Title: Return to Dodge City

Authors: JulieR and Jude (The Stewed Tomato Two)

Email: jar_feb9@hotmail.com and/or Jude4247@aol.com

Rating: PG-13 (We were aiming for PG but got a little carried away!)

Genre: A ‘what if?’ or ‘filler.’ I always wondered what cases we never got to see, and never ended up as episodes--maybe this was one! ;-)

Summary: Lee and Amanda are sent to help out at a training camp for a group of new agency recruits.

Written: November 13, 2000, through July 10, 2001

Timeline: Fall of 1986. Early fourth season. After Stemwinder but pre-engagement.

Thanks: To the most wonderful beta--JoAnn--for taking on such an enormous task on short notice.

Archive: EmilyAnn, please add this to the archives under “JulieR”

Disclaimer: Lee, Amanda, Billy, and Francine all belong to Warner Bros. and Shoot the Moon Productions. We are only borrowing them to complete a story idea and are in no way making any money or taking away any profit from WB or STMP. We’d like to think we are keeping SMK alive and therefore helping the companies that own the show. We do this free of charge :-)

Feedback: We were really torn about what to write here. On one hand we would love to know what you thought of the story, preferably off list. But we also want you to realize that this story was originally just written for our entertainment and at the last minute (in the midst of a fanfic shortage) we decided to post it. Just keep that in mind when you read this. The story was originally written as a round robin between the two of us over the span of eight months. It has been beta’d so all mistakes are ours. We did try to be vigilant about continuity, but since this is a SMK fanfic and written across such a long time span, a few inconsistencies were bound to creep in! Please be understanding.

Note: This story was inspired by the episode "A Class Act" (written by Shel Willens) and is a sequel of sorts taking place just prior to their engagement. Every so often it strays from canon and does contains sudden bursts of romantic lust.

We have used “~~~” to show a change in author, “SMK” to show a break in scene.

Warning: The story does contain some details of medical emergencies. We weren’t too grossed out , but some might be and this is your official warning :-) And now the story...

Lee Stetson maneuvered the Agency-owned brown Plymouth around the bend of the country road. Beside him sat Amanda King, his partner. She was studiously examining the map as she absent-mindedly sipped out of a water bottle she had brought along for the trip.

"Lee, it looks like there will be a road off to the right after a big sweeping curve," she motioned with an equally sweeping gesture. "At the end of that road, just before the dead end, there will be another road off to the right. That's the camp's entrance." Lee let out an adoring chuckle. She was so darn cute...and so determined to be professional on this case. He was not so inclined.

"Amanda, we have been to this camp before. Remember your training? Besides, Hudson and Thomas will be there working with these 10 recruits most of the day. We just need to be there in time for dinner at 6:00 and the evening presentation."

She mirrored his expression. "Lee, remember, we're on assignment. Billy is entrusting us to lead out in this thing since he and Francine were called away to New York. I want to do a good job."

"Amanda, we will do a good job. I was just merely suggesting that if we got a little lost, it would not be the end of the world," Lee casually replied, punctuating his remark with a wink. Amanda just sighed and refolded her Agency-issued map. Things were certainly different these days with Lee Stetson. Ever since Joe had returned and they’d gone through the security mix up, Lee had been very open about his feelings for her. She had to admit that it was hard to maintain professional distance when they worked together so closely on these away missions, but she was determined to keep her focus. As the car puttered around the curve, Amanda pointed to the lain camp's road. The car's clock blinked 5:24 as it made a final right turn into the camp.


As Lee and Amanda drove up the long dirt road to the campsite, each lost in their own thoughts of what had happened the last time both of them were there, neither one of them saw the two dark-haired women walking down the dirt road. The two women were oblivious to the car approaching, as they continued to walk right down the middle of the road.

"Oh my gosh, Lee, slow down, I don't think they hear the car coming!" Amanda said while grabbing hold of the dashboard.

"I'm only going 20 miles an hour as it is, Amanda. I see them," Lee grumbled.

As the brown Plymouth made its way closer to the women, both walkers turned around to see who was coming, and moved over to the side of the road.

"Whatever it is they are discussing must be important," Amanda said.

Lee observed their attire and said, "Well, they must be some of the new recruits, because they are wearing the standard issue gray sweat suit. I hate the thought of having to put one of those on in a little while."

"But you look so cute in your sweats, Lee," Amanda said smiling.

"I'm not the only one!" Lee said with a wink.

Lee slowed the car down as he pulled right up next to these two women. He was going to find out who they were and introduce Amanda and himself.

"Hi there," Amanda and Lee said to the women at the same time. Amanda had leaned over to look out of the window on Lee's side.

Both women said “Hi” and smiled.

"Getting a walk in before dinner?" Amanda asked.

"Yeah, we thought we would get a feel for the grounds," the older of the two women said.

"You both were so involved in conversation, we didn't think you heard our car coming," Amanda said.

"Oh, we're sorry. We just met this morning and when we started talking, we found out we had so much in common," the younger woman said.

"It's really nice that you've made a friend already," Amanda smiled to both of the women.

"Well, this is Amanda King and I'm Lee Stetson, we'll be your instructors for this week," Lee said.

"It's nice to meet you both. I'm Julie and this is Judy. We're really looking forward to this training."

Lee smiled to himself as he was reminded of how enthusiastic Amanda had been when she found out that Billy had finally accepted all of her requests for training and sent her to this camp.

"Well, we're going to try to get settled in a little bit before dinner. It was nice meeting you both and I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot more of each other in the next few days," Amanda replied.

"Okay, we'll see you at dinner," Julie smiled at them both. As Lee started back down the road, Julie and Judy just looked at each other.

Judy said, "Did we not just meet the most handsome man on the face of this earth? Did you see his eyes? Did you hear his voice? Oh, this is going to be an excellent week."

"You are a mess!" Julie burst out laughing as she playfully hit Judy on the arm.

"After I got a good look at him, I was rendered speechless. What can I say?" Judy nervously giggled.

As the two women continued their walk, Lee and Amanda decided that they needed to look over the roster again and familiarize themselves with who they would be dealing with this week.

"Those two seemed harmless enough," Amanda said.

Lee reminded Amanda, "Yeah, remember that's what we thought about Peggy. Or should I say, Tanya Pablovich."


Judy and Julie continued back towards the heart of Station One while Lee and Amanda maneuvered the car to the row of cabins lining the edge of the hill. As they climbed out of the car, they noticed Agent Thomas coming towards them toting a clipboard.

"There you two are!" he yelled out with a wave. Amanda responded with an equally hearty wave while Lee just groaned as Jon Thomas made his way towards the car. Lee did not especially like Jon since he had obviously developed some sort of crush on Amanda. As he grabbed their luggage out of the trunk, Amanda walked around the side of the car and shook hands with Jon.

"So Jon, how are things going?"

"Great, Amanda. All 10 recruits are checked in and getting settled before dinner."

"Speaking of checked in," Lee chimed, "What cabins are Amanda and I in?"

"I put you two towards the middle of the camp. Lee--you have cabin 4 and Amanda, cabin 5--right next to mine in 6," Jon said with a grin. Amanda slipped a grimace to Lee who reciprocated.

"And who is our ringer this week?" Lee asked.

"Tony Michaels," came the response. "I don’t think you know him since he just transferred in. He's posing as a congressional aide from Maryland."

Lee nodded. "Great. Well, it was a long drive out here so I think Amanda and I will probably just take some time to get settled and go over our presentation before dinnertime."

Amanda took the cue from Lee and picked up her suitcases. "Well thanks, Jon," Amanda said as she turned towards the row of cabins.

"We'll see you at dinner!" With that said, Lee and Amanda were off again towards their cabins. They each found them unlocked and went in to get settled. Amanda surveyed the slightly furnished cabin. A desk, chair, and cot dotted the room. On the bed was a gray sweat suit with a thin orange stripe across the front. Amanda remembered her blue and gray training suit only 18 months ago and secretly wondered how she had been promoted to gray and orange so fast. After a quick 10 minutes, Amanda had changed and heard a knock on her door. Lee's face appeared and as he entered the room, she found him attired in the same sweat outfit as she.

"Ready?" he asked as he watched her settle a recent photo of Jamie and Phillip on her bedside stand.

"Lee Stetson, you could not possibly have unpacked everything and gone over your part of the presentation already!" She paused, shook her head, and added. "Never mind! I forgot you were the seasoned senior agent."

"I have gotten pretty good at it over the years," he admitted as he made his way across the cabin. "Are you done enough to head over to the dining hall? I thought we could go over our joint presentation together before the hall filled up."

"Sounds good," she replied in a flirtatious tone. "Or if you want we could just practice here."


"Practice the presentation, Lee," Amanda inserted. "I'm not going to kiss you if you stay here."

"Then let's just go to the dining hall," he said, then chuckled. His response earned him a firm jab in the stomach. Amanda grabbed her file folder and a box full of handouts as Lee opened the cabin door. They found the dining hall empty except for the cooks busily preparing the evening meal in the kitchen. They found seats towards the side of the building and reviewed the standard presentation while stray recruits slowly made their way into the dining hall.


