Disclaimer: Don't own 'em, would like to. Danny Cunningham is my
character. Please don't use her unless you ask me first, then I'll
Lone Gunmen Headquarters
Takoma Park, Maryland
Byers sat at his desk. He was reviewing the last of the articles before sending them off to print, the one Danny had written about a new type of aromatherapy candles having hallucinogens manufactured into them. He was very impressed by the amount of research and effort that had gone into writing this. She had been a research assistant since joining the team, proving to be thorough and detailed, but this was her time writing an actual story, and it was just what he had expected. It was the work of a person who was as much dedicated to cause of getting the truth out as he and the others were.
Like him and his friends, she had joined their crusade in fighting the government’s exploitations of its people because it had extended into her life in a very personal way. For himself, Langly, and Frohike, it had been because of Susanne Modeski. For Jimmy, it had been because he was nearly set up to be a patsy during an international nerve gas exchange. For Danny, she was carrying on in her father's work after he was killed by the very people he was going to expose. Their different circumstances had brought them together, making them a formidable -
Byers looked up as Danny's voice carried over the entire office. It wasn't so much that she was being loud; it was just that noises tended to echo quite a bit in the warehouse. In addition, it was only seven thirty in the morning. He got up and walked over to the filing cabinets where Danny was. "What's wrong?" he asked. He noticed she was already dressed for the day in jeans and a T- shirt. "And why are you up so early? You usually sleep in after being up so late."
"I was planning to do some research into High-Tech," the redhead replied. "See if I can find anything on how they're planning on using some of their new inventions and who they're selling them to. I needed access codes for certain things, and I told Jimmy to file them under A for ‘Access', but they're not in A. They're in E, for Excess Codes." She slammed the files down on the cabinets. "I've been here for three weeks. I've shown Jimmy the particulars for filing, plus how I wanted certain things filed, and he can't even spell correctly. Jimmy!"
Byers winced. He knew that there was tension between Jimmy and the others, recently Danny, and he wasn't sure what to do about it. He knew that Jimmy was . . . less than capable in a few areas, and he knew this tended to frustrate everyone - including himself - at times. However, he knew that they couldn't kick Jimmy out because he was the only one who funded their paper. He sighed. "Danny, I know that Jimmy frustrates you, but he has a good heart. He's-"
"What the hell is all that racket?" Frohike asked as he came downstairs. A bathrobe was over his nightclothes, and he was followed by a frizzy-haired Langly and a sleepy-eyed Jimmy.
"You know, you can get up at any freakin' hour you want," Langly grumbled. "But you think you could lower the volume while we're trying to sleep?"
"Sorry," Danny replied, not sound the least bit sorry. She held up files. "Jimmy, what are these?"
"They're files," Jimmy yawned.
"And what does that say?" Danny held up one of the files, showing him the label.
Jimmy squinted and read the label. "Excess Codes."
"Do these look like excess codes to you?" Jimmy looked confused. "These are access codes, Jimmy, not excess. For crying out loud, there isn't even such a thing as an excess code, so I don't know how you could have managed to spell that wrong."
"You said excess," Jimmy replied.
"I said access. A-C-C-E-S-S." She slammed the file into his chest. "Fix it. Moreover, stop putting files that start with ‘The' in the T section, okay? Now, when you're done, could you please bring them over to me? I'm going to be working at my computer." She turned and walked away.
"Hope you like what I did to it," Jimmy replied.
Danny stopped and quickly walked back. "What did you do?"
"You know that problem you were having with that one operation."
"The VAC program I installed."
"Yeah. Well, I managed to get fix it. It won't come up anymore."
"You fixed her computer?" Langly asked. "How?"
"Yeah, how?" Frohike repeated.
"Well, there was this one error that kept coming up," Jimmy explained. "Said there was something wrong with some kind of EXE file."
"The central processing unit executable file," Byers nodded.
"Yeah, well, I just went in there and erased that file," Jimmy replied. "Now that error won't come up."
"You erased the CPU.EXE file?" Frohike asked.
"Yeah, why?" Jimmy asked. "You all look like I killed something."
"You killed my computer!" Danny shouted. "You erased everything from my hard drive." She hurried over to her terminal and booted the computer. She groaned as a black screen appeared with the C:/ in the first line and banged her head against her desk. "Jimmy, they're never going to find your remains." She lunged at him, but Frohike, Langly, and Byers prevented her from actually reaching him.
"Danny, calm down," Byers said. "We'll help you fix your computer."
"I have everything already backed up on my zip drive, Byers, but that's not the point. The point is that Jimmy broke one of my rules. Remember what I said about handling my equipment, Jimmy?"
"Don't?" Jimmy suggested, looking hurt.
"Yeah," Danny replied. "I'll be back." She marched off to her room. The men watched her, then looked at Jimmy. He looked crestfallen.
"Sorry," he said.
"Don't worry, Jimmy," Byers replied. "She'll cool down . . . eventually."
"Until then you'd better be sleeping with your bedroom door locked," Frohike replied. "And what the hell's the matter with you anyway, messing with her computer like that?"
"I was just trying to help," Jimmy replied. "I know she's been busy with getting situated and all, and I thought she'd appreciated it."
"Two hours!" Danny shouted from her room. "I spent two hours setting everything up after I installed it!"
"Well, Jimmy, I don't think she appreciated you crashing her entire system," Langly rolled his eyes.
Jimmy sighed as he sat in a nearby stool. "Man."
"What?" Byers asked.
"He's disappointed that his attempts at impressing Danny are flopping," Frohike answered. Byers looked a little shocked at Jimmy.
Langly just snorted. "Impressing Danny?" he asked. "Man, Jimmy, you're wasting your time. I stand a better chance of getting Danny to like me more than you, and I'm not even interested in her."
"You're not interested in any girl," Frohike added. "Unless she's a digital image." Langly just scowled.
"Joke all you want," Jimmy frowned. "So, I may not know as much as you guys do about computers and stuff. Big deal."
"Whoa, take it easy, Jimmy," Byers said. "Look, what you did was with good intentions, and I'm sure Danny will see it like that . . . eventually."
Jimmy grinned. “So, you think I still have a chance?”
Byers cleared his throat as Danny started coming back. “Why don’t you go fix those files, okay?” Jimmy nodded and walked off to the filing cabinets, just as Danny came over. She held a zip disk in her hand, and she inserted it into her drive.
"I know I've only been here a few weeks," she said, typing. "But is there some reason why Jimmy is purposefully trying to bug me?"
"Well, actually," Langly said. "Jimmy has-"
"It's just his way," Byers interrupted. "He's still trying to get adjusted to having you around."
"Well, he'd better adjust quick," Danny replied as she started typing. "Otherwise, I'll tie him to his bedposts."
"He might actually like that," Frohike muttered under his breath.
"What?" Danny asked distractedly.
"Nothing," Byers replied, shooting a look at the older gentleman. "Frohike, Langly, do you mind giving me a hand with some of your articles for the paper?" The trio left and went over to Byers' area.
"Byers, why didn't you let me tell her?" Langly asked. "She has the right to know that Gigantor likes her, you know, give her some kind of warning or something."
