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   Angels Of Light    
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            Page One

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From: patti keiper <>
Sent: Thursday, October 19, 2017 10:42 AM
Subject: Caps  

The smell of coffee was a siren's call to Nurse Dixie McCall.  It was five in the morning
at Rampart Hospital and all was well. ::For now.:: she mused, padding soft shoes
down the quiet hallway towards the doctor's lounge.  She slipped inside of the door
nimbly from the shadows, after carefully looking around for any eye witnesses.

Kel Brackett looked up from the stocks page he was perusing. "Come to raid your
boss's pantry?  Behold the guardian at the gate." he teased, dragging over the tin
of Folder's ground coffee into his arms protectively.

Her cover blown, Dixie plopped down into a chair with her painfully empty white
china mug plastered in red roses. "I've got a coin for safe passage, Dr. Charon.
See if you can route the River Styx up to the administator's office. He needs to
forget a few things pronto." she grumbled.

Her doe eyed face was so frustrated already, that Kel relented and got up to pour
her the forbidden brew himself. "Oh?  Was there something I missed in last week's
departmental briefing?"

"So good. This." she sighed, sipping gratefully."I'll say, Kel. How about the staffing
budget for starters? Oshiro's way off in thinking that we can get by on his latest dollar
figure per month. I outlined clearly to him last month that we need three more nurses
on the floor in the E.R. just to keep up on the weekends. Our surrounding population's
boomed. Any a.m. traffic jam getting into work shows him that every day. I don't know
how Oshiro can't connect dots as obvious as those."

"He probably flies in." chuckled Kel.

Dixie glared at him. "You're not helping."

Dr. Brackett conmiserated. "It takes time to increase any hospital spending. But
it'll get there. They're already building new labs and getting another landing pad
by the parking lot."

"Whoop de ding. Now we can get more patients faster and test them for longer.
Look, Kel. I get the whole profits thing. A hospital boils down to being just another
business in the long run."

"Yeah, at the mercy of all the pharmaceutical and medical supply manufacturers.
What a bandaid costs dictates my salary."  he frowned.

"Never thought of it that way." Dixie sighed. "Guess I'm sheltered at being paid
hourly. But still, can you rattle the Underworld upstairs and get me a few more
bodies to work with?  My overtime budget'll thank you instantly."

"You guys have a budget cap?"

"Oh, yeah, Mr. Yearly-Salaried-In-The-Stratosphere. And it's even tighter
than the E.R.'s equipment purchasing cap."

"How low?"

"We can hand out six dollars an hour for a brand new nurse fresh out of RN

"Ouch! That's insane!"  Brackett yelled.

"See what I have to work with just to make a living?" McCall smirked.

"Now I see why you snuck in here for a lake of java. To drown out all your misery."
Brackett sighed, mulling over the problem. "Tell you what, I'll gather the other
doctors together and we'll see what we can do. Now I'm not proposing you
nurses go on strike or anything. It's far too soon for that, Dix. What I mean
is maybe we physicians can set up a scholarship fund, to pay for fresh nursing

"That's a nice idea. But that'll take months to implement, Kel. And we've got
the whole summer coming ahead of us." McCall said.

"The busy season." Kel grimaced.

"Yep." Dixie said, gulping down a huge mouthful of steamy fortification.

"Hmmm." he mulled. Then he snapped his fingers. "I got it! How about using
mutual aid? Don't we have some sort of state program where we can activate
staff on calls between hospitals based on immediate arriving case numbers?"

McCall's mouth flopped open in discovery. "We do! Oh, Kel. I completely forgot about
that. That loophole may be the answer to everything! For this morning and for every
other morning that'll roll in afterwards. Thank you so much for that alternative angle..
I'll get right on it." and she shot out the door, abandoning her empty coffee cup.  

"Your welc--"  Kel broke off, grinning in amusement as the door shut behind her.

He studied her mug, which was still curling up steam, with a smile.


Johnny Gage was on the payphone, calling around desperately. "Look, operator.
Don't hang up.. I'm on my last d--"  *click*  And the phone went dead.
"Oh, for crying out loud! I'm just trying to find my wallet."  he hissed, slamming
the phone receiver back onto its cradle.

"Easy on fire department equipment, Gage. We've got a limited budget."

"Ma Bell owns this, Cap. Not us." Johnny told him. He ambled over to where the
rest of the gang was happily chowing down breakfast eggs and bacon. "Where's
the toast?"

"In the frig. Toaster's broken." Mike Stoker shared. He held out his hand. "Got a
few dimes to contribute to the cause?"

"I'm fresh out." Johnny glared. "Didn't you see me over there?"

"Did you check your floorboards in the car?" Hank asked. "When I drop a wallet,
that's where it goes most often."

"I wasn't that lucky." Gage moped, sinking into a chair and staring at his
scrambled sunny sides going cold on his plate. "It's gone. And a million places
where I've been last night to check out."

"We can always ask around in between runs." Roy DeSoto suggested.

"Yeah, I guess we can do that. It's not like I had a ton of cash on me. But it
was grocery money for a week. I think I'm in for a bit of starving myself at home."

The rest of the gang didn't hesitate. They all reached into their wallets and started
pulling out dollar bills and fives to lay on the table in front of Johnny.

"Eat. We've got your back. That's the beauty of the fire department." Cap told
him. "Pay us back later. But hurry. You've got three seconds to shovel it in."

"What? Why three--"

EEEoooOOOWWWWWwwwww. The tones wailed from the overhead speaker.

"See?" Chet shrugged. "At least that karma's still working for ya." he laughed,
sucking in his last gooey egg skillfully from his plate like tea from a saucer.
"Let's go, Johnny. That one's for all of us."
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From: patti keiper <>
Sent: Sunday, January 7, 2018 5:26 PM
Subject: Drop

##Station 51. Other agency assist at East Harbor Beach.  Possible
drowning. Cross street McNealy. Time out:  09:44.##

Captain Stanley picked up the alcove microphone after writing
down their response address. "Station 51 copies. K.M.G. 365."

Mike Stoker revved up Engine 51 and followed Squad 51 out of the
apparatus bay as it made a left turn down the boulevard.

Johnny Gage looked at Roy, who was concentrating on the traffic
moving around and away from their lights and sirens. "I wonder
why the lifeguards need us?" he asked. "That's way the heck away
from our service area."

"Well, it's not associated with a boat or the coast guard would've had a
chopper in the air already to meet us at the pierside heliopad. Could be
a structural collapse of some kind." DeSoto guessed.
"That would involve us for any technical rescue."