Lee and Amanda watched carefully as each new recruit entered the dining hall. Lee, with his keen instincts, just knew that he would be able to pick out the ringer.

The class ended up being equally divided with five women and five men. And with the exception of the two women that Lee and Amanda had met earlier, everyone just filed in slowly, one at a time.

After it seemed that everyone had arrived, Lee and Amanda stood up from their seats and Lee addressed the small group of potential agents in training.

"Good evening, everyone. I'm Lee Stetson and this is Amanda King. We will be helping your instructors this week. Please, everyone grab a tray and get some food and we will start our presentation after we have all eaten."

Even though the meal was assumed to be typical cafeteria food, everyone eagerly got into the line. Lee and Amanda waited and got in line at the end. Everyone just made small talk and talked about what they thought the food might be. Cafeteria fare could sometimes be highly unrecognizable.

"It might not be Mom's homemade cooking, but you'll eat just about anything, if you get hungry enough," Lee jokingly commented. "I remember one time when I was in the Sudan...." Amanda cut him off before he could continue. "Not now. Do you want everyone to lose their appetites?"

"Alright, I'll save that for when we tell stories around the bonfire," Lee said still grinning.

"I'm sure they will all be dying from curiosity to hear that one," Amanda said sarcastically while rolling her eyes.

Everyone filled their trays and went and found seats. Lee and Amanda sat down at a table by themselves and as they ate, made observations about the group.

"I think I know which one is the ringer," Lee whispered.

"Well, it wouldn't take much to know for sure. I have the folders of each recruit over in that box and all I have to do is look inside and find out which of these guys is Tony Michaels," Amanda said.

"You don't need to do that. I can spot another agent from a mile away. I have instincts too, you know, Amanda."

"Okay, smart guy, which one of these guys is the ringer?"

Just when Lee opened his mouth to give his response, he caught sight of Jon Thomas coming right towards their table, his eyes and grin planted firmly on Amanda. He gestured to the seat next to Amanda and asked, "Is this seat taken?" Before Amanda could mutter a response, he had plopped himself down into the chair and made himself at home.

"How are you, Amanda? Did you enjoy the food? I'm not interrupting anything over here, am I?" Jon asked. Lee started to make a snide remark to Jon's last question when Amanda jumped in and said, "Of course you're not interrupting. We were just trying to size up some of the recruits, that's all."

"Oh, this looks like an interesting bunch, alright," Jon said.

Lee and Amanda had finished eating and since Lee didn't like the attention Jon was giving to Amanda, Lee said, "Well, Amanda, since everyone is pretty much finished with dinner, what do you say we get started on the presentation?"

Amanda said, "Okay, that's a good idea." She looked at Jon and said, "We'll see you later." Lee came around the table and grabbed her by the elbow and led her over to the chairs along the wall where their box sat with their presentation materials.

"What's with you and Jon? You act like you don't like him!" Amanda asked Lee.

"Just something about him bothers me."

"He's a very nice guy. He's just friendly, that's all."

"Hmm," was Lee's response to her statement. Amanda thought of how often Lee made that noise. Sometimes it really infuriated her.

"What's with you anyway? Anytime another man pays me any attention you get all bent out of shape," Amanda said while glaring at Lee.

"What? I do not! He just can't take his eyes off of you and it bothers me."

"Oh, you are starting to sound like a jealous person," Amanda teased. “Don't worry, Scarecrow, I think he's harmless."

Lee just gave another "Hmm."

"Let's drop this for now and get on with this presentation," Amanda said.

"Yeah, let’s," Lee said.

As Lee started to address the group of new recruits, Amanda got the box of handouts and starting passing them out so that everyone could follow along.

After Lee and Amanda had given the recruits an overview of the week ahead and acquainted everyone with the schedule, they fielded some questions.

"Is this training mostly physical or will there be written tests?" Julie asked with a grimace.

"Mostly physical," Lee replied. "You'll have a number of courses to complete, and you'll be running a good five miles per day on top of those. Academic work will come later after you complete the physical tests." There was an audible moan at the mention of the physical exercise involved in the training.

"Field work can be very physically demanding," Amanda interrupted. "It's important for us to know right off if you are capable of doing the work of an agent."

"That's right," Lee agreed. "And hidden among you is a ringer, someone who is an agent and will be grading you. You will not know who it is until the end of the week." With this comment, there was a shuffling in the room as everyone twisted in their seats to get a good look at the people around them, somehow assuming that THEIR good instincts could figure who the ringer was.

"If that's all, why doesn't everyone take a half hour break and we'll meet up again at checkpoint #1," Lee instructed. "This will be our only obstacle course today. We go easy on you the first day."

Amanda let out a chuckle. Obviously, she was the only one who found Lee's joke amusing. The 10 recruits, plus Jim Hudson and Jon Thomas, made their way out of the dining hall and into the ever-cooling night air.

"So, did you figure out who the ringer is, Lee?" Amanda asked as she gathered up the extra handouts into the box.

"Of course, Tony is definitely the Italian guy sitting in the front."

"Uh huh," Amanda nodded. "That's certainly a good guess. Too bad it's wrong."

"What do you mean?" Lee snapped as he walked over to Amanda, who was holding the recruits' files.

"I mean, THIS is Tony Michaels," Amanda instructed. "That blonde guy that was really quiet--that's him."

Lee stared at the photo for a moment. "Hmm, my instincts are usually right-on," he commented. Amanda let out a laugh, but restrained it when she caught a glimpse of the look Lee tossed her.

"Are you disagreeing, Mrs. King?" Lee asked as he looked around. The cooks were nowhere to be seen and the only reminder that they existed came from the banging in the back kitchen. He grabbed her by the waist and pulled her close to him. "Because if you are...I have ways of torturing you."

"I wouldn't call it torture," Amanda sighed as Lee's lips met hers for an instant.

"This is more like it," Lee chuckled as he drew Amanda in for another kiss. After a quick peck, Amanda pulled back.

"Lee, it may not be so smart to do this here!" she said as she spied around the room. "Someone could see us or walk in."

"You're right."

"I suppose we should go rest up for a few minutes, anyway," Amanda sighed. "And you can wipe that goofy grin off your face, Scarecrow, because I mean rest--alone."

Lee tossed her an "Aw, shucks" look and nodded his head. "I know, I just thought that since we have such a light assignment load, and Billy and Francine aren't around, you know, we could spend some time getting to know each other," Lee whispered as he pulled Amanda towards him again.

"We will, I promise," Amanda agreed with a squeeze. "But we have to be smart about this. We can't act like lovebirds while we're working."

"Agreed. Well, we might as well look over these recruit files and at least get to know people's names before tonight's checkpoint drill," Lee groaned as he loaded the box into his arms and followed Amanda towards the door.

As the couple made their way to cabin 5 they could not have known that a pair of eyes was watching them. Following their every move, the form hidden in the bushes discreetly spied as Lee and Amanda entered her cabin. The male figure unfolded from his position and headed toward checkpoint #1.


"Home sweet home. Or at least for this week," Amanda said upon entering the cabin.

"Yeah, kinda takes you back to those summer camp days, doesn't it?" Lee replied.

"You went to summer camp?" Amanda raised her eyebrows as she asked.

"Why do you sound so surprised?" Lee asked while he placed the box on the cot.

"I just never imagined you as the kind of kid that would have gone to summer camp, that's all." Amanda tried to sound nonchalant about the whole thing, hoping that maybe Lee would open up to her some and talk about himself. There was so much that she wanted to know about him. Getting him to talk about his childhood was like pulling teeth.

"Well, it certainly wasn't my idea. My uncle sent me every summer as a way of getting rid of me for awhile, I'm sure," Lee replied while starting to fidget at the turn the conversation had taken. He never cared much for talking about his childhood.

"I just assumed with your uncle being stationed all around the world, that you never would have stayed in one place long enough to do something as normal as summer camp."

"Are you saying I'm not normal, Amanda?" Lee teased.

"No, I meant to say that you just seem to have had a very lonely childhood." Amanda looked at the floor as she said it. Once again she felt she had gone too far, gotten too personal.

"Well, you being an only child had to have been lonely at times." Lee too, was looking at the floor, not wanting to look into Amanda's eyes. He didn't want to see pity there.

"Yes, but I had my parents. You had..." Amanda stopped herself from what she was about to say when she noticed the look on Lee's face. "Oh Lee, I'm sorry. I didn't mean..."

"It's okay. Can we just change the subject?" Lee said while shifting his weight from one foot to the other.

Amanda walked over to Lee and put her arms around him. She whispered "I'm sorry" as they stood slightly swaying in that rocking motion Amanda came to love when hugging Lee.

Amanda was the first to loosen her embrace, knowing that if they stood like that much longer, they would never look through those files. She could stay in his arms forever, and sometimes that's just where she wanted to remain. She felt awful for bringing up the subject, she just wished sometimes that should would be able to stop herself before she blurted out what she was thinking.

"Uh," Lee said clearing his throat, "shall we?" He gestured to the box with the recruits’ files in them.

