Note: As usual, the standard characters for Kung Fu: The Legend Continues do not belong to me. The bad guys are all mine as is the story.
A special thanks to my beta, Zoe, who keeps my work honest and grammatically correct.
Caine smiled as he touched Mary Margaret’s hand lovingly.
“Well, this is a great place, Caine. How did you find it?”
“One of my students works here. She recommended it,” he replied.
Suddenly, Caine stiffened. “Peter,” he cried out.
Skalany paled. “Caine! What’s the matter?”
“Peter. He is in danger,” Caine replied, opening his eyes slowly.
Peter looked up in time to see the rifle smash into his face. He flew backward, falling over the desk, before crashing to the floor.
Mic looked down at Peter McCabe’s unconscious form and called his boss on the phone. “ Sir? You better come down here right away. I just found Peter McCabe in your office, sir. He was going through your private files.”
“Detain our newest recruit. I’ll be there momentarily.”
“Yes, sir,” Mic replied curtly.
Peter moaned as he started to regain consciousness. He flinched at the sharp odor under his nose and tried to turn his head away. ‘Smelling salts,’ he thought. ‘Great job, Peter. Way to go!’
“Mr. McCabe? Time to wake up!” Peter heard the bone chilling voice taunt him into wakefulness. “Get him up on his feet!” the disembodied voice barked.
Peter slowly opened his eyes as he was dragged to his feet by the looming guards.
“What’s going on?” he asked. “Is this another game of ‘I don’t trust this guy!’ because I’m gettin’ real bored with all these games. Either you trust me and we can get back to work or...”
His voice trailed off without wanting to think about the other option.
“What were you doing in my office, McCabe?” his boss interrogated.
“I needed to get to know the operation better so that I wouldn’t get hammered when we go in,” he replied bitingly.
“Why not just ask.”
“I did ask! Nobody’s talkin’,” Peter exclaimed.
“It was a need to know operation and you didn’t need to know!” Mic spat at him.
“Well sorry, but I don’t go into an op blind. I needed to know.”
“Why were you going through my files? Are you a cop?” Mr. Findlay inquired.
“Please sir, don’t insult my intelligence. You really don’t wanna do that. If I was a cop, do you really think I’d be stupid enough to go into your office with all these people around? I’m cocky, but not that cocky,” he replied smiling.
Mr. Findlay sat contemplating what to do with his brash, young mercenary. “Mic, show him what we do to people who don’t follow orders. We’ll let it be a statement to the rest of the men.” He turned to Peter. “You know what curiosity did to the cat, McCabe?”
Peter hesitated, but nodded in affirmation.
“Then you’ve got a pretty good idea of what’s going to happen to you.”
Peter straightened, “Wait a minute, I’m a damn good man to have on your team. Only a fool kills his own men.”
Mr. Findlay paused and turned toward his men. “Okay, McCabe, one more chance. Mic, show Mr. McCabe the price of his second chance,” he said as he left the room quickly.
Peter tensed as the first blow hit his face. With two of the men pinning his arms behind his back, he lashed out at Mic in a high front kick and caught the stunned man in the chest, crunching a few ribs in the process. Peter turned his attention to the men who were holding him. He twisted his left arm out of their grasp and managed a chop to the jaw, sending one of his guards to the floor with a thud. He then spun and kicked his other captor in the knee feeling the bones give under the pressure.
Peter ran for the door and slammed it open with a bang. He was out of breath and the stitch in his side wasn’t helping. Within minutes, he was running into the woods outside the complex and didn’t turn to look back.
Kermit looked over the top of his glasses at Caine. “What do ya mean, the kid’s in trouble,” he asked.
“Peter is working undercover?” Caine asked rhetorically.
“Yeah, he’s working in deep cover as a merc. He’s been under almost two weeks. He made his last check in, Caine. So what gives?”
“He has been discovered, Kermit. The men whom he is with trust him no longer and have hurt him,” Caine spoke in hushed tones.
“Well then, we need to find him, don’t we? Let’s go talk to Captain Simms.” He got up from his desk and left the room.
Walking across the bustling squad room, he tapped at her door. “Captain?” he questioned as he opened the door.
