried to move too much.

Lucas looked up at the sound of the door opening. He knew who would be at the door, but his fear didn’t really hit him until he the figure standing in the shadows.

SANDERSON………… OH MY GOD – THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING ……….SANDERSON

Lucas could find any words to say. Couldn’t find the voice to scream. He was trembling both from the temperature in the room and the thought of what Sanderson had in store for him.

“I’m glad to see you’re finally awake,” came the voice at the doorway. Sanderson gestured for the man who had brought Lucas in to lift him up from the bed and follow him into the other room.

Lucas tried again to struggle against his bonds, but his muscles just wouldn’t obey his mind. He felt like all his strength was gone, he felt totally helpless and at the mercy of his most feared enemy.

Lucas was unceremoniously dumped in an aluminum chair in the next room. His hands were released from the handcuffs briefly, and Lucas tried to rub some of the stiffness out of them. To his horror, his hands were then bound to the arms of the chair with strong cord. His legs were similarly restrained against the legs of the chair. There was no escape.

Lucas was trying to mumble something through the gag, but could get anything out but muffled grunts and moans. Sanderson gestured for the gag to be removed. His captive couldn’t be heard from here, he could scream his lungs out and nobody would hear him.

To the madman’s surprise, Lucas didn’t say anything at all. Lucas worked his jaw, trying to take away the dull ache that existed, but he did not speak or say a word. The boy had terror written all over his face, but still he didn’t scream.

“What do you want from me, Sanderson?” Lucas asked in an almost whisper. His throat was parched from no water for the past few hours and getting words out was difficult.

“It’s been a long time, Lucas,” Sanderson said trying to sound like they were old friends that hadn’t seen each other in years.

“Let’s skip the small talk, shall we?” the boy replied. “Why am I here”?

“I thought that would have been plainly obvious to you,” Sanderson said in mock astonishment. “You ruined my career, so I am going to cut your’s a little short. I am going to kill you. I ABSOLUTELY PROMISE.”

Lucas could only gulp and swallow hard at the last comment. He knew that Sanderson had planned to kill him all along, but actually hearing the words send cold shivers down his spine.

Lucas looked about the room and tried to survey his surroundings. The room was quite large. He was at the far end sitting close to an office desk of some description. The windows had dark curtains draped down them. The was a large distance between where his chair was positioned and where the door at the other end was. He would need a miracle to reach the door handle before being caught.

I hope you coming soon, Captain, Lucas thought to himself and prayed that his friends could save him in time.

*****

Outside, Bridger and the rest of the crew had put together their plan to rescue the young man. All had voiced their anger at first to the plan Bridger put before them, but then realized that the Captain was probably right.

“I will go in alone,” the Captain explained. “Once inside, I will try and locate Lucas. Ben you and Ortiz wait at the front door. O’Neill, you and Kristen at the back. When I find Lucas, I will give a signal for you all to move in”.

“You will need to move in very quickly, once I give the signal,” Bridger continued. “Set your weapons for stun only. I don’t want Lucas getting caught in any crossfire.”

The crew all nodded their heads at the plan and their intended involvement. All were still unhappy about the Captain going in alone, but agreed that all rushing in together at once would cause more trouble than was necessary. The primary goal was to get Lucas out of their, after that, all hell could break loose.

“What will your signal be, Captain?” Ben asked.

“You’ll know it when you see it, Lieutenant,” Bridger stated firmly. He didn’t know himself yet, but was convinced that when the time come, the crew would know.

Bridger didn’t wait for any more chatter before climbing out of the vehicle and crouching down behind it. He had given a very wane smile to Kristen as he opened the door and got out.

The others made their way into position at the front and rear of the house and waited for the signal they knew would come. Kristen had with her a small knapsack containing medical supplies. She didn’t know what condition they would find Lucas in. She dreaded to even think.

*****

Sanderson had walked around the back of Lucas’s chair and opened the top draw of the office desk beside him.