"No, she doesn't," Byers replied. "If Jimmy wants to tell her, then that's one thing, but it's not our place to make that decision for him."
"What, you think she actually likes him?" Frohike asked. "Byers, in case you didn't know this, threatening someone with ‘they're never going to find your remains' doesn't usually constitute liking that someone."
“Yeah, and you would know,” Langly smirked.
“Well, at least I’ve actually had girls talk to me,” Frohike replied. “I have yet to see an actual, living, breathing member of the opposite sex actually talk to you.” Langly opened his mouth. “Outside of a computer.” Langly frowned and crossed his arms.
"I know that Danny does not like Jimmy,” Byers said. “She's made that perfectly clear. However, if she finds out that Jimmy does like her, it will create tension, which will force one of them to leave."
"I vote Jimmy," Langly said.
"Ditto," Frohike added.
Byers sighed. "One of them will feel like they've been kicked out. Jimmy or Danny, it doesn't matter. We need both of them, so we're not going to say a word. Agreed?" Frohike and Langly reluctantly nodded. "Good, now let's get to work on the layout."
"So, how was Danny's first article?" Frohike asked.
"Actually, it was quite thorough," Byers replied. "She worked on perfecting it, staying up until one this morning adding the finishing touches." He handed him the article. "None of us would have thought about investigating the possibility of there being manufactured mind-altering chemicals in certain aroma therapy candles. I mean, aside from the normal ones, that is."
"Well, what can you expect from a girl?" Langly asked. "I mean, no offense or anything, but the reason we didn't think about it was because we don't use them and women do."
"Exactly," Byers nodded. "Having her write for the paper has let us expand our investigations."
"How do you think our subscribers will react to it?" Frohike asked. "I mean, it's a good article and we've accepted her into our little club, and they don’t seem to mind her being a research assistant for the paper, but we don't know if they’ll like her being a journalist."
"I think they’ll realize that there are other branches to be investigated," Byers replied. "Our subscribers will understand that you don't have to be a guy in order to be interested in getting the truth out. We’ve seen that with Yves repeatedly." The phone rang suddenly. Langly reached it first.
"Lone Gunmen," he answered. "Yeah, hold on." He covered the received. "Danny! Phone!"
Danny sighed before coming over and grabbing the phone. "Yes?" she asked. "Who is this?" She sighed and frowned. "Okay, Mr. Anonymous, what's up?" She listened as the guys watched her facial expressions change. "Tonight?" A frown. "Where?" Furrowing of the eyebrows and looked serious. "Yeah. Sure." She hung up.
"What was that all about?" Byers asked.
"Some guy wants me to meet him tonight at eight in Franklin Park at the corner of 14th and I," she replied. "He wants to give me some information he says might be vital to our paper. However, there is a catch."
"What?" Frohike asked.
"I have to come alone, or he won't give it."
"Man, if that doesn't sound like a setup, then I don't know what does," Lanlgy rolled his eyes.
"Tell me about it," Danny agreed. "So, what are we going to do about? To be quite honest, I’m kind of curious as to what he might for me.”
“Could be a bullet with your name on it,” Langly replied.
"What's going on?" Jimmy asked as he came over.
"Someone called wanting to meet Danny alone tonight in exchange for some information," Byers replied.
"Are you sure that's a good idea?" Jimmy asked. "I mean, isn't that a little dangerous?"
"Yeah, I have to agree with Jimmy on this one," Frohike said. "For all we know, he could be some spook looking to kill us for blowing the whistle on one of their governmental projects."
“But why not one of you?” Danny asked. “Why me?”
“‘Cause you’re a girl,” Langly replied.
Danny raised an eyebrow. “And what’s that supposed to mean, Langly?”
“No offense, but girls are seen as the weaker sex. They probably think you’re defenseless.”
“Then perhaps I should go,” Danny smiled. “If they try anything, they’re going to be in for a rude awakening, because I am anything but defenseless.”
Jimmy grinned. “I believe her.”
"And isn't danger what we're all about?" Danny asked. "Exposing the truth for the American public? You guys taught me that; you wanted me to work with you guys because of that."
Byers nodded. "Point taken."
"And this would be a good first assignment for me," Danny added. “You can wire me and monitor me from a distance in the van."
"As long as we're there before you," Frohike replied. "Give us a chance to check the place out."
"And how will I get there?"
"You can use my car," Jimmy suggested. "Sort of my way of making up for messing up your computer." He gave her his puppy dog grin.
Danny's expression softened slightly at that innocent smile; it was a powerful weapon. "Fine. So, what are we going to do until then?"
"We have a layout to finish," Byers replied.
"And I have a computer to fix," Danny said. She walked off back to her terminal while Byers, Langly, and Frohike went back to their work with the paper.
"Can I help?" Jimmy asked, following her.
"No," Danny replied curtly as she sat down. Jimmy looked hurt. Danny sighed, feeling a twinge of guilt. "Jimmy, look, I’m sorry I yelled at you like that earlier. You were trying to help me out, and I do appreciate that. Just please ask me next time you want to do something like that, okay?”
Jimmy smiled. “Sure.”
Danny smiled slightly. “You know what you could do for me? I need those files fixed so I can do some research, okay?" Jimmy nodded and left, leaving Danny with her computer. Danny watched him for a few moments and shook her head. Jimmy reminded her of one of those big dogs with lots of cuteness and no brains, the ones that might do stupid things, but they act so loyal and guilt trip you so much by looking so innocent that you have to forgive them for acting stupid. Yep, she thought. Jimmy is definitely that type of person. And it annoyed the hell out of her, because she really enjoyed getting mad at him.
Corner of 14th Street and I Street near Franklin Park
Washington D. C.
It was dark and drizzling slightly as Frohike, Langly, Byers, and Jimmy were in the VW van, parked on the corner near street Franklin Park. Langly was manning the audio and video surveillance with Byers in the back, while Frohike and Jimmy were in the front, keeping a visual on Danny. Frohike peered through the lens of his camera as he focused it on the red-haired woman. She was standing underneath a streetlight, looking at her watch, as she pulled her trench coat tighter around her. She glanced up, looking straight at him as she touched her ear.
“Guys,” she said, her voice crackling slightly, “it’s eight ten. I don’t think he’s going to show up.”
“Give him a few more minutes,” Byers replied through his headset. He suddenly heard shouting. On their camera, they saw Danny turn her head in the direction of the shouting. “Danny?” There was the sound of a gunshot. “Danny, what’s going on?”
“Was that a gunshot?” Jimmy asked.
“Sounded like it,” Byers replied.
“I’ll go check it out.” Danny ran off in the direction of the shot.
“She’s not serious, is she?” Langly asked.
“Shouldn’t we go after her?” Jimmy asked.
“Danny, wait,” Byers said.
“I’ll be back in a minute,” she replied. “Stay put.” She ducked into a nearby alley.
“Danny?” Byers asked through his headset. There was a loud gunshot again, then silence. The guys looked at each other. “Danny?”
“Danny, come in,” Langly said.
