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    Sacred Ground
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 Page Three

"I see him..." Roy pulled over to the curb quickly and soon,
the engine did, too.

Cap hurried out into the rain after letting L.A. know that they had
arrived on scene. He snatched his walkie talkie and tucked
it protectively in a plastic bag from his turnout's pocket.

Hank rushed to the college aged student's side and shouted
over the rain pelting onto his fire helmet. "What's the problem?
A fire?"

"N--no sir.. This way. Hurry!" and before Cap could stop him,
the light blue clad young man ran back over the slippery lawn
towards the front door in between the greek columns of the frat
house and inside.

"Wait a minute!" Cap shouted. But the young man was already gone.
He sighed. "Roy! Johnny! Guess we bring ALL the medical gear in.
I didn't get any details at all from him! The only thing I learned is
that we aren't dealing with a fire call."

"Right, Cap.." Roy shouted.

"Kelly, you go grab the adult male sized spine board...."

Chet hurried to get it, flipping up his coat collar against the heavy rainfall
that was all but drowning the grass.

"And some flashlights! It'll be full dark any minute!" roared Hank
after the glimmery shadow Chet made against the rain glittery
red flashing light sprayed engine.

Marco flung open the compartments Gage and DeSoto hadn't already
gotten to and snatched up the defibrillator and the heavy white
trauma dressing case.

"Let's go..." Cap said, motioning them all forward at a run. He lifted
up his encapsulated radio. "L.A., we're going inside. Stand by.."

##S-Standing by...##

In their haste, no one realized the vocal distortion was still there
over the wire.


The gang ran into the house, laden with gear and immediately came
face to face with a slew of college kids, partying, with alcohol.
Amused glances and laughs at the sight of the fire department in
their midst made everyone from the fire station, but Cap, feel
vaguely defensive.

"Where's the fire guys?" said one drunk young lady.
"Did you come to the wrong address?" she giggled.

Pushing her gently aside, Cap sought out the young man who had
first appeared on the porch. It was easy finding him since a wet
trail of footprints showed dark on the tan shag carpeting in
front of them. "Excuse me.. pardon me.." he said, moving around
the kids.."This is an emergency... please.. Move out of the way.."
he complained.

Slowly, the crowd thinned, but the loud disco party music, continued.

Grasping the radio tightly to his ear, Cap kept tabs on the updates
coming from L.A.

##L.A. Squad 18, What's your ETA to your incident?##

##Squad 18, L.A. Our estimated time of arrival is ten minutes. We've
encountered flooded streets and have taken an alternate route.##
said the paramedic's voice over Cap's HT.

::Terrific. I wouldn't doubt that the whole city will bog down at
some point or another tonight..:: Cap sighed.

Soon, he spotted his quarry over the boogeying bodies
jiving to Shadow Dancing by the BeeGees. "Hey! Mister!
Slow down.. We're coming!"

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Hank firmly pointed out to Gage and Roy, the bead covered
kitchen doorway. It was the brightest room in the whole house.

The gang shoved their way through. Beyond, a deck door
was already reopened into the night with a fresh trail of
soggy footprints evident on the rust colored tiles of the floor.

Another set of muddy ones traced up an exterior white painted
staircase to a second floor, while the first set lead to
the yard. "He's over here!" said a rain noise covered voice.
"Please! You gotta hurry! He's dying!"

Cap froze at the forking intersection of the two sets of
footprints, aiming his flashlight down and peering into
the dark, even as the violent downpour was slowly erasing
them. "Split up. Three and three. HT when you find something! Marco,
Stoker,..With me upstairs.. The rest of you, check out the yard.
I can't tell where our witness's voice is coming from, so we better
check out both ways pronto.." he ordered, water dripping from
his helmet rim. "Each take an oxygen tank!"

The firemen split up according to plan.

Gage looked back briefly as he ran after Chet and Roy
and he could just make out Cap and the others entering
an upper story bedroom through the white door at the top
of the outer stair in the beginnings of a medical victim
search. "Ok..I've heard of panicking witnesses, but this
is a little ridiculous. Roy, where is he?"

Before his partner could answer, there was another shout.
"Hurry.. We're by the pool! We can't find Derrick! We
think he fell in!"

Gage and DeSoto and Kelly ran for all they were worth.
As they did so, they peeled off their overcoats, trading
the medical gear between hands as they pelted towards
the night lit pool garden just ahead as they shed their
excess weight.

Johnny's teeth began to chatter violently the instant the
cool night deluge soaked down to his skin.  Kelly and
Roy were gear laden arrows ahead of him. The two men
set down the squad's equipment hastily and began a leaning
search of the pool, trying to see around the raindrop craters
pocking the night dark water.

DeSoto improvised and pulled out his flashlight, aiming its
bright spear of illumination deep into the pool. "Can't you
turn the lights on out here?"

"No..." said the young man before them. "The storm's cut
off the power out here! That's why we all went inside. Derrick
said he'd follow us in a half an hour ago. But no one's seen
him since. He was pretty drunk. And I'm scared. I called you
when I thought I heard a loud splash. I thought instantly that
Derrick probably fell in.." quavered the water dripping
staggering student.

