Destiny Angel enters the control room about fifteen minutes after leaving the three American tourists by their old Cessna. She had listened carefully to all that Melody has to tell her about what had happened of and on the base during the day.
Now Destiny is very concerned, as she looks upon the girls all reunited in the room. Becky Evershaw has taken back her station in front of the radio and the radar screen, while Rhapsody now comes to Destiny with a cup of hot drink that the newcomer smells out intensely.
“What, tea?” Destiny asks Rhapsody, with a puzzled look. “No coffee?”
Rhapsody gives her a somewhat apologizing smile. “I didn’t think it would be wise to get you some.”
“Right. Maybe you’re right.”
Destiny takes a sip and glances at Symphony, sited at the table, just in front of her. She nods to her attention.
“Melody has told me what happened. So mister Black has giving you some problems.”
Symphony frowns. “CAPTAIN Black. And he has giving problems to ALL of us.”
“Yes, I know that.” Destiny turns to Evershaw: “No word from Charlie yet, Becky?”
“Not one word.” Evershaw answers, with her deep accented Australian voice. She turns from her station to look back at Destiny: “And nobody has ever left the station unchecked. If he had tried to reach us, we would have known.”
“He must already know about all this.” Melody remarks.
Harmony concurs with her. “There is no way Black would have taken all these decisions without Charlie’s consent.”
“Yes, let’s remember that Black had authorisation papers for all that.” Symphony agrees. “Well, except specifically for the prisoner.”
“But he had the authorisation to do as he pleases?” Destiny asks her.
“I’m beginning to have quite enough of that “Captain” Black. He had taken quite a few liberties with us lately.”
“Yes.” Melody muses. “Remember the way he claimed the helijets, four days ago?”
Destiny frowns. “You nearly had a fix, yes. Hadn’t Charlie called by that time… Well, I do believe you would have knock Black off.”
“And I would have missed that?” Symphony grins.
“You were on patrol at the time.” Melody says. She turns to Destiny: “Speaking of which, I should have been on patrol myself since nearly a half hour ago. Should I go now?”
“Wait a little longer.” Destiny addresses Evershaw anew: “Anything on the radar screen?”
“Nothing so far. All is calm, since the Cessna has landed.”
“The Cessna. Now that’s another problem.”
“Was it wise to let it land on the base, especially considering the situation?” Rhapsody asks Destiny.
“Even if I had known about what had happened, that wouldn’t have change my decision regarding that old plane.”
Rhapsody sighs. “Right. That wouldn’t have bee really charitable to let it crash in the desert.”
“Now I understand why you have come to the runway with Lewman.” Destiny says to Melody. “No sense in taking any chance with these newcomers.”
“Who are they, anyway?” Symphony asks.
“Oh! Three American tourists who got themselves a little bit to far away in the desert. Seem like the adventurous type.”
“Probably loaded, too.” Melody nods. “Two of them were wearing pretty fancy clothes. A bit dirty, perhaps, but it’s probably due to the circumstances… the crate they were flying had probably caused them a lot of troubles through out their trip.”
“Three guys?” Harmony muses, frowning. “You’re sure they really are tourists?”
“That’s what they said, anyway.” Destiny shrugs.
Symphony smiles. “Good-looking fellows?”
“Well,” Melody muses, “The brown bearded one wasn’t too bad…”
“Are you kidding?” Destiny protests. “Kowalski is definitely better looking. Blond, blue eyes… Very tall…”
“Every man is very tall to you, Juliette.” Symphony remarks, laughing.
“He really IS tall, honey.”
Melody grins. “He has put himself on Juliette’s good side because he speaks a little French.”
“All right!” Rhapsody sighs. “Kidding apart: would you care to tell us what is going on with these guys and what will happen now?”
Destiny tells them all what she had decided. Harmony shakes her head after her explications.
“You were right, Mag: That kind of plane is too much older for Harrison. Maybe I should give it a look.”
“You just want to see those three gorgeous guys.” Symphony says teasingly to her.
“Well, if the view is good…”
“You think you could repair that plane for tomorrow morning, Chan?” Destiny asks.
“I didn’t see yet in what state it is. But I’ll do my very best.”
“All right, then. How soon can you get to it?”
“Give me some minutes to settle some few things in Hangar One. Then I’ll get my tools and I’ll be on my way to work.”
“Good. Lewman, the security guard, is with the three men, right now. Monsieur Kowalski wants to talk to you before you get to work on the plane. Then Lewman will escort them to the officers’ quarters where they will spend the night.”
Symphony screws up her eyes to her. “You keep them under close surveillance.”
“Yes. Like I said, there’s no sense in taking any risk. Especially under the circumstances. These guys seem harmless enough, but… who knows? Nothing tells us they could be here for that other man in the brig.”
Rhapsody turns a little pale. “You can’t really believe that?”
“Hey, anything is possible.” Melody replies. “The thought has crossed my mind too.”
“Black has told me that the captive has accomplices who would want to get him back.” Symphony muses, almost to herself.
Rhapsody turns her eyes upward to the sky. “Oh, great! Really great! We may be on this base with a bunch of murderers.”
“Terrorists.” Symphony corrects, smiling.
“Whatever. That’s not a very comforting thought.”