“Guys, check it out.” Jimmy looked out the window and pointed. They saw a man rush out of the alley, holding a gun. They couldn’t see his face, but he glanced side to side before running down the sidewalk. Jimmy frowned and reached for the door handle.
“Guys?” Danny’s voice was low.
“Danny?” Langly asked.
Jimmy stopped and turned around. “Is she okay?”
“Is he gone?” Danny asked.
“Danny, are you okay?” Byers asked.
“I’m fine,” Danny replied. “Is he gone?”
“She’s fine,” Byers replied. “Is he gone?”
Frohike looked out and nodded. “Yeah, he’s gone.”
"He's gone," Byers replied. Everyone saw Danny come out of the alley. “You sure you’re okay?”
“Yes, I’m fine,” Danny replied. “However, there is something you should see.”
Frohike reached over and grabbed Byers headset, slipping it on his head. "Danny, what the hell is the matter with you?" he asked. “You nearly got shot.”
"Look, are you guys going to come over hear or not?" Danny asked.
“What are you talking about?” Langly asked.
Danny sighed. “Come here.” The four men looked at each other before hopping out of the van. They hurried over to Danny as she pulled out her earpiece and stuck it in her pocket. Langly noticed blood on her coat.
“You’ve got blood on your coat,” he said.
“It’s not mine,” Danny replied. She turned around and whistled. Out of the shadows nearby came a light-colored Golden Retriever, trailing a leash. He came up to Danny and sat, nuzzling next to her, leaving dark streaks of blood on her coat.
“Someone shot a dog?” Jimmy asked, looking upset.
“No, it’s not his blood either,” Danny replied. She walked into the alley. The others followed. She stopped in front of a trash bin and nodded at something on the ground. The other peeked around and saw a man lying on the ground. He had been shot once in the chest, blood all over his front. Langly started retching and ran out of the alley.
“It’s his,” Byers said.
“What’s with Langly?” Danny asked.
“Hates blood and stuff,” Frohike replied. “So, what happened?”
“I turned into the alley and heard another gunshot,” Danny explained. “So, I duck behind a trash bin. I peek around as the dog comes running down the alley. He sees me and starts licking me. I see the blood and think he’s been shot, so when that man comes running in our direction, I pull the dog over to hide him in the shadows. The guy runs past us, and that’s it. Did any of you see his face?”
“Too many shadows,” Jimmy shrugged. He saw Danny frown as she looked at the dead man’s face. “What?”
Danny turned as they heard police sirens getting closer. “I’ll tell you later.” She grabbed the dog’s leash and walked out of the alley, just as a police car pulled up.
The group had stayed around at the scene until the police left. The dog was laying in the van, his head resting on Danny’s lap as she sat just inside the van’s open door and was petting the dog. The others were gathered around outside.
“So, you think that was the guy who called us?” Langly asked. His face was still a little green, but he appeared stable again.
“Who else would it be?” Byers asked. “However, I’m beginning to doubt his validity. The police found nothing on him, except his wallet.”
“What was his name?” Jimmy asked.
“Michael Reese,” Frohike answered. “Danny, are you sure he wasn’t carrying anything in his hands?”
“Besides a gun, you mean?” Danny gave him a wry look. “No, the only thing he had in his hand was a gun.” She sighed as she rubbed the dog’s head. “And I’m having a weird sense of déjà vu.”
“Why’s that?” Langly asked.
“I know Reese,” Danny replied. “At least, I think I do. I just have this strange feeling that I’ve met him before, but I don’t remember where.”
"Well, if he wanted you to meet him instead of us, maybe he knows you," Byers replied.
Danny shrugged and moved her hand down the dog’s neck. She stopped when she felt a collar and leaned over. “Colbi.” The dog perked up.
“Who’s Colbi?” Langly asked.
“The dog,” Danny replied. “That’s his name, right, Colbi?” Colbi responded by wagging his tail and licking her cheek.
“Speaking of which, what are we going to do with him?” Byers asked.
“Can we keep him?” Jimmy asked as he started scratching Colbi’s fur. “He’s kind of cute.”
“No way,” Frohike said. “It’s bad enough having you around the place, but we are not having a dog.”
“But he has no home,” Jimmy protested. “I mean, his owner was killed. Look at him, he looks so scared.” Everyone looked and saw Colbi licking Danny’s cheek.
“Oh, yeah, he looks really scared,” Frohike replied.
“Does he have any relatives?” Danny asked.
“You mean like puppies?” Jimmy asked.
“Not the dog, Jimmy,” Langly retorted. “She means Reese.” He hopped into the van and started messing around with his computer. In a few minutes, he pulled up some files. “Michael Reese. DOB: 8-4-70. Apartment 3D, Wallace Apartments in Baltimore. No relatives. Used to work at BioElectronics as an engineering assistant, but that was a few years ago. No other employment since then. There could be a connection.”
“Hey, what’s this?” Danny asked, holding up a key.
“Where’d you get that?” Frohike asked.
“It was attached to the dog’s collar,” Danny replied. “It looks like a safety deposit box key, but I can’t be sure until I run it through the system.”
“Langly, you and Frohike go to Reese’s house,” Byers replied. “See if you can find out who he is, and what it was he might have wanted to give Danny.”
“What about BioElectronics?” Frohike asked.
“Let’s see what we can find out from what we have to work on,” Byers said. “If anything comes up that connects to BioElectronics, we’ll look into it.”
“And what about you three?” Langly asked.
“Danny, Jimmy, and I will go back and try to figure out where that key is from,” Byers answered. “It might have something to do with Reese’s death.”
“And Colbi?” Jimmy asked.
Byers looked at the dog then Jimmy, and he sighed. “We’ll take him with us.”
“Alright!” Jimmy grinned.
“Byers,” Frohike replied.
“Just until we can figure out what to do with him,” Byers added. Frohike and Langly looked a little upset but they got into the van and pulled away as Byers, Jimmy, Danny, and Colbi walked over to Jimmy’s car. “Jimmy, how are we going to fit everyone in your car?”
“I’ll sit in the back with Colbi,” Danny replied. “It’ll be a little tight, but we won’t be in there for long.” Byers looked skeptical, but he kept his mouth shut as everyone piled in the car and Jimmy drove off.
1649 14th Avenue, Wallace Apartments
Langly quietly picked at the lock of Apartment 3D's door while Frohike watched. It had been about an hour since the police had left the apartment complex. The two quickly donned their 'funky poaching' gear and made their way inside the building.
"Can't you hurry up?" Frohike whispered. He glanced down the hall as he heard the elevator ping. "Langly, get that door opened, now."
"Almost there," Langly jiggled his device around in the lock. It clicked. "B-I-N-G-O." He opened the door, and the two quickly dove into the apartment and quietly shut the door. They listened as voices passed in the hallway. Then a door opened and shut.
"Okay, let's look around," Frohike said as he switched on his flashlight and swiveled it back and forth. There were papers scattered everywhere, along with a few dog toys.
"Someone's been here," Langly said.
"Question is, who?" Frohike replied.