As they each sat down on a corner of the cot, both made faces as they remembered their last stay at Station One and these cots. To put it mildly, it was as hard as trying to sleep on a slab of concrete.

"Oh, this brings back memories," Lee said. "Or, should I say, it brings back nightmares."

"I remember you telling me that your back was killing you for a week after our last stay here," Amanda teased.

"Even Dr. Pain didn't mess up my back as much as having to sleep on one of these cots did,” Lee grimaced while trying to get comfortable.

"We only have about 15 minutes until we have to meet everyone at checkpoint #1. We better look through these files so we can put the names with the faces," Amanda stated.

"Okay, let's see who we have here," Lee said while opening the first file.


Amanda and Lee went through file after file. The women seemed harmless enough. Julie was a psychologist from Michigan and Judy was a sales consultant from Ohio. Rachel Erickson was the youngest. She was fresh out of Georgetown University and spoke French and German. Then there were the twins--Mary and Elizabeth Samson. They definitely had an interesting past. Both lived up in Maryland and worked for a chemical plant near Baltimore.

"Shouldn't be too hard to keep up with them...if we can keep them apart," Amanda sighed.

Lee nodded in agreement. "Ah, but women are so good at..."

Amanda tossed him a look. "At what?"

"They can just be hard to read," Lee finally admitted.

"I'm not hard to read, am I?" Amanda asked seriously. Lee found her eyes and held them for a moment.

"You...are not a typical woman," he said, punctuating his remark with a soft kiss on her cheek.

"Nice try, Scarecrow. Stop avoiding the question."

Lee shifted in the cot and looked at Amanda frankly. "You are no harder to read than I am," he admitted. "I know in the past I've sent you mixed messages. I guess being hard to read is not a problem restricted to women."

Amanda gave him a look that made Lee very aware of how alone in the room they were. "Lee Stetson, that is all in the past now. Mixed messages or not, we're here now. "

"....And," he interrupted, "if we don't show up to checkpoint #1 in five minutes, Jim and Jon are going to be very suspicious!"

"Good point, Scarecrow," Amanda chuckled as she began to gather up the files scattered around them. "Why don't we go over the men's names on the way?"

Lee nodded as he inserted the files into the box and joined Amanda on the tiny porch outside the cabin. "Ready for adventure?" Lee asked with a smile.

"Be careful what you ask for," Amanda warned.


As Lee and Amanda made their way to checkpoint #1, Amanda took the files with the men's names out one by one. As she opened each file, she and Lee looked at the picture while she gave Lee the run down of who each person was and where they were from.

"Well, we already know that Tony Michaels is the ringer, so we'll skip him. But the Italian guy, you just knew was Tony, is actually Frank Vecchio." Amanda proceeded to read from the files. "He is the owner of a chain of pizza parlors in New Jersey."

"Oh good. So when the food gets too lousy in the cafeteria, he can whip us all up some homemade pizza," Lee said while patting his stomach and licking his lips.

"Next we have David Smith. He's a pilot from Falls Church, Virginia. He's quite a handsome guy," Amanda said while looking at his picture in the file.

Lee grabbed the file from Amanda's hand and looked at the picture intently, "You call that handsome?"

Amanda just grinned, avoiding the question totally. She liked to see Lee trying to compare himself to other men. She found Lee's ego so amusing, and boy, did he have one. "Next we have Jack Hayes. He's a construction worker from West Virginia."

"And last but not least?" Lee inquired.

"Finally we have Sheldon Barnes. He is an accountant from Des Moines," Amanda said while looking at the picture of a bookish man with glasses.

"Sounds like we have our work cut out for us. What would some of these people want with becoming agents? It's really not all that's it's cracked up to be," Lee said cynically. "The hours are long, the pay is short, and your life is in almost constant danger. Not to mention what it does to your social life."

"Well, I don't think you were all that concerned when you put my life in danger, by handing me that package at the train station. You didn't seem to be so choosy then on who you were trusting with your life. I seem to remember someone being desperate and pleading for me to help them. And to find out that ‘she’ was just an ordinary housewife and mother of two small boys!" Amanda said sarcastically.

"Come on, Amanda. I didn't mean anything by that. I just wondered what it is about being an intelligence operative that people seem to think is so exciting."

"I think it's the ‘spy’ part that is exciting. You know, danger, excitement, intrigue." Amanda couldn't help but laugh as she quoted back to him something he said to her a long time ago.

Lee laughed with her. He remembered back to when he first started with the Agency and how exciting it was to him. He had to cut these new recruits some slack, but he knew he needed to really observe them and make sure they had what it took to make it in this crazy business.

By this time, they had arrived at checkpoint #1. Everyone was looking at them wondering what joke they had missed at the sight of their instructors laughing as they approached the group. Both Jim and Jon were there and had the group assembled and ready to begin.


As Lee and Amanda approached, the group of 12 was gathered around checkpoint #1, a line of boards that ran a length of 100 yards. Elevated about three feet off the ground, the course was much harder than it appeared. Nonetheless, it was the first and only course the trainees would have to complete tonight and they were all anxious to get it over with.

"Now that everyone has arrived," Jon said loudly as he cleared his throat at Lee and Amanda, "Let's get started."

"All you have to do for this exercise," Jim interrupted, "is to get on the boards right here." Jim tapped the end of the board in front of him. "You will then walk it until the end. It looks easy but remember that you will be without any support for the whole time. Do not hold on to people around you or we will make you start again." There was an audible sigh as the last comment rolled off Jim's lips. The trainees took the brief pause as an excuse to chat among themselves.

"Agents Stetson and King will be at the end of the course and Agent Hudson and I will be here to help you get started. Okay, let's begin," Jon instructed as he motioned for Judy to step onto the railing. She tossed Julie a grimace as she jumped and steadied herself on the board.

"Julie, you can go next," Jim said as Judy got a start on the course. Julie grabbed onto the bar and pulled herself up. A moment later the participants were well on their way down the course. The ladies had started--Judy, Julie, Rachel, Mary, and Elizabeth leading Tony, Sheldon, David, Jack, and Frank. What Jim had said was true. At parts the course ran around a river and over some steep dips in the landscape. A fall would have been much more than just three feet, a fact that everyone was keenly aware of as they tiptoed over a certain section.

“How ya doin'?" Julie asked Judy who had kept her head upright and focused for the last five minutes as the boards straightened out and showed the ending.

"GREAT," she replied. "I just keep focused on Agent Stetson over there and my feet naturally want to walk towards him."

"Don't make me laugh!" Julie warned as she teetered for a moment. They were only 30 yards away from the end and she didn't want to redo the previous 70yards.

"I wo...ahhh!" Judy yelled as the board she had just landed on cracked and dropped her four feet to the grassy knoll beneath her.

Abruptly the train of trainees halted. Lee and Amanda raced over to Judy who was now sitting up brushing grass blades off her jogging suit.

"Judy! Judy! Are you alright?" Lee asked as he helped Judy to her feet.

"Oh...uh, ya...I'm great..." Judy stammered. Amanda continued the clean up by brushing more grass off Judy's back.

"What happened?" Lee asked as he saw the board lying on the ground.

"I don't know. I just stepped on it and as soon as I did, it broke."

Lee noted her comments and moved closer to inspect the board. One edge was cracked while the other had been cleanly sawed off and only placed back into the groove.

"Why don't the rest of you just get off here, we'll end the course a few feet early," Amanda suggested as Lee nodded his approval. Amanda helped the remaining trainees off the course, starting with Julie, who rushed over to see if Judy was alright.

Jon and Jim had heard the commotion and were almost to the end when they spotted the trainees camped around a spot on the grass.

"What's going on?" Jim asked as he noticed Lee examining the boards.

"Why don't we call it a night?" Lee asked in a whisper. "I'll explain later but get everyone back to camp."

"Okay," Jim said with a shrug. He got the group's attention and ordered them to get back to camp for the night. Breakfast would be at 7:00 A.M. sharp and then they'd continue with the training.

"What is it?" Amanda asked as a dozen gray suits bobbed away from them.

"Someone did this on purpose," Lee replied. "See this wood? It was sawed and just placed back like this," he demonstrated. "As soon as someone stepped on it, the force would crack this end and send the person to the ground.”

"Why would someone do that?" Amanda asked. "WHO would do that? None of the trainees were out here until just before us. They certainly wouldn't sabotage a course!"

"Ya, it had to be someone with plenty of time to be alone at the camp. But why? Why would they want to injure one of the trainees?" Lee groaned. A simple assignment had just turned into an investigation, and he and Amanda were on their own to find out who was responsible. Worse yet, they had to do it fast before any trainees were seriously hurt.

"Listen, let's go check on Judy and then get to bed. We have a long day ahead of us tomorrow." Amanda shook her head in agreement and grabbed Lee's hand as they ventured back towards the cabins.


Lee and Amanda walked towards Judy's cabin. Amanda stepped onto the first step when suddenly she felt Lee tug on her hand. Whirling around, she was face to face with Lee. Turning around so fast got her off balance and she leaned into Lee's chest. He wrapped his arms around her waist.

"Lee!" Amanda whispered so as not to disturb anyone in their cabins.