Roy saw that the young man wasn't too sober himself.

Gage spoke into his HT, using his helmet as an umbrella
for his radio. "Cap! By the pool downslope- south. Possible ETOH
and drowning! We're still searching! Look for the pool lights!"

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##On our way!## Hank instantly replied, barely audible in the
fury of the storm.

Roy suddenly shouted. "I think I see him. In the deep end!"

Johnny peeled off shoes and ditched his radio under his helmet
onto a patio table and he dove into the frigid under lit pool water.

Roy and Chet could barely see Gage swimming under the rain
torn surface. The side lights flickered eerily as Gage swam
past them.

Then a reflection of another submerged flashlight lit up
a man shaped form in clothing colors sitting head up and vertical
off the bottom.

Chet grimaced. " Oh, geesh." But his hands
worked fast to set up the resuscitator mask to the demand
valve off the upright oxygen tank. "Are we too late?"

Roy didn't answer, and immediately sank both arms into
the water to intercept the drowned student Gage would push
into his hands. "Grab my belt, Chet. I'll haul him out to ya!"

Stiff cold hands appeared in between Roy's gloves
and soon, Kelly and Roy were leaning away from the pool's
edge in a desperate pull backwards to free Derrick from
underneath the water.

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Roy and Chet had the limp form out onto the poolside lawn
and quickly log rolled onto a back when Gage suddenly
shouted angrily up at them. "G*d d*mn it! It's all a prank!
I should've figured. It's H*ll Week this week. These guys
pulled a fast one on us, and good.."

"What?!" Chet and Roy scrambled apart from their
rope pull tumbled positions and to their hands and
knees to crawl up their victim's torso towards his face.

"It's a dummy!" Johnny said, exiting the water powerfully.

Chet and Roy looked down.

Black plastic eyes met their own. And teeth that had never
smiled, winked back in the wavering flashlight's glow.

The panicky witness suddenly burst out into amused laughter
and a multitude of other tipsy students came out of the surrounding
bushes to point fingers and laugh at the joke that they had
successfully pulled on the firefighters.

It was into this scene that Cap and the others arrived but Gage
slammed an irritated hand into Hank's jacketted shoulder as
he grabbed up shoes, radio and hat. "There's nothing here,
Cap. The sh*the*ds dumped a manikin into the pool for us
to find.."

"They did what?!"

"Forget it!" Roy's eyes steamed under his helmet. "We're
still closer to that trouble breathing call than Squad 18 is. Let's
go answer it."

"Awww NUTS!" Cap roared into the raging sky. "I'm gonna
prosecute this prank call to the max! Chet take pictures
and rush your butt to the engine! Now!" Hank said, dragging the
O2 apparatus by a handle violently. It clattered almost more loudly
than the lightning and thunder beginning around them.

Kelly melted into the rain to get the evidence.

Gage radio'ed out. "L.A., Station 51. We're now available and
can respond to Squad 18's call. ETA three minutes!"

Gasping, the six firemen trucked around the huge fraternity house,
slipping occasionally on the wet grass as they hurried back
to their flashing trucks still stabbing the night with their red fiery glow.

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A clear channel met their ears. They could hear phones ringing in
the background. But the L.A. voice didn't return hail them.

Johnny repeated his callout. "L.A. Station 51. Do you copy?
We're taking 18's incident!"

Still no reply.

Breathing hard, the exhausted angry gang piled into the engine and
squad after throwing all the equipment back into their stows.

Roy and Johnny tossed their soggy fire fighting jackets back into the
squad's sunken roof space in between the yellow air bottles and climbed
inside wearily.

DeSoto threw the squad in drive and reengaged her siren.

The engine was only seconds slower to accomplish the same.

Roy hefted the CB mic. "Maybe the rain got into your HT.. L.A.
This is Squad 51. Do you read? What's the exact house
address of Squad 18's dyspnea case?"

Again, only silent but strangely clear air met the question.

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Then a new voice crackled into the frequency.. ##Break. Break. Break!
Squad 51. Battalion Seven in Roving Unit Delta Nine.
I'm now assuming ultimate command of all emergency communications
traffic. Rampart Hospital has just reported a complete failure of all
base to paramedic radio sends from L.A. in Blue One. We're assuming
the main repeater tower in that service area has been fully lightning
compromised or knocked down by a mud slide.  I've routed Squad 45
to cover 18's call. I want your station to 10-19 immediately to Headquarters.
Switch your radio frequency to Carson 154.0700 TAC 21; BLUE  1 and
turn your HTs to South County & Catalina Island channel 470.5625. Respond
immediately to the COMMAND & CONTROL DIVISION at 1320 N. Eastern
Avenue and check it out. Do you copy?##

Roy gasped. " We're ordered Code 3 to L.A. Headquarters?" He gave
a shudder of horror.

"Yeah. I know what you mean." Johnny whispered, shivering from
the cold water soaking his uniform.

Hank Stanley's firm voice shot out of the squad's speakers, making
Roy and Johnny jump. ##Station 51. Battalion Seven. 10-4. Our
estimated ETA is....six minutes!##

DeSoto, scared out of his mind, punched the gas as hard as he could
in order to just get there before nothing left remained of his strength
and will to do the job.