Langly walked over to Reese's desk on the far side of the living room and sat down. He booted it up while Frohike searched through the papers. Langly bypassed the securities and started searching the files. "Frohike." The older man hurried over. "Two files have been downloaded recently - today, in fact."
"Which ones?" Frohike asked.
"Bionics and Design," Langly replied as he continued to type. "Unfortunately, they've also been deleted from the system, so I can't bring them up."
"Does it say where they were downloaded to?"
Langly typed. "Negatory. The computer's shot." He turned it off, and the two started searching the papers in the room. "So, uh, what do you think about Jimmy and Danny?"
Frohike chuckled. "He doesn't stand a chance. Why? Interested in pursuing her yourself?"
Langly snorted. "Danny's nice, but we have nothing in common. Besides, she's not my type."
"Well, don't worry, you're not hers, either," Frohike smirked. He caught the blinking of the answering machine out of the corner of his eye. He went over and pressed the Play button.
Beep. "Mike, it's Gary," an urgent voice said. "We need to talk about Colbi. Call me as soon as you get this message."
"Why would someone be calling about a dog?" Langly asked.
"Who cares?" Frohike shrugged. They continued looking around the room. After awhile, they came up with nothing.
"Okay, this is pointless," Langly replied. "Either the police took what we were looking for, or the guy who killed Reese did. Either way, we're wasting our time. I say we split."
"Yeah, maybe Byers and Danny figured out where that key came from," Frohike said. The two quickly and quietly made their way out of the apartment and down the stairs. It wasn't until they were outside at the van that Frohike's phone rang. "Yeah," he answered. He sighed and rolled his eyes. "Sure." He hung up.
"What?" Langly asked as they got in the van.
"Danny asked if we could pick up some dog food for the dog on our way back."
Langly sighed. "Man, we are not keeping that dog."
"I don't know," Frohike replied as he started the engine. "Danny's kind of taking a shine to him."
"Well, then I think Jimmy's going to have some competition for Danny's attention," Langly smirked as they drove off. Frohike just chuckled.
Back at the warehouse, Jimmy was keeping Colbi occupied near the television while Danny and Byers were at Danny's computer. She had scanned the key into the system and was running its make and the number on it through all the databases she knew. Now they were just waiting.
"So, you have no memory about where you might have met this Reese?" Byers asked.
"I do, but I can't remember," Danny replied. "It's frustrating." She saw Colbi trot over to her and lay his head in her lap. She started petting him as Jimmy came over. "So, what are we going to do about him?"
"Why can't we keep him?" Jimmy asked.
"Jimmy, it would be wrong to keep a dog like him cooped up in here," Byers replied. "He deserves to be with a family that lives in a roomier space than this." The front buzzer sound. Jimmy looked a little disappointed as he answered the door. Frohike and Langly are standing on the other side, holding dog food cans and a bag of kibble.
"You owe me ten dollars," Frohike said to Danny as they came in. He handed the bag to Jimmy. "Here, you feed him." Langly handed over the cans of food, and Jimmy walked to the kitchen.
"Colbi," he called over his shoulder. He put the stuff on the table and looked back. Colbi still had his head on Danny's lap. Jimmy frowned and got down on one knee. "Here, boy!" Colbi just whined and looked up at Danny with his brown eyes.
Danny smiled. "Go eat," she said. Colbi took off to the kitchen, and Jimmy looked around for dishes to serve as food and water bowls.
"How did you do that?" Langly asked.
"I had a dog when I was younger. So, any luck at Reese's place?"
"Nothing much," Frohike replied. "Langly came across two files from his computer that had been downloaded and deleted. Other than that, nothing."
"What were the files?" Byers asked as Jimmy came back over.
"Bionics and Design," Langly replied.
"Did you say Bionics?" Danny asked.
Danny snapped her fingers. "Of course, that's where I know him from. "I saw Michael Reese a few years back when I was working at High-Tech."
"He worked there?" Frohike asked.
"No. He was talking with some of my supervisors about getting a grant for doing work on bionic research. They refused, and Reese left; I never saw him again."
"That could explain why he wanted to meet with you," Byers replied. "He might have remembered you working there."
"Did he say what type of bionic research he was working on?" Frohike asked.
Danny shook his head. "I assume it was for human research, but I can't be sure."
"Bionics?" Jimmy asked. "Like in the Six-Million Dollar Man?"
"Possibly," Danny replied. "Wasn't there actually a real bionic man in the sixties? Oh, what was his name . . . Kokusai Omocha, wasn't it?"
"If you believed the rumors," Langly shrugged.
"Rumors?" Jimmy asked.
"According the stories," Byers replied, "Omocha was in a fighter plane crash in 1964, and became a test subject. It took the government over \$50 million dollars to fix him. He had a bionic eye, enabling him to see in complete darkness, a counterweighted titanium frame was placed in his arm. It had an intricate pulley system capable of lifting over 2,500 pounds and having the ability to smash through doors, or pick up motorcycles with his bare hands."
"He also had bionic legs, containing ratcheted springs that enabled him to jump up to 30 feet into the air," Langly added. "If the rumors are true."
"So, what happened to him?" Jimmy asked.
"No one knows," Frohike answered. "Nothing was ever mentioned about him after 1968."
"Man, could you imagine having those powers?" Jimmy grinned. "That'd be cool."
"Actually, it would be dangerous, Jimmy," Byers replied. "If that kind of technology existed, and it fell into the wrong hands, it would be disastrous."
"Governments could create super-human soldiers," Frohike said.
"Total assault of the earth," Langly added.
"In short, bad idea," Danny replied. Her computer started bleeping. She pulled up a window and smiled. "Gentlemen, we have a match." She started typing. "Maryland National Bank in Baltimore. Apparently, Reese opened a safety deposit box there . . . today, in fact. Huh. Think it has anything to do with his death?"
"Possibly," Byers said. He looked at his watch. "We'll go there first thing in the morning." Colbi came trotting up to the group, whining.
"What's with him?" Frohike asked.
"He needs to be taken out," Danny replied. She held up Colbi's leash. "Any volunteers?"
"I'll do it," Jimmy said. He took the offered leash and walked over to the front door. "Come on, Colbi." The dog just sat down, his tongue hanging out of his mouth. Jimmy knelt down. "Here, Colbi!" Colbi charged Jimmy, tail wagging and barking. He jumped on Jimmy with his front paws, slamming his back into the front door. He lay on the floor, the wind knocked out of him. "Ow."
"Jimmy, are you okay?" Byers asked as the four hurried over and helped him to his feet.
"Yeah," Jimmy replied as he rubbed his stomach. "Felt like I was getting tackled by a linebacker." He looked down at Colbi, who was still wagging his tail.
"You sure you're okay?" Danny asked. She noticed Jimmy looked a little shaken up.
"Yeah, I'll be fine," Jimmy replied. He slowly put Colbi's leash on and opened the door. He limped out and shut the door behind him.
"Okay, that was truly sad," Frohike said. He yawned. "I'm going to sleep." He walked toward the stairs. Langly and Byers were right behind him.