“What is it Kermit? I’m neck deep in paperwork here.”
“Captain, Caine believes that something has happened to Peter,” Kermit explained, removing his glasses and rubbing his eyes.
“Sit down, Caine. What makes you think Peter’s been found out? He’s a good cop and he made his last check in,” she started.
“I can sense he is frightened and growing very tired. I believe he has been shot. I can feel his pain. We must help him.”
Captain Simms shook her head. “We don’t exactly know where he is. The gang he infiltrated has a base that we have never been able to locate. That’s why Peter was sent in. He had yet to confirm the location as of his last check in. I’m sorry Caine, but I wouldn’t even know where to begin.” She looked away from him, unable to face that his son may be dead.
“He is not dead, Captain. My son is strong and he will pull through, but I must find him.”
“Kermit, you go with him as backup. See if you can find out what kind of trouble Peter’s gotten into this time.”
“Yes, Captain. Come on, Caine. Let’s go find the kid.” He strode quickly across the squad room and into his office, where he pulled his Desert Eagle from its drawer. “I’m ready, Caine. Now how do we find him?”
“We must first see the Ancient.”
Kermit smiled as the green Corsair roared to life and headed in the direction of Chinatown.
Peter had to stop running. He felt he was safe for the moment and could afford a rest. He ducked inside a small cave hidden by a dense thicket of trees and bushes and sat down heavily with a groan. “What the...” he grunted as he felt pain in his left side. He reached down and gingerly probed his side, wincing when his hand came away sticky and wet from the blood on his shirt.
“I’ve been shot,” he exclaimed, dumbfounded as to how this happened.
He leaned back, and closing his eyes, tried to remember. He replayed his escape in his mind. The fighting to get away, the running, the bang as he slammed the door open. ‘Oh...right. The bang when I opened the door. That’s when it must have happened. This is not good, not good at all. He took a deep breath and tried to concentrate. “Father?” he whispered hoping to be heard.
The Corsair tore up the highway, pushing the limits of discretion. The Ancient had put together an emergency kit that would hopefully hold Peter until he could reach a hospital. Kermit cringed as he remembered the Ancient saying, “You must move swiftly Kwai Chang Caine, for your son’s strength is leaving him.”
Suddenly, Caine stiffened, “Turn here.” he called, gesturing for Kermit to make a left turn.
“You must stop the car here or we will be discovered.” Caine directed him toward a small opening in the dense forest edge.
“Caine, we can hide the car here. How far is Peter?” Kermit asked quietly. He pulled his gun and moved stealthily around the Corsair, placing branches over it to hide it further.
“I do not know,” he replied. “We must go this way. I can feel his pain. He is confused. We must hurry.” Caine ushered Kermit into the dense forest and proceeded to find his son.
Peter couldn’t move. He hurt so badly; it was getting hard to breathe. ‘I have to wake up,’ he thought, shaking his head to regain focus. “Father, it hurts,” he cried, hoping in vain to be heard.
Peter knew he had to keep warm and stop the bleeding. He had balled up his socks and stuffed them into the wound, but it was bleeding more freely now and the socks were soaked. Wringing them out, knowing that the liquid running down his hands was his own blood, he replaced them firmly into his side. The cave was reeling, and he was becoming nauseous.
Just then he heard a sound outside the cave. Someone was coming; he reached down for his pearl handled Beretta. It wasn’t there. “Where the hell is it?” He must have lost it while running through the woods. “Damnit,” he spat out angrily.
Peter tried to shrink back into the wall and hoped that whoever was coming would have as much trouble seeing as he was.
Peter saw himself as a little boy, about 5 years old. He was rocking back and forth in his bed, trying to quiet his sobbing.
“What is it, Peter?” his father asked gently.
“The dragon, father. He comes in the dark. I don’t like the dark, father...” the boy sobbed, barely making any sense.
Caine gently wrapped his boy up into his arms. “You are safe, Peter. It was only a nightmare. I am here now. I will not leave you.”
The boy settled down into his arms and fell back to sleep.
Peter remembered his fear and drew comfort from his father’s strength as footsteps disturbed the forest nearby.