“Well, don’t let it frighten you, Dianne.” Harmony reassures her. “I don’t see anyway this terrorist’s friends could find out where he is.”
“If he really is a terrorist.” A gloomy Melody adds.
Symphony frowns. “You have already said before that you have doubts about that.” She nods toward Juliette: “Did you tell to Juliette how that man is dressed?”
“What?” Destiny asks, curious. “What is he wearing?”
“I didn’t have time to fill you up in all the details.” A hesitating Melody says. “So here they are…”
Melody tells Destiny about the prisoner’s arrival in handcuffs and black hood, making it impossible to see his face. She also mentions her suspicion of him being gagged under the hood. There is already a gleam of perplexity in the French girl’s eyes when she hears that. That quickly changes into incredulity when Melody tells her about the WAAF uniform and the ranks of colonel she had inadvertently seen on the man’s shoulder. Then Destiny has trouble hiding her indignation when she learns the captive was thrown into the isolation cell, without being freed of his handcuffs, hood and gag.
Destiny puts down her empty cup of tea on the table, trying not to let her temper gets hold of herself. The other Angels can’t be fooled. They know how annoyed and troubled she is about all this. They all fell about the same. Destiny casts a thoughtful look toward Symphony and Rhapsody.
“Karen, you’re with the Universal Secret Service, and you, Dianne, you’ve been with the Federal Agents Bureau… You two have some detective’s skills… What does all this tell you?”
Rhapsody lifts an eyebrow. “Frankly? Well, I would say that logically, there is only one explanation why they have kept that bag over his head and gagged him…”
“…They don’t want US to see who HE is.” Symphony continues.
Rhapsody nods. “Exactly.”
“So that makes it quite possible that he really is a WAAF colonel.” Destiny muses.
“You have figure out that too, he?” Rhapsody smiles. “You’re not too bad a detective yourself, Juliette.
“There was a time in my life when I was in the WAAF Intelligence Corps. Before I joined the fighters aircrafts squadrons.”
“Do you realize that if that man’s really a WAAF colonel, we may be in trouble deep?” Melody remarks. “Especially you, Juliette. You’re still in the WAAF.”
“That doesn’t really frighten my, you know. I’ve been in hot sports before. I even got nearly sacked from the WAAF from a general because he wasn’t too thrilled of me going out with his son…”
Harmony frowns. “You call THAT a hot spot?”
“You didn’t meet the old man. Anyway, that’s not the question: I don’t want YOU girls to be in trouble because of this. So I will make a decision… which could also put me in another hot spot if my feelings are wrong about all this.”
“What do you intend to do?” Melody inquires.
“Quite simple.” Destiny answers. “Since Captain Black willingly keeps up in the dark about all this, and as Charlie neglects to call to tell us what’s going on exactly, I see only one option: I’ll go to see that captive in the brig and ask him what he knows.”
There is silence following Destiny’s words; she takes that as some sort of uneasy disagreement.
“As designated leader of the Angels Pack,” Destiny adds carefully, “I’ll take full responsibility for this decision.”
Rhapsody smiles. “Do you really think we would let you take the heat all alone?”
“If you get in trouble, we’ll all get in trouble.” Harmony says.
“That’s right: we’re a team, girl!” Symphony concurs.
“Beside, we were kind of hoping you would make a decision like that.” Melody adds.
Destiny looks at each of her friends. If she’s not really surprised by their position to stay by her side, no matter what could happen, she is rather touched. Becky Evershaw, still sitting at her station, is gazing at them with a broad smile. Obviously, she has quite an admiration for the five female pilots, willing to stick and take the heat together.
Destiny sighs. “All right, girls. It will be as you wish.” She smiles. “Thanks.”
“Don’t thank us.” Harmony tells her. “It’s only natural, Juliette.”
“Okay, then. But before doing anything…” Destiny turns to Evershaw: “Becky, you’re off the hook.”
Evershaw frowns. “You’re keeping me out?”
“Yes, and don’t argue with it. That concerns only the Angels, here. If anybody asks, you don’t know anything.”
“All right, I won’t discuss it.”
“You stay at your station and you keep your eyes peeled on the radar and your ears opened on the radio. I want to know THE SECOND Charlie should call.”
“Understood, Destiny Angel.“
Melody, you won’t go on patrol, tonight. I think you would be more useful here at the base, if something wrong should happen. But you’ll keep inside Angel Two, ready to take off if Becky should see anything on the radar screen and give you the word.”
“And on the contrary, if you should call me up, I’ll be with you on the double.”
“Right. Harmony, you’ve got work to do on the Americans’ plane. I want them out of here early in the morning. If you have any doubt that plane won’t be ready, you tell me immediately. We’ll ship these guys to the nearest town without delay.”
“And be careful.” Rhapsody adds. “If, by any chance, they should prove to be anything else than they seem to be…”
“I can take care of myself, don’t worry.” Harmony replies. “And I’ll have Lewman as an extra protection.”
“Rhapsody, Symphony, you’ll come with me.” Destiny says to the two remaining Angels. “We’re going to the brig. Let’s try to persuade that sergeant to let us see the prisoner.”
Melody smiles mischievously. “I bet Karen will be able to persuade him.”
Symphony frowns with puzzlement over that remark. “How’s that?”
“The sergeant has the hot for you.”
“What? How do you know that?”