Danny went over to her terminal and shut down the system. She went around, making sure everything was put away for the night. She finished just as Jimmy and Colbi came back. Jimmy took off Colbi's leash and locked the door as the dog trotted over to Danny.
"You sure you're okay, Jimmy?" Danny asked as Jimmy came over. “That looked like it kind of smarted.”
"I'll be fine," Jimmy replied, smiling. He rubbed his stomach slightly. "Just a little sore. You know, I had a dog once myself. His name was Butch."
"What kind of dog was he?"
"A German Shepherd." He chuckled. "Man, I loved that dog."
Danny smiled. "I had a Rottweiler. His name was Luke. He died when I was ten." She looked almost sad as she scratched Colbi's head.
“You miss him?”
“Yeah. He was dying from cancer, and my father knew the best thing for him was to put him to sleep. I hated him for so long until I realized exactly why he did it.”
“Butch just died of old age.” He scratched Colbi’s head. “Man, I really wish we could keep Colbi.”
"Ditto. I mean, I know he doesn't belong here, but . . . I don't know. I've always had a soft spot for dogs." She yawned. "Well, better get some sleep."
"Can he stay in my room?" Jimmy asked.
"If he wants to," Danny replied. She looked down at the dog. "What do you say, boy?" Colbi barked softly. "I think that's a yes."
"Cool," Jimmy scratched the dog's head. He looked up as Danny walked to her room. "Danny."
The redhead turned around. "Yes?"
"I'm glad you didn't get shot in the alley."
Danny smiled. "Goodnight, Jimmy." She walked to her bedroom and shut the door behind her.
Jimmy grinned and looked down. Colbi was looking at him. "I think she's starting to like me." He led Colbi upstairs to his room.
Danny and Frohike were in the kitchen when everyone else ventured in. It had become almost a regular occurrence among them since Danny joined the team. Frohike had always liked cooking for everyone, so he didn’t mind it when Danny started helping. It gave him someone to swap recipes with - Danny having studied cooking over in France and Italy. It also meant that he would have someone who would defend him when he wanted to try anything with weird-sounding names, like Sogliola alla fiorentina (Florentine-style sole), and not tease him the way Langly - and sometimes Jimmy - would. This morning, both cooks were making ‘Brighten-up Hobo Breakfast’, which Frohike had found on the Internet. It had been originally designed for use with a Dutch oven, but Danny showed him a way to get around that.
Jimmy was the last one in. He put food in Colbi’s dish, then walked over to the coffee pot to get himself a cup. Cobli was behind him, and he went over to his water bowl before eating his kibble. Langly and Byers were already up and eating. Frohike set a plate at Jimmy’s place, and soon all of them were eating.
“Jimmy, are you okay?” Byers asked, noticing that Jimmy was moving slower than usual.
“He’s just sore that a dog knocked him over,” Langly said, grinning around a mouthful of potatoes and eggs.
“Actually, I am sore, Langly,” Jimmy tenderly rubbed his stomach. “I have a bruise there, and it hurts.”
“Seriously?” Frohike asked. Jimmy nodded.
“Prove it,” Langly said.
Jimmy glanced at Danny and blushed. “Well, actually, it’s . . .”
Danny rolled her eyes. “Fine. I’ll leave.” She got up from the table and left.
“A little shy, are we?” Frohike smiled. Jimmy ignored him and pulled up his shirt. The guys leaned over and saw the bruise on the right side of Jimmy’s stomach area. “Ooh, you weren’t kidding, were you?”
“Are you sure you didn’t fall down or hit something hard?” Byers asked.
Jimmy lowered his shirt. “Nope. The only thing way I could have gotten it is from Colbi jumping on me.” He shrugged. “They weren’t kidding about that dog food, were they?”
“What?” Langly asked.
“You know that one commercial where the owner is coming home and his dog runs out really fast and knocks him down, and then the person says, ‘must be the dog chow’.”
“Don’t tell me you actually believe that commercial,” Frohike said.
“They couldn’t put it on television if it wasn’t true, right?” Jimmy asked. The Lone Gunmen looked at each other.
“Can I come back in?” Danny shouted.
“Yeah,” Frohike replied.
Danny came back in. “So, what’s the verdict?”
“He has a bruise,” Byers replied. “Danny, you said that you had a dog once, right?”
“Isn’t it true that dogs sometimes get a little rough and can cause injuries to their owners while they’re playing?”
“Of course,” Danny replied. “Luke - my dog - was pretty big, and I can’t recall all the times that he gave me bruises when we were playing, just because he was a large dog.”
“Well, there you have it,” Langly said. “Jimmy got the bruises from Colbi.”
“Like I said,” Jimmy added.
“Anyway,” Frohike said. “We need to go see if Reese had anything in that safety deposit box.”
“Jimmy, you’d better stay here,” Byers said.
“Aw, man,” Jimmy replied.
“You’re injured, Jimmy,” Byers said. “Besides, someone needs to look after Colbi.”
“You sure you want Jimmy doing that?” Langly asked. Byers shot a look at Langly. “Okay, just asking. Jeez, don’t have a coronary.” The rest of the meal was in silence.
Maryland National Bank
Langly walked into the lobby of the bank and looked around. This place was bigger than he first thought. People were milling about, standing in teller lines or talking with other people at desks. “Man, it’s a zoo in here,” he spoke softly into the microphone on his jacket collar. Outside in the VW van, Danny, Frohike, and Byers were in the back seat of the van, hooked up to headsets. Byers was at one of the terminals, looking at Reese’s bank records he had pulled up.
“Ask someone about who’s in charge of the safety deposit boxes,” Danny replied.
Langly walked up to a woman who was sitting at a desk. “Excuse me,” he said. The woman looked up. “Who’s in charge of the safety deposit boxes?”
“Beverly Wilson,” the woman replied. “She’s over on the other side, right near that column.” She pointed behind him. Langly looked over to where she was pointing and saw a desk with the nameplate ‘Beverly Wilson’ on it. Even though there was no one there, he walked over and stood near the desk.
“Langly, what’s going on?” Byers asked.
“No one’s here,” he whispered.
“May I help you?” Langly turned around and saw an older woman walk up to the desk.
“Yeah, I’m here about a safety deposit box,” Langly said.
“Well, my name is Beverly Wilson,” Wilson said as she went around to her side of the desk. “Do you already own one?”
“Michael Reese,” Langly said.
Wilson went to a nearby filing cabinet. She pulled out a file and sat in her chair. “Well, Mr. Reese, I just need to verify some information. Do you have an ID?”
Langly gulped. “ID?” he asked.
“Yes, an ID. Otherwise, you can just tell me your address, date of birth, and social security.”
“Oh.” Langly’s heart stopped pounding. “I was born on - ”
“August 4, 1970,” Byers voice said.
“August 4, 1970,” Langly replied. “My address is - ”
“1649 14th Avenue, Apartment 3D, Baltimore,” Byers said.
“1649 14th Avenue, Apartment 3D, Baltimore,” Langly repeated. “And my social security number is-” Suddenly, loud static filled his hear. He jumped up. “Ow!”
