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Chet's face soured a bit, but the twinkle
didn't go out of his eyes. "I'm not going
to let you burst my bubble, pal. What
I did, is saving his life man. That's cool."

Johnny was about to say it was he who
gathered the blood donation and Brackett
who actually completed the transfusion
but he hushed down, settling for a
secondary Chet tease idea. "Hey Chet,
I know you're cold because I drained
out all your blood. Bet you're real thirsty
too. Here, have a pop.."

Chet reached for it, and Johnny jerked it away,
holding it over his head, making the shorter
curly haired fireman grab for it unsuccessfully.
"Come on, Chet. You can do better than that.
Can't you?" And he tossed it to Roy without
looking for him first, trying to get his partner
in on a monkey in the middle game.  

Roy didn't go along with it and tossed the 7up to
Chet anyway. "Johnny. Ease up. Let him
bask in the transfusion thing. It IS kinda cool."

"Yeah?" Johnny said, helping the teeth chattering
Chet open the 7 up bottle. "Well, I don't need
to exchange blood with anybody to know
who my brothers are. In this station, we
are all brothers. Tied just as deep in the blood
as we are as a company's crew because of
what we do here."  He offered Chet half of
his jelly sandwich.

"Amen to that Gage.." Chet said.  Then
he looked up, feeling that someone was
missing. "Hey,.. where's Stoker?"

Cap entered the bunk room just then
with a followup about the Arco call going
on across the street. "It's official, a natural
gas ground seep. A big one underway.
Mike says it was a fire truck inspector's
vehicle that landed on the pipeline during
the last trembler, which shattered it."

"Anyone hurt over there?" Gil asked. "You
can send Roy, Brice or me if you'd like.
I've slept enough."

"No, Stoker says that man got outta
there ok.. Sounded like he's been put
on a front wash down. He didn't sound
overly nervous. Seemed like everything's
under control. Oh, and he says the bats
are here. A crewman from Eight's has been
sent to go get them.."

Drs. Taylor and MacPherson both sighed
in relief. "That was fast. This is all new
territory for us about this female mother
bat immunity theory, but even that chance
is better than we would have had even with
immune plasma transfusions from the victims
who've survived Marburg."

Miss Thorne came out dressed in the clothes
Johnny had provided and her head
was wrapped in a towel. "I'm out.. Who's

"Me.." Chet said. "I gotta warm up somehow.."
And he shivered rushing around Cindy in his blanket,
clutching his soda in his other hand. On
a thought, he ripped off his smiley face bandaid
and stuck it onto Johnny's forehead with
exaggerated deliberance, with a firm smack.
"Here. I believe this fangy guy belongs to you..
I know I don't need him anymore."
And he grinned as he disappeared behind the
steamed up wooden door.

The guys sniggered as Gage was left to  
pull it off along with a bit of hair.


Johnny knew an amused doggy bark when he
heard one. "Quit laughing Bonnie. No
more sandwiches for you girl if you
keep that up..."

Roy pointed to his arm. "Want mine
to?" he said, pointing to his bandaid.
"Still needs an artist's signature."

"Ha ha.. very funny.." Gage said.

Dr. Brackett looked up from Marco's
EKG. He had taken a gamble and had
pumped up the last chamber on Lopez's
mast suit to its top level.  The PVC's
were gone. He was smiling when he
got up to recheck Cap. "Johnny, grab
one last vitals set on Captain Stanley
here would you? And I don't think
you need your IV anymore while you're
at it, too, Gage. You've finally pinked up."

"Thank you doc.." he said, joyfully
pulling out his IV.

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Roy was right there to put on his
bandaid. "Welcome back to duty

"You have no idea....." Gage gushed,
patting the table for Cap to sit on
for a blood pressure check. He exuberantly
wrapped it around Cap's arm and pumped
it up with style.

Cap said. "Hey, am I next to be
off medical leave?"

"Give it until nightfall captain.."
Dr. Brackett said. "I usually watch
black out concussion cases for at
least twelve hours after the initial

Cap was crestfallen but compliant.
He sat still, letting Gage take his
BP. "Good enough for me. Maybe
that gas leak at Arco will be over
by then. One less headache for me
to worry about.." and he laughed
at his own joke.

An HT crackled to life on the desk.
##Station Eight Firewatch to Station

Cap was still encumbered by a BP
cuff, so Brice took up the call.
"Go ahead Station Eight FW."

##This is Engineer Manney.
I got three squeaking little friends
with ASAP shipping orders that I'm to
give to you, priority run. I'm almost
there. I'm just up the boulevard
rounding the refinery. My ETA is
one minute.##

"That's great to hear. We'll
be waiting. The CDC lab docs
are eager to get their hands on em."
Brice said. "We'll watch for your

Everyone in the room started
cheering at the good news.


Over by the refinery, Mike Stoker noticed
a feeling of something not right. He again
glanced up above him and saw nothing
amiss. But an unfounded instinct made him
look back towards the boulevard in front
of his demolished station. Then a movement
and a glint caught his eyes through his air
mask, near the refinery's entrance next to
Station 51.

The lighted natural gas chimney antennae
tower where the steam had been
rising, suddenly groaned in tortured
metal and shuddered. Four hundred
feet of solid metal and pipes suddenly gave
way at the base, like a felled tree, from
a hidden structural rend no one had seen.

Soon after, the entire antennae spire
began to fall towards the boulevard and
the triage tents.

Mike dropped the hose and went running
out of the water's spray and jerked his
handy talkie to his mouth. "Everybody
heads up!!! Falling antennae tower!!!!"

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Inside the firewatch fire department
truck, Engineer Manney was whistling,
imitating his bats' animated calls distractedly.
Then he began humming the theme to Batman
the series in a live ongoing patch to
Station 51's desk HTs in an attempt
to cheer them further with his imminent
arrival. "Not long now, Robin. Just a
short trip in the batmobil--"

A sudden unexpected shadow over the road
ahead of him made him look up.

Manney screeched into an evasive turn to
avoid the writhing crown of the refinery tower
as it crashed down, blocking the
entire road immediately in front of him.

Massive pipes bounced free from the
impact along the tower's crushed flanks
and a huge oil cap ten feet in diameter
suddenly richochetted off an empty civilian
car's hood, rolling in his direction.

Manney slammed into reverse, trying
to avoid the crushing multi ton disk when the
the second spire of the tower landed
directly on top of his truck. The fireman
had time to scream before more blocks
of debris from the collapsing tower
finally crushed in his windshield and
ripped into his face.

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