Lucas had tried to see what the man was doing, but couldn’t turn around enough to see. He waited with great dread for something to happen.

Sanderson had retrieved the instrument from the drawer and now concealed it behind his back as he now returned to the front of his victim so he could see him.

He gave an evil grin as he brought the instrument out from behind his back for Lucas to see. He was happy with the reaction he got.

Lucas had let out a loud gasp full of fear and fright as he saw what Sanderson now held in his outstretched hand. It was a knife …………. A handle was finely carved in ivory and had a large stainless steel blade.

Sanderson moved the knife in his hand slightly and the light from the room shone from the razor sharp blade.

He held the knife just a little more closely to the boy, menacing him with it. The boy knew it would slice human flesh in to ribbons. All he could picture was the blade piercing his chest and Sanderson then pulling out his heart and squeezing the life of it.

Without further warning, Sanderson drove the tip of the blade into the flesh on the boy’s thigh and proceeded to make a large tear in the boy’s leg. The boy had been wearing denim jeans, but that was no problem for this instrument of torture.

Lucas let out a scream as he felt the white hot pain as the knife entered his leg. The pain was unbearable and he couldn’t do anything else but scream. Blood started to flow immediately and soon was ebbing freely from the wound left behind.

Sanderson’s sidekick had been watching the scene being played out and now looked away as he saw the knife thrust into the boy’s leg and heard the God awful scream of pain emitted from the teenager.

Sanderson removed the tip of the knife from Lucas’s thigh and held the dripping blade in front of his face to see his blood dripping from it.

Lucas was fighting hard to stay in control. The combination of the residual effects of the tranquilizers and the mindless pain from his leg, were battling him to remain alert and aware of his surroundings.

*****

Sanderson’s assistant how hissed for his Boss to come at look outside the window, when he thought he spotted somebody walking around outside.

“They were quicker than I thought” Sanderson said with a little regret.

The other man just looked at Sanderson with bewilderment. “You knew they would be coming?” he said.

“Yes, I knew they would come,” Sanderson said calmly. “They just got here a little too early for my liking. I thought I would have more time to play with my new toy,” he added as he looked at the very sick looking boy tied to the chair.

Sanderson forgot about his torment of Lucas for a moment as he tried to figure out how best to tackle the impending situation.

Bridger had been silently walking up the stairway to the second floor when he heard Lucas’s scream. He felt all his blood turn cold as the sound of Lucas’s torment reached him. The thought of Lucas in pain was more than he could stand and he now continued up the rest of the staircase with his teeth gnashed together and anger seething from almost every orifice in his body. Somebody was going to die for hurting Lucas. Somebody was going to pay.

Ben and the rest of the crew had also been unable to avoid hearing Lucas’s terrified screams of pain. Ben just looked pale when he heard his friend’s plight and Kristen had to hold onto O’Neill for support, not wanting to believe that somebody was hurting somebody she loved.

*****

Bridger was about to burst into the room where Lucas was being held when he was surprised to see that the door made a noise and was opened slightly. Somebodyknew he was here……….

Bridger cagily walked into the room, not knowing what awaited him. He couldn’t believe his eyes when they adjusted to the dim lights in the room.

Seated at the far end of the room was Lucas. The boy was tied to a chair of some sort with rope. He looked to be unconscious.

Bridger could see a dark pool of start to grow at the base of the chair. A closer inspection as he walked closer exposed the pool to be blood. Lucas’s blood. It seemed to be dripping from his leg somewhere.

The boy was restrained in the same fashion as he had described to Kristen and himself that day when talking about Alison. Bridger knew that Lucas’s kidnapper was playing a very cruel game of remembrance. He was playing cat and mouse and the roles had already been decided upon.

The boy’s head was slumped forward and his eyes appeared to be closed. To Bridger’s relief, the boy looked up at the sound of someone walking up to him.