Caine suddenly bent down low and gestured for Kermit to do the same. There was someone coming. “They’re looking for Peter,” Kermit whispered. “At least we know that he hasn’t been found yet.”
“Yes, but he grows weaker; I can feel he is afraid,” Caine spoke in hushed tones.
They waited a quarter hour for the men to pass and then resumed their search for Peter.
Peter pressed his back painfully into the cave wall. The footsteps were coming closer, and he was starting to lose consciousness. He shook his head to clear it, but he could not hold on much longer. The blood from his side had soaked through most of his shirt and jeans and he could feel his strength ebbing. He was so cold. He shook his head one last time before collapsing and sliding unconscious down the wall.
Caine turned to Kermit. “Peter is nearby, but he has lost consciousness. We must move quickly.” Caine followed a path to a dense thicket. “He is here.”
“Where, Caine? In the bushes?”
“There is a cave behind the trees. We must go to him.” Caine entered the mouth of the cave with Kermit trailing closely behind him.
Peter was lying unconscious against the wall of the cave. “Peter!” Caine cried out when he saw his son’s broken body. “Kermit, over here,” Caine commanded.
Kermit raced over to them, and drew in a sudden breath when he saw Peter. Peter was slumped against the wall, ashen from blood loss and dehydration. Caine was taking inventory of Peter’s injuries.
“There is nothing broken, Kermit,” he spoke gravely. “However, the bullet is still in him. It has caused an infection. He is fevered...” Caine looked up at Kermit, and said with a sigh, “We must get the bullet out.”
Kermit, shocked, “ Caine, let’s get him to the hospital. The Corsair’s not that far. Let them take the bullet out.”
Caine shook his head. “No, we must do this. He will not make it to the Corsair. It is too far in his condition. We will take the bullet out, then you must call for...backup?”
“Okay, Caine, what do you want me to do?”
Peter stirred below them in fevered sleep, “Pop?” he cried out.
Caine traced his face gently with his thumb. “You must remain quiet and still, my son.” He comforted the younger man. Caine turned to Kermit. “You will take out the bullet, while I maintain his calmness and strength. But first, I must make a poultice for the wound.” At seeing Kermit’s stunned expression, he replied, “You know what to do, Kermit. If you do not do this... he will die.”
Kermit rolled up his sleeves and began to sterilize his pocketknife, while Caine busied himself mixing the necessary ingredients for the poultice.
Caine’s voice lifted into the cavern. “It is time to begin.”
Karen Simms tried to keep herself busy with the copious amount of paperwork that lay before her. She pushed away the file, disgusted. “I hate waiting,” she scowled. She pushed back her chair and quickly strode across her office, opening the door. “Powell, Skalany, Blake get in here.”
The detectives made their way across the squad room and into her office.
She shut the door with a little more force than was necessary, causing her detectives to flinch at the hollow noise echoing in the small office.
“Sit down,” she commanded. “What did you guys piece together from Peter’s case file?” she asked authoritatively.
Blake took a deep breath and began to fill her in on any and all information gleaned from the files. A quarter of an hour later, she was clearly becoming aggravated.
“Don’t tell me that we are leaving one of my detectives discovered and unprotected. Powell, fire up Kermit’s computer and see if he has any more insight to offer on Peter’s disappearance.”
Jody was shocked. “You want me to access Kermit’s computer? He’ll kill me. He loves that thing almost as much as his gun.”
“Just do it! I’ll handle Kermit when he gets back.” She couldn’t bring herself to verbalize ‘if he comes back.’ She watched Jody cut across the squad room into Kermit’s office. “Blake and Skalany, I want you to go through every scrap of paper we have on this group. See if you can find any place where we might start looking. Cops are not supposed to be missing. Now go.”
They rushed out of the office hoping to find any link to their missing friend.
Kermit’s hands were shaking with the thought of what he must do. “Caine?” he questioned, suddenly unsure of himself. “If I mess up I could...kill him.”
“Yes. You could kill him, but choose the right path and you will save his life. You must do it now. I will hold him and keep him calm,” Caine’s words beckoned him to begin.
Kermit faltered one last time. “Did you give him something for the pain? Will he feel this?”