“He practically told me so. He asked me he wanted to see you, so he would apologize for his previous behaviour toward you. I could tell how he was feeling…”
“That uncivilized brute?” Symphony snorts. She’s about to get angry and then all of a sudden, calms herself, and smiles broadly, much to her friends’ surprise: “Well, maybe that can get us something of an advantage over that poor sergeant…”
* * *
After retrieving the magnetic key of the brig, Destiny, Symphony, and Rhapsody leave the Control room building. By the same time, Melody accompanies Harmony to Hangar One.
Entering the building in which is the brig, Destiny’s opens the door leading to the basement, closely followed by Symphony, with Rhapsody bringing up the rear. When they reach the top of the staircase and look down, they could see the sergeant, sitting upon the principal door of the brig, apparently slumbering. Apparently, keeping a close and constant watch is a bit too tiring for him.
He does not see the three women looking down at him from up the stair.
“Now what?” Rhapsody whispers.
“Now we go and talk to him.” Destiny says in the same tone. “Maybe he will let us in.”
Symphony shakes her head. “Fat chance. Let me at him. I’ve got an idea.”
Rhapsody frowns. “What do you intend to do?”
“Nothing much. Just make good use of some feminine charms… Keep hidden.”
Before the two others could stop her, she begins to get down the stair. About in the middle of it, she casts her eyes on the sleepy guard. She then produces her most radiant smile and clears out her throat loudly.
Most instantly, the sergeant seems to wake up then gets on his feet. When he sees Symphony on the stair, looking down at him with bright eyes and a marvellous smile, his jaw drops down.
“Hello, sleepy eyes.” Symphony says with a gentle voice. “My, you seem really tired. Maybe I should come back later.”
“No, please… stay, lady.” The sergeant stutters. He smiles: “Seeing you have wake me up completely!”
Symphony comes down the remaining of the stair. “Flattering. Melody has told me your message.”
“Melody? Oh! The lieutenant… Rather an odd name. What’s yours?”
“They call me Symphony.”
“That’s not your real name.”
“I’m not allowed to tell you my real name. «Symphony pauses, watching as the sergeant makes a moping face, and then she smiles again: “It’s Karen.”
“Karen. I’m sorry, Karen, if I acted like a real jerk with you earlier.”
A real jerk? That’s putting it mildly, thinks Symphony. Still, she gives the sergeant a broader, brighter smile.
“Don’t put yourself down, sergeant, and let’s not talk about it again.” She says. “Now tell me YOUR name.”
“So, Martin, the watch is difficult, it seems. What would Captain Black say if he’d know you were sleeping on the job?”
“Don’t tell him, please. He’s liable to put me in front of a firing squad.”
“Did you know they used to do just that, in my country, in the 19th Century army? If a sentry was caught asleep, he was court-martialled and then put to death.”
Martin grins. “Americans are so bloodthirsty.”
“So are the Scots, as I recall.”
“How do you know I’m…” Sergeant Martin stops. “The accent, he?”
“It has given you away right from the very start.” Symphony looks around, looking conspicuous.
“So, Martin, what do you say about a break?”
“A break?” Martin repeats, with surprise. “I can’t. I’m on duty, here.”
“You must be for a long time, now, isn’t it? Anyway, you’ve been watching that prisoner for hours. How about something to eat?”
“I would like that, thank you.”
“So why don’t you follow me to the galley?”
“How about bringing me a sandwich here, instead?”
“Sure, I could do that. But I’d have thought you would prefer something warm. And we could use the time to speak and… get to know each other’s.”
“At the galley? Wouldn’t we attract attention?”
“Everybody is in duty, at this hour. There’ll be nobody in the galley but us.”
The sergeant is still reluctant to accept the invitation. Obviously, he feels a certain guilt to leave his station. Seeing that, Symphony smiles anew.
“Look, if you’re afraid of what Captain Black would say and do… he won’t find out.”
“It’s not just Captain Black.” Martin interrupts suddenly. “There’s also your friend, the lieutenant… she had expressively told us not to wander alone on the base.”
“Well, you’d be with me. You won’t exactly be alone.”
“I don’t know, lady…”
“If you don’t tell anybody, I won’t either.”
Symphony gives the sergeant something of a promising look. That’s the finishing stroke. Martin smiles broadly.
“Okay, Karen. You’ve convinced me.”
He motions to the stair, but Symphony stops him and nods toward the other end of the corridor, in which they’re presently standing.
“We’ll go that way. Nobody will risk seeing us… beside, it’s shorter to the galley.”
She leads the way, the grinning sergeant hot on her heels.
As they disappear at the corner of the corridor and their steps fade away, Destiny and rhapsody get down the stair, smiling mischievously.
“Talk about some nerves!” Rhapsody remarks, almost laughing. “We’ve just seen a real pro at work here, my dear Juliette.”
“A pro? An artist, no less! And seeing at how she despises that guy… Well, she’s not one of the Secret Service best agents for nothing!”
“Think she’ll be all right, though?” Rhapsody asks, a bit worried anyway. “The way she was coming at the guy, it would surprise me if he doesn’t try to get a little more than what she promised him.”
“She’s a big girl. She’ll be able to manage.”
Destiny swipes the magnetic card into the lock and the door opens in front of the two women. They enter the brig. Rhapsody can’t help a shiver from coming down her spine.