"What? I'm sorry I just can't resist you." Even though it was dark outside, Amanda could imagine the grin on Lee's face.

"What, I wasn't doing anything but holding your hand," Amanda said.

"But I want more," Lee said as he leaned forward with his lips close to hers. He didn't move any farther, wanting her to meet him halfway.

Amanda put her hands on both sides of Lee's face as she leaned in, giving in to him. She found it so hard to resist him. The kiss started out soft and gentle, but didn't take long before it seemed to get more intense. Both of them were losing track of where they were and why they were there in the first place. They didn't even hear the cabin door opening. Suddenly the door to the cabin opened and there stood Julie, not believing what she saw. She quietly shut the door and ran over to the cot.

"Oh my gosh, oh my gosh," she sputtered.

"What, what is it?" Judy kept saying.

"I thought I heard something outside and when I opened the door, there they were, oh my gosh. I feel so foolish," Julie said covering her face with her hands.

"Who was it? What? Tell me, I'm dying here." Judy had sat up on her cot trying to get Julie calmed down enough to tell her what she saw.

"Shhh, they'll hear us." Julie tried to silence Judy's questions.

Just then Amanda knocked on the door while saying "Judy? It's Amanda and Lee, may we come in?"

Julie approached the door and opened it. She was trying so hard to not display any indication of what she had just seen. The pink blush to her cheeks was a dead giveaway, though.

Judy was propped up on her cot with a pillow under her ankle and a huge pack of ice on the side of her foot. She looked at Julie and mouthed, "Oh my gosh!"

"Are you alright?" Lee asked concerned.

"Oh yeah, I'm fine. I'm such a klutz and have twisted my ankle many times. It's nothing new to me," Judy grinned while admitting.

"Being klutzy has nothing to do with what happened to you today," Lee began explaining. "That board was obviously cut and we need to find out why and who would have done such a thing."

"This sounds serious," Julie commented.

"It is," Amanda said. "The last time we were here we had some problems too, and it seems that history is repeating itself."

"Someone is trying to find out who the ringer in the class is, by testing their abilities to adapt to any situation," Lee explained.

"Unfortunately that isn't always the way to peg the true agent, right, Amanda?"

"What do you mean?" Judy asked.

Amanda continued explaining "The last time we were here at Station One, I was pegged as the ringer because I seemed to be able to adapt to all of the situations that were put before me. They thought I was acting klutzy on purpose, to throw them off." Amanda and Lee exchanged a grin while remembering how bumbling Amanda had been.

"So there is someone here who is trying to hurt us?" Julie asked.

"To be honest, in a way, yes," Lee said while touching Julie's shoulder, trying to reassure her. "By process of elimination they are trying to figure out who the ringer is."

"Well if they think I'm being klutzy on purpose to throw them off, they better think again. It's the real thing," Judy joked.

"I'm glad you can make jokes about this," Julie stated. "We have a serious problem on our hands."

"I'm sorry. I'm not making light of it. I'm just trying to keep my sense of humor about it. If I don't laugh about it, I will want to pack my bags right now and get the hell out of Dodge," Judy couldn't help smiling while stating.

They all chuckled.

"See, she's feeling fine," Julie said to Lee and Amanda.

"I don't want you two to be scared, but I do want you to be cautious and alert, okay?" Lee asked.

Judy and Julie both agreed "Okay!"

"I don't know about anyone else, but I've had enough excitement for one day. You sure your ankle’s okay?" Amanda asked, concerned.

"I'll be fine. The nurse gave me some Tylenol for the pain, I have the ice pack for the swelling, and I'm gonna try and get a good night’s sleep," Judy said.

"I'm just in the next cabin, I'll keep an eye on her," Julie said.

"Okay, goodnight then," Lee said.

"Yeah, goodnight." Amanda waved as she and Lee went out the door.

As Lee and Amanda walked away, they thought they heard two voices in unison yell, "OH MY GOSH" and then giggling erupting from the cabin.

"Should we take that personally?" Amanda asked Lee.

"Nah, you know how girls are when they get together, nothing but giggling about nothing. Let me walk you to your cabin," Lee grinned to himself.


After a restless night, fourteen campers made their way to the mess hall for their early morning fuel. They were going to need it for what lay ahead.

"Good morning everyone!" Jim called to the group just settling into their chairs to devour the cereal, bagels, fruit, and juice. A commotion of metal scraping cement followed as the recruits adjusted their chairs to get a better look at the handsome agent. "Today we are starting into the heavy training. Last night was just a warm up. Our activities today will take us through checkpoints #2, #3, & #4. After breakfast we will head across the camp to an obstacle course that runs between these three checkpoints. After swinging over an open pit, you will then have to maneuver through a reenactment of a bombing. Then we'll return here for lunch, and then finish the day with target practice and self-defense instruction."

The recruits exchanged grimaces as Agent Hudson described the course.

"Julie!" Judy whispered to her friend. Julie looked up from her orange juice to answer Judy's urgent tug. "What am I going to do? I can't do all that stuff. My ankle's better but I can't go from crutches to running through a mine field!"

"You'll be fine. You can do it all except for the running!"

"That's right, as many of you know, your fellow comrade Judy hurt her ankle last night in the board-walking exercise," Jim announced with a nod to Julie. Meanwhile, Julie's face went from pale to titian as she realized the agent had overheard her comment.

"She will be joining us in whatever activities she can. Any more questions?" Jim paused for a second before continuing. "Good. Eat up and plan on arriving at checkpoint #2 by 8:30."

The recruits did as they were told, talking and eating before the seemingly treacherous day unfolded before them. Thirty minutes later the hall had emptied and campers enjoyed a few minutes of free time before heading across the grounds.

Amanda and Lee were the last ones to finish breakfast. As they walked towards the cabins, Amanda broke the silence with a question.

"I know you've been thinking about it, so spill it. What do you think is going on?"

Lee looked away thoughtfully for a moment before returning his gaze to Amanda. "I don't know what to think. It could have been anyone. Fourteen people at camp and there are only two we can rule out for sure--us."

"You don't think Judy had anything to do with her own accident, do you?"

"I doubt it."

"She and Julie were both out on a walk when we got here. They could have had some uninterrupted time near the boardwalk. It would just take five minutes and a saw."

"No way. No one even knew what the courses would be until supper," Lee explained as he ran his fingers through his hair. "It had to be someone who knew ahead of time. Everyone went back to their cabins after supper, remember?"

"So you're saying Jim or Jon did this?"

"Who else?"

"I guess it could have been one of the...ack! Ow! Ow! Ow!" Amanda yelled as her right foot intersected with something metal and sharp.

"What the?" Lee questioned as he picked up the tool that was now causing Amanda so much pain. "A saw!"

"What? Let me see that!" Amanda insisted as she took possession of the tool and held it close to her face for examination.

"You don't think?"

"Yes, I do think," Lee insisted as he walked around to the front of the cabin. "Cabin 6!"

Amanda grimaced. "Jon's cabin?"

"Jon's cabin!"


By the time Lee and Amanda made it to checkpoint #2, Jim and Jon had already started the recruits on the rope-swinging exercise. Half of the group had already finished and were waiting on the other side of the pit.

Judy seemed very reluctant as she stood on the platform holding the rope. Also on the platform with her was the handsome pilot from Falls Church. That seemed to make Judy even more nervous.

"It's going to be okay," David reassured her. "I'll let you swing across first and if you need help, I'm here." At that point he flashed Judy an adorable grin.

"Well, here goes nothing," Judy said trying to muster her courage and take that "leap of faith."

"Come on Judy, you can do this!" Julie yelled from the other side of the pit, having already finished this part of the course herself.

"But I hate heights," Judy yelled back while hopping on one foot. The pain in her ankle seemed to also be a hindrance to her wanting to do this exercise.

Lee tried to yell encouragement also. "Come on, you can do it. You have to be able to prove that you will be able to overcome the obstacles that may come up while you are in the field. And believe me, you never know exactly what kind of situation you are going to find yourself in."

"If I can do it, anyone can. Trust me!" Amanda yelled up to Judy.

"I can do this, I can do this," Judy was mumbling to herself as she closed her eyes and grabbed hold of the rope and jumped. She was holding onto that rope for dear life.

"Wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh," Judy yelled.

David instructed her from the platform, "Open your eyes! Swing back to the other side of the pit and let go."

Seeing that she was in trouble, David leapt from the platform, giving Judy a push as he passed her.

As he saw her swing over the pit he yelled, "Let go now!"

Judy did as she was told and landed on solid ground with a thump. David had also let go of his rope and was right beside her now.

Everyone ran over to her to make sure she was okay.

"I just don't think I'm cut out for this," Judy smiled weakly.

David helped her up and they moved out of the way so that the rest of the recruits that hadn't gone yet could finish this exercise.

Judy looked over to see both Jim and Jon writing on their clipboards.

"I flunked this one, too. I'm sure of it. It isn't bad enough that I flunked the first one by falling off of the boards and now I can't even maneuver this pit," Judy commented tiredly.