Bridger couldn’t get the image of the boy’s face out of his mind. The boy had been crying, his face was stained crimson. The boy’s eyes relayed more pain in a person than Bridger ever wanted to see. Lucas was trying to mouth some words, but they wouldn’t come. Hot tears continued to stream down his face. The blood also continued to pool at the base of the chair.

Bridger was about to say something to Lucas when he was interrupted with an “AHH HUM” from Sanderson.

“Glad you could join us, Captain,” Sanderson said. “I was just beginning to kick start this party, if you’ll excuse the pun.”

Bridger could see that the man now stood along side the frightened teenager. He had what appeared to be a large carving knife in one hand and the one placed on the boy’s trembling shoulder.

Bridger got to have a closer look at Lucas’s tormentor. He could see the scar that ran down the man’s face. He could see the black pools of hate in his eyes.

A man appeared at Bridger from the side, Bridger noticed it to be the same man who had chased and ultimately caught Lucas and driven off with him in the van. The man now had a real pistol pointed at the Captain in case he tried to do anything.

Bridger once again examined Lucas’s body language. He could see that the boy was only holding on to reality with a thin tether. Lucas knew that the scenario that Sanderson was trying to play out. The one he had lived through two years ago. Now the roles were reversed and he was the one tied to the chair awaiting execution.

Lucas’s thoughts had eventually hit rock bottom. “So what if you get killed,”

he told himself. “After what happened to Alison, maybe it’s what you deserve. An eye for an eye.” He watched the Captain. He needed the Captain to tell him everything was going to be all right.

“If you take another step, Captain,” Sanderson threatened. “I will slit him from ear to ear” and then place the knife against the smooth white skin of Lucas’s throat. He pressed it a little closer and make a small nick with the blade, drawing blood just for emphasis.

Bridger looked from Lucas to Sanderson to the man holding the gun. He looked back at the man holding the gun a few times. He knew that if he didn’t make a move soon, then Lucas would be hurt further.

Lucas had been watching the Captain’s movements, watching his eyeing of the

two men. He could almost see the man’s brain ticking over. Then to his horror seemed to read exactly what the Captain was going to do. He knew what the Captain had in mind, but didn’t know how to stop it.

”Nooooooo, Captain,” Lucas yelled at his friend.

Sanderson was surprised by the outburst of the young man and was momentarily distracted as he took his eyes off the Captain.

The man holding the gun had also looked at the boy with surprised. The man thought the boy too out of it and was shocked to hear him actually speak.

That was all Bridger needed, he lunged at the man with the gun and elbowed the man in the chest, grappling for the weapon in his hand.

The knife at Lucas’s throat relaxed slightly as Sanderson watched the two men fight over the gun.

Sanderson heard the noise of the gun discharging but felt an immense pain as the bullet was fired from the weapon and struck him directly in the head. His almost lifeless body fell to the floor with the barrel still smoking.

Bridger and the man had stopped for a millisecond when they saw Sanderson fall. Neither of them could have predicted the next chain of events.

Suddenly the gun discharged a second time. This time the bullet found a different target…………

Lucas had seen the two men fight for a second time after he had watch Sanderson fall to the floor. His thoughts were all over the place when he saw the man who appeared to be dead.

He never seen the second bullet discharged. He never felt himself propelled backwards in the chair still restrained by the rope. He barely acknowledged the pain as the bullet ripped into his already battered body.

*****

Downstairs, Ben and the crew waiting outside the house had heard the gun shots and thought them to be the signal from Bridger.

All met briefly at the bottom of the stairs and looked at each other with worried faces when they had heard the gun shots. They didn’t remember seeing Bridger with a gun, and the sounds had come from the same room as a madman and two people they cared deeply for. Who had been shot …?

Upon entering the room, all stared at the scene before them.

One man, the one who attacked Lucas appeared to be out cold on the floor closest to them. A large bruise was forming on his face where he had been punched by the Captain.

Further away was the man of another man, who they didn’t know but would be told later was Paul Sanderson, the man who had Lucas kidnapped.