Their radio crackled, truck to truck. ##Engine 51 to Squad 51.
Where we're headed is an ongoing estuary project with
experimental tidal water flow. Chief McConnikee told me at
the cap's meeting last week that this place is a kid magnet.
No caves but there are several large cisterns and artificial
springs that the city can't seem to barricade effectively enough.##

"10-4." Gage replied. "Well that answers that." he said, hanging up
the radio mic again. He startled when an inattentive driver suddenly
darted out in front of them from Roy's blindside. "Whoa! Watch him,
Roy! The idiot!"

The young teen in the white charger just sped ahead of Squad 51 with
a one finger salute at Gage's double horn tap, and disappeared into
the crunch of morning rush traffic. Johnny was so worked up, his face
was ruddier than usual.

"Get his plate?" DeSoto grinned.

"Sure did." Johnny huffed, still coming down from being startled. "I got it
right here." he declared, waving his pocket notebook around. "Too bad we're
not equipped with a car phone like Battalion is, or I'd be calling right now to
report that teenager."

DeSoto remained sharp and alert as he steered into the open spaces
other drivers were making for them, and shrugged. "Just feeling his oats.
Kids are kids. I've got two teenagers now. And one of them beginning
to act just like our driver here. But he's going to settle down fast. Starting
today." he chuckled.

"Oh, yeah, how are you going to accomplish that?" Gage smirked.

"I'll let him handle getting his first speeding ticket solo. I've already
prearranged that with Vince by telling him my son's route home from
school every day. Howard's glad he's going to be a firm lesson, believe

"Will it take long for that to happen?" Gage began marveling at
this surprise Roy's tough father role coming out of his partner.

"He'll be in jail by tonight most likely. That'll wake Chris up a whole lot.
I want my honor roll super sweet son back before the sun rises."

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"Your oldest is turning into a rebel?" Gage gaped.

"Probably not. Just a few late zits popping out. A girl teased him last week about it
and now he can't decide if he's a man or still a boy in her eyes. Driving fast
is a direct leftover from their watching a James Dean movie on a date."
Roy analyzed.

"Who figured all that out?"  

"Joanne. She's a good mother like I've been telling you for years. We'd decided
as early as our honeymoon, that no kid of ours is ever going to turn bad and stay
that way." DeSoto nodded with conviction.

"Whoops. Eyes front." Johnny pointed nervously as the squad got close to the
back of a police squad car on silent reds heading to another call in the area.

"I see him." Roy shared a nod with the officer as he let him take the open space
in front of them when he saw a hand on a gun as a signal that the policeman
was on a still active weapons crime call.  "I wonder who's getting robbed
today?" he asked Gage.

"It's probably another bank. If so, that would be number six so far this week
for California."  Johnny replied.

"Glad I'm not a cop." Roy shivered. "A guy could get killed that way."

"You think being a firefighter's all fun and games?" Gage huffed.

Roy didn't even glance at him. "Boy you're full of salty questions this morning.
What's eating you?"

"Nothing. I'm.... well, ...okay.  I lost my wallet because I think a date got me a little
drunk last night." Gage confessed uneasily, focusing inwardly on himself in acute

"What a cougar." DeSoto chuckled about his partner's mystery lady.

"She was my age! But yeah, she took advantage of me. The whole nine yards. Are
you happy?" Gage frowned.

"No." Roy said levelly. "You don't have to see her again if it was... ..rape." he whispered,
looking away to give his buddy some pride.

"Sex with that woman was entirely mutual, Roy. I just....can't remember it."

"That's a first."  DeSoto said straight faced.  "So that's what's really bugging you?"

"Yeah. A whole lot." Gage said, leaning on the open window frame with an elbow
as he rubbed his face.

"Try not drinking next time. Doesn't take much alcohol to cloud the mind in the heat
of the moment. For me, that equals about...two beers." DeSoto shared.

"Two beers?  Why I can... well.  I really don't like alcohol. But this chick said she
wouldn't go out on our date without sharing a giant margarita from Morrie's."

Roy just grinned slyly. "She tipped the bartender to double pour your tequila.
That's a really old trick to watch out for, Johnny. That's why you should always
get any drinks for the both of you on any date."

"Okay, already. Not too proud of myself. I let myself get stupid." Gage slumped.

"Over a girl. That's easy to do, Johnny. We're men."   DeSoto told him in an attempt
to cheer Gage up.

Gage chewed on that a while. Then he said. "Thanks for understanding, Roy."

Roy's copper hair flashed in the wind as he looked over at Johnny.
"No problem. But if I were you, because she used drunk bedding on ya,  I'd make
doubly sure she wasn't the one who took your wallet."  Roy said mildly.

"No chance of that. She's native. We don't steal from each other. Maybe our women
can be a little domineering at times.. but that's... kind of attractive."

"Then think of how your date went in a new light. You were her conquest in battle.
Sure sounds like she pulled a counting coup move on you to me."

"I was the enemy?" Johnny's mouth dropped clear open, revealing crooked teeth.

"You're not that easy to get to like at first." DeSoto frowned, being totally frank.
"You come across as being all over the board on any first impressions."

Johnny finally relaxed. "I think I can live with that, Roy. But boy, I tell ya,
I'm sure going to be the man in charge the day I finally get married." he said,
snapping his notebook against his palm with a smack.

"Good luck with that." Roy sighed,  speeding up a little as the bulk of traffic
disappeared from their direction of emergency travel. "Joanne rules the house,
like a boss."


Station 51 pulled up sharply at the sight of a park official wearing a red emergency
vest. The man was soaking wet.

"Over here!"

"Can you reach the victim?" Cap asked, throwing on his turnout coat and opening
a compartment door for a wench, life belt harnesses and a set of canvas flotation

"No. He's too far down into the runoff grill. We don't have anything to cut away
the rebar blocking the way."  

"Mike, Chet, Marco... grab the sawsall, jaws and a few crowbars. Roy, Johnny. We've
an inaccessible entrapment." He told his paramedics when the ran up to join them.

"Is he still alive?" Gage asked the ranger.

"He hasn't turned dark blue yet if that answers the question. That water's sun warmed."
the park man said, turning around to show them the way to the site at a run.

"Brownie points for no hypothermia." Roy muttered as he and Gage grabbed up
full immobilization and resusitation gear. "But he's down in a hole. Might have
extremity trauma on top of water ingestion."

"That'd be my guess too." Johnny said, snatching up the Datascope defibrillator
and a stokes basket from the back hatch.

"Let's go!" Hank hollered. "It's not far!"
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It was like they had stepped deep into wild scrubland even though they could still
hear the snarl of thousands of commuters whizzing by on the expressway. Birds
sang from tall mesquite stands and thick green moss blanketed the ground.

"Wow, I'd say this project's working out. It's like a jungle in here." Gage

"That's why the kids always come, we think. They're from the city, they've never
seen parkland this lush before." the ranger shared.