In the van, everyone winced and took off their headsets. “What happened?” Danny asked, rubbing her ear.
“There’s interference,” Frohike said. He looked out the windshield, but there were a lot of people around, some talking on cell phones. He sighed. “Great. Cell phones everywhere. Perfect.”
“Langly, can you hear us?” Byers spoke into his mouthpiece. “Langly.” Danny looked at the information then opened the side door. “Danny, where are you going?”
“To prevent Langly from getting his butt fried,” Danny replied. She shut the door and hurried inside the bank.
Everyone in the bank stopped and looked at Langly. He cleared his throat as he glanced at Wilson. “Um . . . earache.”
“Mike!” Langly looked up as Danny hurried over to him. She planted a kiss full on his lips. “Oh, what are you doing back so soon?”
“And you are?” Wilson asked.
“I’m his girlfriend,” Danny replied. She smiled at Langly. “Oh, it’s good to see you.” She hugged him tightly.
“What are you doing?” Langly hissed.
“Saving your butt,” Danny whispered. “557491379.”
“Mr. Reese, I need your social security number, please,” Wilson said.
“It’s 557491379,” Langly said.
Wilson looked at the information then nodded and stood up. “Okay, Mr. Reese, please follow me.” She walked to the vault, followed by Langly and Danny. She found the right box and put her key in the first keyhole. Langly took the key Danny had found out of his pocket and put it in the second keyhole. Wilson pulled out the box and handed it to Langly. “There you go, Mr. Reese.” Langly put the box on a nearby metal table. “Is there anything else I can do for you?”
“You can leave, you old bag,” Langly said as he opened the box.
“Well, I never,” Wilson frowned as she marched out.
“Nice going, Langly,” Danny said as she rolled her eyes. She leaned over and looked inside the box. Inside were a bunch of receipts and a plastic container with a CD in it.
“Wonder what’s on here,” Langly said as he picked it up.
Danny picked up the papers and started going through them. “A receipt for shipment of titanium plating, another one for wires, some computer chips and circuits. All sent to Reese’s address. And -” She whistled. “And a copy of a two-million dollar check made out by a Dr. Gary Walker.”
“Did you say Gary Walker?” Langly asked.
“Yeah, you know him?” Danny looked up.
“No, but last night when Frohike and I were at Reese’s place, there was a message on the answering machine from a Gary. Could be the same person.”
“Well, we’ll check it out when we go home,” Danny said. “There’s more than enough stuff to investigate here.” They gathered up all the stuff and walked out. They left the bank and walked over to the van. Langly pounded on it, and the side door was opened by Byers.
“You know, you guys nearly fried my eardrum,” Langly said as he and Danny hopped in. “What happened?”
“Interference,” Frohike replied from the driver’s seat.
“Were you able to get to the deposit box?” Byers asked as they drove away.
“With my help,” Danny replied. “And don’t thank me or anything, Langly.”
Byers frowned a little as he peered at Langly’s face. “Why are you wearing lipstick, Langly?” Frohike looked in the rearview mirror.
“Because I kissed him,” Danny replied. She noticed Byers’ and Frohike’s expressions. “I was pretending to be his girlfriend so I could intervene with the information.”
“Well, for Danny’s sake, I hope you got something worthwhile,” Frohike said. “I’d hate to think she kissed you for nothing, Langly.”
Langly glared at Frohike. “We hit pay dirt. There were all these receipts and stuff in the box.”
“Anything interesting?” Frohike asked from the driver’s seat.
“Well, there was a copy of a check made out to him by a Dr. Gary Walker,” Danny said. “For two million dollars. Langly thinks it might be the same person who called Reese yesterday. Furthermore, there are a bunch of receipts for orders of titanium plating, electrical wires, computers circuits, and such.”
“And a CD,” Langly added. “Could be some juicy stuff on here.”
“Sounds like he was trying to build those bionic implants,” Frohike said.
“That still doesn’t explain why someone would kill him,” Langly replied.
“Maybe it was someone who didn’t want him to build it,” Danny suggested.
“Or maybe he did, and someone wanted the design badly enough to kill for it,” Byers said.
When they parked the van near the warehouse they saw Yves’ car nearby. The four walked down the stairs, and Byers rang the buzzer. After a few moments Jimmy opened the door.
“Guess who’s here?” he asked as they walked in.
The four saw Yves sitting on the couch scratching Colbi’s head. She stood up. “Well, it’s good to see that Danny appears to still be in one piece,” she said. “I’m surprised.”
“Yves, what are you doing here?” Frohike asked.
“No doubt working on the same thing you are,” Yves replied. “Bionic research and murder.”
“Who hired you?” Byers asked.
“A Doctor Gary Walker,” Yves answered. “For two million dollars, all I have to do is find Resse’s research. I heard you five started investigating this, so I came over to see what you knew about this.”
“Why, so you can take the glory and split with the money?” Langly asked. “No freakin’ way.”
“Did you say Gary Walker?” Danny asked.
“Yes, he’s doing some contract work at BioElectronics in Westminster” Yves replied. “He’s also a local veterinarian, so I’m not sure exactly what his business is with BioElectronics. Why, do you know him?”
“He called Reese’s place last night,” Frohike said. “It just doesn’t make sense. A local veterinarian works for a big company like BioElectronics. He calls Reese the same day he’s killed.”
“There has to be a connection,” Byers said.
“I’ll see if I can find it,” Danny replied. She went over to her computer and started typing.
“What’s all that stuff?” Yves nodded at the papers and CD in Langly’s hand.
“It was in Reese’s safety deposit box,” Frohike said. “Receipts for what appears to be bionic implant manufacturing. Did Walker ever mention his connection with Reese?”
“No,” Yves replied. “However, I learned that Reese also worked at BioElectronics a few years ago, but that was a few years ago and there wasn’t anything on his research. Walker only started there last year.”
“He’s Colbi’s vet, actually,” Danny said as she came over. “I just checked Walker’s business records, and Colbi is a patient.”
“Maybe that’s why he called Reese yesterday,” Jimmy suggested.
“We should still talk to him,” Byers replied.
“I’ll go,” Yves said. “Walker knows me.”
“Not by yourself,” Frohike said.
“I’ll go with her,” Danny replied.
Byers nodded. “Okay. We’ll stay here and figure out what’s on this CD.”
“Danny,” Yves said. Danny and Yves walked out of the warehouse.
Walker Veterinarian Hospital, 1455 Columbia Rd. NW
Yves turned her car onto Columbia Rd. NW, and saw an ambulance and some police cars around the Walker Veterinarian Hospital. They pulled up on the other side of the street and got out. Danny flagged over a police officer.
“What happened?” she asked.
“Vet was shot,” the officer replied.
Yves looked over and saw the medics wheeling out a man on a stretcher. “Danny, it’s Walker.”
Danny looked over. “Great,” she whispered.
Yves walked over to a woman dressed in scrubs talking with a police officer. “And he just pulled out a gun and shot him,” she cried softly.
“Thanks, ma’am,” the officer said before leaving.
“Excuse me, do you work for Dr. Walker?” Yves asked.