Next to Sanderson was a toppled over chair. Bridger was leaning over the chair, very distressed. All held their breath as they thought they may be already too late.

All somehow knew that the person tried to the chair was Lucas. All knew that the state the Captain was in meant that Lucas was hurt, possibly dead. All felt their own hearts stop beating, waiting for some sort of confirmation.

Bridger briefly looked up at the people standing at the other end of the room. Something triggered his memory and he noticed that one of the persons was Kristen.

“Get over here quick, Kristen,” Bridger snapped at the doctor. The doctor ignored the harshness of the voice and came over to kneel down beside the chair.

*****

The events of the shooting were a blur to Bridger. He remembered see Lucas tied to the chair, bleeding from somewhere. He vaguely remembered fighting with another man with a gun. He had seen one bullet hit the man threatening Lucas. That man now lay on the floor, apparently dead.

He couldn’t remember hearing the gun going off for a second time. He did however, see the results. He saw the chair tip over backwards. He saw that there had been no cry of pain come from Lucas who was tied to the chair and even now, there was no movement.

Moments later he had struck the man he had been fighting with hard with a clenched fist. He didn’t even look around to see if the man was unconscious or not. He only had eyes for the up turned chair and it’s occupant.

He had hurried over to the chair and knelt down beside it. He had looked at Lucas and noted that a small patch of red now stained the boy’s shirt. He saw that the teenager had his eyes closed and his body was very lax and pale.

At first he feared about putting his hands on the boy in case he caused more pain. But when he did try to examine the bullet hole in Lucas’s right shoulder, blood was starting to flow a little faster, making his shirt stick slightly to the back rest of the chair.

Bridger had tried calling the young man’s name, attempting to arouse him. No response. He had shook the boy very slightly, hoping for a reaction, even if was only a groan of pain. Nothing.

The captain now nervously placed two fingers over the nick on the boy’s throat, trying to feel for a pulse. Oh please, let this boy live was his only thought.

Bridger’s family had been taken from him once before. He didn’t think he could go through it again. It had almost killed him to lose firstly Robert and then Carol.

But, now looking at this very fragile teenager lying before him, he knew that his world would be lost forever if Lucas died. He now had some understanding of how Lucas had felt when Alison had been shot in similar circumstances. He simply didn’t want to go on without his only source of love and joy.

*****

Kristen could see the emotional state of the Captain. She knew that he was blaming himself for Lucas getting shot. She tried to focus on her patient and would have to deal with her feelings, Nathan’s feeling and everything else afterwards.

She now placed two fingers on Lucas’s neck and to her relief felt a very faint throb. Like the tracking signal, it was faint, but it was there and constant. She know tuned everything else in the room out and went into doctor mode.

She quickly yelled out her orders for something to be found to stop the bleeding for the bullet wound and the knife slash.

The crew had remained frozen for a moment, but knew that if Kristen was yelling orders, then Lucas was alive. All wanted things to remain the same. All jumped at the chance to help their young friend. All felt their own breathing re-commence after being on hold to know what Lucas’s fate had been.

Bridger had been trying to untie Lucas’s hands and feet from the chair. But due to his trembling hands, he was having a tough time of it.

“You just sit back for a moment, Nathan,” Kristen tried to say soothingly and motioned for Ben to come in and cut the ropes that held Lucas to the chair.

The Captain was about to protest about being pushed aside, when Kristen said …. “He may wake up, and he is going to be in a lot of pain and very scared,” Kristen proceeded to tell him. “I need you there for Lucas. The rest of us can take care of his body for the moment.” Bridger just nodded agreement to her suggestion and moved slightly to sit beside Lucas’s head. His hand unconsciously started to smooth back the hair on the boy’s forehead.

*****

Twenty minutes later, Lucas was being placed in a waiting ambulance and taken to the nearest hospital. Kristen and Nathan were with him inside. The rest of the crew followed in the vehicle they had left outside on the highway.