Caine, caressing his son’s face, stared back at Kermit. “He will feel all, but the pain will be lessened to a degree. I will be sending him my chi to strengthen him in body and spirit.”
Kermit looked positively grim. “So the answer to the question is...never mind.” Upon seeing Caine’s expression, he barked, “I know...I know...I’m stalling. Let’s get started!”
Kermit sterilized his hands and the pocketknife one last time before proceeding. Caine had removed Peter’s shirt as gently as possible, while the younger man made his final preparations.
Kermit held the knife loosely and made the first incision just below the bottom rib on the left side. Peter flinched beneath the quiet assault, but otherwise remained still. His breathing was ragged from the pain, and his heart seemed to be beating outside his chest but maintained a somewhat regular rhythm.
Kermit picked up the tweezers and gently inserted them into Peter’s side digging for the bullet. “Damnit, Caine. I can’t feel it. It must be deeper than we thought. Give me the pocketknife back,” he grumbled.
Caine handed him the knife, which he “expertly” used to cut into the flesh a little deeper. Peter gasped and began to buck as the knife did its damage, but his father held him fast to the ground.
“Okay, I think this is it. Give me the tweezers back. I think the tip of the knife brushed the bullet. Sorry, kid,” he apologized sincerely as he used his arm to wipe the sweat from his forehead.
Kermit re-inserted the tweezers into Peter’s side and felt the skin below flinch with the effort. Seeing tears of pain stream from Peter’s eyes, he exclaimed, “I’m going as fast as I can Peter. Just hold on a little longer. I’ve almost got it.” He grimaced as he tried again to grab the bullet that seemed to taunt him. Kermit spent the next 15 minutes working the bullet up to the surface, as Peter gasped with renewed pain and started to wretch as though he would vomit.
“Oh, don’t do that, kid. Not yet...we’re so close. I just need another minute...almost there...just hold on a little longer.”
“Please...stop...hurts...hurts bad...” Peter begged.
Kermit gritted his teeth with a little extra effort and was rewarded when the tip of the bullet appeared in the incision he had made. Caine was holding Peter down at this point; trying not to injure him as the younger man struggled against him.
“Please...hurts...over...soon,” Peter cried through clenched teeth.
“Almost got it, just give me one more minute. Hang in there, kid!”
Kermit hollered in triumph as the bullet worked free of Peter’s battered body. Caine moved suddenly toward Peter to turn his head so that Peter could empty the meager contents of his stomach. The retching continued for 10 minutes as Peter cried out against the pain in his side. Caine gently caressed his son’s face and hair attempting to quiet him.
“I will care for him. Kermit, you must go get help for my son or he will not survive. I will help you as I am able, but you must leave now.”
Captain Simms stormed out of her office, slamming the door.
“Okay, people, what have we got? And don’t tell me nothing. That is not an acceptable answer,” she commanded.
Jody hollered out from Kermit’s office. “I think I’ve got something. I’m printing it up now.” She grabbed the printout and ran from the office. “Okay, Findlay Enterprises owns about 500 acres of land a couple of hours south of here. We can be there in 30 minutes by chopper. It’s the only lead I’ve found so far. Everything else is small company takeovers or foreign, so it’s our best shot.”
Skalany’s wheels were turning. “Wait a minute. Blake, where did you put that ammo invoice from that gun shop on Market St.” He handed her the invoice. “Look at this. Major Crimes raided this gun shop and confiscated their invoices. This one came up to the file after Peter went deep undercover. Mic Ryan paid the bill. He’s listed on Findlay Enterprises payroll as a consultant. Here’s the interesting part. Mic Ryan’s home address is in a little town called Hampton about 30 miles from that piece of land Jody found. That’s a little bit too coincidental for me.”
“Good work, people. Powell, you coordinate things with the local police from here.
Skalany and Blake, you’re with me. Blake, if you’ve got any long range gizmos you can use to find Peter and Kermit, bring them along. Let’s go. Meet me on the roof in 5 minutes.”
“Yes, captain,” they all replied as they rushed to get their assignments completed.