Truck to truck, Hank's tight voice was calming to his men, ##Roy? Johnny..
Spell out the headcount at L.A. ##

Gage took the mic from Roy and just let him drive, white knuckled,
through the torrid storm flashing around them. "Cap,..There
are two towers: One is the primary, and one is on hot standby.
There are ten call taker positions,  and 9 radio operator positions
for a t-total of nineteen personnel.. For electrical and fire risks,
the main primary tower runs through one supervisor console and one
spare radio console used for training. That power line threads
through, I think, fourteen mountaintop UHF repeater sites
simultaneously and then it dumps directly into Carson city residents'
power supply."

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##Copy. Let's hope the building's intact..Stoker has our ETA in less
than one. If there's no smell of smoke, go for an immediate in.##

"We got it, Cap.." Roy said dryly, finally finding his voice once more.
::Oh, my G*d. What's happened there?::


L.A.'s immaculate, earthquake defended, elevated building was
intact, but completely dark.

Roy rushed inside the main occupied office suites and started counting
people. One supervisor even abandoned his attempts at restoring
his radio station to demand questions of Roy about the rainstorm outside
and the possible damage taken by the EMS communications grid.

Roy ignored him. "Is everybody ok?" He didn't wait for an answer.
"I assume because you're all working that there isn't a fire going on

Two feminine heads shook in the negative. "What's the matter, 51?
Why are you here? We think we've figured out what the problem is.
Main power's out but the backup generator's working just fine.
So far, I've isolated that your controller's station three's console is still
reading as open but it's either incapable of or not responding to any
incoming transmissions..."

Roy hissed irritatedly at her, pushing up his helmet as he spun
around in the emergency battery lit room.
"Eighteen.. I'm only seeing eighteen... Who's missing?"

"What?" said the gray balding haired retired firefighter supervisor
trying to stay in contact with all of Los Angeles's Battalion Chiefs
via short wave radio. "We've only fourteen repeater towers in operation
this month.." he said, mistaking the count for towers and not people.

DeSoto, threw up his hands and ignored him and the others, and he left,
beginning a room to room search for trouble. "Johnny,.. no fire." he said
into the newly adjusted frequency on HT. "Power's on backup. One
person's missing from what I can tell."

##Any ideas on where that person is?## Gage shouted into his talkie.

"Working on it.." gasped Roy, opening doors and casing each room
carefully with his flashlight, including the floor and each room's break
or bathroom areas.

Then he saw a sign in the dark. Controller Room Three.

DeSoto kicked down the door, and startled.

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The radio console that filled most of the room was alighted with
normal functioning, but it was hideously sprayed with blood from
a man in a light blue communications uniform still seated in a chair
and sprawled on top of it.

Roy let out a small cry. "I found him. Unconscious with non-specific
head bleeding! Controller Room Three! Stand by for his status!" he
wheezed with effort into his HT.

##Hang on, Roy. We've got all the gear coming!## Hank encouraged

Pulling off his fire gloves, Roy rocked the man's head and neck backwards
in a spine protective line along his jacket sleeve to reveal the face of
a very familiar dark skinned man in his late thirties who had gushing blood
oozing out of eyes, nose, ears and mouth.

DeSoto's world reeled.

::Oh, no.:: "Sam...Sam Lanier? Can you hear me?"  
::It's a burst aneurysm..Cerebral..:: said a tiny paramedic voice in Roy's

Unbidden, his fingers felt for a pulse at Sam's gory neck even as he bent
over his bloody nose and mouth to listen for breathing. Sam's red obscured,
half lidded eyes gaped up at Roy, one grossly dilated and huge.
But the other, immediately shrank under Roy's trembling flashlight beam.

"Guys get in here! On the double! I've got no carotid with positive pupillary
reaction." DeSoto yelled into his radio.

His stationmates' quick replies went unheard by Roy. The numb, still rain dripping
paramedic carefully stretched out Sam's small frame onto the floor and started
aggressive resuscitation efforts. ::Oh, m*ther of G*d. Is this what Boot sensed
coming?:: He sobbed as he worked. "Oh, Sam.. I'm so sorry..
We didn't know you were having a stroke. No one paid close enough
attention." he whispered as hot tears of grief ran down his muddy face.
::That wasn't an electronic distortion over the speakers during those calls,
it was a stutter, a glaringly obvious pre-warning sign!:: his mind roared at him.

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Roy barely registered the fact that the retired fire supervisor turned
chief dispatcher, took over Sam's chest compressions after he rushed
into the room, once the older man received a set of shocking words from
Cap over another frequency.

Mud mingled with blood as Roy tried to breathe life back into
Sam Lanier, the owner of the voice from L.A.H.Q. that he had heard
every single day of his working career.

From :  Roxy Dee <>
Sent :  Wednesday, March 30, 2005 3:06 PM
Subject :  Will of the Creator..

Captain Stanley was led at a run to the room from which
Roy had radioed, by people from the front offices.

Johnny Gage was in front of him and he ducked into the dimly
emergency battery lit room to swiftly kneel by his partner. He
flipped open the defibrillator. "What do you got? Post effect
from convulsions? He's awfully banged up." he asked, seeing
all the blood. But then Gage caught the shocked expression
on Roy's face and did a double take while the gelled paddles
in his hands charged up.