Upon arriving at the hospital, Lucas had been rushed into emergency surgery to repair the damage to his shoulder and stitch the gash in his leg. It was approximately six hours later when a doctor emerged from the theatre, ready to confront a very frustrated SeaQuest crew.

Everyone had been nervously pacing the floor in the waiting room. All were too worried about Lucas to sit down and get something to eat as had been suggested to them by an orderly about four hours ago.

A short, balding doctor now stood before them with news of their friend. He could see the emotion on the faces in the room. He felt the fear for the boy’s recovery. He sensed the love that surrounded Lucas.

“He’s made it through surgery,” he started explaining to everybody, but looking only at Bridger and Kristen. “The bullet went right through his shoulder. Did a lot of muscle damage, but not much else,” the doctor continued to say.

“We have stitched up the tear in his leg. That is going to keep that young man off his feet more than the bullet wound.” He didn’t know how much detail the people wanted to hear, “The gash was approximately 20 cm long and was about 2 inches deep. Whatever made the gash, nicked a vein. That’s why there was so much blood. Took 35 stitches and three staples for close the wound,” he added.

“For the next few days, all he needs is rest,” the doctor continued. “He is going to need regular pain killers for quite a while and crutches for the next two months until his leg heals. But after that he should make a full recovery,” the doctor gave a smile at the end of his description of Lucas’s injuries, trying to reassure his worried friends and family.

Kristen and Nathan had inwardly made a list of all the injuries described, and knew that Lucas would be in pain for the next few weeks at least.

“Can we see him?” Ben Krieg asked above everybody else’s sighs of relief and wincing at the description given.

“Yes, for a few minutes only,” the doctor commented. “He will be very groggy from the anesthetic. I will need somebody to stay with him until he wakes

  1. He may be unsure about where he is and what has happened at first. I don’t won’t him getting any more upset than is necessary, it will only cause him more stress and pain.”

All had heard the doctor’s request and all looked at Nathan with questioning glances. Nathan knew he didn’t need to be asked who would be the volunteer.

He would have jumped on anybody else that spoke before him.
*****

The crew and Bridger had to wait until Lucas was settled in the Intensive Care Unit before they could go in and see him. The nurse was strict and adamant that they could only see the young patient for a few moments. An extra large chair had been placed beside the hospital bed, intended for the Captain to remain after everybody else left.

Lucas was the only patient on that floor at the moment. The crew tiptoed up to the bed to see their friend.

All couldn’t believe that the pathetic looking person laying asleep on the bed was their young, normally exuberant and energetic genius.

Lucas was almost as pale as the starched linen sheets he lay on. There was a drip attached to his wrist with a clear fluid dripping from the bag on the stand beside the bed. Behind the bed, there seemed an endless array of beeping machines and monitors that drew graphs attached to Lucas with lengths of cable. Everybody had a large lump in their throat as they watched the young man sleep.

Lucas was dressed in a hospital gown now. His torn and bloody jeans and blood stained shirt had been cut from him in the operating room. His shoulder was heaving bandaged as was his thigh. The thigh looked double the size of it’s opposite counterpart with all the wrappings. The ugly stitches that adorned his wound were thankfully hidden from view.

It seemed at though they had only just walked over to Lucas when the stern looking nurse from earlier was ushering them all out again. Ben was almost on the verge of tears as he looked at his young friend and had to be led away and supported by his crew members.

Kristen had left with the other crew members, telling Nathan that she would have someone return with a change of clothes for him and Lucas from the hotel. Bridger smiled and gave Kristen a gentle kiss on the cheek for her efforts to make him feel better.

Bridger knew he wouldn’t be feeling good as long as Lucas remained in this hospital.

*****

It was almost midnight before Nathan had awoken from a restless sleep on the chair beside Lucas. He had drifted off after everybody had left, his body no longer to cope with the emotional and physical stress of the day’s events. He had not heard the constant stream of nurses and orderlies that checked on Lucas and the machines during the night.