“I hate these kinds of places.” She mutters. “They’re always too sinister for my taste. Have you ever come down here?”
“Once.” Destiny nods. “In the first days I arrived here. I have visited the entire base, including the brig. I’ve never came back since. I, too, find it sinister.”
They look at the empty cells. Then glance at the close door, with the heavy magnetic lock in the back.
“That’s the isolation cell.” Destiny says.
“...Where our prisoner is.” Rhapsody adds.
Destiny nods thoughtfully. Her right hand strokes the handle of the small pistol she had taken in the cabinet along with the key, before leaving the control room. “Just in case”, she had said at the time. She shrugs now.
“I don’t think he would cause us any trouble.”
Rhapsody looks at her with a faint smile. “Who are you trying to convince? Yourself or me?”
They approach the door quietly. They hear no sound from the other side.
“Well, he seems pretty quiet, anyway.” Destiny notes.
Rhapsody scoffs. “Handcuffed, gagged and with a bag over my head, I should think I would be quiet, too!”
“Right. I open the door, now. Be ready.”
Rhapsody nods her agreement. Destiny slides the magnetic key into the lock. The door opens.
The room the two girls see before them is nearly as pitch as black. If not for the light coming from their side of the door, they would not see a thing.
As it is, they DON’T see the prisoner.
By the time they realize that he must be by the side of the door, a dark figure suddenly appears before them, with a loud roar that makes Destiny steps back and Rhapsody freezes on the spot. Strong hands grab the later by the collar of her vest and pull her into the cell.
The young British woman finds herself brutally slammed, her back to a concrete wall. Her breath drained out of her, she lets out a stifled moan, more out of surprise than of pain. The strong hands, which she sees tightly shackled together, still hold her firmly against the wall. She looks up past them to find herself gazing straight into the blue eyes of the most handsome man she has ever saw, and who, in turn, is looking at her with obvious bewilderment.
“You’re a girl!”
“Nice of you to notice.” Rhapsody responds, with a shaky, rather raspy voice.
Before any of them could say or do anything else, Paul Metcalfe feels the cold metallic contact of a barrel against the back of his skull.
Not again, he thinks. This is turning into quite an annoying habit…
“Have a care, monsieur!” Destiny says with an angry and stern tone. “I don’t take kindly at some bully manhandling one of my girls! Release her that instant!”
Metcalfe stiffs and frowns at the sound of that voice. He recognizes it, with that thick French accent. But it does not seem possible…
To Rhapsody’s surprise, she sees her attacker starts to laugh softly:
“It’s not the first time you call me a bully, honey. But you have never pulled a gun on me before!”
Destiny frowns incredulously and takes a step back, lowering the gun, if just a little.
“That voice… Mon Dieu! I’d know that voice anywhere!”
“And I sure know yours!”
He looks to the young woman over his shoulder, with a twinkle of amusement in his blue eyes. Destiny’s eyes widen and she gets the gun down completely.
“I can’t believe it! Paul! It’s you!”
“Hello, Juliette.” Metcalfe says with a large smile. “How are you?”
“What are you doing here?” Destiny exclaims.
“You know that guy?” Rhapsody almost mumbles to her fellow pilot.
“Yes, Paul and I are old friends.” Destiny smiles.
“Then would you mind telling your old friend to get off of me?” Rhapsody adds, between clenched teeth.
Metcalfe lets go instantly of the your red-haired young woman. She does all she can to get herself back to a more dignified composure.
“Sorry.” Metcalfe tells her, apologizing. “I didn’t want to hurt you, miss.”
Rhapsody looks at him with blazing eyes. “Oh! You didn’t hurt me. Much. And you could’ve been sorrier.”
“Excuse me?” A perplexed Metcalfe says.
“When Juliette recognized you, I was about to hit you low and hard so you would let go of me.”
For a moment, Metcalfe doesn’t say a word following Rhapsody’s declaration. He then lets out a whistling sound.
“My, you’re a feisty little thing, aren’t you?”
“And you, sir, may well be the bully Juliette has called you.” Rhapsody replies coldly.
Metcalfe smiles and turns toward Destiny.
“Charming your friend, Juliette. Really charming, indeed.”
Destiny smiles back to him. “She’s a compatriot of yours, Paul. Dianne, meet Colonel Paul Metcalfe, of the WAAF Special Forces. Paul, Lady Dianne Simms.”
Metcalfe eyes Rhapsody with curiosity. “A genuine lady?”
Rhapsody groans and seems uneasy. “I do wish you had not brought that lady title up, Juliette. It seems so out of place here.”
Metcalfe grins. “Nevertheless, I’m pleased to meet you… miss Simms.”
He slightly bows to her, notwithstanding the awkwardness of his shackled hands. A smile extends on Rhapsody’s face who can’t help finding in this man a rather roguish charm.
“Paul, since when are you a terrorist?”
“Come on, Juliette!” Metcalfe grumbles. “Don’t tell me you believe that story!”
“Of course, I don’t believe it!” Destiny smiles. “I know you could never be a terrorist. What would your father say about that?”
“Please, don’t start with him, Juliette. I know you don’t like him much, but he’s still my father.”