DeSoto's voice was very small as he nodded while stringing up
a rapid oxygen line from the demand valve regulator.

"These wounds aren't crime inflicted, they're from a stroke. He's full of
intracranial petechiae. Scleral,..oral. He's probably suffering from
a bad hemorrhagic attack." he said filling Sam's quiet chest with fast
sets of mechanical breaths. "Guys, it's Sam." he said.

"Who?!" sputtered Cap. "" he said with some pain
when he saw that it was true.

The gang startled uncomfortably as their nameless victim
suddenly turned into a dying friend, making them move
faster physically, but each felt slower by the second inside,
mentally. Heart pain bit all of them deep and caught them
fully aware of sudden and utter misery.

All six from Station 51 unbalanced.

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An unwelcome chill flooded Johnny and what Nakoma had
predicted returned full force. :: "For every neglect, comes a price,"
the old tribal elder had said,.." In blood or in its ties.."::
The memory made ice fill Johnny's veins with a nightmarish
wash of horror and he felt his world recede into unreality.

"How long has he been down?" Cap asked his senior paramedic
trying to regain a grip on himself.

"I can't tell. His right eye shrank down a minute ago
but now both are blown." Roy reported, his voice cracking.
Sam's blood still stained one of his cheeks from doing mouth
to mouth.

Cap took over ventilations for Johnny to free him up
while Stoker took over Sam's CPR. Kelly was silent while
he dried Sam's skin of cold shocky wetness and applied EKG leads.
"I got these, Johnny. I'll stick em on.."

Mike Stoker coughed harshly from reaction and that earned him
a scathing reply from Hank."Stoker! Even it out so I've got a good
pulse with compressions!" he said a little too sharply.

"Ok..." Stoker replied instantly, the tone of his voice strangled with

Cap bit his lip. His look apologized immediately
to Mike and it was too quickly accepted.

Roy and Johnny never even heard the exchange.

"I'm reading course V-fib. I got 400 watts!" Gage reported
loudly in the pools of flashlights now directed down around
them from a disbelieving Marco and others. His rain spattered
face lit up in the orange glow of the shock button. "I'm hittin' him!"

"Clear!" shouted Roy.

Sam's body convulsed with a shock. His limbs lifted oddly
on the right side and none did on the left despite the energy

"Nothing..." said Gage listening with a stethoscope. He grabbed
a held out biophone receiver from Chet. "Rampart this is Squad 51.
Do you read?..Come, answer me now.."  He hit the charge
button a second time while Roy got out an endotrach tube and a
laryngoscope. He left the unpeeled airway lying across Sam's
collarbones in preparation for the order.

Hank pulled off his helmet in between vents from the mask
quickly, to see better in the darkness. He looked up at Sam's
stunned co-workers. "Did anybody hear him complain about
being sick today? Headaches? Nausea.."

The retired fire supe shook his head. "No. Not at all. At lunch
we were joking about how hungry he was. He had two steaks on
his plate. Oh, Sam.." the older man said. He knew full well how
bad the situation was. "Do you think an aneurysm gave way?"

The paramedics didn't answer him. Legally, they couldn't.

The fire supe swallowed and didn't interfere with them again.

"1,.....2.....3.....400!" said Chet in a firm readout to Roy.

"Clear!" DeSoto answered.

Again, Sam was defibrillated. This time, the monitor settled into
an ominous, wavery unresponsive flatline, despite the best
CPR delivery possible.

Gage got a returning hail. ##Go ahead, 51.## came Early's quiet

Johnny handed the phone over to Roy when his voice faltered
in emotion on the first word.

Cap's eyes flashed to Gage some immediate sympathy.

DeSoto's face grew emotionless to match his voice. "Rampart, 39 year
old male. Down from cardiac arrest caused by a cerebral blow out.
We've defibrillated times two. No recapture. Showing a fine asystole
despite CPR and 100% O2. Noting a marked lack of reflexive neurological
signs during countershocks on the left side of his body. Pupils fixed and
dilated but I found his right eye responsive three minutes ago."

##10-4, 51. Attempt an IV of lactated Ringer's. Intubate with an
endotracheal tube and administer two milligrams 1/10,000 epinephrine by
ET. Then defibrillate again. Send me a strip.##

Roy complied. "ET. 2 mg's epinephrine through a pulmonary route
and countershock. Stand by."

The powerful stimulant was added a minute later. DeSoto suffered a
pang. The airway had gone in picture perfect without the spasming
complications that should have been there as leftovers from Sam's
recent grand mals. He glanced at Johnny. "It's in. Too easily." he said,
letting Johnny know Sam's absent deep neuro responses.

"Got my line, too." Johnny said, hitting the charger on the defib unit
almost too hard. "1....2..." he counted off, his voice audibly trembling.
"...3....400 watt seconds. Go, Roy..."

"Everybody clear!" said Roy, and they were. Sam's body lifted up
at the shock even less this time with muscular reaction, hardly any at all.
All the gang's eyes widened into sharp denial when the flatline returned
from its vertical dance upwards only to fall back to a new dead even level.