He looked around, blinking until he found himself sufficiently awake. He eyed the machines for himself to make sure everything was beeping and flashing as it should. Lucas still looked the same. The anesthetic had caused the lines of pain and the stress to fall away from the boy’s sleeping features. For just a moment, it looked as though the boy was just sleeping as he would in his bunk on the SeaQuest.

Nathan knew that there was a lot of healing on the road ahead for Lucas. He knew after the physical injuries had healed, the mind needed to be repaired also. The terror the boy had gone through over the last month couldn’t have happened without leaving some sort of scar on the teenager. The captain also knew that Lucas would be very reluctant to talk about what had happened. He knew it would be up to him to draw the young man out and deal with his pain.

Suddenly, Lucas gave a small cough and tried to move about on the bed. The motion caused his face to contort at the pain it caused in his shoulder and leg. Bridger was there in a second, trying to talk softly to the boy and asking him to open his eyes. He wanted the boy to wake up and start talking and moving like the old Lucas.

Lucas could hear a voice talking to him. For a moment he had to concentrate before his brain decided he knew the voice as the Captain’s. He knew he hurt all over. It took a little longer for his mind to remember the events that had occurred. He didn’t know why his shoulder hurt so bad. He knew why his leg hurt. He remembered the knife and the gleam of the blade before Sanderson had stabbed him with it,

SANDERSON . ……….. What had happened to SANDERSON.??

The sudden thought of the madman made Lucas open his eyes and try to sit up in a hurry trying to look around the room looking for his attacker. It only resulted in waves of pain and dizziness unlike he had known before.

Bridger had been startled to see the young man try and still bolt right up in bed. He had seen the wild look in his eyes and registered that Lucas was probably trying to see where Sanderson was.

“It’s okay, Lucas,” Bridger said as he tried to tell the boy to lay back down on the bed. He started rubbing Lucas’s uninjured arm, trying to get him to calm down and relax.

With the escalation of his heart rate, and his actions to try and sit up, the machines and monitors in the room had begun to go haywire and the noise had set a team of doctor’s and nurses into the room looking for the emergency.

All but one nurse had back tracked when they saw that there was no such emergency.

The sole nurse walked quietly over to the bed to assess her patient. The boy was sobbing into Bridger’s shoulder. The nurse just looked at the Captain and gave her nod of understanding and left after quickly checking the instruments.

Lucas was still crying and his breath was beginning to come in hiccups. He was now turned on his side, head buried against the Captain’s chest. Bridger had both arms wrapped around the boy, patting his back and whispering soothing words.

Lucas’s brief period of wakefulness didn’t last long as his body demanded to rest. The boy drifted off and was sound asleep against the Captain moments later.

No words had been spoken during his wake time. Both the Captain and Lucas were content enough just to be there with each other.

*****

Over the next few days, Lucas slowly improved. He was taken off the monitors and moved into a private room in the hospital. The room was soon overflowing with flowers, gifts and cards of GET WELL SOON from crew and UEO personnel.

Bridger had told the crew and Kristen about Lucas’s reaction when he awoke, but nobody said anything to Lucas. All new it was going to be a long and painful journey over the next few months. All knew that they would be there when Lucas decided the time was right.

On the fourth day after the shooting. Kristen came into Lucas’s room beaming at the Captain and her young patient. She couldn’t wait to tell them the good news.

“Guess what?” she said excitedly.

“What?” Lucas said trying to sound excited. Lucas had reawaken after the first time, feeling better emotionally, but all had noticed that the boy was still very withdrawn and had not spoken a word about his ordeal.

“You get to go home today,” Kristen announced to everybody in the room.

“Go home,” Lucas stammered. He could hardly believe his luck. He knew he wasn’t anywhere fully healed yet, but longed for the security and safety offered by the SeaQuest.

“How did you manage that?” Bridger looked skeptically at Kristen.

“I just told the doctors,” she said smiling “that the SeaQuest was due to take off from port tomorrow and wasn’t about to leave without its most valuable crew member.” She continued to smile at Lucas.