Metcalfe frowns. “What are YOU doing here, anyway? Last time we say each other’s, you were looking into others opportunities outside the WAAF. Is that what you do now? Kidnapping and keeping WAAF officers as prisoners for God knows what purposes?”
“You’re not really a good joker, isn’t it, colonel Metcalfe?” Rhapsody sighs.
“Officially, I’m still with the WAAF, Paul. As for my being here… it’s a long story.” Destiny looks thoughtfully at her friend. “And you? It’s rather a surprise for me to find out YOU’RE that mysterious prisoner that was brought to our brig with such secrecy. What have you done to find yourself in that situation?”
“As far as I can tell… nothing.” As the two young women glare at him with sceptic looks, Metcalfe frowns: “Hey! Nothing outside of the law, to be precise. And certainly nothing to warrant such a harsh treatment. I just respond to some official… invitation, that has brought me to Perth. The first thing I know, I’m attacked, beaten, tied up, gagged, and send over here… wherever HERE is.”
Rhapsody is still a bit suspicious. “That’s your story? As simple as that?”
“Well, no… It’s a rather succinct way of telling it. It’s much more complicated and confusing that that, actually.”
Rhapsody addresses Destiny: “Now we know why they have kept that hood over his head and put him in confinement. They must have known you might recognize him.”
Metcalfe frowns. “Who are those guys, anyway? And what have you, ladies, got to do with them?”
“You mean you don’t know who they are?” Destiny asks him.
Metcalfe sighs. “If I knew that, Juliette, I probably know why the hell I’m kept as a prisoner, here!”
He hesitates: “Am I… still considered a prisoner, here?”
Destiny tries to sound serious: “I don’t know… Maybe we should consider it carefully before letting you out.”
She witnesses the look of dismay on her old friend’s face.
“I could have you court-martialled for imprisoning me without reason, you know.” Metcalfe notes, almost growling.
Destiny laughs. “You wouldn’t do that to me and you know it as well as I do. Beside, if I free you, I could get in trouble as well.”
“We could ALL get in trouble.” Rhapsody nods. “It’s already a breach of procedure that we have come here to talk to you.”
Metcalfe looks at the two girls one after the other.
“From whom are you expecting troubles exactly?” He asks, frowning. “That guy… what’s his name… Captain Black?”
“Well, at least you know his name…” Rhapsody notes.
“Just because I’ve overheard it.” Metcalfe replies, almost snapping.
“Captain Black is the least of our problems, Paul.” Destiny tells him. “Our superior could be ticked off at us for freeing you.”
Rhapsody nods. “REALLY ticked off.”
“Your superior? Who is he? Can I talk to him?”
Destiny shakes her head. “I’m afraid that’s impossible. He’s not here. He’s NEVER here. He supervises us from a distance. We don’t know ever know what he looks like. And we don’t know where he is, and how to reach him.”
“Only HE can reach US, when needed.” Rhapsody adds.
Metcalfe frowns even more deeply. “And you don’t find that odd?”
“Oh, yes! Definitely.” Destiny says quietly. “But until your arrival here, we just followed instructions without asking any question.”
“Well, now we’re asking ourselves questions…” Rhapsody muses.
“And what about me? You’re not serious at keeping me captive here, do you?”
“That’s rather a delicate problem, Paul.”
“You ladies are serious about this.” Metcalfe then sounds suddenly desperate: “Well, at least can you get a prisoner something to eat? I haven’t got anything since five this morning!”
“You really should be more considerate about yourself, colonel.” Rhapsody tells him.
Metcalfe mumbles. “It’s not really by choice if I’m running on an empty stomach, you know!”
The two women laugh heartily. Destiny takes Metcalfe by the arm.
“I think we have made enough fun with him, now, Dianne.” She smiles at her obviously relieved friend. “I’m acting as leader of the base over here, Paul. So, I’ll take full responsibility for releasing you. Come on. We’ll get you something to eat. And we’ll get you out off those cuffs.”
Rhapsody looks thoughtfully at Metcalfe’s head. “And we better take a look at that wound of yours. It looks rather nasty.”
“That? Don’t worry; it’s just a scratch.” A sudden thought hits Metcalfe. “What about the guy who was supposed to watch over me? What have you done with him, by the way?”
“I almost completely forget about him.” Destiny sighs. “We’ve got to take care of him, in one way or the other. In the meantime, I hope Karen is not having too much trouble with him…”
* * *
As it is, Symphony Angel is having quite some trouble with sergeant Martin.
The guy, thinks the young female pilot as they walk slowly in the corridor, is a real pain. A little too enterprising. If not too much… He’s that kind of man who imagines that when a girl gives him a smile, he could ask for far more and obtains the world.
And it doesn’t take him very long to make his first advances. They’re still far enough from the galley when he puts his arm around her shoulders. She glares irritably at his hand, and then quietly takes it off, between her index and thumb.
“Let’s not burn any stages, now, shall we?” She tells him, smiling rather dryly.
The sergeant smiles in return, and by that smile, Symphony understands clearly that he doesn’t get the message. Well, she doesn’t have much to fear, anyway. She knows exactly how to handle those kinds of situations. If sergeant Martin goes to far, she’s pretty sure she will manage to repel him.
The thing is, however, she doesn’t want him to get back too quickly to his station, before Destiny and Rhapsody are finished with the prisoner.