Kermit made his way through the dense forest slowly but steadily. There were mercs crawling all over the place. ‘This is a regular merc convention,’ he thought to himself. Suddenly Caine’s voice in his head told him to stop and get down. He complied. “Be careful in there Caine. My head is a really scary place to be.”
He resumed his motion and smiled as he tapped the pearl handled Beretta he’d found just outside the mouth of the cave. Peter would be so pleased that the gun wasn’t lost. Maybe he could give an old merc a break for cutting into him.
Peter was groaning more audibly now. Caine attempted to quiet his son again, but he heard noises coming from the mouth of the cave. Stepping into the shadows, quickly but quietly, he waited for the attack he knew was coming.
“There you are, traitor. You’re dead.” Mic raised his gun to fire on the feverish officer.
“I will not allow you to harm my son,” he heard from the shadows. Suddenly, his gun had become too hot to hold, and he was forced to discard it. A few well-placed kicks later, he was lying unconscious on the floor.
Caine bent down to reassure his son that all was well. “Do not worry, my son. Help will be here soon. You must save your strength and rest.” Caine’s gentle voice comforted Peter, and he was soon returned to his fevered mumbling.
Captain Simms burst out onto the roof of the police station to find her people anxiously awaiting her arrival. She smiled inwardly, knowing that these people would go to any lengths to get her missing men back. This unit had a strong protective bond. They watched out for each other. Not for the first time, she thanked the heavens she’d transferred into this department. It gave her the added stability, the family, she had missed all those years since her husband and son left.
“Let’s move it,” she barked climbing into the co-pilot’s seat of the helicopter. She bit her lip as they ascended sharply.
The pilot smiled mischievously. “Don’t worry, Captain Simms. This here’s the Bell 206B. We’ve got surveillance, monitors, searchlights, and floatation devices if needed. We’ll find your missing boys. I’ve been doin’ this for 25 years, ma’am.”
“That’s good to know,” she spoke loudly into the headset, “but save the ma’am until I’m 60!” Turning to the back seat, “Blake, did you find anything that could help our search?”
“Yes, Captain. I brought along the RB007 NV3 Selena...” he began.
“In English, Blake,” Skalany chided, annoyed by his droning on and on when her partner could be dead. ‘No, don’t think that way, Skalany! Peter is not dead!’
Blake nodded sheepishly, “Sorry, they’re night vision goggles that have about an 800 foot resolution, so we’ll have to get in kinda close. But it’s getting dark and I thought they could help us out.”
“Good job, Blake. Let’s get our men,” the Captain exclaimed with more enthusiasm than she was feeling.
Kermit was moving a little faster now. It was getting dark, and he knew it would be more difficult to find his way back to Peter. He was almost to the Corsair. ‘What was that?’ he thought to himself. ‘A chopper, great, that’ll make it a lot easier for them to see me,’ he grumbled.
He made it to the Corsair in record time, but was still worried it might not be fast enough for Peter. The chopper was closing in on his position. “Damnit!” he scowled. “Radio’s dead.” Kermit began scrounging in the trunk of his car for anything that would help Peter. He grabbed a flashlight, a back-up first aid kit, more water and a blanket. He suddenly realized that the chopper was right on top of him. “Not good, I don’t want to lead that chopper back to Peter.”
“We were really hoping you would,” a feminine voice came from behind him.
He whirled, Beretta in hand, to find Captain Simms staring at him amusedly.
“Captain, good to see you again,” he said smiling.
“That’s not your usual weapon of choice, Kermit,” Skalany said worriedly, not wanting to come out and ask if Peter was okay.
“Just a little something I picked up along the way. It’s a nice back-up piece for my own weapon. Don’t worry, the kid’s taken a beating and he’s been shot, but if we get him to help soon he’ll be okay. That kid’s a fighter!”
Peter’s friends glanced at each other relieved.
“Well, Kermit,” the Captain began, “lead the way. Let’s go get our man.”
Peter awoke with a start, coughing painfully. “Pop?”
“I am here, my son,” Caine reassured. “And do NOT call me Pop!” he spoke forcefully.
“How do you feel, my son?”
“You are angry that you allowed this to happen.”
“Yes,” Peter replied tightly.