"So we were told."  Hank replied. "How much farther?"

"About fifty yards."  the ranger answered, hustling up a ridge that flanked
an honest to goodness waterfall that was splashing down into the
concrete box of the L.A. river bed far below. "I've sent my partner
to the road to go meet an ambulance. They're already on the way."

The gang and the ranger finally arrived to a green arroyo, ringed with
tall eculyptus trees and spanish moss. Below was a pond, the source
of the waterfall, that sported lilypads, ferns and frogs.

The storm grill in question was nestled in between natural bedrock boulders
like a door canted forty five degrees from the vertical. There were signs that
the soil around the edges had been dug away with the two garden shovels
lying on the creek's banks.

DeSoto pushed by the ranger and aimed a flashlight down into the drain.
"He's not alone." Roy shared as he caught flashes of pale skin and red
shirt in the water flow cascading down around the unconscious boy's body.

He could see their victim was lying in between two grills, the one
in the hill blocking their access and the second, acting as a catch,
holding him up from what looked like a very long plummet down
into darkness.

The ranger was surprised. "What?!"

"There are two tools lying on the ground over there. You can't tell me
this boy dug this hill out using two hand shovels at the same time."

"Holy cow.." the young park official moaned. "I had no idea. I thought
we were going to be fine on this one."

"What do you mean by that?" Cap asked, setting a hand on the ranger's
shoulder to get his attention. "What other kinds of obstacles are down
there besides these two drains we can see?"

"Underneath this short drain, lies an underground lake. It's deep..
There's no light. And..there's no wall ladder anywhere, leading back
up to this grotto."

Roy felt sick to his stomach. "Maybe his friend got scared and ran
away. Who called you?""

"Nobody." said the ranger. "We saw the boy here squeeze inside and fall,
just as we got here to do a water quality check on this cistern."

"Do you think a second kid got through first ahead of him?" Gage clarified,
moving out of the way so Stoker and the others could start force cutting
the grill bars open.

"I can't see where else another kid might go. We're inside the intersections
of four freeways which box in this marsh project area." the park man replied.

"How far down is this lake?" Chet grunted, helping Marco cut steel in
a fly of sparks with the sawsall's blade. The cold fire of molten metal
splattered against his safety glass visor.

"Five stories." the ranger replied reluctantly. "It's... a tidal cave with
a network of underwater tunnels that siphon themselves out to sea
with the tide twice a day."

Roy looked at his watch reflexively for the time and saw that it
was low tide currently, on the beaches.

"Oh my God. The outflushing siphoning's already begun."
cried the ranger. He sat down hard on the ground, in total

"I'll go call the L.A. recovery dive team." Cap said softly, running back
to Engine 51.

"The second child might still be alive down there." the park man yelled,
getting angry.

"Not from a fall from that height. Not with broken bones." Hank told
him. "And not with that kind of undertow current force working."

DeSoto shoved the death out of his mind and got to work fast for
their survivor.  He and Johnny set up suction and got a short spine
board ready with plenty of splints and gauze wrap to secure the boy's
probable injuries.

"I'll go in. I'm thinner." Johnny said as soon as the grill was peeled aside
by the others. "Tie me off and snub it off that tree! " he said, fashioning
a sliding slip knot off of his life belt's large caribiner snaffle.

Cap, Marco, Chet and finally the ranger all got onto his rope while Roy
got onto the biophone set up in a thicket of reels a short distance

"Give me some slack!" Johnny hollered as he shoved a pair of goggles
down over his eyes to protect them from the streams of water
raining in from the seeping spring just outside. He clutched a peds size
oral airway in between his teeth as he repelled down into the soaking
darkness of the cistern chamber.

"Rampart, this is Rescue 51. How do you read?" DeSoto hailed,
plugging in the biophone's radio antennae swiftly. There was no
immediate reply. He glanced up at the ranger. "Can you radio out
from here on your handy talkies?"

"Oh, yeah. The repeater's right there at the top of the ridge. No

Roy was halfway into his second hail when Nurse Dixie McCall
responded over the airwaves. ##Unit calling in please repeat.##
she said.

"Rampart this is Rescue 5-1. At the scene of a pair of pediatric falls
and aspirant water ingestion. One victim is a fatality. The second
is inaccessible for another few minutes. Gross cyanosis on
the second male under age ten,  is not evident on a visual. Please
stand by."

##Standing by 51.##  Dixie clicked the pause button on the incident
recorder in the glass alcove room where she was, and quickly got on the
red phone that was set on the wall above the communications equipment

"This is Nurse McCall. We've a child drowning with trauma coming in with
51's. Have Respiratory and a trauma surgeon ready for Treatment One
a.s.a.p." she told the hospitral operator.  "Thanks."

Back at the estuary project the gang was tightly ringed around the
ground hole Johnny had passed through, holding his life line
in firm grips.

A new crew of rangers had arrived and they were actively sandbagging
the creek to shut off its active fresh water flow into the cistern where the
firefighters were working. Hank had no idea how they had brought in
the bags of sand until he saw the horses rigged with carrying racks,
standing in a clearing.

Johnny looked up at Chet, whose face was the only one he could
see above him in the sunlight through the earthen drain hole.
"Kelly, toss me down your flashlight!"

Chet pulled it from his jacket pocket. "Ready when you are!" he
hollered back, turning it on so it could be seen.

Gage, gasping as he hung on his rope next to the boy he could
feel through his gloves, shouted back up. "Okay. Drop it!"

He caught the muddy torch deftly and quickly shoved it under his
arm so he could see his patient's head under its light. He hadn't even
checked for a pulse before he inserted the oral airway into the
boy's mouth and between his teeth. He saw steam curling in
and out of the Berman's tube aperature. "He's still breathing.
Okay for now."

Gage smelled vomit in the air. And blood. "He's injured. Let
me stop any bleeding before you belay down that other belt."

With the torchlight pushing away the darkness above the distant
underground lake swirling far below their feet, Johnny located
serious issues. "Arterial blood from the left hand." He immediately
took up a radial pressure point to staunch it enough so he could wrap
it up with dressing gauze from his pocket. "Two tib fib fractures
of the lower legs." he mentioned of the pair of backward facing
sneakers he could see in outline. "Left sided abdominal
distension, no penetrating wounds. Putting on a collar!"
he shouted back up.

He no sooner fastened the last velcro strap around the boy's
neck when the soggy dirt around them began to give way in a river
of mud down on top of them.

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From: patti keiper <>
Sent: Sunday, March 18, 2018 4:50 PM
Subject: Tick, Tick.

Johnny reached for his plastic bag wrapped handy talkie and pressed talk.
"Cave in!  We're getting buried here!" he shouted, wrapping his legs
tightly around the boy to keep him from falling into the underground
lake far below.