They have climbed a stairway to reach the door of the galley, which has a direct access to the runway. By that time, the cook is absent, back to his quarters, now that everybody on the base has eaten up and the cantina has been cleaned. But the door of the galley is never locked, as everybody is welcomed to it at any time of the day and night.
As Symphony extends her hand to reach the handle, the sergeant puts one of his arms around her waist and tries to nibble at her ear.
Now THAT, thinks Symphony, is really annoying! She gets the man’s arm off of her and tries to be as gentle with him as she presently is able to be.
“Don’t you remember what I said?”
“Yeah, I know, but…”
“There is not ‘but’ about it.” Symphony takes a firmer tone. “Look, so far, I’ve been patient with you. But if you go too far – and you’re beginning to go to far – I will be forced to take measures with you.”
Martin smiles. “Is that a promise?”
“I’m serious, Martin.” Symphony answers, frowning.
“So am I.” Martin says cynically. “What are you planning to do? Tell your lieutenant about this? If I’m not mistaken, you could end up in even deeper trouble than myself… After all, it’s YOU who has come to take me away from my station and bring me here.”
“Don’t be so sure I would be in so much trouble for that.” Symphony replies rather coldly. She shows Martin the door to the galley: “Now, do you want to eat or not?”
Martin shrugs. “All right.”
He pushes the door and enters, then he turns toward Symphony and gives her a promising smile.
“But I’m telling you, lady: I’m hungry for far more than food.”
He has barely said the last word that a frying span suddenly appears behind him and hit him over the head with a loud thud. Symphony jumps in shocked surprise as Martin collapses on the floor before her. She gazes at the unconscious body with a perplexed frown, wondering exactly what had just happened. Then, she raises her eyes, to see a blond man hesitantly showing himself from the side of the door to look at her. He gives her a somewhat shy smile, while agitating the span still in his hand.
“Hi! Er… please, don’t cry out?”
Symphony has absolutely no intention of it. He seems harmless enough, she thinks. The coy look on his face, the somewhat apologising way he had spoken to her, tell her clearly enough that this man won’t do her any harm.
“Thank you.” She calmly says. “I was wondering how I would rid myself of that jerk.”
Adam Svenson smiles cheerfully. This young lady seems rather cool face to unexpected events.
“I thought you could use a hand.” He says, shaking his head.
He strides over the unconscious man to go to Symphony. He stops right in front of her, absentmindedly playing whit the span. He is very tall, notices the young pilot; some inches over six feet… With broad shoulders… The eyes are blue, clear, and bright.
“So, what’s a nice girl like you doing with a dork like that?” Svenson asks with a broad smile.
Symphony frowns. “You must be one of the Americans who have arrived with the distressed Cessna.”
“Guilty as charged, miss.”
“What are you doing here? Surely, you’ve been informed that this base is a restricted area.” Symphony stops, a sudden thought coming to her mind: “And how have you been able to foil Lewman, anyway?”
Svenson scratches his ear, rather shyly. “The security guard? We pulled a rather dirty trick on him, I’m afraid.”
“What did you do, exactly?” Symphony asks him, suspiciously.
“Nothing really serious, I assure you. Maybe he will get a headache in the morning…”
“Don’t you thing you’ve gone a little far?”
Svenson looks over his shoulder toward Martin. “Well, I think my friend was far less brutal with Lewman that I was with your boyfriend here.”
“He’s not my boyfriend, he’s a swine.” Symphony cuts him abruptly. “And Lewman is a good, honest man.” She looks at him intensely. “You still haven’t answer my first question.”
“Which was?” Svenson asks innocently.
Now Symphony begins to be very annoyed. “What are you doing here?”
Svenson looks at her thoughtfully. “I think I’ve made a wrong turn. I was looking for a friend and ended up here.”
“As I recall, your friends should be at your plane. Or in the officers’ quarters.”
“I’m not talking about those friends. I’m looking for another one.” Svenson’s voice then takes a more serious tone: “That friend was brought here against his will.”
Symphony blinks; suddenly, she understands that this man is not exactly what he appears to be. Despite her sudden nervousness, she does her best to keep her calm.
“So, you and your friends weren’t really in distress after all…” She remarks matter-of-factly.
“That’s more complicated than that.” Svenson replies, a bit dryly. “But granted, we are here under somewhat false pretends.”
“You’re here to rescue your friend, who’s a prisoner here.”
Svenson does not produce even the slightest smile when he answers back: “Now you’re beginning to understand. And I see you don’t even try to deny it.”
“Why would I deny it?” Symphony screws up her eyes to him: “You don’t look like a terrorist.”
“And you don’t look like a kidnapper.”
Symphony gasps in surprise. “A kidnapper? I’m not a kidnapper. I’m a pilot.”
Svenson smiles back coldly. “I’m a pilot too. Guess we have something in common. What make you believe I’m a terrorist?”
“The prisoner in our brig is a terrorist.”
“Well, if it’s Paul, he’s not a terrorist.” Svenson says, grinning. “And I’m certainly not one either.”
“Your friend… He’s well built, almost as tall as you?”
“Blue eyes, black hair. Good looking. Talks with a British accent.”
Symphony’s look is a thoughtful one. “Well, that I really can’t tell…”
“What do you mean, you really can tell?”