“Are you a reporter?” the nurse asked.
“We’re with the FBI,” Danny replied as she walked over. Yves shot her a look. Danny shrugged slightly.
“Why would you be interested in this?” the nurse asked.
“We’re investigating one of Walker’s clients, Yves said, “and thought that Dr. Walker could give us some information about him.”
“I could probably help,” the nurse said. “Who’s the person?”
“His name is Michael Reese,” Danny said. “He has a Golden Retriever named - ”
“Cobi,” the nurse interrupted. “Yes, I know Micheal. He’s not in any trouble, is he?”
“He’s dead, I’m afraid,” Yves replied. “What do you know about Mr. Reese. Anything that could help up.”
“Actually, I know more about Colbi than anything,” the nurse replied. “It’s even a miracle he survived.”
“What do you mean?”
“Colbi was just a couple of years old when it happened,” the nurse explained. “A car hit him, causing a lot of damage; almost all the bones in his left legs were shattered. We didn’t think that he would ever be able to walk again, but he pulled through and made a full recovery.”
“You seem a little bothered by this,” Yves said. “Why?”
“Well, Michael changed his name, for one thing,” the nurse replied. “Colbi’s name used to be Hank before the accident. After he recovered, Michael changed it to Colbi, but he never explained why, and I never asked, and then there were the X-rays.”
“What X-rays?” Yves asked.
“Colbi’s. Gary kept those in his office; I never saw them.” She sighed. “I can’t believe this is happening. First, the break in, and now this.”
“What break in?” Danny asked.
“Someone broke into the office two nights ago, but nothing was missing. Gary didn’t even call the police, even though he looked upset. I told him he should have, but he kept insisting it wasn’t worth it.”
Danny noticed a cop looking at them oddly. “Thank you for your help,” she said quickly. “If we have any questions, we’ll let you know.” She pulled Yves away from the nurse, and the two started walking back to Yves’ car.
“FBI?” Yves asked.
“I panicked,” Danny replied. They got into the car. “Besides, I think I finally know what’s going on.” She pulled out her phone and dialed Headquarters.
“Lone Gunman,” Frohike answered.
“It’s Danny,” the red-head said. “Guess what? Walker’s been shot.”
“Is he dead?” Frohike asked.
“He didn’t appear to be, but I have a feeling I think I know who did it.”
“Our friend in the alley.”
“Bingo. Yves and I are on our way back now.”
“Did you find out anything?”
“Oh, yeah, but I think it would be best for me to tell you in person. Have you figured out what’s on that disk yet?”
“Langly’s still working on it.”
“Keep working on that disk.” Danny hung up.
“You have a theory?” Yves asked as she started the car.
“Yeah,” Danny replied as she put her phone away. Yves drove off.
Frohike walked back to Langly’s terminal, where Byers and Jimmy were waiting. Colbi was lying near the couch, sleeping.
“Who was on the phone?” Byers asked.
“Danny,” Frohike replied. “Walker’s been shot, but he’s still alive.”
“You think it was the same person who killed Reese?” Langly asked.
“Danny seems to think so,” Frohike said. “She and Yves are on their way back.”
Langly’s computer started bleeping and showed a list of files. “Gentlemen, we have liftoff.” He nodded. “Design and Bionics. Reese must have downloaded and erased the files himself.” He clicked on one of Design, opening the file. Everyone leaned over and started reading the contents.
“Reese apparently had been working on a project called Canine Operative Living Bionics Implants,” Byers said.
“Otherwise known as C.O.L.B.I.,” Frohike added. “Well, that could explain why Walker gave him all that money; Walker was interested in making canine implants.”
“It says here he completed the design over a year ago, and was just waiting for the proper moment,” Byers skimmed part of the file. “After it arrived, the results appeared to be very successful. Well, at least we know that the implants were successful.”
“But that doesn’t explain where the design is,” Langly said.
“Or why he would name it after his dog,” Jimmy added.
“What are you talking about?” Langly asked.
“C.O.L.B.I. spells Colbi,” Jimmy replied. “Like the dog’s name.” The three gunmen looked at each other.
“If that’s true, then that means the design is in the dog?” Langly asked. Everyone looked over at Colbi.
“There’s one way to find out,” Frohike said. He went to one of the shelves and pulled out a handheld metal detector. “Colbi.” The dog perked up. “Come here, boy.” Colbi trotted over to him. Frohike waved the wand around the dog’s body. It started beeping loudly on Colbi’s left side, especially around his legs. “As I live and breathe.”
“The dog’s bionic?” Jimmy asked.
“Apparently,” Byers answered. “And that would explain why Reese brought Colbi with him to the alley. He was planning on giving him to Danny. He was the information.”
“And that could be why he was able to knock Jimmy over,” Langly added. “And give him that bruise on his stomach.”
“And someone knew about it and that Walker was involved,” Frohike replied. “That’s why the person was after him.” The front door buzzed. Frohike went over and saw Yves and Danny on the monitor. He opened it.
“We think we know what’s going on,” Danny said as the others came over.
“We opened the CD,” Langly said. “Reese built a bionic system and - ”
“And put it in Colbi,” Yves finished. “We know.”
“How?” Byers asked.
“We talked with one of the nurses at Walker’s office,” Danny explained. “Colbi was in an accident over a year ago; his left legs were shattered. Now, either Reese told Walker what he wanted to do, or Walker found out about Reese's research. Either way, they got together and put in the bionic implants in Colbi. That explains everything.”
“Except who the killer is,” Byers replied. “I think it’s about time that we talked with Walker.”
“Except that he’s in the hospital,” Yves replied. “However, that’s never stopped us before.” She turned and opened the door. There was a man standing there. “Can we help you?”
The man responded by pulling a gun on them. Yves backed up as he came in. Everyone raised their hands. “Where’s the dog?”
“You killed Reese, didn’t you,” Danny said.
The man shrugged. “It wasn’t intentional. If he had just given me Colbi-”
“How did you even know about Colbi?” Byers asked.
“It was quite by accident, actually,” the man answered. “My cat is one of Walker’s patients. A few months ago, I heard Walker and Reese talking about Colbi and his miraculous recovery. One of the nurses told me the whole story. I was curious, so I did some research, and found out that Reese used to work at BioElectronics, in the same department I’m currently in. Walker was doing some contract work for us on domestic animals, and one night last week I saw him working on something with Colbi’s name on it. So, I decided to do some further investigating.”
“You were responsible for breaking into Walker’s office two nights ago,” Yves said.
“I did, and I found Colbi’s X-rays. I thought I was hallucinating at first, but there it was, showing all the implants in Colbi’s left legs. So, I followed Reese, and when he went to the alley last night, I demanded that he give me the dog. He refused, and I shot him.”
“How did you find us?”
The man looked at Danny. “I saw her take Colbi away last night. I figured she was with Walker, so I went to his place. He didn’t know what I was talking about. Then she showed up at his office, and I followed her back here. Now, where’s Colbi?”
“Why do you want him?” Jimmy asked.
“Are you kidding?” the man answered. “Could you imagine the money that people would pay for this, for both animal and human implants?”