Stoker and Cap started in once again on their aggressive CPR.

##I see it, 51. Administer 1.5 mg/kg Lidocaine intravenously, 51. Repeat
every 3-5 minutes until a total of 3 mg/kg has been given. Also Bretylium
5 mg/kg IV.# said Joe, reading the monitor. ## Counter shock one more
time. If we don't get a rhythm, give another 2 mgs epinephrine by ET and
follow it with a 20 mg normal saline fluid bolus. Give one amp sodium
bicarb IV...##

Cap anticipated. "Marco, Kelly, go get a stokes. We're not waiting for
the ambulance guys to worm their way through the building in all this
dark. Move it quick."

"Faster than that, Cap..." Chet said, leaving the second oxygen tank
from the engine already cracked with a suction tube attached and laid out.
"Marco." he tossed to Lopez a spare lit flashlight.

##10-4, Rampart. 2 mgs epi endotracheally with a bolus flush normal saline.
One amp bicarb IV. Stand by for our fourth countershock..## said Roy.

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Kelly and Marco got mercifully out of earshot before they heard a repeat
of hollow sound as Sam's unreactive body was once again injected forcibly
with electricity. They didn't want to know the outcome they knew to be
fast arriving. Death was visiting through the storm and it was going to
take one of their own despite all of Roy and Johnny's desperate medical
fighting. They were grateful for the rain. It was good for hiding their sharp
tears of rising private grief.

The cluster of dispatchers hastened out of the way when Chet and Marco
returned and that broke them out of their gaping paralysis. The fire supe
began snapping orders. "Ok, everybody. Back at your stations! Give the
boys all possible room to work. Don't worry, Sam's being handled. But
Battalion Seven needs us to resume service to 51's area yesterday..  
Steve, Daphne.. work on clearing the west tower of lightning interference in
Blue 1. Burn the breakers if you have to! Bob, Scott, go kick the generators
a few times to see why the secondary network hasn't fired up yet to full power.

Cap shook his head sadly. ::They don't know it yet. Sam's gone. And I don't
think I'll be the one who tells them. It wouldn't be right.:: Gently, he cleared
Sam's lax face free of blood with his storm wet gloves while he offered him a
parody of life through the ventilator. ::I'm sorry Sam. We did the best we could.::

Right then, the lights came on and full power returned to L.A. Headquarters.
Battalion Seven's voice rang out over 51's multiple HTs. ##Nice work folks, L.A.
H.Q.'s southwestern communications network is back on normal service. All
Battalion units, return to your bases. I'm reading all channels green and clear..##

But then Cap heard one thing that tore his heart. "Sue, take over Sam's
console until we get a replacement called in. Make sure the paramedic calls he
was dealing with have been handled." said the dispatcher manager from the other


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Roy and Johnny made pests of themselves outside Sam's treatment
room while the crack neurologist surgical team worked. Finally, they were
gently, verbally, pushed out of the room's doorway.

Stoker nearly dragged himself out of the room, his T-shirt wringing with sweat
and rain water. His uniform shirt was tied off around his waist in an effort to
cool himself off.

"Are they still working him?" Gage asked Mike.

Stoker nodded yes and wandered off in the direction of the engine.

Outside, the storm was giving way to a bright dawn and peeks of pink and
lavendar from the sunrise were smoothly dissolving the black clouds at the

"Mike..what can you tell me?" Gage asked Stoker. Mike lifted a weary hand
and let it fall in dismissal as he walked away. He refused to answer. "Mike!"
Gage called out again. Loudly.

Roy stopped him. "Let him go. He was in there for
almost an hour and a half, working on Sam with the others. Let him go."

Dixie was the next to open the door of Sam Lanier's emergency surgical suite.
She immediately fetched up against Roy and Johnny trying once again
to see into the room. "Now, boys.. go on to the waiting room. No, wait a minute.
Scratch that. Roy, go wash up first. You've still got bl-- uh,.. you're still not
presentable enough to be seen by...visitors." she said softly, correcting herself.

They ignored her. "Dix, what's happening to him?" Gage said. "We've got to know.
Don't you know who that is?"

"Of course I know.." she hissed. "Who wouldn't know Sam?.. He's been in the
business longer than I have." She immediately amended her sharp tone. "Sorry.
This is going hard on all of us,..too." and she sighed quietly.

She noticed Johnny's shivering and set a warm hand on his to comfort him. A
passing nurse offered two sets of blankets to the paramedics to wrap
themselves in at just a glance at the blood on their uniforms. Dixie nodded her
thanks to Sharon and spoke. "He's on full life support with an internal pacemaker
in place." she said without cutting corners.

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Johnny sucked in his breath, turning away to hide his tearful reaction.

Roy shot a look of concern at his partner but he continued to worriedly
listen to Dixie.

McCall hurried her words as if she could smooth away the bad news.
"They've started Mannitol to stave off his increasing intracranial pressure. His
EEG is still showing activity.."

"Yeah, but how much?" Roy asked softly.

Dixie lowered her eyes. "Not enough. I'm sorry."  

Johnny bit his lip, wiping silent tears away angrily with a sleeve. He leaned
against the wall, studying the posters on it without looking at them. "And now
you're going to tell us that there's always hope, right?"