"You did not flunk the first part. That wasn't your fault, the board was tampered with, causing you to fall. And you didn't fail this one either. You made it across," Lee tried to reassure her.

"You really are being too hard on yourself," Julie said. "You're doing the best you can with a sore ankle. Don't give up."

"Thanks you guys," Judy smiled.

All the recruits had made it across the pit, meaning that they were ready to move on to checkpoint #3.

Jon addressed the recruits. "Good job everyone, we are ready for the next exercise. Everyone please follow me."

Jim and Jon lead the way to the next checkpoint while Lee and Amanda tagged behind the group.

"So, do you really think that Jon would be that obvious and leave the saw right outside his cabin?" Amanda asked Lee.

"Seems way too obvious. But you never know. I think someone is trying to set him up," Lee replied.

"I don't believe it," Amanda grinned.

"What?" Lee asked.

"You're actually siding with Jon about something?"

"Amanda, I'm not that petty. There are obvious things that I don't like about the guy, but it’s possible that he’s innocent on this one."

"Who do you think it is then?" Amanda asked.

"That I haven't quite figured out yet. It could be almost anyone. But it's a good sign that nothing happened at checkpoint #2. Either the board being cut at checkpoint #1 was a fluke, or whoever this person is that is trying to sabotage the ringer is plotting their next move." Lee grabbed Amanda's elbow as they made their way to the next checkpoint. "Come on, we've fallen behind, we better catch up to the rest of the group."


The campers were a mess. They had just run through a bombing course and were now heading back to their cabins to change before lunch.

"Ugh, this is SO gross!" Julie exclaimed as she noted the gray sweat suit now plastered in mud. "Are we training for spying or war?"

"What are you complaining about?" Judy replied. "I had to help set up the target practice area with Agent Thomas."

"So what?"

"What? He gives me the creeps! He kept complimenting me and winking at me whenever I'd finish one of the targets."

Julie winced her nose. "You win."

"Well, I don't think they'll be letting me out of this afternoon's stuff. Sounds like it's just target practice and some self-defense courses," Judy sighed as she and Julie approached their cabins.

"I'm glad," Julie admitted. "Those twins don't talk to anyone and that Rachel chick is just *weird*."

Judy let out a laugh as she hobbled to the top of her stairs. "See ya in a few!"

An hour later the recruits had stuffed themselves with the best the cafeteria had to offer and were meandering towards the target area.

"Psst! Amanda!"

Amanda tossed her head around to see Lee waving at her furiously. "WHAT?!"

"Come here!"

Amanda rolled her eyes and jogged back to the center of the cabin area where Lee joined her.

"Now is the perfect time to search the cabins," he said with a nod towards the group, oblivious of its missing members. "No one will know we're missing and everyone is already at the field."

"Who do you want to start with? Never mind, I know," she replied with a wave of her hand.

Lee and Amanda gave the distant group one last look before heading to cabin 6. After a few vigilant moments of searching, they agreed that Jon looked clean. Next door was David in cabin 7. It was there they hit pay dirt.

"Lee...would you *look* at this?" Amanda urged as she noted a bulletin board hidden behind his headboard. Amanda pulled it out to show Lee. On it were tacked photos of all the women in the group. There was a big heart shape design scribbled over Judy's face.

"What do you think of that?" Lee wondered out loud as Amanda shook her head in disbelief.


Since Lee and Amanda had taken so much time going through Jon and David’s cabins, they decided to make their way to the shooting range before anyone noticed how long it took them to make it there.

As they approached the shooting range Judy and Julie just exchanged a glance, Julie arching one of her eyebrows. "I wonder what kept those two so long?"

"Yeah, I wonder!" Judy commented, giggling.

"I guess we couldn't have been more obvious," Amanda said to Lee, noticing the looks most of the recruits were giving them for being tardy.

"No one knows what we were doing! For all they know, we are having a ‘thing’ and that's what held us up." Lee winked at Amanda.

"I guess I'd rather have them thinking that, than what we were really doing. I hate invading people's privacy like that," Amanda shook her head.

"I know you do, but sometimes when the situation warrants it, you just have to," Lee rubbed her arm reassuringly.

"I still don't understand all the pictures in David's cabin. Where would he have gotten a picture of all of the female recruits?" Amanda arched an eyebrow while asking.

"I know that's strange. But we have to look at everyone as a suspect. No one is exempt except for you and me." Lee smiled warmly at Amanda.

Lee and Amanda each picked up a pair of ear plugs to protect their ears from all the noise of the gun shots.

They walked over to Jim and Jon who were busy scoring the recruits on their precision in using the guns.

"How's it going?" Lee asked them both.

Jim replied, "Pretty good, actually. The women seem to be a bit squeamish about pulling the trigger, but with some practice they'll be okay."

Just then, they looked over to see Sheldon getting ready to shoot his gun. He had a hard time with the rifle and as he went to shoot at the target he lost his footing. Swinging around and discharging the gun at the same time, he hit Jim in the leg, causing Jim to fall and cry out in pain.

Lee ran over to Sheldon, who was laying on the ground with his glasses halfway hanging from his face. "Wha, what happened?" Sheldon asked Lee, dazed.

"You just shot one of your instructors!" Lee told him while helping him up off of the ground.

"Oh my, I'm so sorry!" Sheldon ran over to Jim who was surrounded by all the other recruits.

Amanda looked up and caught Lee's eye. "I think he'll be alright; the bullet just grazed his knee."

Lee knelt down to talk to Jim. "How ya doing, you gonna make it?"

Jim was trying to act macho, although the sight of his own blood was making him feel sick to his stomach. "Ah, yeah. I've been shot worse than this out in the field, many times."

Lee and Jon got on either side of Jim and lifted him up. Jim wrapped his arms around each guy’s shoulders.

Rachel had run to get the Station One nurse who had returned with the van to take Jim to the infirmary.

After the nurse assessed the injury, finding it to only be a flesh wound, she decided that it was something that she could just dress herself. Giving Jim a tetanus shot and a painkiller right away, they got ready to go to the infirmary.

Sheldon approached the van. "Jim, I'm really sorry, it was an accident."

"Don't worry about it Sheldon, it's okay, really," Jim mumbled laying back on the gurney with his arm covering his eyes.

Lee sought out Amanda in the crowd and upon finding her asked her if she would go with Jim to the infirmary.

"Sure I will." Amanda said while getting into the back of the van.

Lee leaned in to whisper in Amanda's ear, "I need to check out those guns to see if this really was an accident or not."


Amanda got into the van and placed herself next to Jim.

"Judy, why don't you come with us? They are just finishing up some self-defense activities and then they'll be heading back to camp."

"Sure!" she replied as Amanda grabbed hold of her hands to help her up. "My ankle could use a rest after that rope incident."

The door to the van shut. Nurse Betty drove the vehicle back to the main camp as Amanda and Judy stayed with Jim in the back.

"Feeling alright now?" Judy asked as she patted Jim's hand.

Jim winced and pulled his arm back from his face. "I'm doing better, it just took me by surprise!"

"I bet you didn't except an accountant from Des Moines to get ya in the leg," Amanda added. "Who knew accountants were so uncoordinated!"

Five minutes after departing, the van had arrived at the nurse's station after slowly moving across the camp. Amanda and Judy helped Betty unload Jim out of the van and into the building. Before too long, Jim was comfortably settled and the three ladies made small talk while he rested.

Back at the target range, Lee and Jon were regrouping the trainees.

"I think we've had enough target practice for one day," Jon announced with a grimace. "Let's move on to self-defense. I want you to team up into groups of two and then we'll go over the exercises."

Julie looked around. Most everyone was already teamed up. Mary & Elizabeth, Sheldon & Frank, Tony & Jack, and Rachel grabbed David before Julie could move a toe in his direction.

"I'll team up with Julie," Jon announced when he remembered that Judy had gone back to camp. Julie groaned and rolled her eyes. This was going from bad to worse in less time than it took for an egg to boil.

Once the group was organized and Jon was demonstrating a flip-your-partner move, Lee decided it was his chance to go check out the gun incident.

"Jon! I'm gonna go put the equipment away from the target range!" he yelled over. Jon just nodded his head and continued with his instruction.

Lee looked around as he made his way back across the field where the range was set up. Nothing looked suspicious except for the guns lying around and a little spot on some hay where blood from Jim's wound had landed. He felt the area by the gun with his hand.

"What is *this*?" Lee asked out loud to himself. About two feet away there was a six-inch hole in the ground. He grabbed the gun and stood up. Glancing forward, he noticed that almost three feet ahead of the hole was a patch of dirt where the grass had been worn away. It was the 30-yard mark between the shooter and the target. But what was Sheldon doing way back here when he shot the gun?

Lee glanced around him as he walked up to the worn patch of grass back to the hole. "Ya, ya, I remember now. As Amanda and I were approaching the field, Jon kept telling Sheldon to step back, that he was too close." Lee jabbed the air in confidence. "Jon knew what would happen and *he's* responsible for the shooting!" Lee groaned inwardly. He thought Jon was clean, and now this. There was another point that bothered Lee. Why would Jon do something to hurt his fellow agent? The evidence made sense except for the motive.