Bridger and the rest of the crew were now smiling and staring at the doctor

in disbelief. All were happy about the new, but all knew Lucas was not healed and didn’t know how Kristen had managed it.

“But,” and she paused just to get Lucas’s attention, “you will be confined to the Captain’s quarters until further notice. You will be requiring regular pain medication upon my request and you are to be a model patient,” she said trying to sound stern.

“Aye Aye, Captain,” Lucas said and gave a mock salute which sent everybody in the room into fits of laughter.

Later that afternoon, Lucas was just about jumping out the bed to get going.

Kristen walked into the room holding up two crutches in her hands and then passed them to Lucas.

Lucas spied them with disgust, “What do I need those for?” he said pretending that there was nothing wrong with his leg. To be honest, his leg stilled hurt quite a lot. His shoulder gave a dull ache every now and then. He had tried, sneakily on two occasions to stand on his injured leg before he was told too, and was scolded swiftly by Kristen and Bridger as he had almost collapsed both times from the white hot pain that shot up his leg when it touched the floor.

“Don’t worry, Doc,” came the reply from Ben Krieg. “If he doesn’t behave himself, I’ll get O’Neill and Ortiz here to sit on him,” as he winked at Lucas.

Lucas didn’t have a chance to use the crutches at first. Bridger and Kristen insisted that two orderlies carry him out to the waiting UEO transport. The crutches could be used once he was back aboard the SeaQuest. Lucas had only rolled his eyes at this suggestion and had replied that he wasn’t a baby to be carried.

Kristen had threatened him with a sedative until they got back to the boat if he didn’t do what he was told, and he had quickly ceased trying to argue with her.

*****
TWO MONTHS LATER……………………..

Lucas sat on a chair around a table in the ward room. His injured leg was propped up on a stool underneath the table. His vision was fixed on five cards in his hand as he was trying to concentrate on the game of poker unfolding before him.

The teenager seemed to be more relaxed tonight. More relaxed than he had been since returning from the hospital. At first, he was very subdued and withdrawn. He had slept for the first week constantly as a result of the medication prescribed by Doctor Westphalen. His shoulder had healed just fine and hardly bothered him at all now.

He had many attempts at gaining confidence with the crutches. Most of them had ended with Lucas on the floor in an embarrassed heap with one of the crew members helping him up. But he was getting better. The doctor said he would only need to use them for another couple of weeks.

The scar was noticeable after the stitches were removed. A permanent reminder Lucas thought to himself.

Ben Krieg was trying to look over and see what Lucas had in his hand. He was losing again. The other game players were Bridger, O’Neill, Ortiz and Kristen would had been dragged into the game at the last moment. She had protested at first, but then thought it would be a good opportunity to see how Lucas was getting on socially on the boat after his injuries.

The ward room was lit up and the Video Link was set to a news television channel, but the sound had been muted.

Lucas had been sitting facing the screen. Ben Krieg had his back to it. The others could see the screen from various angles if necessary.

Lucas attention from his cards and Ben’s constant spying was distracted suddenly with the screen coming to life with what appeared to be a building with police cars and their lights flashing and police security tape tacked up all over the place..

A reporter stood outside the building and was relaying what was happening to the audience. Lucas found the remote control and turned the sound up and started listening to the report.

“Police have no idea who would want to killed the doctor,” the reported stated “Scientific officers are now combing the area for any leads to the suspect.”

Lucas couldn’t understand that for some reason, the story was starting to make the hairs on the back of his neck rise. He continued to watch the story with a sense of uneasiness, but he couldn’t for the life of him work out why.

The others had noticed Lucas’s slight nervousness and now watched the story with a little more interest.

“The building was reported to belong to a discredited doctor Michael Owens,” the man continued to report. “The doctor was a well known plastic surgeon but had been deregistered by the medical board about five years ago for completing unnecessary surgery. The cause of the doctor’s death is unknown, but police are now treating it like a homicide.”