Dixie and Roy stayed still, both physically frozen in the face of
Johnny's self immolating pain.

"Right?!" Gage asked again, this time meeting their eyes squarely. His
brown ones were flooded with fresh liquid grief.

Dixie gripped Johnny's hand even tighter. "I wouldn't say anything
that wasn't absolutely G*d's given truth, Johnny Gage."

"Well my Creator certainly isn't giving me mine." he snarled.
Then his hand fished inside of his shirt for Nakoma's prayer sack.
He ripped it off violently and tossed its sodden soft deer skin's weight
to the tiled floor at his feet. It ruptured and a rumpled hawk feather
gushed out in a spreading pool of herbal stained water. "My tribal
elder said that I would either pay in blood or lose a blood tie soon
for past sins so Dixie, don't offer me your sympathy. I don't deserve it.
There's none that I'll accept in this world or from any other one for that
matter. I just lost a close friend today and it's entirely ...fault."

Johnny Gage left Roy and Dixie staring at the broken prayer sack
he had left abandoned and bleeding on the tiles.

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From :  Cory Anda <>
Sent :  Wednesday, March 30, 2005 10:47 PM
To :
Subject :  The Spirit Circles

The phone call came at noon, right when the gang had
roused from restless sleep that was filled with dreams of
overwhelming sadness of the night before. Everyone
was present at the kitchen table, sipping coffee, except
Johnny Gage.

"I understand, Mrs. Lanier. I-I'll let them know, right away.
Thank you for calling.. I-if there's anything that the boys
and I can do... Yes, Shara, we'll all be there come Monday
morning for him. And we'll bring the engine." Cap said quietly
into the receiver. He hung up the phone.

Marco, Mike, Roy and Chet all looked at him with close
unwilling attention but they knew even before Hank said it that
Sam Lanier had died on the surgical table.

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"The docs did everything they could, she told me. But
the damage was just too extensive. They found a large intact
aneurysm in between the two hemispheres of Sam's brain with a
smaller one burst right at his brain stem. That's the one that
knocked his heart and..and.. killed him." Hank reported
to his silent men.

"A berry aneurysm.." Roy said, nodding. "Sam didn't stand a
chance against one of those. He probably never felt anything
when it happened. That kind of stroke kills you pretty quick
after making you black out."

"Shara said that the docs told her that his having those aneurysms
was virtually undetectable. Sam would have had no prior
symptoms beyond a few tiny ones."

"Like his stuttering over the radio..." Roy sighed sadly.

"And very little if any pain.." Cap agreed. "She said that his condition
was most likely congenital. Sam's mother died from a stroke like
this one."

Stoker lifted his cup to drink his coffee but it never got to his
lips. "When's the funeral gonna be, Cap?"

"The chiefs have set it for Monday at sunrise with full
departmental honors and Shara wants us to be Sam's honor guards
for the precession at the front. Battalion Seven is commissioning a horse
drawn fire engine to be the vehicle to bear Sam's casket to the cemetery.
He....said it was only right for a man who's earned a medal of valor."

"Sam died while on duty. He ought to get one.." Chet sniffed, he
looked up after blowing his nose and wiping his eyes. "Where's
Johnny? Shouldn't he be up dated like the rest of us?"

"I thought he was still sleeping in the bunk room..." said Marco.

"Nah, he got up with the rest of us a half hour ago." Hank replied.
"I saw him in the bathroom, washing up."

"Then where is he?" Kelly wondered.

"Bark!" said Boot, standing in the kitchen doorway. He pointedly
looked towards the vehicle garage and back again.

Cap sighed. "He's probably in the backyard trying to warm up
in the sun. Guess we'd better let him know the outcome."

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"We'll come with you, Cap.." said Stoker, getting out of his chair.

The rest of the guys went with Hank.


Boot led the way to where Johnny was.

They found him sitting upright against the brick wall opposite
the garage doors on an intricate blanket of woven yarn, with a second
one draped over his uniformed shoulders, sound asleep against
the small maple tree. The sun on his face made Gage look worn
and tired.

"Oops, I forgot. I promised him that I'd come out here with him for
this thanksgiving bit every day at noon and at sundown." said Roy,
joining his sleeping partner, sitting cross legged on the blanket. He
took up the lit pipe resting on a seat of rocks and held it up into
the sun to spread a plume of its smoke to the wind before returning
it to its cradle. Then he placed a hand totem of leather bound
and beaded feathers into his lap and he began holding it in a reverent
manner in between his hands. It looked strange to the others
to see Roy doing that but somehow, it felt right and proper.

"You gonna wake him up so we can tell him?" Chet whispered.

"Nah. It's not like he can get sunburned..." said Roy. "I'm just
supposed to stay here with him for a while. I'll tell him
when he wakes up. He's pretty wiped out as it is. That rain got
him pretty cold last night."

"All right. Guys, let's give them a little peace to do what it
is they gotta do with all this." Cap said, indicating the pipe, and
the prayer blanket. "Guess this is a private thing."

"I'll make him eat." promised DeSoto. "Keep a pair of plates warming
in the oven for us." he said, yawning in the sunlight.