"Gage?!" Cap yelled down into the cistern's access hole. "Snub his line.
Jump on it! Hold it still! We got you!"

Chet, a park engineer, Marco and Cap all threw themselves on Johnny's
rope and kept it from moving while the paramedic struggled to hold
both his weight and the boy's sodden, limp body's, against the
strong flow of mud raining down on top of them.

"You all right?!" Roy DeSoto shouted, lying belly down with his
arms and legs spread wide to evenly distribute his weight. Roy
started gasping as he aimed a flashlight down deep to see how bad
the earth had given way. "Johnny! Answer me!"


Dr. Joe Early was making his rounds casually. No Urgent Care patient as yet
had needed his services as the on call family physician in the E.R.. He was
enjoying the peace and quiet inside of the glass alcove room as he sipped
a cup of coffee, his routine floor charts cradled lightly in the other arm.

Dixie McCall, at the desk in the busy waiting area, glanced sidelong at
him through the window and smiled. She got up off of her stool
and entered the base station to visit. "Well, well, well. Look who's
hiding from the rest of the world in here."

"Dixie... Me? Hiding? That's more Dr. Brackett's forte than mine. He
actually disappears out of anyone's sight when he gets away. I'm still
keeping an eye on things. And my laid back, coffee drinking mind, is still
working on these." he said, hefting up his case load charts crooked in his
elbow. "Our illustrious boss's. He's already made his clean
get away after dumping them on me."

"I was joking, Joe. Keep chugging your name sake. You're gonna need it
in about twenty minutes." McCall sighed.


"It's 51's. They've got a multi-trauma pediatric coming in from a park
cistern fall."

"Not another one." Dr. Early frowned. "I can't understand why the city won't
put up a fence around that wetland project like a good little municipality."

"That's just it." McCall remarked, grabbing up her own cup of coffee from
the counter near the paramedic receiver. "That land's co-owned by Torrance,
Carson, AND the city of Los Angeles because of shared water rights. Each
keeps passing the buck on who's gonna raise the funding to erect barriers
around that area's public parkland. There's been issues of access that aren't
being addressed. For instance, which city's going to be getting the pay
gate to enter the park? There can only be one public entrance in, by
state law. And everybody wants the visitor fees to collect as taxes."
she shrugged.

"You sound knowledgeable." Joe grinned wryly.

Dixie groaned, frustrated.
"Have to be, Joe. I live right next to the d@mned place. I'm getting sick of
seeing coroner's wagons leaving the park every time a child dies in there
for stupid reasons."

"Why can't the cave cisterns be gated off?"

"Because transients and vagrants jumping off the railroad lines keep
cutting open the grill bars to get in there to bathe or drink from the
collection pool at the head of the subterranean pipe entrances leading
to the underground lake."

"Hmmm. Expensive. And that kind of vandalism falls under the jurisdiction
of the.." Dr. Early surmised.

".. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who pays the park rangers peanuts
just to patrol the place. They don't have the funds to keep forking out
repair bills to the welders every other day when bums break in using
stolen train yard tools." Dixie explained.

"Catch 22." Joe said. "My guess would be that even with the fencing,
people would still get in there because of all the unusual green and
running creek water so far from the mountains."

"No bet." Dixie nodded, setting down her coffee cup thoughtfully.  
She got a sudden chill that made her rub the hair down over goosebump
flesh on her forearms. "Oooo. Something's not right." she murmured,
glancing around the alcove room.

"Uh oh." Joe murmured.

Both their eyes fell on the live fire department scanner that had been turned
down by someone intercepting a paramedic call earlier in the morning. McCall
turned it back up again.

The county speaker, was red lit and active.

##U.S.A.R. 103 copies, Engine 51. We'll rendevous at the outtake with our
divers at cave lake level. We'll swim in to orient beneath your trapped
man. Maybe he can't respond to you because his hands are full hanging on to
the male child victim.##

##There's that.## came Captain Stanley's voice. ##But that can't explain
why he can't bounce on his lifeline rope to signal up to us that he's fine.
From what we can tell from up here, the mudslide's over.##

##Copy that.  We'll scope his position with hand held search lights.
Maybe we'll be able to see what the issue is from our end down below.##  
came the reply from U.S.A.R.'s lieutenant in charge.

##Appreciate it. You already know about the second victim fatality.
He's the reason why you were called to make your recovery. Keep in
touch.## Stanley transmitted.

##10-4. I've two going in right now. Let Accountability know for us?##

##Appreciate it, 103. Will do.## Cap answered.

Both nurse and doctor grimaced, while they continued to listen to the

"May Heaven protect little boys and brave paramedics." McCall whispered.

"Who?" Joe asked her, about the firefighter's identity.
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"It's Johnny Gage. He's the one they always send down on calls like this.
It's because he's so scrawny."

Dr. Early scowled. "We should fatten him up before the next time.
Why should he take all the risks? He's not a U.S.A.R. specialist."
Early grumbled fervently, fiddling with the rings on his fingers.

"That day's coming. For all of them." Dixie shared. "I heard this
from his captain."

"Good. They'll have better gear and equipment to work with that way."
Joe Early picked up the white phone receiver on the wall. "I'm
calling in a second surgeon solely based on your dimple skin hunch,

"Why do I always have to be right?" she nodded at him, acknowledging
the plan, with unhappy eyes. ::Stay smart, Johnny.:: she wished mentally.
::Keep watching and using that spastic head of yours. It just may bail
your butt out of this one.::


A driver on the 405 going sixty slammed on his brakes and laid on
the horn as the bolting form of a shaggy dog shot past him across
all the lanes of traffic for a nearby hillside next to the L.A River
bed. "Watch out, you crazy mutt!" he hollered, recovering control of
his semitruck in a haze of blue white rubber tire smoke.

Undeterred, the stray dog kept on running straight as an arrow
up a steep incline, and into a park canyon as if his life depended
on it.  

The knee high gold, black and gray coated, brown eyed dog panted
heavily as he made a beeline for a distant pair of fire station trucks
he could smell in the distance.

Station 51's.


Chet Kelly heard the commotion long before he saw the cause. "What th--
Marco, watch your six, there's an animal coming like a bat outta Hell
behind us."

Lopez turned and gripped his jacket haligan as a defense tool as he
whirled about to face it, crouching low.

A bush exploded in a shower of leaves as Boot, their once station dog
rushed up and past them to the hole where Johnny Gage's rope stretched
taut in the grip of three firefighters. He started barking frantically
there, without cease.