“Peter,” his father admonished. “These circumstances were beyond your control. You cannot control the actions of others, my son, no matter how good your intentions are. You must learn to accept this to be true if you are to find peace inside yourself.”
Peter nodded in affirmation. “I know, but it’s hard.” He shifted his position, suddenly uncomfortable at the turn of the conversation. It was definitely a mistake. He cried out in pain.
“I’m okay, as long...as I don’t...move much,” he replied through gritting teeth. “That really hurt!”
“Peter, someone is coming. I must move you to a safer place deeper within the cave. This will hurt, my son.”
Peter groaned audibly as his father dragged him to his feet. They paused a moment as Peter fought off a wave of dizziness that threatened to engulf him. His father guided him deeper into the cave and eased him to sit with his back against the wall. Peter began to succumb to the unconsciousness that was calling him.
“Peter, rest while you can. I will see who is coming for us.”
He walked quietly toward the mouth of the cave. Three men with guns had just entered.
“Look in here. He may be using it for shelter. We know he was wounded. He couldn’t have gotten that far,” one of the men commanded the other two.
Caine waited for the men to separate, then keeping himself between these men and his son, he began to take them out systematically. The first intruder was stunned when a roundhouse kick cracked into his solar plexus, leaving him breathless and feeling quite sick. Caine then made his way toward the second intruder.
He took the second unsuspecting man down with a carefully placed punch to the side of the head. The man would not be getting up for awhile. Caine stopped cold when he realized he heard more people coming toward them. He would have to act fast.
He moved toward the back of the cave where he had placed Peter when he heard the click of a gun behind him. He slowly turned to face his attacker.
“You may not have my son,” he factually stated.
The man laughed gutturally with a twinkle in his eyes.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you. He can kill you with one finger,” Kermit said with a smile.
The guy looked at Kermit, with a gun in each hand, and the three other police officers that accompanied him and set his gun on the floor.
“Where’s Peter?” Captain Simms commanded.
“He is here,” Caine stated. “He is wounded badly. We must get him to a hospital. He has a fever. His wound has become infected.”
“Well that makes sense, the longer the bullet stays in him, the sicker he’ll get,” Skalany replied, wishing she could pull her foot out of her mouth.
“The bullet is no longer in him. Kermit removed it before going for help,” Caine replied gently. “My son is strong.”
Captain Simms turned to Kermit with a small smile tugging at her lips. “Very impressive, Detective.”
“What you don’t know about me could fill the Encyclopedia Britannica,” he replied with a smile.
“Kind of a mystery man, huh?” Captain Simms always enjoyed their verbal banter.
“Peter’s over here,” Caine interjected. He led them quickly to the back of the cave.
Peter looked like a ghost wearing flannel. Skalany gasped when she saw how pale he was and the blood staining his shirt and jeans.
“Nice to see you too, Skalany,” Peter replied, his voice an echo of its usual energetic self.
“Peter, we must move you now. They have brought a...helicopter to take you to the hospital. I will help you.”
“I can’t do it, Pop. I’m still dizzy from the last move and that was only a few feet. I’m not gonna make it to some chopper in a field,” Peter argued, unable to face his father.
Caine gently turned Peter’s face to look at him. “I know this is difficult, my son, but you can... do...this. I will help you.”
Peter’s face contorted with pain as Kermit and Caine gently pulled him to his feet. He turned a shade paler as he gasped for air and began retching.
“Peter, remain calm. You are strong and can do this.”
“The room’s spinning too fast, Pop. I’m gonna be sick.” Peter grabbed his head in an effort to stop the spinning as he fell to his knees gagging.
Caine gently stroked the back of his head. “You must focus, Peter, and block everything else out. Remember your lessons, my son,” his father reminded.
Peter took a deep centering breath and pushed himself up to his feet. “Let’s go,” he whispered calmly.
Captain Simms started at the sudden change in her best homicide detective. The pain was still visible in his face, especially his eyes, but it seemed to be more distant than only moments before.
They left the cave and proceeded with as much speed as they dared with an injured man. Blake and Caine were half carrying the young detective as they made their way back to the Corsair. He grew paler as they moved and groaned only occasionally, when jolted from his delirium.
“Get down.” Caine urged the group quietly.