Hank nodded and the others left for the rec room to talk quietly
while they prepared lunch.

Soon, DeSoto and Gage and Boot were all alone in the quiet yard,
cocooned in the bright sunlight that was beating down on them.

Boot circled once on the edge of the ornately woven
blanket, facing the sun, and soon slept.

Roy drowsed, too, almost unbiddingly. Soon, his head fell
onto his chest and he began to snore.

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--  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --
A piercing whine brought Johnny sharply to as something plunked
heavily into the hands he had folded up in his lap. "Nageela? What are
you doing here?" he said, burying fingers deep into the wolf dog's thick
sun warmed coat. Johnny looked down and saw that the prayer sack
he had abandoned at the hospital was strangely intact with fresh
feathers and repacked with pungent spices.

A brush of wind and a voice got Johnny's attention and he shaded his
eyes as he squinted into the sun towards it to figure out what it was

The leaves on the tree behind him, weren't moving.

Nageela whined again, studying Johnny's face intently and she sat
back down on her haunches. The brightness of her eyes made Johnny
blink. ::I'm dreaming.:: he thought. ::I must have fallen asleep in the yard.::

"..So, Ya-laahe Kowechobe. We meet again...." said Nakoma, joining
Gage by sitting on the Indian blanket and crossing his legs in front of
him. "Nageela is returning that which rightfully belongs to you.." he said,
sweeping a wand of hawk feathers out to the prayer bag Johnny clutched in
his hands. "Put that back around your neck, Panther, so it can do its work
absolving you of--"

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"I don't deserve to be absolved, Nakoma. What you said...what you said
came true last night. I lost a very good friend on a rescue..." he said, his eyes
filling with tears.

"I don't understand you..." frowned Nakoma. Johnny sighed. Sometimes
the older elder wasn't very good with modern ways of talking.

"I watched his spirit...just leave under my hands as I tried to save
him. He died...."

Nakoma's eyes flashed and he smiled warmly, showing white teeth.
"Ah, I see now." said the old elder, reaching down and taking a smoke
from the lit pipe. He returned it to the rocks, resting it
near a familiar man's uniformed ankles.

Johnny startled when he realized that Roy was sound asleep next to him,
sitting up beside him, almost invisible in the plume of smoke rising from the pipe.

"The west wind brought the storm that took your Speaker, Johnny. His leaving
wasn't your doing at all. The Creator meant for him to go. It was his time.. You
know the bravest warriors are the first to return to the Great Spirit. Even those
who are only Miccosukee."

"But why, Nakoma? Did I cause his death by not honoring my life properly for
you?" Johnny cried out in grief.

"I am not responsible for Sam's death, Panther. And neither are you. No one can
say what circles one's spirit may travel in, until it does. Sam was not the blood nor
the blood tie you think he represents. You have it all wrong. I was referring to your
aunt and your sense of tradition." said the earthy clothed elder. He reached over
and retied the buckskin prayer sack around Johnny's neck. "Your blood is your
tribe, and she, your tie to it. If you turn away from what she holds dear, that is a death,
too. Don't mourn Sam, but let him go. Honor him for who he was and honor yourself
the way you are doing it right now! For that is the circle you must travel in order for
you to find yourself. Roy has decided to be here with us. Let him help you as well.
Boot will be good for your healing, too. For a dog is the Guardian of the Spirit.
Pay attention to them both and remember to not be afraid of your own spirit. It is
just circling as it must. Panther, in the next days, face to the east, and go on that path,
for that is the way that will lead you eventually to the truth that you are seeking."

--  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --

An angry car horn from the freeway jolted Johnny Gage awake. A soft
weight plunked down into both of his hands and smooth beadwork
caressed his hands as it tumbled down and into his grip.
Whatever it was, was also wet, having come from a panting, tooth filled
doggy mouth.

"Boot? Where did you get this?" said Johnny, sinking his fingers into
the station dog's warm, thick coat. "Who gave you my prayer sack?"

"I'm afraid I did." yawned Roy, coming awake next to him. "Sorry it got
wet. Boot got a hold of it and wouldn't let any of us near it. Guess he
just wanted to be the one to give it back to you. And before you yell
at me for tampering with it. Dixie and I decided that we couldn't bear up
against your aunt once you got back home from working the weekend
without that prayer sack around your neck. So we monkeyed with it on
our own. I..don't know if we fixed it up right. The seams came apart
at the sides there. That was easy enough to sew up with a suture kit.
And Dixie found new feathers to put inside of it.."

"Oh, yeah?.." Johnny said, "What kind?"


"Pigeon?" laughed Johnny.

Roy blushed, "Yeah, well it was the best we could do at the time.
The nurses knew where to find some since all the pediatric kids on the
fourth floor like to leave food on the ledges outside Rampart's playroom
windows for all the birds." he broke off as Johnny started shaking his
head in disbelief. "Did we do something wrong?"

Gage redraped the Indian blanket around himself and just smiled.
"No, in fact, I think you did things just right. I never did understand
the symbolism behind the hawk in my tribe's terms. Now, the pigeon,..I
think I understand very well. Now that bird's self sufficient, colorful..."