"Boot? Heya, pal! Long time no see." Cap grinned quickly. But then Boot's
urgency wiped the smile completely off his face. "Okay. What's going on
down there with Johnny? We heard from him just a minute ago before
it cut off. Nothing good?" he asked the dog.

Boot looked up only once at Hank and the others before he started digging at
the dry earth surrounding the gap leading into the partially caved in cistern
drain, at a fever's pace, whining loudly.

"Wow. Who's this?" asked the park ranger. "He shouldn't be in that area.
The earth's still like quicksand from that mudslide."

"Let him be. His instincts are solid. That's Boot, a stray we know to be a
very good rescue dog." Cap told him, listening close to his handy talkie while
peering down into the collapse hole.

Stoker added more, rechecking the tie off he had made fast on Johnny's rope.
"Ran away from us two years ago to hole up with another fire station. He hits
every one we've got in rotation and hangs out for a few months or so with each.
Only goes far and long outside when there's somebody in trouble. It's how we met
over a decade ago."

"D@mn." cursed Hank, as L.A.'s continuous hail to Gage continued to
go unanswered. "Why isn't he talking?  The radio's not washed out or we'd
be hearing feedback over our channel from a speaker short." he told

Roy DeSoto shouted down into the darkness with a retrieved megaphone.
"Johnny!?  Can you hear us? U.S.A.R. will be staging down below in three.
If you can't talk to us, see if you can signal them instead!"


Gage was in semi darkness and holding himself and the gravely posturing injured
boy very still in a grip with both his arms and his legs. He had long ago ripped
out the battery to his radio and flung it down into the lake. Once the mudslide
had ended, he had found himself cocooned in the soft papery weight of hundreds
of old TNT dynamite sticks. ::One spark or violent jarring motion, could set them
off.:: he realized. ::They must have cascaded out of that antique gold miner's
chest hanging above us once the mud stopped moving. It's only a miracle that we
haven't blown ourselves and everybody else within a hundred yards up sky high

He could feel the unconscious boy dying in spasms against him while the growing
stench of rotten gun powder began to burn his eyes and nose::Not like this.
Oh, please.::

Before the cave in, Johnny had stopped the boy's hemorrhaging from his hand and legs.
But it had only been afterwards, when he had seen the fatal signs of brain stem
compression in his eyes. He felt the agonal Cheyne Stokes pattern of breathing, begin.
"Easy, little guy. I am so sorry I can't save you." he gasped. "But you won't be
alone when you go. I'll be here with you, only a heartbeat away. Try not to move."
he said, struggling to contain the boy's subconscious wriggling, physically, with
gentle restraint. "You can't move one inch." Gage panted. "It's not safe at all."
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Another unstoppable flutter of falling TNT sticks rolled out and fell on top
of their heads. Gage flinched, holding his breath, waiting for their last moment
of life together. Then the deep silence returned, as a leaking, very sticky
dynamite stick came to rest against his cheek. It now ended, any further out
loud talking, with finality.


Above, Boot continued to dig.  And the gang's worry began to build.

"He's got his flashlight, a haligan tool. That oxygen we lowered down to him."
Roy listed off in another assessment of their situation with Cap. "He's probably
just too busy using them. Especially if the kid's stopped breathing."

"Search probe. Let's use that, Cap. Then we can see for ourselves what's going on."
Chet suggested.

"Get on it." Hank told him. "And move the trucks back. We don't want to trigger
another slide down there. I'm calling for heavy excavation equipment. We're
literally in over our heads."  Cap hailed Headquarters. "L.A., Engine 51. Request
Heavy Crew Twelve to our location. Approximate rope distance down to our victims is
seventy feet next to a full creek bed."

##Engine 51. Rolling Siphon Nine to handle your water flow. E.T.A. 10 minutes.##

"Copy the additional. Respond two ambulances in a standby."

##10-4, Time out: 12:59.##

It was only moments when Kelly ran back with the powered case containing the
search probe equipment. He started assembling it quickly, adding lengths of
fiberglass pole to the camera eye assembly tip's cup.

"Sure wish we could read his brain." Chet remarked to Stoker as he worked.

"What? Gage?  We already know what he's thinking. He wants out of there. That and
he really wants that kid to survive long enough to make it to the hospital where
truly skilled hands better than his can really save the day on a more permanent
note." Marco chuckled.

"I meant Boot. Look at the way he's staring at us right now." Kelly clarified.

The dirt encrusted fire dog was no longer moving soil out of his hole. He was
actually glaring at Chet and Marco, and rumbling a little.

Marco outright laughed. "He's telling us to hurry up so he doesn't have to rescue
Johnny and the boy all by himself."

That cracked a smile out of the rest of the gang for a few seconds.

"That's peculiar." Hank agreed with Kelly about Boot. "Maybe he ate some bad
chili." he joked.

Boot jolted to his feet, still keeping eyes on Marco and Chet intently, watching
their every move...until they started for the cistern tunnel opening. Then he
let out an actual full throated growl and launched himself onto the probe pole,
biting down and tugging hard.

"Hey, Boot! Stop it right now. No time to play! Gage is in trouble big time!"
admonished Marco.  Kelly actually threw a glove, hard, at Boot's face.
Boot yelped, but didn't let go until he literally dragged Marco and Chet away
from Gage's gap by the search pole.

Cap held up a hand, "Wait a moment. Boot. Hey, boy. Is it this you don't want?"
he asked, kicking the pole's handle.

Boot promptly dropped his grip on the probe's end and barked once, immediately
ignoring it, even the part lying painfully across his front feet.

"Drop it, Kelly. You, too, Lopez. Let's see what happens." Hank guessed.

They did so.

Boot immediately returned back to digging in his hole next to the rescue rope
threading down into darkness.

Hank frowned, eyeing up all of his men. "That.. was a firm dog's no.. in my
book. Do we all agree on that?"

Roy was looking at Boot as if he had grown a third eyeball. "That was odd
for him. What does he know that we don't?"

"I think we'd better find out a.s.a.p." Cap reasoned, squatting down by
Boot to soothe away the dog's visible resulting guilty qualms, about
forcifully correcting his firefighter companions. "Okay, Boot, you win.
No probe. D@mned if I know the reason why not."

Fifteen minutes later, as Twelve was warming up their backhoe and extension
crane, there came a shock.

Boot had reversed out of his dig tunnel, while the department heads talked
rescue, carrying a familiar object of danger, which they all knew too well.

"Whoa!! Oh, G*d, no, boy! Put it down!" startled the park ranger who
tripped over backwards and started scrambling desperately away from
a very patient, seated Boot who was holding a dusty piece of dynamite
in his muddy jaws.

The gang equally reacted and ran away from Boot swiftly. From behind the
safety of the fire engines, Kelly shouted. "Boot, put that down."