They all took cover as Caine and Blake tried to lower Peter as gently as they could. He landed with a thud and groaned loudly. His fever increased incrementally bringing with it the horrible hallucinations of his past.
“Father, the dragons, they’ve come for me,” he shouted terrified.
“Peter, you must remain quiet or we will be found,” his father chided.
But Peter grew more fearful and restless with each passing moment. He was trying to run away and hide when his father caught him at the neck and sent him quietly into unconsciousness. Caine looked down at his son, suddenly filled with intense anger.
How could these men do this to his son? How could he have allowed it to happen? His anger began to subside as he reminded himself of the lessons he had been trying to teach Peter all these years. Anger is a predator that seeks to remove one from the path of righteousness.
Caine took a deep breath and beckoned them onward, lifting his son as gently as possible onto his shoulder.
They moved forward for what seemed an eternity, dodging several mercs along the way. Peter began to stir and moan in pain at the pressure his father’s shoulder was putting on his wound.
“Kermit, my son needs to rest as do we all. Let us stop here for a few minutes to...catch our breath.” He found a soft patch of grass and lovingly laid his son upon the ground, checking his wound.
“How’s Peter doing, Caine?” Captain Simms spoke as she cast a worried glance at her ace detective.
“He has lost a lot of blood, and his fever continues to rise. We must get him to the hospital soon.” he replied, clearly agitated at his inability to do more for his son.
“Pop?” a weak voice spoke from below. Caine bent low to hear his son’s words.
“What is it, my son?”
“I don’t feel so good, Pop. I hurt...sick...” he started as he tried to make his eyes focus.
“I know, Peter, but you must stay strong. Remember your training at the temple, the lessons of pain control. You must use those lessons, now. They will save you if you let them. You must remember and focus.” Caine took his Peter’s hand in his and infused him with strength from his own chi. “I will help you, but focus.”
Peter looked at his father and gripped his hand tighter as the pain surged through his body. ‘Focus,’ he thought. Taking a deep breath, he worked to form his pain into a tiny ball. The ball he placed in a small box and locked it with a key, which he threw into the water. Water had always been a stable force in his life. His mother was buried near the water. She would keep him safe. He wished he had her picture here to help him focus. The pain was beginning to be subdued. It was present, just not overwhelming. He looked up at his father and smiled.
Caine returned his smile warmly and helped him to his feet.
“How much farther, Kermit?” Captain Simms intruded on the peace.
“Not much, we should be there in about 10 minutes.”
“Excellent, let’s get moving and get the hell out here,” she retorted.
A figure moved off to the left of them. They kept moving as Caine diverted to take out the intruder. Caine walked up slowly behind the man and sent him to slumber with a roundhouse kick to the head. The guy was out cold and wouldn’t be bothering anybody for awhile.
Within minutes, they stepped out into the clearing. Peter stopped dead in his tracks, his eyes wide.
“What...what is that?” he pointed shakily to the helicopter. “I am NOT gettin’ in that thing!”
“Yes...you are.” his father stated with conviction.
“Peter, you will die if you do not get in that helicopter. It makes absolutely no sense to come this far only to have you die because of your fears. You can overcome them.”
“No...not tonight I can’t...” he said shakily.
“Detective Caine, I order you to get on that chopper. Now do it,” Captain Simms commanded fiercely.
Peter moved hesitantly toward the chopper. It wasn’t that he had ever disobeyed a direct order before, he just knew that his father was right. He would die if he didn’t get on that chopper and that was not going to happen to him because of fear. Caine placed an understanding hand on his son’s shoulder. Peter shuddered and climbed up into the chopper. Caine, Captain Simms and Skalany climbed in after him, and Kermit and Blake headed for the Corsair.
The chopper took off while Peter lay in the back with his eyes tightly closed against the reality of what was happening. Peter shifted position, uncomfortable with the distance between him and the ground. He suddenly felt the chopper spinning out of control and was reeling with the pain his movement afforded him.
“Peter, you must calm down. You are starting to panic,” his father’s voice broke through his vertigo.
Peter’s breathing was coming in ragged gasps as he tried in vain to control the fear that was consuming him. He smiled at the merciful blackness that engulfed him into a dreamless sleep.
