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 Integrity Game
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Page Five

"Roy, just forget about that for a sec, you're forgetting
we still have impressive collateral right at our fingertips.."
he grinned.


"In that old engine we have fading in the sun out back.
Kind of a shame we never found Mr. Kerner the buyer
that day. Here's our opportunity to do a good deed
with it."

Roy's face started to smile even as the squad rounded
into the gateway being opened for their vehicles onto
the airport tarmack by LAX security. "What afterwards? Do you
and Mr. Farley go into the stud business then?"

"No man, nothing so selfish. I wish you'd just think for
once. I'm talking about arranging all this for that
young gal we worked on at the track. What was her name?"

"Mary Kenner.."

"Yeah, her. It just tears me up that her filly had to be
destroyed. What would you think about us giving her
and Jose Rivero all of Swale's ownership shares?"
Gage asked.

Roy blinked as he pulled up into the space reserved for
fire vehicles along the marine jetty fence line.
"Is Johnny Gage turning into a bonafide do gooder?
I can't even begin to imagine that. But.. I have to
admit.. I'm really warming up to the idea.."

"Then sign.." Gage said, thrusting papers out at Roy
that he had folded inside his shirt and shouting
into the violent wind coming from the landing pad
just in front of their bumper.

"We're in the middle of responding to a run here!"
Roy said incredulously, squealing to a halt and jamming
the squad's transmission into park.

"SoOoooo, the faster you sign the faster we can get
out of here.." Gage countered over the roar of
Helicopter 8's rotor wash as he opened the door
and handed out the ownership signup form and his
green pen out to his partner.

Roy grabbed the sheet, John Handcocked it, and
shoved it back inside the squad before closing the
door. "What about Cap's signature?"

"I got his after lunch in the only place where I
could think of to corner him on equal ground.
In the john.."

"You haven't a shred of human decency, pally,
you know that?" Roy DeSoto rolled his eyes.

"Probably not. But I get results when I want em."

They had grabbed all the gear into the squad stokes
when another set of hands grabbed one end of
the stretcher in their run towards the helicopter
and the waiting coast guard pilots.

"Detective Crockett.. What are you doing here?"
Roy asked, as he almost dropped the stokes
and the equipment in surprise.

Gage double blinked, too.

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Detective Crockett said. "Got word you
fellas were on a run to the Windjammer. I've
a vested interest in that ferry. I've been ordered
to come along."

"Oh, why?" Gage said as he and Roy slipped into
lifevests and headsets in the belly of the coast guard

"Do you remember Dusty Shraeder at all? That fine
upstanding gentleman your jockey friend from the track
was dead set on chewing up and spitting out, despite his
injuries?" he quipped sarcastically.

"Oh, him.. " Gage said with displeasure, light bulb going
off. "So that's his name. I remember now. He was kinda
shady and slimy like, if I recall.."

"In more ways than one. Not only is he dealing in gross
negligent racehorse fraud, he's dabbling in a rundown
ferry business, too. His company has been cited for five
maintenance violations on that boat alone
this season."

Gage nodded. Then he toggled his headset to the
pilots. "Helicopter 8, This is Squad 51. We're
aboard. Dave, what do we got?"

" Squad 51, We've a 250 passenger boat bound for
Catalina. And her captain reports her engine's caught fire.
The first responding Coast Guard cutter reports she's
already nearly fully involved astern."

"Was she at capacity?" Roy interceded into the radio
frequency through his own radio set.

"No, only to one third according to the Harbor Master."

"Understood." DeSoto said. ::More than enough reason
for the fire engine crews to come along with us..::

Roy glanced down out the window as the Coast Guard
chopper lifted off the landing pad. He could see
Cap, and the rest of the gang piling into Waterboat
245 along with Station 110's crack marine fire team.
::No doubt they'll be joining us on that fire boat for
the secondary assignment once we've handled the
main evacuation.::


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Cap lifted his HT. "Engine 51 to Helicopter 8."

##Go ahead, Engine 51.##

"Our ETA to site is thirty minutes."

## 10-4, 51. ##

Cap grinned and patted each of his men on the
back as they boarded the swift hulled coast guard
cutter. "Time to get your feet wet, boys. "

Chet eyed the big, bobbing red and white boat
suspiciously. "Aw, Cap, do I have to? I just got done
polishing my shoes."

"Get in there.." Cap mock growled, giving Kelly a shove
across the short plank leading from shore to the
sleek rescue coast guard Crestliner.

Marco strapped into the life vest a guardsman handed
him and he asked. "Hey, Cap. Just how many
oceanic runs have you logged in your day? I take
it disaster calls like this aren't common."