"..messy.." added Roy.

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"Just a little. But they're smart, too. They always like to stick close
together with the others. You know, Roy. Maybe they're supposed to be
my personal totem after all. They kinda suit me."  he said, retying the
delicate beaded and tasselled bag around his throat. He tucked it
underneath his shirt.

"But I thought your name was Panther. Or something like that."
DeSoto said, putting on his shoulder blanket so that they could
have the tea Johnny would make in a few minutes in the proper

"It is.. Orange Panther. But that isn't my animal totem, that's a proper
name, The name of the clan family my ancestors are from, in Florida.
Nakoma said that a man's animal totem always reveals herself
when the time's right."

"When the time's right..." echoed Roy, his face growing full and sad.
"Johnny, I'm afraid I have some very bad news to share with you.."

"I already know, Roy. Nakoma's already told me.."

Roy unconsciously looked around the yard. "He did?"

"Yeah. Sam died an hour ago, right when it finally stopped raining.
It was just as the sun was coming back out. I...think I felt him go..."
Gage sighed, fingering the lump his prayer sack made under his

"How do you feel? Are you still a little chilled?" Roy asked,
feeling Johnny's wrist for its temperature even as he smiled

"I'm better. I'm not cold anymore. Not at all."

"That's good. We were all worried about you when you stormed
out of Rampart like that to sit behind the squad full out under
all that rain."

"So when's the funeral? There's a few things I'd like to say for him."

"It's Monday.."

"I'll be ready... Isn't that right, Boot?" Gage said, affectionately
petting the mascot's sides from where he lay happily panting on
the Indian blanket.

Boot looked up and licked Johnny's nose.

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Sam Lanier's Theme. Click to Play. :)

From : Dr. Jeff Seltun <>
Sent: Thursday, March 31st, 2005  11:06 pm
Subject: The East Wind...

They had come. As many as could be spared on a busy
summer's day. There were so many firefighters arriving,
that a larger vehicle bay at L.A.'s shops was utilized for the
memorial service.  And all work ceased on the fleet of Wards
to honor a man fallen, in the best way known. By remembering.

Johnny Gage wiped his hands uneasily on his suit coat before
taking Chief Houts place at the microphone. He barely saw
Sam's picture on a framed stand with the medal of valor hanging
off one edge. He tried to focus on Roy's face, but he lost it in
the crowd, so instead, he chose Shara Lanier to speak to for
somehow, that made it easier.

" I have the hard memory, of being one of the last firemen, who
saw Sam Lanier while he was still here doing what he loved
and wished with all his heart to do, and that was to be a Los
Angeles County Fire Department Dispatcher. His last call
was to my station, my squad. Someone in a storm needed
us so Sam's voice was our guide. Things went as they sometimes
do, and we were soon free to answer another call for help. But
when we reached out once more for direction, Sam's voice had been
silenced. My friend and partner felt the same sense of ...something
gone terribly wrong. And so we went to where he was, only to find
that it was far too late to make a difference when we needed to

A tribal elder, one with whom I have ties at times, told me that
nothing is more valuable than blood and the bonds your family
and friends give you while you go throughout your life. Well, Sam
taught me the book about just that sort of life's lesson every day
of my working life. And I will ...dearly....miss him.

Nakoma, my elder, said to speak openly of the heart so that
I may heal myself of the pain my work sometimes brings. And
so let me speak now, to honor my friend, Sam.

Oh Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in those I serve,
and whose breath gives life to all the world,
Hear my heart.
Let me walk in safety, so that I may be strong for others.
May my eyes see how to save them, and nuture their life.
Make my hands do the things you have taught me,
and may my ears be sharp to hear you calling me on their behalf.
I am small and weak. I need your strength and wisdom.
Make me wise, so that I may learn the lessons
you have hidden in every trial that I may face.
I seek strength, not to be superior to my brother,
but to fight my greatest enemy - myself.
Oh Great Spirit, hear me.
Make me ready, so when life fades to a last sunset,
my spirit will come to you, and him, without shame.

I stood and I watched as a firebrother guided me,
as I always knew he would.
Then I heard that his home was in danger, so I ran to him.
He didn't die because he was old,
And he didn't die because he was in a wreck,
He died doing what he felt was right.

I watch a wife trying to hold back her tears,
Her beloved lived only 39 years,
Her husband had died 50 miles away,
and what is there left for me to say?
Yesterday, I got down on my knees and I said a prayer,
That he was the bravest soul I knew and I let him know that I cared.

For in a past day, I stood and watched as a little boy cried to me,
He didn't understand why his life was passing on,,
Why he'd never again play with his mother on the lawn.
Looking at the little boy's tears I knew,
That a firebrother used his voice, so that I'd be there.
Fighting for that child, until I had saved him
and little did I know that one day, I'd come, ...for him
and fight the same life's battle.  But ..I...we...lost..

Rest in honor and face the East Wind, Sam.
I'll be watching for you when it comes time for
me to leave the west, .." Johnny's face broke
flooding with tears and at long last, filled with
a self understanding smile..."..and come home.."

::Thank you, Nakoma, for showing me life.::


     Sacred Ground  
        Episode Nineteen
  Emergency Theater Live


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