“Let’s get him into Trauma 1,” the doctor stated hastily. “Come on, move it people.”
They rushed the gurney to a little room at the end of the hall. Caine held his son’s hand as they ran down the hall.
“Sir, you have to let him go now,” the nurse commanded as they flew through the double doors.
“Sir, you have to let us do our jobs to save your son. Please, wait outside.”
She gently took Caine’s hand from his son’s and guided him out of the room.
“You may wait in the room at the end of the hall.”
Caine nodded and made his way to the waiting room. He sat cross-legged on the floor and began to meditate to quiet his disturbed spirit. It was a most difficult task, and his concentration was often waning. Captain Simms walked silently up behind him, not wanting to intrude.
“You do not disturb me, Captain. You worry for my son, as do I. He will be as he is meant to be. We must accept that to be true.”
Captain Simms shuddered as the doctor walked in looking grim.
“Mr. Caine?” The doctor’s quick stride carried him across the room. “I’m Dr. Bentley. Your son has three main strikes against him: blood loss, high fever and dehydration. We are working to remedy those problems. He is young and appears to be in reasonably good shape. This can only help his condition. He’ll be going down to surgery as soon as we get him stabilized. Did you remove the bullet?”
“I did not,” Caine replied factually.
“That was me,” Kermit spoke up quickly.
“Well,” the doctor began, “you probably saved his life. You did a good job with the cutting. Our surgeon was impressed.”
“Yeah, thanks. How is he?”
“As I told Mr. Caine, we are currently trying to stabilize him so we can take him down to surgery.”
“So he’ll be okay?” Skalany asked hesitantly.
“It’s too soon to tell definitively, but I believe he will be fine if we can keep him stabilized,” the doctor replied hopefully.
“Dr. Bentley?” a young nurse asked as she entered the waiting room. “Dr. Bentley, they need you in Trauma Room 1. They’re about to take Mr. Caine down to surgery.”
Turning to Caine, he said, “The nurse will keep you updated on his condition. I must get to my patient.” He turned and walked briskly from the room to attend to Peter.
“What is taking so long?” Kermit groused.
“They must do a good job. Peter will be fine. You must have faith in him. He is strong,” Caine reassured the police officers. Caine reflected for a moment on the faces of his son’s friends. These people risked their lives to get Peter back safely. When he had lost his son, all those years ago, he vowed that he would find the essence that was his son. After many years, he found Peter alive. It was more than he could hope for. Many times since being reunited with his son, he had to face the possibility of losing him again. These men and women stood by his son. They tried to keep him safe. ‘Not an easy task given Peter’s propensity for trouble,’ he thought, smiling.
Caine’s thoughts were interrupted as he felt the nurse coming down the hall. He smiled. Peter made it through the surgery and would be fine. It would be a long road to recovery, given his son’s stubbornness, but he would recover.
The nurse entered the waiting room. “Mr. Caine? Your son is a fighter. He made it through the surgery and will be in recovery for the next hour. We will take you to him when we move him to a private room. Do you need anything?”
“No, I am well. Thank you,” he said, bowing slightly.
Peter awoke with a start. “What...what?” He questioned with hushed hoarse tones. He looked around wildly.
“You are safe, my son. You are in the hospital,” his father’s presence reassured him.
“Thirsty.” Peter croaked.
“Kermit, will you get Peter a glass of water from the table, please?”
“How do you do that, Caine? No. Never mind. I don’t wanna know.” Kermit mused.
Peter tried to sit up in bed to drink the water, but couldn’t move.
“You have been unconscious for more than a day, my son. Your body will not respond immediately. Let me help you.” Caine commanded as he reached gently toward his son. He lifted Peter’s head gently and held the cup to his parched lips. “The doctor has said you may return home in a few days and to work within 2 weeks. I will stay with you until you are well.”
Kermit chided, “You scared the hell out of us, kid.”
“Get...bad guys?” Peter asked hopefully.
“Oh, yeah!” Kermit replied.
Peter smiled and closed his eyes. “Tired...” he said fading quickly.
“You must rest now, Peter.”
Peter nodded and fell into a deep sleep.