"You're right. I've only seen three. This is my third. Just
consider it a four alarm, gang. The only difference is that
any firefighting will be completely on a horizontal
plane instead of a vertical one and the hosework will be trickier
because the waves will be shifting us up and down on the
boat's deck. We're only going to be cover for 110's
marine firemen. Remember that. Do whatever
they ask of you in full support."

"Right, Cap."

Soon, Waterboat 245, loaded with 110 and 51's
firemen, sped out to sea after the disappearing
Chopper 8.


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Kel Brackett helped Dusty Schraeder out to open air
and he shouted to the panicking, singed people around
him, handing out lifevests from inside the railing benches,
when he saw the ferry's employees doing the same.
"Everybody, get set to jump overboard! The beach is
right there.."

Casting his eyes around the milling crowd, Kel fought
through them as best he could, spitting out the blood
in his mouth while he searched for any sign of either of his
parents while he put on a life vest and found three

"You rest there.. I'll be back for you.." Kel gasped through
the smoke at Dusty, whom he parked onto a deck chair
reluctantly. Giving the dazed man another glance, Dr.
Brackett fought his instincts to stay and help the
injured around him and he forced himself to listen to
the new ones of panic he felt growing inside of
him about his family.

"Mom!  Dad!! Can you hear me?!"

A thick oily curtain of burning haze swept over
the deck and felled seven in a suffocating grip.

Kel stumbled, choking on the stench in his
throat and he crawled over to the nearest
body and pulled it to the windward side
of the deck by feel alone.

On the fourth trip with a victim, his seeking
hand found his father, unconscious and face
down. "Dad..!!"  His fingers found that
he had a pulse and that he was still breathing.
Immediately Kel's head shot up.
::She would never leave his side like this..::

"Kel?" she gasped from very nearby.

"Over here.." he coughed. "Put this on.."
he handed Anna Rose one of the three life
vests he still had with him and quickly tied
one around his father.

He dragged Brent over to where he could hear
the ferry personnel helping people into the water
for the desperate swim to the wave dashed
shoreline of Catalina Island.

He snapped out an order. "Don't send a swimmer
with this man until I get back.." he ordered one
lieutenant, pointing down to his father. "I am going
to go get a victim with a head injury. Then we'll

Kel took a breath of the relatively clean air
by the railing on the island side of the burning
ferry and turned to go back to Dusty Schraeder
whom he had left behind.

Anna Rose stopped him. "No, Kel. Don't leave
us! You'll never make it out again.." she sobbed.

"I'll be fine. He's not that far away." Dr. Brackett
said as he looked up and saw the fast approaching outline
of a coast guard cutter making a rapid headway
from the island's small resort jetty over to
their ferry. "Just stay with dad."

Kel disappeared, crawling back into the
dark smoke of the inner deck.


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Roy and Johnny couldn't see the ferry.
Just a column of black greasy smoke
coming from the wounded boat almost
hugging the shoreline. Roy thought,
::The engineer's must have shifted the
rudders to allow her to drift towards shore.
Smart thinking.::

Then John saw startling colored dots floating
in the water. He tapped his partner
on the shoulder. "Roy, they're already
abandoning ship!"

Roy spoke calmly into his radio headset.
"Most look ok. I'm just concerned about the
ones who are hurt and not able to swim
away from that boat.."

Gage didn't say anything more and both
paramedics and Detective Crockett
were silenced by the horrifying drama
unfolding like a silent movie, before them.

##Squad 51, we are touching down. You
are to disembark with your equipment
and report to Cutter 27 docked starboard
on the jetty for your rendevous to the
Windjammer. ##

"10-4, Chopper Eight."

The massive Coast Guard helicopter hovered
only inches from the rough stoney pier
that was already jammed with newly responding
fireboats taking in sea water into their bilges to
combat the ferry's burgeoning fire.

Two minutes later, Roy and Johnny were
fast footing it with the gear laden stokes
between them down the rocky pier
towards the landing set aside for Coast
Guard's slips at the very end. Crockett had
donned a coastguard jumpsuit, complete
with his fire arm, and was running close
after them.

Johnny could see two vessels were waiting and
idling with their prows aimed seaward.

Gage immediately turned for the
sixty foot fireboat. A shout stopped
him. "51. Over here.." came a voice.

Roy and Johnny turned. A guardsman
on an eighteen foot red painted outboard
was gesturing for them to come
over to him.

Gage's eyes got real big. "Oh, man.. Roy..
We're going on THAT thing?"

Roy cracked a grin. "Still don't trust yourself
from the last time out at sea?"


"Well, you might not get seasick this time,
pally. There'll be no masts for us to climb."
Ferrys don't have any." Roy said.

"Hope you're right.." Johnny groaned.

Soon, DeSoto and Gage were heading out
in the speedy outboard towards the column
of rising soot marking the place of the
sea ferry's self consuming fire.