"In the creek, boy." Stoker added, gasping in fright. "Go bury your bone
in the creek, like you used to do with them in your water bowl at home.
Bury your bone, Boot. It's yours."  

"He does what?" Kelly asked.

"Chet, will you just shush!" Hank hissed.

"Boot. Now. Boot." Mike prompted the dog softly, forcing a
reassuring smile that he didn't feel, onto his face.

Casually, Boot carried his lethal load past them and down the hill to
the creek bank where he dropped it with eminent doggy satisfaction,
into the swift current. Immediately, the unstable nitroglycerin and
decaying blasting powder soaked through as it sank, and was rendered

Everyone present dropped to their knees in relief and shock.
Hank rattled out new orders. "Shut your radios off. All of these
vehicles, we back five hundred feet down the road. Stoker, get the bomb
squad here pronto. H*ll, tell everybody! We might have a large
quantity of miner age TNT artifact in the cistern tunnel if Boot found
that one up here buried so shallow."

Roy glared at the ranger. "Don't you people survey a little first before
building a whole new underground water system?!"

The man was visibly shaken. "Not my department. That's..."

"The Department of the Interior, yeah, I know." Cap sighed in irritation.
"Safe buffer!  Red zone, yellow zone, green zone! Got that! Nobody in
the first two without full blast armor protection!"      

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"Now we know why Gage shut his mouth so fast." Chet said quietly.

"He must be scared sh*tless." Roy fussed, beginning to pace behind
the bulk of the engine. "I sure wish I could talk to him. Oh, no, Boot.
Don't go back. Hey, no!"  DeSoto leaped in vain to try and stop him
and missed. He was forced to retreat back to the safe zone while Boot
returned to his aggressive digging.

Hank was deadly quiet. "If he doesn't stop doing that by the time P.D.
gets here with the bomb squad, I'll have them take him out."

Kelly qualmed. "Oh, Cap. They don't have to shoot him. He's just trying to
help out."

"Would you bet your life on a thirteen year old dog's instinct for survival?!"
Stanley asked in a hiss of anger.

Chet held his tongue.

"I didn't think so." Hank sighed in a rush, sucking in a huge, stressed
filled breath.

"But.." Kelly minced, totally overwrought about Boot.

"Go back behind the trucks now, Chet. You're gonna wait, safe, like
the rest of us."

"Cap, I can't just l--"

"MOVE, Kelly! And that's an order!!" Hank roared.
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From: patti keiper <>
Sent: Sunday, March 25, 2018 7:22 PM
Subject: Booted

::Johnny......::      ::Johnny....::  came a mental touch inside Gage's
mind.  It was a memory. One that Gage had thought was long lost.

"Mother?" he whispered without sound. He smiled, and some of
the incredible stress pressing in on him eased greatly.  His mother
had been dead for some years. He hadn't thought of her since
her funeral that he had attended, when he was nine.  It was a relief to find
out that he could still recall the sound of her voice even after so many years.
::I know why I'm thinking of her now. There's a cold corpse
pressing up against me.:: he acknowledged, sadly. ::Feels just like her
hand did when I touched it back then. I must have blocked that out until

He didn't know how long it had been since his victim had died, only that
he had. Quietly and peacefully. ::It couldn't have been too long ago. There's
still oxygen left in this tank.:: Johnny analyzed. He felt his muddy fingers
carefully turn off the valve to save it for himself if it was needed. He wanted
to release the safety snaffle connecting himself and the boy, to let him fall
away and take off some weight from off his life rope, but the danger of
the dynamite sticks jumbled around him made that a pipe dream.
So the paramedic endured the smell of aging escaped urine, bowel and
the boy's souring blood, breath by breath.

::My life is what matters now.:: he reaffirmed. Gage closed his eyes
to save his energy to fight against the chilling mud and water trickling
steadily down his body.

Dimly, he heard the sound of splashing below, but he didn't see
the powerful spotlight being aimed up the bottom end of his crevassed
hole, two hundred feet below, from the underground lake.

##U.S.A.R. 103 to Engine 51. We think we've spotted where your man is.
There's dozens of sticks of old TNT floating in the water around Code F
Victim One. Must have been a cache decades ago inside of a hidden
old mine. No signs of movement, but there is only light water and
mud falling into the lake. Plenty of breathing room for your man
up there. He must realize what's happened. We found his radio
battery tied up in a bag, floating nearby.##
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"So, still thinking but unable to take any action. Got it. Heads up
on a potential risk to your divers in the area. A dog is digging, on his own,
trying to reach Gage, our paramedic. Watch yourselves. We can't
stop him until P.D. arrives, if it comes to that." Hank replied on their

The lieutenant diver in the lake swiftly hand signalled the others to return
to the surface with their burden,  adding the danger gesture to warn them on
the reason why. They immediately swam away and the lieutenant
in touch with Cap, followed.  As an afterthought, he put his own lit
up flashlight inside of the battery bag, aimed up so that some of its
light might reach 51's trapped man and give him encouragement
while he waited for rescue. ##Copy that, 51. Retreating out of the red


Roy almost tripped himself getting back to Hank by Engine 51. "Foam, Cap.
Fill up the hole. Johnny'll figure it out and use that O2 to breathe. And then
whatever Boot does under the stuff, won't ignite any sparks."

Cap got excited. "TNT's not crude oil, but it is soluable. Just might work
minimizing the explosion risks. Good thinking, Roy."  He got on his radio
to U.S.A.R. and L.A. ##Engine 51. Send Foam 127 to our location. We're
going to lay some down as a safety measure.##

##Will do.## came the reply, echoed by the dispatcher.

Five minutes later, Cap got Station 127's men gathered in a group.
"Not asking you to do this without volunteering. We need to enter a red zone
around unstable TNT buried in a hill. Our man's stuck in that cistern hole,
unable to help himself because of it. What I need are two foam nozzles placed
in two holes. One, in that dog's, and the other in my paramedic's, who's
about eighty feet below on a life line with a pediatric victim, down in the second
hole. Will you do it? We're guessing there's enough old explosive down there
to vaporize a quarter block around that epicenter."

Nobody on 127's backed away from the task. "Understood." said their
captain, waving them on to carry out the measure. "My men know the risks
and will take them."

"We can catch the dog." a firefighter offered.

"You won't be able to. He's a street mutt with a rescue bent. The best thing we
can do is make things safer around him while he goes to town. Time's the
main factor. The faster we lay the foam, the less chances there will be for us
getting blown to bits by that TNT, while we get my man and the last boy out."
Cap shared.

"Beats the H*ll out of waiting for the bomb squad. They'll take all day securing
that stuff."  127's captain sighed.

"Now you see the problem. Our golden hour for that boy is passing. He has
major injuries." Hank said.