This comment started sending of all sorts of alarms bells to Lucas and he was now inwardly trembling and his face had paled considerably.

“Are you in pain, Lucas?” Kristen now asked the teenager, noticing his pale complexion. “Is your leg hurting too much?”

Lucas didn’t speak but gave a brief nod to the doctor signaling he was okay.

Bridger was trying to work out why Lucas appeared so scared. The report was only about the death of a doctor. He was now more interested in looking at Lucas than the screen.

“Police say that a number of vital clues escaped that may be able to identify the murderer,” the reporter stated. “The doctor was not only a renowned plastic surgeon, but specialized in the reconstruction of faces.”

Lucas was now on the verge of hyperventilating. He wanted to run from the room. But he’s dead, you saw him dead. Lucas was trying to stay calm, but was fighting a losing battle. Bridger and Kristen were no longer watching the TV but were concerned about why Lucas was suddenly wanting to scream in terror. All had a bad thought in the back of their minds ……..no it couldn’t be. …….. was the silent thoughts. He was shot dead at that house, they all said silently.

“The theory from the authorities is that the doctor was murdered by a disgruntled patient,” continued the reporter. “The doctor had a lot of shady patients over the last few years. People wanting their looks to be altered so they couldn’t be recognized. But it just a theory,” was added to the end.

“Police say that the only clues they are willing to release to the media is the fact that some sort of message was apparently written in the doctor’s own blood. Nobody has been able to make out what the message means to date,” the voice stated.

“The message is in the form of words which say, THIS ISN’T OVER YET” and the message is signed S.”

“Police have no idea who the message is from or who the intended recipient is. This is Tim Waker for CNN news,” the reporter said as he signed off.

All could only looked stunned at the screen. They hadn’t heard what they rhought they heard, could they?

All turned to look at Lucas. Lucas just looked at the screen. He knew who the message was for. The S couldn’t possible be mistaken. The man was even bold enough to leave a calling card for him.

Bridger could only walked over to Lucas and put his arms around the boy. He couldn’t find the words he wanted to say. He knew that Lucas knew the message was probably meant for him.

The words in the message danced around in Lucas’s mind THIS ISN’T OVER YET …..THIS ISN’T OVER YET……………………….

***The End***

Author’s Notes:

Just a few notes from the author to explain a few things to non-SeaQuest fans. This story is the first of a trilogy – the others are completed and will be posted shortly – you do have to read them in order to understand the entire plot – although each can be read as a separate story.

The SeaQuest show ran for 3 series but true fans of the show totally ignore the 3rd season as if it never happened. This is because they took Bridger away as Captain and that just ruined the show for a lot of people. My stories are use either the crew from the first season or the second season. The stories with Dagwood and Tony are second season. I always use Kristen Westphalen in my stories because I never like Dr Smith they used in Season 2.

To explain the Lawrence factor – Lawrence Wolenczak and Cynthia Wolenczak are Lucas’s real parents. They did appear in the last episode of the first season but were basically good guys in that one. Secretly, I think all of us fans out there wanted Lucas and Bridger to become father and son, and so in the fan fiction world most of us chose that story line and have used it ever since. This is how it works – Once upon a time, one of the fan fiction author wrote the story line that Lawrence abused Lucas physically and beat him over a number of years until the SeaQuest crew found out and that’s when Lucas separated from his real parents and became Bridger’s adopted son. Although none of us like the idea of child abuse in real life this idea seemed to work for our purposes and so there are now over 150 stories based on this plot for Lucas, Bridger and his parents. Most of the stories also include the idea that Lawrence still seeks revenge for his son Lucas’s disobedience. I too have used this idea in most of my stories and Lawrence is always the bad guy.

Sorry for waffling on but I didn’t think people who weren’t avid fans of the show and fan fiction would understand why we write about the child abuse subject and write Lawrence as the bad guy.

Hope you enjoy – this was the first fan fiction story of any description that I wrote. As I said there are two more chapters to this and I will post them shortly. Enjoy.

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