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Kelly Brackett found the large Texan
coughing on the deck chair. "Mister..
Let's go. I've got a life vest here for you.
Easy.." he said as he flung one of the
groggy man's arms over his shoulder
to help him gain his feet. "This way.."

The wind shifted mercifully, showing the doctor
that the Windjammer's decks were now empty
of people except for a few near the gap in the
railing where his father lay.

Dr. Brackett and Dusty Schraeder had
covered half the distance to the opening
in the railing when the Windjammer's fuel
tanks compromised.

A great force lifted both men up and
flung them outwards from the main
bulk of the boat as a massive exploding
fireball signalled the beginning of the
end for the hull breached ferry.

The Windjammer listed twenty degrees
to her side, towards land, and Dusty and
Kel Brackett slid struggling, across the oily
deck, each partially stunned by the blast.

Rushing towards the ferry, Roy and
John and Crockett winced as the
Windjammer blew herself apart.

On the front of the flying debris,
a body was hurtled into the sea.

"Move it move it!! To portside.
Ten o'clock!! Someone just landed
in the water!! " Gage shouted.

Cutter 27 knifed through the waves
to where the paramedics had last
seen the man go down.

The boat circled the area once,and
the impact rings were fast fading in the
ocean's regular toss and turn.

"Where is he?!" Roy shouted.

"There. There. Right there!" Crockett
said, pointing suddenly to the left.

Gage and DeSoto jumped feet first into
the water from the cutter with
the empty stokes. They swam
rapidly to the slowly sinking man
and hauled his face out of the water.

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They struggled to pull their victim
into the stokes long enough for the
rescue boat to come forward for
a pickup. Crockett and the guardsmen
had only just hauled the sodden man
aboard and had rolled him over when
the detective exclaimed. "Schraeder!!"

Gage, regained his footing on the
boat's rear loading platform, and was
helped on board. "Who?"

A low moan came from the cut
riddled Texan in the stokes as Roy
bent down to check the injured
man's mental status.

"It's Dusty Schraeder from the
horse track. My team and I got
enough evidence to arrest this guy
this morning on charges of animal
cruelty and reckless endangerment."
Crockett said.

"THIS is the guy our jockey was so
keen on taking out?" Gage asked.

"Yeah.. Walter Farley tipped us off
on his Lasix misusage and led us
to some eyewitnesses who saw
exactly what Dusty and a groom named
Manuel did to Charismatic, the colt
that caused the pileup. A little dumpster
diving found the missing unused
Lasix syringes they had been throwing away
and their barn's ID serial number was
labelled all over them."

"Means and motive.." Roy sighed.
"He's ok, Johnny. A bump on
the head and no signs of aspiration."
DeSoto said, lifting his stethoscope
from the man's chest.

"I'll get him on some O2."

Right then, Dusty Schraeder groaned and
started stirring. He awoke to a grinning
Crockett's face. "Whaa? What are you
doing here? Didn't you get enough of me
investigating my horse barn?" the angry
man asked of the detective.

"More than enough. You're under arrest,
Mr. Schraeder.." and he slapped on
handcuffs around Dusty's wrists. "I'll say,
your racing days are over.."

Dusty Schraeder promptly passed out.

Image of johnbiohelmet.jpg Image of dustyangry.jpg Image of crockett.jpg

Johnny happened to glance up back then
to a commotion from the Windjammer.

Anna Rose Brackett and a ferry worker was
crouched over two soot stained figures lying
on the deck. "Johnny ! Roy! Over
here.. My husband and son! They're

The cutter crew swiftly darted the
remaining distance to the gutted
Windjammer whose fire had blown
itself mostly out. Roy and Gage quickly
accepted pulling hands to come on board
and their gear quickly followed.

Roy knelt by Kel Brackett and began
to check him out even as Gage did
the same thing for the unconscious
Brent Brackett.

Johnny glanced up at Anna Rose.
"You ok, Mrs. Brackett?"

"Y- Yes.. The guardsman shoved
me down and the explosion went over
our heads. H-how are they?"

Roy spoke up. "I've got a good

"Same over here." Johnny said,
bending down to check Brent's
pupils for reaction time. "So far so

Right then, Brent and Kel both groaned
and started to awaken.

"Easy, doc.." Gage said. "Docs.." he
amended with a grin. "Just lie still,
both of ya, and let Roy and I
check ya out."

Kel Brackett winced and rolled over
to spit out the blood pooling in his mouth.
"What about the fire..?"

Gage turned and glanced over his
shoulder. "That last explosion sure did
a little number. Blew out the fire and exposed
a wanted criminal to the local authorities as well."
Johnny quipped.

"Huh?" Brent Brackett grunted.

"Never mind. It would take too long to explain
it to ya." Roy said, getting two cannulas of
02 set for their patients. "But I can tell ya
that it's all for the good."

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 Integrity Game
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