"Say no more. This is the course we have to take, Hank. D*mn police department.
Wish they'd speed up their procedures a little when it comes to incendiaries." his
colleague captain muttered.


Johnny thought he was hearing things, a fast scraping near his head. About two feet away
from his face, a crumble of dirt fell away in the dimness, and then... he smelled wet dog!

Mud matted, eagerly digging, claws and paws finally broke through and a familiar
impossible sight met Johnny's relieved eyes in the damp darkness.

"..Boot!.. How'd y-- " he broke off, conscious of the risks of sound waves around the mummified
dry TNT sticks squeezed against his face. ".. careful... careful..." he whispered, holding up hands to
try to contain Boot's enthusiasm at reaching him. Johnny's gloves sank into Boot's coat
as the dog wormed his whining way inside of his hole to sniff the boy's still face. His hands
came away thick with fire retardant foam. ::Oh, this is ...just perfect. Fire foam!:: Gage thought
happily. Johnny reached up to help Boot keep digging to let in more foam from his entry tunnel
until it began to well up thickly.  Johnny slipped on the oxygen mask from the tank he had saved
and lowered the rim of his helmet to ward off the waves of foam starting to cascade down
around them.

Boot's sad whines filled the hole when he realized that he was smelling death in Johnny's
arms.  The foam matted dog stopped digging and curled up in the space he had created
near Johnny's face, sneezing mightily inside of their foam pile.  He had decided that
he wasn't going to leave Gage's side.  Boot tiredly rested, his head tucked
neatly underneath one of Johnny's arm pits so he kept some breathing room free
of the surfactant that was softly billowing down from above and around them.

Slowly, one by one, Gage started grasping and gathering up only those dynamite
sticks he knew were sitting completely underneath the foam layer. He began to drop
them out of danger range into the lake below, from in between his wide spread, dangling feet.

He felt a sudden wave of dizziness sweep over him and a blinding headache began to
pound. ::Sh*t, it's the nitroglycerin gel beads oozing out of the dynamite sticks. They're
getting in contact with my skin. I'm absorbing it. My pressure's dropping just like it would for
any angina patient chewing on a sublingual nitro tablet. Well, at least I can't go into shock
now. My heart vessels are dilating nicely.::

Boot's constant soft whining turned into a half choking groan as a spasm jerked through the dog's
body. ::Eoo. Same thing's happening to him.:: Johnny realized. ::Poor dog. I have no idea if nitro's
a canine toxin.::  Johnny helped Boot clear the nasty tasting stuff out of his mouth with a clean
wad of gauze as Boot started drooling and panting next to him. ::He was moving TNT getting down
here? That's gonna stop right now.::

He decided to send Boot away. He took off his watch and placed it in Boot's mouth over his teeth.
"Here, boy. Take this to Cap. I'm fine, see?  You can leave now. Go show him, Boot. Don't worry
about the boy. Nothing we can do. You're here for me. Got it? Now, go.. Back the way you came.
Let them know you got to me and I'm okay. Good, boy. I'll follow you up.::
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Johnny watched as Boot's weary, but wagging tail, disappeared back into the sunlight glowing
foam, pouring out of the new hole. Then he bent to tie off his spare rope around the dead boy's
chest so he would be able drag him along Boot's escape route, a few feet behind himself so he'd have
some crawling room.  ::That flowing foam should wash any sticky nitroglycerin off Boot's coat now
that he's back under it. Too late for me, though. I don't have any fur. I gotta get out before
I pass out from vaso dilation. There's enough gel residue soaking away around here to overdose on::  

Thinking ahead, Johnny tied tight tourniquets around his upper arms and legs to keep his core
pressure up to fight the side effects. ::Here we go.:: Johnny thought starting to work a slow careful way
back up to the surface, worming his way around safely soggy dynamite sticks and mud clumps
threatening to act like slippery soap beneath him. He began to use his turnout jacket's haligan tool
like a climber's axe to keep from sliding backwards. As he expected, the gang had left his
life line snubbed to an anchor but with the ability to get more slack so he could move and still
have a life rope to catch him if he fell.  ::I love Stoker's knots. Wish I was as good as he is
with them.:: he grinned, pushing up through the river of foam. The light above him was
grower brighter.  ::Wow. Boot's long gone. He's probably already running across the parking lot.::

He felt his heart flutter inside of his chest for a moment and pushed it away with a deep
breath from the medical oxygen tank. ::Uh, uh.. Not yet.:: he thought, squeezing his abdominal
muscles while holding his breath to slow its rate down. His shortness of breath went away
soon after he did the Valsalva trick. Johnny Gage resumed climbing.

His next hand grip clutched warm dried grass and it was then Gage knew that he was
out of the hole.  He heard Boot barking in the distance to his left while he sat up
inside of the sunny foam layer undulating around him. He didn't trust standing up the
way he felt.  Johnny cut away the dead boy's rope from around himself and headed
on hand and knees for the nearest tree, carefully checking for dynamite sticks appearing
in the foam he was swiping away, while he crawled away from the cistern river bank. His
oxygen tank ran out just as his glove reached the roots of an oak tree. He ripped off the
oxygen mask and clawed a hole out of the foam glistening above his head, to the sky, so
he could breathe.  Then he pulled out his chrome silver Zippo cigarette lighter and lit the
tree's peeling bark on fire. ::They'll see that smoke and this tree, flaming up easily. There's
no way they won't know that I'm not exactly in this spot::

Thirty seconds later, Johnny felt a heavy bouquet of a fanning hose spray start showering
over him, washing away the foam and soaking him thoroughly to the skin. ::Bye bye nitro
issues. I'm being decontaminated.:: he thought giddily.

"Grab my hand!" shouted a voice above him. It was a firefighter from 127's stretched out on his
belly on top of a horizontal aerial ladder stretched three feet above the ground over the foam pile.
"I'll pull you up with me!"

Johnny saw the glove reaching down to him and he reached up. The view doubled and tripled,
his visual blurry. "Took a nitro hit. Can't...focus." he gasped.

"No problem." And the firefighter hooked a shepard's crook behind Gage's collar and hoisted him
up into the air on it long enough to grab his belt and haul him to the safety of the suspended ladder
above the foam pond.

Gage felt himself hefted face down and firmly held between the rungs before the whole aerial
began to move as Truck 127 backed swiftly away from the red zone.

"How are you doing?" the firefighter asked, hanging onto Johnny in a tight grip.

"Half ...*gasp*.. awake." Johnny whispered, keeping his eyes shut from the pounding in his head.
"Where's Boot?"

"Who?" the man asked, carefully rolling Johnny over onto his back and into his lap.