Lee put the equipment away and headed back for camp. He wanted to talk to Amanda about his discovery before the group came back for supper.


Back at the self-defense practice, one pair at a time got up on the mats to try their hands at the flip-your-partner move. Since Julie was paired with Jon, when he was ready to go onto the next demonstration, Julie got to be the “demonstratee.” Jon came up behind Julie, wrapping his arm around her throat. Julie sought out the crowd gathered around the mats, searching for her friend Judy. She really could've used some moral support right now. She was so unsure of what kind of torture her instructor was going to put her through.

"Everyone watch closely," Jon stated. "Okay, Julie. When someone grabs you from behind like this, you need to do all you can to try and make your attacker loosen his grip on you. The key is to not panic." As Jon kept talking, Julie could feel her mouth go dry, alarm already setting in.

"How am I going to ever going to do this?" Julie thought to herself. As her apprehension started to build, Julie acted without thinking. Jon was just prolonging this too much and she didn't like being the one to have to be the example to the class.

All of a sudden, Julie let out a yell, jabbed her elbow into Jon's stomach, and took her heel and stomped on the instep of his right foot. Reeling around so fast that it made her dizzy, she jabbed him in the eye with her thumb and then she brought her knee up in a lifting motion.

The only sound that came from Jon was his body as it hit the mat with a loud thud. Julie and the rest of the class just stared in shock at what had just happened.

Lee had made his way back towards the class just as Jon had put his arm around Julie's neck. Everything had happened so fast. Although to Julie it seemed to go in slow motion.

As Jon lay there on the mat writhing in pain, the stunned class slowly made its way towards him.

Julie was the first to reach him, coming out of her daze. "I'm so sorry," she said kneeling next to Jon.

"Ohhhh" was all Jon could mutter, his eyes displaying a watery sheen to them.

Just then Lee patted Julie on the shoulder. "Good job, Julie. You're a natural at this," he grinned at her.

Lee knew it was awful, but he was enjoying this immensely. It was always a blow to a man's ego to have a woman kick his butt.

"Is he going to be alright?" Julie asked Lee pleadingly.

"He'll be fine in a little while." Lee looked over to Tony and Jack. "Help me get him up, will ya?"

Jack and Tony came over to where Jon lay and they helped him up. They made their way over to some bleachers and Jon sat down gingerly.

"I guess I'll finish instructing you guys, since Jon needs a little rest." When Lee turned back towards the group, his grin was a mile wide.

"Okay, who wants to be next?" You could see the whole group take a small step backwards. No one wanted to be the next pair to volunteer.


A bell clanged over the mess hall as the early autumn sun was slowing slinking into the backdrop of the sky.

"Must be dinnertime already," Betty sighed as she caught the curtains in her hands and glanced out the window. "I wonder what the kitchen crew concocted for us this evening?"

"I'm sure it will be good," Amanda replied enthusiastically. She didn't mind the cafeteria meals as much as most. She was just thankful to have someone else cooking and cleaning for a few days.

"Is the group back yet?" Judy queried as she joined Betty by the window. "Oh ya, here comes Agent Stetson...oh my...and he's helping Agent Thomas walk!"

Amanda rolled her eyes. ‘What in the world happened this time?’ she thought to herself. Maybe Lee had finally gone postal and really done Jon in. In a moment she found herself scoping out the scene along with Betty and Judy.

"Looks like he hurt his ankle, too, " Judy observed.

"Good grief!" Amanda sighed. "Well, let's get Jim and see what happened." Betty nodded and roused Jim from the other room so the four could meet the rest of the group for supper.

As the door shut behind them, the foursome exited the nurse's station in sync with the trainees' arrival.

"Lee, what did you do to Jon?" Amanda asked forcefully in a whisper.

"I didn't do it, Julie did. He tried demonstrating a move on her and she went ballistic on him."

"I'm sure you rushed to his aid!" Amanda said sarcastically.

"Are you kidding? I know when to keep my distance! There was nothing I could do to help him, and I rather think he had it coming!"

Amanda nudged Lee as they opened the door to the mess hall. Instead of the smell of hot food assaulting their nostrils, they entered to see a table full of paper bags and snacks.

Finally, one of the cooks emerged from the kitchen area. "Tonight we decided to give you a little more free time by brown-bagging supper. There's enough for everyone to take two of everything. Sandwiches, chips, fruit, dessert, and drinks."

So the crowd lined up and started assembling the meals as the cook continued to explain. "There are a number of nice areas all over camp. Paths in the woods behind here and then a garden on the far side of the small lake. It's about a mile around that lake on the path, makes for a nice way to spend the evening."

The group seemed excited about the prospects of some extra free time. Mary, Elizabeth, Rachel, and David had already decided to walk around the lake and eat their dinner in the floral garden on the other side. Jack, Frank, Tony, and Sheldon were going to check out the path through the woods.

"So, where do you want to eat?" Julie asked turning to Judy, who decided to grab an extra bag of Doritos. "Oh, anywhere would be fine. Maybe by the lake? Then we could walk around and check out the rest of the camp."

"Sounds good to me!" Julie agreed as she also snagged an extra bag of chips and one last Little Debbie for her supper. The girls exited the building along with their fellow trainees, leaving injured Jim and Jon with Lee and Amanda.

"So what are you two going to be up to for the evening?" Lee asked with a smirk, noting the way in which they were both limping as they went along through the line.

"I could ask the same about you two," Jon asked coyly with a wink to Amanda.

"Oh, probably just get a nice walk in and get a jump start on some extra sleep," Lee insisted. "I take it you two will be staying close to camp?"

"Uh ya, I'd say so," Jon retorted. "Unless you want to carry me around that lake."

"That's *okay,*" Lee said with a laugh. "You guys should take it easy tonight and get rested up. Tomorrow is another big day of training."

Jim and Jon nodded their heads, and made their way with Lee and Amanda out to the field just past the cabins. Taking over a picnic table at the edge of the parking area, the two injured agents unpacked their meal and started eating.

"What do you say," Lee began with a quick glance over his shoulder, "that we ditch all these people and find our own special place to eat supper?" He drew Amanda close to him for emphasis and whispered the last half of the question as a breath into her ear.

"That's your best idea today, Stetson," Amanda huskily whispered back to him, despite the obvious distance between the two other agents and the couple.

"I know of a beautiful spot just on the other side of the woods. There's a shortcut over here, and then just behind it is a scenic overlook."

"Oh? And when did you discover that little hideaway?"

"Years ago, I was just waiting for the right housewife to come along," Lee teased. He gave Amanda a gentle kiss to affirm his joke and pulled his arm back around her waist as they entered the woods towards their destination.


As Amanda followed Lee towards his secret hideaway, a thought came to her.

"Lee, don't you think we should have stopped and got the flashlight? It's going to be dark soon."

With a big grin on his face, Lee retorted "Well, there's going to be a full moon out tonight. Why don't we just enjoy the 'honeysuckle and moonlight'?”

Amanda chuckled when she remembered one such case a few years ago when Princess Penny had the wrong idea about her and Lee. Wouldn't Penny get a lot of pleasure knowing that she was right, and at this very minute they were sneaking off into the woods together to have some time alone?

“Wait a few discreet moments and then give her the gas.” Amanda couldn't help grinning as she remembered Penny's advice.

"What's so funny?" Lee inquired.

"Oh nothing. I was just thinking of some advice Penny gave me a few years ago."

"She was the one who thought I was cute, huh? Whatever her advice was, I'd say you should take it." Lee squeezed Amanda's hand as they continued through the woods.

At the same time, the other groups had made their way into different directions.

Mary, Elizabeth, Rachel, and David had reached the floral garden and were enjoying the beautiful colors and the fragrance of the garden. Instead of feeling out of place being the only guy, David was basking in the attention the three ladies were paying him. One tried to out talk the other, vying for his attention.

Jim and Jon were stuck back at camp, both nursing their injuries. They discussed how they felt training was going so far, which trainees they saw making it to agent status, and what the plans for training were for the rest of the week.

Jack, Frank, Tony, and Sheldon had wolfed down their dinners on their walk from the camp to the first path in the woods that they came to. It was a test of macho-ness to see who could do the most *daring* stunt. Sheldon thought he should have gone with the girls because he just wasn't the daredevil type, but he did his best to keep up with the rock climbing and river gorge jumping that the others seemed to thrive on doing.

Julie and Judy had made their way down to the lake. Julie had thought ahead to nightfall and had stopped at her cabin and brought along a flashlight and a blanket for them to sit on while they ate. They stayed there for a few hours not realizing the time. It had gotten dark and started to get cold so they decided to make their way back to camp.

When they got back to camp, they walked past the mess hall where Jon and Jim had returned to while waiting for the others to come back. Also gathered there were Mary, Elizabeth, Rachel, and David.

"Where were you guys?" Rachel asked.

"Down by the lake," Judy answered

"We were starting to get worried," Jon replied.

"Why's that?" Julie asked.

"It's dark and not everyone has gotten back yet," Jim remarked.

"Were we all supposed to meet back here?" Julie asked.