“…But he’s wearing a WAAF colonel uniform.”
Svenson nods. “Yep. That would be Paul Metcalfe.”
“Well, I don’t know what his name is…” Symphony stops suddenly, then looks at Svenson with eyes opened with surprised horror. “Did you say ‘Metcalfe’? As in ‘general Charles Metcalfe’, from the Winchester Air Base in England?”
“Well, Paul did say to me that his father’s a general…”
“Oh, God! HIS SON?” Symphony exclaims suddenly. To a puzzled Svenson’s ears, she sounds desperate, and she shakes her head, seeming not to believe what he has just said to her. “God! We’re SO dead!”
“What are you talking about? You know Paul’s father?”
“Not personally.” Symphony looks at him, bewildered. “But everybody in the Service knows about general Charles Metcalfe, commander of the Winchester Base… And he’s certainly no laughing matter.”
Svenson frowns. “’Everybody in the Service…’ To what service are you referring?”
“Universal Secret Service.”
“YOU’RE with the USS?” Svenson asks with an incredulous tone.
“Yes.” Symphony rolls her eyes and sighs heavily. “Well, not for long, if what you tell me is true. How may years in prison for the imprisonment of a WAAF colonel, who happens to be the favoured son of a very influential general?”
Svenson smiles, somewhat amused. “I really don’t know.”
“And Destiny… She’s still in the WAAF. Firing squad, no doubt!”
“Aren’t you dramatizing things a bit, here?”
Symphony does not even seem to hear him. “Now I understand why Black has insisted that the prisoner kept the hood and be held in isolation.”
Symphony frowns deeply. “That son of a gun didn’t want us to know who the captive was!” She almost growls. “I could kill that double-crossing bastard! Getting us into trouble like that! Who does he think he is, to try to get away with a thing like that?”
“Whoa! Slow down, here! You have lost me!” Svenson glances at the young woman with a suspicious look: “You don’t seem to doubt any of the things I have said, as if you’re willing to accept my words as gospel truth.”
Symphony scoffs. “I have no reason to doubt you. Everything you’ve said so fare has added up to the mystery of all that happens today… and before today, for that matter.”
“I’m afraid I’m as in the fog as a minute ago.” Svenson sighs. “Will you explain to me… er… what’s your name?”
“Karen.” She has not even hesitated to give him her first name. Svenson produces a smile.
“My grandmother’s name was Karen.”
“And what’s yours… mister Kowalski?”
Svenson laughs coyly. “I see Destiny’s been talking to you. Actually, it’s Svenson. Adam Svenson.”
“If you so want to find your friend, Adam, please follow me. I’ll take you down to the brig.”
“And what’s telling me that’s not a trap?” Svenson asks, still suspicious at her.
Symphony shakes her head. “Come on, now! As I trusted you with all you’ve said, the least you could do is trust me in return!” She looks at him mischievously. “What’s the matter? Lost your nerves?”
“I’ll follow you. But I suppose my friend’s been watched.”
“Oh! He was.” Symphony nods. She points toward the unconscious man on the floor behind Svenson: “You just put his guard to sleep.” She smiles. “I was acting as a decoy with him until my leader could talk with your friend.”
As Svenson is looking at her, without really understanding, she laughs quietly.
“You see, the prisoner has stirred up quite some questions around here, and we all were tired of waiting for answers. So we thought he could shed some light on what is going on.”
“I see.” Svenson smiles gingerly and thumbs toward the unconscious sergeant. “I knew you had too much taste to be interested in such a jerk.”
“What do we do with him, anyway?”
“Leave him be. He will still sleep for a while. Beside, if he wakes up soon, he’s liable to think YOU decked him.”
“I would have if you hadn’t intervened.”
“Yes, I believe you would have done it.”
“So, you come with me or not?”
Svenson nods. Then he turns toward the commando and takes his riffle lying on the floor, and the pistol on his belt, and comes back to Symphony. In spite of the weapons he’s now holding, he doesn’t frighten the young pilot much.
“Lead the way, Karen.”
Symphony smiles, and then takes the corridor, coming back from where she has been earlier. Svenson follows her closely. He seems uneasy. Maybe, the young woman thinks, he does not trust her entirely.
The trip back to the brig is short and quick. When they find themselves at a few feet only of the first door, Svenson stops Symphony. She turns back to face him, and he motions her to keep quiet.
The door leading to the brig is opened and voices come from the other side. Despite the fact that Symphony has previously told him that her leader was asking the prisoner some questions, Svenson was still uncertain about all this. Years of trying to avoid assassination after assassination can do that to a man…
Symphony watches where she stands as he motions silently toward the door, rifle ready. She shrugs. He doesn’t much look like a pilot, she thinks, rather like a commando of some sort. She follows him.
Svenson is about to enter the brig when he comes face to face with another man, and they stop short in front of each other’s. Symphony recognizes the uniform. And by the description giving to her by Svenson, she has no doubt now that he has found his friend… who looks at him with astonishment.
“Adam! What are you doing here?”
Svenson laughs. “Well, to rescue you, that’s what I’m doing here! Am I glad to see you’re all right!”
Svenson puts his free hand on Metcalfe shoulder in a friendly gesture. The colonel smiles widely in response. Destiny Angel then appears by his side, while behind his broad shoulders, Rhapsody could do nothing more than tiptoe and stretch her neck to see what’s going on.