"The dog. He got me outta there."  Gage mumbled, feeling the firefighter place an oxygen mask
over his nose and mouth. He began to push it away. "Not yet. Listen to m-"

The firefighter knocked his hands away. "Shut up and breathe that in. You're blue. I haven't seen
that dog since we laid the foam down. Why are you blue,  paramedic?"

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"Uh,.....   hypoperfusion from's not--h.." Johnny guessed, weakily.

"Not hypothermia. Got it." The firefighter squeezed off an assisted series of breaths into
Johnny's lungs with a trigger valve a few times before he got onto his radio. "Cap, he's conscious!
Get that rescue squad over here!  The boy's missing. The rope around Gage's second life belt
has been cut."

##Copy that.## came the reply.  ##We'll start an immediate search.##

Johnny could still hear Boot barking. Clear as a bell.  "Go get the dog. Get him out of t----It's too
late for the k---" His world went fuzzy and indistinct, like a dream, as they bounced on the ladder
as the fire engine got adequate distance away from danger.   Johnny's mumbling went unheard.

Puffs of mechanized pressured oxygen became his whole world as his heart began to pound
from increasing hypoxia.

In a blur, Gage thought he saw Roy rushing towards him in Squad 51 from up the access road,
screaming closer, with full lights and sirens on.


Back at Engine 51, Cap crowed happily. "They've got Gage!" he said, pulling his radio which had
been set to monitor 127's truck-to-truck frequency, from his ear.

"How?" Marco startled.

"I don't know!" Hank said, smiling.

Marco and Stoker started kicking into high gear.  Mike asked. "Did they get the boy?"

Hank frowned and finally shook his head. "They didn't mention finding him. Gage and the kid
were separated somehow."

Chet strained his ears at a sound, out of the rescue usual. "That's Boot." he said, pointing
out to the foam field. "Hear him barking?"

"Yeah, I wonder why he doesn't--" Lopez puzzled, turning to look in the same direction.

Bark!  said Boot, leaping up high so his head cleared the top surface of the foam retardant's
rising layer.

"There he is, guys. Whew! He was just trying to find us. Here, boy! We're over here!!" Kelly shouted,
gesturing so the dog could see him.

Bark!  came another excited yap from the dog. A little closer.  In his mouth, Chet saw the blue color
of a boy's shoe, and a dusky tinted bare leg.

"Oh, my G*d. Is he dragging the kid?" Stoker asked, horrified.  "It's not safe. He's gonna hit a--"

Bark! Bar--     A colossal boom blossomed like a fiery orange and white cancer from the hill as a sudden
explosion ripped apart the middle of the foam riddled meadow.   It was followed by a cascade of
concussions as buried TNT nearby was jarred and triggered into self destructing too, caused
by the first explosion of dynamite on the surface.

Firefighters everywhere, dove under their trucks for cover as heavy clods of earth, rock and boulders
showered down around them in a debris mushroom a hundred feet wide. The earth shook as centuries
old hell fire was released from the old mine in one explosion after another.

Chet didn't see the fire or the flying debris expanding over the red zone. He could only recall the sight
of just moments ago, when his eyes had connected with Boot's happy ones, because the dog had thought
he was successfully rescuing another one.
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From: patti keiper <>
Sent: Sunday, April 8th, 2018 7:34 PM
Subject: A Matter Of Honor

Roy flinched as the explosions in the mine began in earnest as
he drove to meet the fleeing rescue team coming directly at him,
in the green zone.


::Oh, G*d!:: He let out an inarticulate shout of suprise when
a still recognizable bloody severed tail landed on the windshield.
A swipe of the automatic wipers dislodged it a few seconds later,
to fall away and off the glass, so he could see again. :: I-I'm
so, so sorry, pal.:: "You died in that? D*mn it to H*ll!" he
screamed out loud. Then tears came. :: You did it, boy. I hope
you knew you mattered one last time, Boot. You got to him
down there, all by yourself, and you pulled it off. You saved
Johnny. You were such a good, good dog. We're all gonna
miss y-.::  his reeling thoughts erupted.

"I am so f*cking proud of you, you c-crazy *ss
mutt." he whispered over the sound of the sirens.

Then there was no time to mourn.


DeSoto angled Squad 51 perpendicular when he parked, using its bulk
as a concussive barrier between 127's landed bucket and the most
direct line of sight to the new fire zone.  "On the ground. Get him
flat. Fast as you can!" he shouted to 127's crew who were
unloading Johnny by his life belt and rope from their emergency
ladder. "I've got a replacement resuscitator already set up.
Is he pulling any of that oxygen in on his own?"

"He's got reduced ventilatory effort, but yeah." reported the lieutenant.
"Lost consciousness about twenty seconds ago."

Hurrying, the crew got Gage laid out with his head tipped fully back
to keep his airway open while they worked with his inhalations
to maintain regular chest rises using their demand valve.

"51? An ambulance is a minute out. What do you think's wrong with
your man?" their crew leader engine driver asked. "My men said they
couldn't find any injuries on him. He said something but damned if
we could figure it out. He's still cyanotic."

DeSoto looked up from where he was rapidly setting up the biophone and
its antennae. "He got into some decaying dynamite residue. Wash him
down asap. He's suffering acute vasodilatation from it."

"That I know. Right." said the leader, accepting the clothes shears DeSoto
tossed him. Swiftly, the firefighters cut off Johnny's sticky, gore stained uniform
clothes and gear and in seconds, they started handle brush scrubbing
Johnny's skin clean aggressively under a firm reel line's fanning spray.
"What about this chilling? Our water's like pure ice."

"Won't hurt him. He's already hypovolemic. That cold might reduce some of
his protean ICP that's making him black out." Roy said, hurrying to
hail Rampart. "Rampart, this is Squad 51 on boosted band. Do you copy?"

The hospital's open line just hissed without a reply.

DeSoto bent by Johnny's ear while he waited to connect with a nurse or
doctor. "You're safe. You're out of there, Junior. Hold on for us." He
looked up and waved to Cap in an urgent swipe to rush Engine 51 in.
"Rampart this is County 51. How do you read?" he said, switching to
a secondary channel in a test. The amber light on the biophone radio
still glowed steady in a confirmed received tie in. "Come on. Come on."

He threw the unanswered phone down when Gage began seizuring.
127's firefighters tipped him onto his side as Johnny vomited, only
briefly interrupting his decomtamination shower.  

"Watch his head!" DeSoto cautioned, using a tarp to keep from getting
any of the explosive gel on his gloves and turnout coat. He helped
the firefighters clear out Johnny's mouth with a suctioning wand.
The convulsion soon ended.

They picked Gage up and moved him out of the dirty water puddle they
had created, to a dry spot on the level dirt, before starting in again
with their long handled scrub brushes.
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