“And you’re planning on killing all of us?” Danny asked.
“Why not?” the man asked.
“Because I see one flaw in your plan, and he’s about ready to rip your throat out.”
The man turned to his left as Colbi came running up, growling and snarling. He jumped on him, knocking him to the ground. Everyone watched Colbi bite and tear at the man as he writhed and shouted. Then there was a loud gunshot. Colbi yelped. The group didn’t waste any time and hurried over as the man pushed Colbi off to his side. There was blood on his shirt. Jimmy and Danny went over to Colbi as the others restrained the man and got his gun away from him. They looked over at Jimmy and Danny.
Colbi was laying on his side, his front covered in blood. He was whining softly, his eyes barely open, as he held out one paw. Danny took it and Jimmy tried to stop the bleeding, but it was in vain. Colbi slowly closed his eyes. Danny let go of Colb's paw and it fell limply to his side.
Jimmy sighed. "Oh, man," he whispered softly. He looked at Danny and saw tears welling up in her eyes. Jimmy looked at the man that the others were restraining, and his expression slowly turned to anger as he stood up. "Why did you have to shoot him?" He started over, but Danny stopped him.
"Jimmy, don't," she said as she stood up. "He's not worth it. I'm going to call the police." She walked off toward the phone.
Montgomery General Hospital
Byers, Langly, Frohike, and Yves walked down the corridor to Walker's room. It hadn't been too long after the man - Robert Davis - had been arrested and taken away. The police had gone, and the group had gone to the hospital to talk with Walker, save for Jimmy and Danny, who stayed behind to take care of the arrangements for Colbi. It was after hours, but that didn't deter the groups. They turned the corner and stopped. There were a few nurses hanging around the desk.
"Langly, we need a distraction," Byers said.
"Why me?" Langly asked.
"Just do it," Frohike replied.
Langly sighed and turned the corner. The others peeked around and saw him walking down the hall toward the desk. "Hey, can I get some help around here?" While he distracted the nurses, the group sneaked down the corridor until they came to Walker's room. Yves opened the door and they all went in.
"Who's there?" Walker groggily mumbled from his bed.
"It's me," Yves replied. "You hired me to find Reese's research."
"Oh, yeah," Walker said as he slowly sat up. "Did you find it?"
"Do you know a Robert Davis?" Byers asked.
"Yeah, he's one of my clients," Walker replied. "Well, until he shot me."
"Did you know he works for BioElectronics?" Yves asked.
"Or that he's responsible for killing both Reese and his dog?" Frohike added.
Walker sighed. "Colbi's dead?"
"He died protecting us," Byers said. "Did you know that Davis was after him. Is that why you called Reese yesterday?"
"I called Reese to let him know that Colbi was dying."
"What do you mean?" Frohike asked.
"The electrical wiring that surrounded an area of the titamium plating that Mike used for the implants was dissolving the titanium in one area. Colbi was slowly being poisoned, and there was nothing I could do to reverse it. Taking out the implants would have killed Colbi." He took a deep breath. "Look, with Mike and Colbi dead, would it be possible to get Colbi back? I want to figure out a way to perfect the implants so another animal won't be poisoned. I'll pay you double what I originally offered."
"Well, then," Yves smiled. "You've got-"
"I don't think that's going to be possible," Byers interrupted.
"Why not?" Yves asked.
"I agree with Byers, Yves," Frohike said. "We've seen what people would do for this technology; we nearly got killed for it ourselves." He turned to Walker. "Sorry, but we're not giving Colbi back." Yves frowned and stormed out of the room.
"You're willing to waste all that effort and research?" Walker asked.
"Yes," Byers replied.
"I will find you once I'm better," Walker said. "I will call the police, if I have to."
"And what are you going to tell them?" Frohike asked. "That you want your bionic dog back? Yeah, they'll believe you alright."
Walker scowled. "Get out of my room," he said. Byers and Frohike left. Yves was waiting outside, looking upset.
Langly looked up and saw his friends in the corridor. "Nevermind," he said. He hurried over to them and they hurried to the elevators before the nurses could call security.
"What the hell was that about?" Yves exploded as they rode down.
"Yves, the world isn't ready for that kind of technology," Byers said. "Reese and Colbi were killed, and Walker and us were nearly killed. Besides, in the wrong hands, liks Davis', it would be dangerous."
"So, what do you plan on doing with Colbi?" Yves asked.
"Jimmy and Danny will take care of that," Frohike replied. The elevator doors opened. Yves left them and marched out of the front doors. The three followed and saw Yves drive off in her car. The three just looked at each other and shrugged as they got into their van.
Three Days Later . . .
Jimmy wandered into the kitchen and saw Danny at the table. She was staring numbly at the wall, slowly sipping a glass of water. It had been two days since they cremated Colbi, scattering his ashes in Franklin Park. They had packed away his implants, storing them in a backroom of the warehouse, before writing up the story - which was the first story that carried all their names on it. Despite that, Jimmy was sad about the loss of Colbi. It was like losing Butch all over again, and he knew Danny was probably feeling the same way.
"Danny, you okay?" he asked.
"Yeah," Danny mumbled.
Jimmy looked less than convinced. "Yeah right. You know, you've hardly eaten anything since Colbi died."
"I'll be fine, Jimmy, really."
"You know what you need? A good, hot meal." He jumped up, went to the refrigerator, and started taking out eggs and other things. "I'm going to make you an omlet."
"You know how to?" Danny asked, a smiling playing on her face for the first time in three days.
"Sure, how hard can it be?" He pulled a bowl out of the cabinet, broke some eggs in it, and started mixing them up. He poured a little milk in and kept stirring as he walked toward the table, the bowl in his hands. "The secret to a good omlet is -" His foot caught on the rug and he fell foward.
The gunmen were each at their desk, working on personal stuff when they heard Danny screech. They jumped up and hurried to the kitchen. They stopped at the entrance, opened-mouthed at what they. Jimmy was standing near the table, raw eggs and milk dripping from it, a horrified expression on his face. The table had a few spatters here and there. Danny was sitting at the table, most of the raw eggs in her hair and dripping onto her face and clothes.
"Towel," she said in the calmest voice possible, holding out a hand. Jimmy quickly got her a towel off the counter. She started wiping her face. "Jimmy."
"Yes" he asked.
Danny sighed. "Forget it. I'm going to take a shower." She stood up and walked out of the kitchen to her bedroom. Jimmy looked at the trio and opened his mouth, but Frohike stopped him.
"Don't explain," he said. "Just clean it up."
"And word of advice," Langly added.
"Spilling raw eggs on a woman is not the way to get her to like you," Langly replied. He and Frohike walked back to their desks.
"It wasn't intentional," Jimmy said to Byers.
"I know, Jimmy, and I think Danny understands that."
"So, you think that will affect her liking me?"
Byers cleared his throat and looked at his watch. "Oh, darn, I have to . . . to look up something for a story." He left the kitchen as nonchalantly as possible. Jimmy furrowed his eyebrows then shrugged and went back to cleaning up his mess.