Injury to a friend, and a message from Elsewhere.
Patsy rushes to his side falls to her knees and places his head on them.
"Hank please wake up. Please be alive, please be ok."
As she waits for him to stir she considers that Ravdna is his only chance for survival. She could get him to St. Luke's in time...but her powers would also show her without a shadow of a doubt that her best friend may in fact be beyond help...
Fortunately, Hank is not beyond help, though he is obviously hurt badly. His head cradled in her lap, he stirs slightly, and his eyes open, gazing unsteadily up into her distraught face.
"Not supposed to move...the victim," he whispers hoarsely, obviously in great pain, but still manages a faint smile. "Call police...might be back." A tear escapes from the corner of one eye and races down his cheek. "It was Robert, Patsy. Robert."
And then Hank McCoy lapses into unconsciousness, leaving the name of Patsy's ex-husband lurking in the room like a stalking beast.
She chokes back calling out his name again. She doesn't have time for hysterics and his pain wracked response is at least more than she had expected. Patsy brushes sweat from his brow as she rises gently lowering his head to the floor. Her index finger found the "0" almost automatically. She could have sworn an eternity passed while the rotary wheel moved into position. She quickly told the operator that she needed the police quickly...Hank had been hurt badly. They needed an ambulance. She almost whispered this last bit, fearful that hearing it uttered clearly again may somehow make it true, "I think his back may be broken."
vThe relevant information is given, and police and ambulance are dispatched. Patsy settles in for several long, anguished minutes.
She positioned herself at Hanks side once more...this time with her eyes locked on the front door. She was counting the seconds until help arrived...and by all that she holds holy if Robert came back through that door he'd end up on the tip of Ravdna's spear...
Patsy honestly felt Death on her periphery these days...the threat of the Vikings, The Assassination attempts and their costly successes played back on her retinas like a silver screen. To think that Ravdna, who could actually see Death and had done so literally for a hundreds if not thousands of years, what sort of horrors had the Valkyrie seen in that expanse of time? What pain did she carry with her? Was she above that?
Regardless of what those answers might be the very questions further confirmed for Patsy that the sooner she was rid of the Asgardian Avenger the better. Once she and Ravdna handled Robert she'd have to have Union or Stark or someone help find a cure for their malady.
The authorities arrive. The ambulance crew is quick, professional, if a bit cold. The police are likewise professional, but slower, more methodical, examining the scene, asking questions of Patsy, many of the queries repetitive and coming from more than officer, each one senior to the last until finally she is talking to an overweight, cherub-faced sergeant.
"Well," he says, flipping shut his small notebook. "That should do for now. We'll put out an APB on the suspect. You wanna ride along with your friend?"
"Yes, please." Patsy holds Hank's hand reassuringly on the way down to the ambulance. She only breaks contact in the moments when the paramedics need to do their job.
The rest of the evening drags by. At the hospital, Hank is admitted quickly and examined thoroughly. He is conscious by then. Both Patsy and he are assured that most of his injuries are superficial. Indeed, he has a broken bone, and maybe a mild concussion, but once the cast is set and twelve hours of observation pass, he will be allowed to go home.
After the doctor leave, Patsy gets the rest of the story. Hank arrived at Patsy's apartment about ten to discover the door ajar. Thinking she must be home, he knocked and poked his head. Robert was there, rummaging through her things. He grabbed Hank and dragged him into the apartment. Violence followed.
"You know I am not a belligerent individual," Hank explains. "But neither am I a milksop. For a bookish sort, I am quite strong." Patsy knows this much is true. Hank is built like a line-backer. "Against Robert, however, strength was no advantage. I have never felt so utterly helpless. It was like a child struggling against an adult. Patsy, I fear no good can come of this."
Janet, like Rick, is fast asleep, but her sleep is dreamless and a bit fitful. When the phone rings, she starts awake instantly. "Hello?"
"Hello, baby girl," her father says. "Sorry to call so late, but I just had to find out, to tell someone, so that I know I'm not crazy. Janet, I think I've made contact."
"That's great Dad." Janet thinks to herself. _I didn't think he would seriously ever find something, but after meeting Dark Angel and Ravdna, and the Avengers, my mind is a lot more open to strange things._
"I can't sleep anyhow. You probably didn't hear about the Avenger that died. Anyhow, I was at his funeral today." She sighs quietly, "The world is turning on its ear Dad, and I think it's only the beginning."
"Are you at the lab now? I could come down if you like." Janet knows that no matter what he said, he really wanted someone to share it with.
"Ok, I'll be down in a little while. Love you too." Janet hangs up the phone, and dresses in comfortable jeans and a blouse. She pulls her hair back, and grabs her purse. She leaves a note for Diana, saying that she went to Mr. Van Dyne's lab, and probably won't be back for breakfast."
Janet climbs into the T-bird, and tunes into a station playing Frank Sinatra. You just can't beat old blue eyes to help when you are feeling a little down.
She pulls into the empty parking lot, parking next to her father's beat up Impala. The scientist meets her at the door. There is a seldom seen gleam in his eyes. She gives him a hug, and he locks the door behind them. "So what did you find, dad?"
"Well," he begins excitedly, brandishing a disheveled computer print out. "As you know, I've been broadcasting fixed messages in binary at specific stellar points using a tachyon beam as the medium. Then, I monitor for return signals. Up until tonight, all I've detected is just space 'noise.' Random radio waves from pulsars and what not. Then, tonight, I received this...."
He hands Janet the print out:
1101 101 10011 10011 1 111 101
10010 101 11 101 1001 10110 101 100
1 10010 101
11 1111 1101 1001 1110 111
"Look," he urges. "It's right there, plain as day!"
Janet gives her father the same playful exasperated look she has used for years. Every time he shows her something he thinks is plain as day. "Daddy, when have I ever been able to read that computer gibberish? What have you been sending, and what is does that answer mean?"
Her father laughs. "Sorry, dear," he says. "I sometimes forget myself. The numbers read, 'Message received. We are coming.' It is amazing! Not only have a I contacted intelligent life, but now they will be visiting Earth as well!"
Janet tries hard to keep a straight face as her thoughts race. She remembers what the Vikings did to the city, and she can't imagine what people with the ability to travel through space could do. _Aliens are coming here, that's something the Avengers should know about, did we have something about worldwide protectors in the charter?._
"That is amazing Dad, and maybe a little scary. What did you tell them?" his daughter the Avenger asks. Janet can't help but think of the Science Fiction movies of the last few years.
Vernon's smile falters just a bit. "Scary?" he repeats. "Yes, I suppose it is, but isn't fear of the unknown natural? And I told them as much as could given the limitations of the binary code. Samples of literature, the Declaration of Independence, some science about our planet and some of its species." He chuckles. "I suppose I was trying to create a sort of coded tourist pamphlet."
Back in the comfortable surroundings of her family home, the evening moves along pleasantly. After a couple of hours, Vernon's excitement is overcome by exhaustion. He excuses himself to go to bed, inviting Janet to stay the night. Her old room is, after all, still hers.
Janet climbs the stairs to her room. She still keeps some clothes around just for weekends, and the few times she does stay at the big house. She changes, slipping her nightgown, a sheer short one piece over her head.
She checks the time, it's late, but she decides to call anyway. The phone rings, but there is no answer. _I wonder where Adrian is? I would have thought he'd be home in bed by now. I don't know if this something the Avengers need worry about, but they should at least be prepared. I'll have to keep an eye on dad, and find out if he knows when their plane... uh... ship is supposed to arrive._
Exhausted, Janet climbs into bed and sleeps.
| Top |
© 2000 Mark L. Chance et al