“Mister Kowalski?” Destiny says with a surprise look on her face, upon seeing Svenson.
“Oh! Hi, miss Destiny.” Svenson responds, rather shyly.
Metcalfe frowns. “Kowalski?”
“I guess I just uttered the first name that came to my mind when me met.” Svenson says, somewhat apologizing.
Metcalfe looks curiously at Destiny. “And… Destiny? Where’s that name coming from, Juliette?”
“Juliette? You’re already on first name basis?”
“Er… Juliette and I are old friends from way back when.” Metcalfe answers, a bit hesitant.
Destiny hits him angrily on the chest. “Not THAT far away!”
Svenson catches a glimpse of Rhapsody behind Metcalfe back. He grins wryly.
“It figures! We risk life and limbs to rescue you, and meanwhile, you pass time surrounded by gorgeous women. Life stinks!”
Symphony smiles and then approaches the group. She acknowledges Destiny.
“So, you and colonel Metcalfe know each other’s?” She tells her.
Destiny frowns. “You know his name?”
Symphony nods toward Svenson. “HE told me. I must admit, it had taken me aback a little…”
“We know each other’s, miss?” Metcalfe asks her.
“Personally, no. We have met on the runway earlier, but you would not recall. You had a hood over your head.”
“I recognize your voice, though. Thanks for having taken my defence against those brutes.”
Symphony sighs. “Be sure to tell THAT to your father. Him, I’ve heard about. A rather stern man, who, if I’m not mistaken, would cause us tons of trouble if he learns what has happened here.”
“Tell me about it.” Destiny mumbles grimly.
“Juliette, please. Now is not the time for old resentments. And my father reputation is worse than what he really is.”
Destiny snorts. “You’d have a difficult time trying to convince me of that! Besides, he adores you and has put you up on a pedestal. You can’t really tell me he would do nothing if he ever learns what has happened to you here!”
Symphony lifts an eyebrow. “Wait a minute… I take it Metcalfe was the general you were talking about earlier? The one who almost got you thrown out of the WAAF because…”
“Save it.” Destiny interrupts her abruptly. “Tell us where you came about your friend here.”
“I found him in the galley, lurking about. He… knocked over the commando with a frying span.”
Destiny looks suspiciously at Svenson. “That’s how he came in possession of that rifle?” She notes.
“Don’t worry.” Svenson tells her. “I won’t use it. I didn’t want to leave it to that man… And well, I feel rather safe with it.”
“So, your name is not Kowalski.”
“No, ma’am. It’s Svenson.”
“ADAM Svenson.” Symphony specifies. “He says he’s a pilot.”
“I AM a pilot.”
“You’re chief agent of security at the WAS.” Metcalfe replies.
“But I’m still a pilot.” Svenson insists.
“Well, that he is.” Destiny nods. “A good one judging by the way he flied that piece of junk and landed it on the base’s runway.”
“What piece of junk?” Metcalfe asks with curiosity. “Adam, the last I heard of you and the others, you were supposed to be stranded in the desert.”
Svenson smiles. “We were. But then, Donaghue came to our rescue.”
“Donaghue?” Metcalfe repeats, almost without believing it.
“Surprising, isn’t it?”
“I can see you two have a lot to talk about.” Destiny remarks. “And if you don’t mind, I would like to hear all of it.”
“We ALL would like to hear all of it.” The voice of Rhapsody then says behind Metcalfe’s back.
The WAAF colonel looks over his shoulder to her: “I almost had forgot about you!”
“You’d wish.” Rhapsody replies dryly. “Why don’t you push yourself a little, you big oaf? I would like to get out, you know.”
Metcalfe smiles mockingly and steps aside. “By all means, your ladyship.”
“Why don’t we go to the control room?” Destiny suggests. “The others will want to ear about this also. Symphony, why don’t you go back to the galley and bring something to eat for Paul? He says he’s famished.”
“I’m on the brink of starvation!” Metcalfe says, with a grim look.
Destiny smiles lightly. “Poor thing! We don’t want to let him suffer any longer. She looks over Svenson. “Why don’t you go with her… Adam? You would be so kind as to take sergeant Martin back here in the brig. I believe colonel Metcalfe’s cell is free.”
“I like your way of thinking, miss Destiny.” Svenson answers, grinning.
“By the way… you could go fetch your friends by your plane. They’re welcomed to the control room, too.”
Svenson presents his arm to Symphony: “Shall we go, Karen?” He pauses and frowns, puzzled: “Or is it ‘Symphony’? What kind of a name is that?”
Symphony takes his arm and beginning walking away with him. “Only a codename.”
“Well, I rather like it.”
“So, you’re really a security agent?”
“I am, if you really are a spy from the Secret Service.”
“We prefer to be called ‘agents’.”
The rest fades as they move away. Metcalfe, Destiny, and Rhapsody look at them, thoughtfully.
“They seem to have hit it off pretty nicely.” Metcalfe remarks, smiling.
“I would say…” Destiny pats Metcalfe ‘shoulder with a knowing glance at him and Rhapsody: “…Much like you two.”
She steps away toward the stair, leaving them speechless for a moment. Then they look at each other’s and go after her.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” They say with the same voice.