"No, but it kinda started to worry us, because we didn't know where everyone had gone. We just assumed when it started to get dark, that everyone would make their way back," Jim added.

"Oh, but we had a flashlight with us and just got to talking and lost track of time. We're sorry if we worried you." Julie reassuringly patted Jon's shoulder.

"Well, we started back when it got dark," David nodded towards the three ladies he had dinner with. "So we've all been kinda hanging out waiting for the rest of you to show up.”

"Who isn't back yet?" Judy asked.

"Lee and Amanda haven't shown up yet. And neither have Tony, Jack, Frank and Sheldon," Jim replied.

"Well, we all can figure where Lee and Amanda are," Jon said sarcastically.

"Did you guys check out the cabins? Maybe they came back and just went straight to bed?" Julie asked.

"Ha, I'm sure they did," Jon retorted.

Julie just rolled her eyes.

"As a matter of fact, we did check the cabins. All six of them are still *missing*," Elizabeth said, concern showing on her face.

"I think we should go looking for them," Judy said hurriedly.

"Wait, hold on. We don't want to have more missing people. Let's just stay put for a little while longer, and decide as a group what to do next," Jim said trying to control the panic he felt rising within the group.

Judy and Julie exchanged worried glances, fearing that something terrible may have happened.


Another half-hour had passed with no more news. Rachel, Mary, Elizabeth, and David had perched themselves on the picnic tables at the edge of the cabins and hadn't seen anyone return to camp.

"Now I'm getting worried," Jon admitted to the small group around him. "They should have returned by now."

"Maybe we should start some small search parties. You know, synchronize our watches and meet back in an hour," Julie suggested.

Judy tossed her an amused look. "You've been watching too many spy shows!"

"I think Julie is right," Jim said with a nod. "If we break up into groups we could cover a lot of area."

"It looked like the guys and Lee and Amanda were all headed into the woods. Why don't we have the ladies stay here and us guys can start the search?" Jon suggested.

"Have the *ladies* stay behind? So you *three* men are just going to leave *five* girls back at camp to watch for them?" Judy asked.

"Do you two want to help?"

"Yes!" they answered in unison.

"Well then, why don't you two take some flashlights and head into the woods towards the scenic overlook and then Jim and I will head into the other end of the woods and search for the four guys."

"Sounds good. Maybe we should see if anyone from the other group wants to go?" Julie suggested as she pointed to the picnic tables.

The leader agents nodded their approval and began walking with Julie and Judy.

"We're gonna start looking for them," Jon announced as they neared the foursome chatting on the tables. "Judy and Julie are going out as a team and Jim and I are heading into the other end of the woods," Jon explained.

"Can I go?" David asked. "I'd like to help."

"Sure, why don't you join the ladies here."

"Wait, wait..hold on. We don't have to go, do we?" Rachel questioned with side glances to Mary and Elizabeth.

"No, you guys stay here and watch for them. We'll leave you a walkie-talkie so you can radio us if they come back or if there is trouble."

Jim slipped back to the cabins to get the gear for the search while the groups assembled themselves. As soon as Jim returned, Jon gave the group lessons on how to communicate over the CB.

"Nurse Betty and the kitchen crew should be around if you need anything," Jon explained to the three ladies. "Be sure to radio us as soon as possible if they return."

"Okay, it's 9:30 right now. Let's meet back here at the tables at exactly 10:30. Be sure to note how long you've been walking so you can make it back in time."

"But Jon, what if we haven't found them by then?" David asked.

"We'll cross that bridge later," he replied with a shrug.

And so they set out. Jim and Jon headed into the woods in the direction Jack, Frank, Tony, and Sheldon had originally set out while Judy, Julie, and David took another route into the woods. The last sight Mary, Elizabeth, and Rachel saw was flashlights bobbing into the woods and disappearing.


Jim and Jon slowly started to make their way through the woods. Since both of them were nursing their own injuries, they weren't moving as swiftly as they would have liked. The woods were so dark and ominous. The trees loomed over them with an eerie stillness. In the distance an owl was hooting. It gave the forest an even more frightening feel to it. The fluttering of bats wings overhead matched the feeling both men felt in the pit of their stomachs. Although neither of them wanted to admit it, they were scared. It was the element of the unknown, in all respects. Of the woods themselves and of what they might find out there in regards to their four missing recruits.

Even though they had taught many classes at Station One, neither agent was fond of going off into the woods at night. Although the moon was full tonight and was casting a bright glow in the sky, the trees were hindering much light from making its way into the forest.

Slowly and hesitantly they were making their way down the path, both of them calling out the names of the recruits, hoping against all hope to hear a human voice answer back.

"JACK, FRANK, SHELDON, TONY!" Jim yelled as loud as he could, the names falling silent as soon as the last one had been called. The only sound they heard was the leaves slightly rustling on the trees overhead. Both of them stood silent for a moment, pointing their flashlights as far into the woods as they could possibly go.

Both Jon and Jim continued on into the tall timbers, each of them calling out the names of the missing men. They would only stop walking long enough to listen for any kind of response that might be given.

After they had walked quite awhile, Jon turned to Jim, shining the flashlight in his face.

"Damn it, get that light outta my face!" Jim muttered, perturbed.

"Sorry about that," Jon apologized. "I was just going to ask you how long we've been out here. What time is it?"

Jim shone his flashlight on his watch. "It's 9:55." "We're running out of time. If we don't find them soon, we're going to have to turn back. We told everyone to meet back at 10:30." Jon was glad that Jim couldn't see his expression in the darkness. He didn't want Jim to know how afraid he really was. He knew that it would be etched all over his face. Jon, in his nervous state, just kept rambling on about how they were never going to find them. It was too dark and the woods were too big, they could be almost anywhere.

"We'll keep looking a little while longer," Jim said as he turned to keep walking down the path. "Do you hear something?" Jon asked. "Shh! Be quiet for a minute!" Jim replied. They both were straining to hear what they thought could be water. They weren't sure though. It sounded so far away. Jim and Jon both quickened their steps, yelling out the names of the missing recruits as they went. As they advanced forward the sound of water kept getting louder and louder. As Jim yelled out “Jack!” back came an echo, “Jack!” Same with all the other names. As soon as he yelled a name, the echo came back sounding exactly as he had said it. Jim grabbed onto Jon's arm. "Wait, stop walking. We're coming up to a cliff, that's why we're getting an echo." Jim had to practically yell this into Jon's ear. The sound of rushing water was making it hard to hear anything they were trying to say to each other.

As their flashlights caught the edge of the cliff, they slowly made their way towards it. A few feet before reaching the rim, they both laid down on their stomachs. Shining their flashlights down the ravine, they caught sight of something that made them happy and terrified all at once.

Both agents gasped as they saw all four recruits at the bottom of the canyon. "You stay here, I'm going to get help!" Jim yelled, taking off back into the woods as fast as he could with his bandaged knee. He knew that he had to be careful of all the obstacles on the path, because it was up to him to get back to camp to get help and fast.

Jon had turned his flashlight off and closed his eyes after initially seeing how much trouble those four guys were in. Slowly he let out the breath he had been holding and dared to take another look. He turned the flashlight on again and noticed movement. "Oh thank God, they're not dead," he thought to himself.

He shone his flashlight down into the darkness again and spotted each of the guys, one by one. He flicked the flashlight off and on and again and again, trying to signal to them that they had found them and were going for help.

At the first sight of a light, Sheldon had looked up from the wall of the cliff. He had leaned up against it, exhausted after trying all he could to climb up the side of the cliff. He had found small little tree roots in the wall and tried desperately to climb his way out of there. He had exhausted himself in the effort and was trying with all that he had to stay awake and alert. He just knew they would be found. For some reason, he had sustained the least serious injury in the fall. He thought he may have a sprained wrist, but other than that, he wasn't very badly hurt. His voice was now hoarse, the result of trying in vain for hours to call for help. He knew no one would be able to hear him over the sound of the rushing water, but he had attempted to call out anyway.

Jon thought that Sheldon looked alright so he shone the light on the others to try to assess their injuries. Frank was sitting not far from the stream’s edge, his shirt was off and was tied into a sling, holding his left arm. Tony was sitting near Frank with his right shoe off, his ankle swollen to double its normal size. And then he spotted Jack, who was laying stretched out with a jacket under his head. His eyes were closed, and there were traces of blood on the jacket.

‘Hurry up!’ Jon thought. He felt so helpless just laying up there at the edge of the cliff. He would have yelled something down to them, but he knew they wouldn't be able to hear.

Just seeing the light gave the recruits hope. They knew that help would be on the way. Sheldon went over to Jack and nudged him. "Jack, wake up buddy! They're going for help. They've found us."

Jack slowly opened his eyes. A faint smile crossed his face. He knew he was going to be okay. Frank and Tony scooted over towards Sheldon and Jack. They all patted Jack on the arm. "Help is on the way," they tried to reassure him.

Jack closed his eyes and went back to sleep. The other three knew it was the worst thing to let someone with a concussion go to sleep, but they could only keep him awake for an hour or two after the fall. They just hoped that he wouldn't slip into a coma before help arrived.


Jon picked up his CB and toyed with the buttons a minute. "Hello? Can you hear me?" he called into the CB. After some fuzz and static, a female voice came on.

"This is Rachel."

"Rachel, this is Jon. Listen, we found the four guys but they are badly hurt. Jim is on his way back to camp to get help...we're gonna need you three to come back but we're gonna need more help and some supplies. Get nurse Betty and the kitchen crew if you have to. There's some rope and rappelling equipment in the shed next to the cafeteria."

"Okay. Mary and Elizabeth are going to start getting the equipment and rounding up the others while I wait for Jim to get back."

"Great. No word on Lee and Amanda?"

"Nope, I haven't heard from that group yet."

"Well, I'll notify David, Julie, and Judy by radio and see how they're doing. You just get the group back here as soon as possible. Remind Jim to call the local hospital and let them know we'll be bringing in some injured hikers."

Rachel nodded her head and said a final "okay" into the radio. With the silence of the CB she resettled herself on the table and listened to the sounds of the night. Behind her she could hear voices as Mary and Elizabeth knocked on cabin doors and began assembling the rescue equipment. Ahead of her was stillness. The woods were quiet. ‘What is going on in there?’ she thought to herself as she spied the edge of the trees for Jim.

Meanwhile in another part of the woods...

"Gotcha, we'll keep looking for Lee and Amanda. Sure, we will contact you immediately if we find them...yeah, or I'll call you at 10:30 if we haven't located them by then..." David's voice trailed off and he snuck a look at his watch and waited for Jon's reply.

"I cannot believe what a twist this day has taken," Julie whispered to Judy as David received final instructions from Jon. "I wonder if Lee and Amanda are hurt, too?"

"I would hope two trained agents could find their way out of the woods," Judy quipped as David clicked off his CB.

"He said to keep looking, they should have the situation under control with the help from camp."

"We've gone about as far as we can in this direction," Julie observed. "Hey!" Judy interrupted. "The lookout--what about the scenic overlook!" Julie and David gave her a strange look as she explained. "On the way here, just before the camp turn off I saw signs for a scenic overlook...you know, where you can pull off and see a view? I wonder if they walked over to it...can't be too far up there to the right."

"It's worth a try," David replied and led the two women deeper into the woods.


"Lee!" Amanda gasped as she grabbed onto the tree.

"Yes?" he questioned coyly as he gently guided her to the trunk of the tree. He leaned up against her and began softly kissing her neck.


"You were saying?" he asked, never taking his attention away from the soft spots on Amanda's neck.

"Oh...uh...don't you think...we should...mmm...be getting back to camp?" she finally managed.


"Because it's after 10:00 and...um...people are probably starting to get worried."

Lee straightened himself so that he was face to face with the large chocolate puddles gazing into his soft hazel eyes. "They won't care, we're only here to help Jim and Jon. They know we'll be fine. Now if by morning..."

"Lee!" Amanda scolded with a swat to his arms, which were now finding their way back around her waist. "

I'm just saying that us being out a few hours isn't going to concern anyone. As long as we're back for breakfast."

"Do you think I'm going to spend the whole night with you in the woods?"

"I think you could be persuaded..." Lee admitted as he met his lips with hers. The kiss lingered for a few extra moments before either was willing to release.

"I suppose we could stay out here for a few more minutes," Amanda sighed. "How about just sitting by the scenic overlook and taking in the sights and sounds of the woods?"

“Sights? At night?” Lee questioned with a grin.

“Well they were there before you showed me that tree!” Amanda exclaimed!

Lee chuckled and grabbed hold of her hands, leading her the 20 feet to the fence of the scenic overlook. The couple cuddled together as they soaked in the darkness and the many sounds that accompany a forest at night. It wasn't long, however, before they had resumed their previous activities and were no longer upright admiring the view, but officially making out on the carpet of grass beneath them.

"What was that?" David questioned as he shined his light into the path ahead of them. "Did you hear that?"

"Sounded like the rustling of leaves," Judy noted as the rays of her flashlight joined Julie and David's on the path.

They walked a few steps further before their lights fell on the objects of their search.

"I think we've found them," Judy announced matter-of-factly to her agreeing companions.


As Jim frantically searched for the edge of the woods, he started to feel a wet sensation on his right leg. He didn't have time to stop to examine what it could be, but he had a feeling that the wound on his knee has somehow sustained too much abuse and was broken open and bleeding.

‘I don't have time for this right now’ he thought to himself and just ran with all his might.

Nurse Betty, along with Mary, Elizabeth, and Rachel, had assembled some of the kitchen staff and were waiting at the clearing in the woods. They were afraid to just blindly take off into the woods without waiting for Jim to return. If they took off into the woods in a panic, they could have gotten lost themselves, or worse, run into the same fate as the four guys at the bottom of the ravine.

It was amazing how what appears to be chaos during a crisis, actually turns out to become an orderly system of people ready to help.

As soon as Rachel got word that the guys were found and needed help, she didn't think, she just acted. Everyone was assembled and the hospital was notified of the emergency. All the ropes and supplies needed to help with the rescue were gathered and waiting for Jim to emerge from the forest.

Nurse Betty had driven the van up to the forest’s edge. She wanted to have it easily accessible to transport the injured men to the hospital, if the ambulance didn't make it there by the time they got them out of the woods. She was very worried about actually getting them out of there. She couldn't take the van into the woods, the paths were too narrow. She knew she had to rely on Stan, the cook, and Danny, the dishwasher, to help. They were the only guys, besides Jon and Jim, who were available to offer assistance at that moment. No one knew where Lee was, and David was with Judy and Julie trying to locate him.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the anxious group spotted a flashlight not far away.

"There he is!" Danny yelled.

The whole crew ran towards the light flashing and bobbing through the forest. Jim heaved a sigh of relief as he spotted a whole assembly of people and their gear gathered to help.

"Are they going to be able to walk out of there once we get them out of the ravine?" Betty inquired about the injured recruits.

"I just took off so fast, I didn't really get to see how badly any of them were hurt," Jim replied breathlessly. He was doubled over, trying to catch his breath.

Nurse Betty motioned for him to hand her his CB. "Jon, Jon, come in, this is Betty."

"Oh thank God. Are you coming? How fast can you get here?" Jon replied.

"Jon, how badly are the guys hurt?" Betty asked worriedly.

"One looks really bad. Jack, he looks to have a head wound. I saw blood. The other three don't look too bad. Swollen ankle and a broken arm, maybe." Jon tried to sound calmer than he really felt.

"Okay, Jon. I need you to stay calm and know that help is on its way. We'll be there as soon as we can." Betty handed the CB back to Jim.

The light of her flashlight caught the bandage on Jim's knee and she let out a gasp. The whole bandage was red and covered in blood.

"Jim, you have to sit down and let me change that bandage." Betty tried to lead him over to the grass to make him sit down.

"There's no time. I'll be fine, really. Everyone please follow me." As exhausted as he was,

Jim took off back into the woods.

Everyone turned on their flashlights. Trying to juggle all the gear they carried, they clumsily took off after Jim.


"Shh!" David hissed to his cohorts as he herded them back down the path.

"What are you doing?" Julie sputtered. "We found them!"

"And how exactly do you think they are going to take us finding them in the woods like that?" Both Judy and Julie were silent as the previous scene played again in their imaginations.

"I guess they'd be embarrassed," Judy finally admitted.

"Well, they are obviously fine so why don't we just call Jon and say we found them, they are not hurt, and go back to help the others?"

"But shouldn't we tell them so they can help?" Julie wondered.

"I guess you're right. BUT, we have to be subtle about this. Listen, let's head back down the path a bit and then come up. We'll start calling their names and making a lot of noise so they can...uh, you know...regroup themselves."

Judy and Julie chuckled at David's obvious uncomfortableness regarding the situation they had stumbled upon. They slowly nodded their heads in agreement and followed him back down the path they had just come up.


"Now this is more like I imagined this week," Lee sighed as he cuddled closer to Amanda. The pile of leaves shifted beneath him and she returned his embrace.

"Yeah, this is definitely better than...most anything else I can think of," Amanda replied with a chuckle.

"I could stay like this all night," he commented with a hint of a question.

"Lee, we'd better not. It's got to be nearly 11:00 by now!"

Her words were punctuated by the sound of voices in the near distance.

"LEE! AMANDA! LEE! AMANDA!" The trio of shouts brought them out of their embrace and to their feet.

"Who is that?" Amanda questioned as she pulled herself together. Once she got the leaves, twigs, and dirt off her clothes and out of her hair, she turned her attention to Lee who was just as disheveled as she had been.

"With our luck they've sent out a rescue team to get us," he grumbled.

"Well, let's look presentable at least," Amanda said as she gave Lee one final swipe and then called to the rescuers. "Hello?"

The voices got closer and soon the orbs of three flashlights were bouncing down the path with three trainees in close pursuit. Finally, Judy, Julie, and David appeared before them illuminated by the moonlight and some Agency-issued turbo flashlights.

"There you are!" David exclaimed when the couple was in full view.

"Yep, here we are," Lee groaned matter-of-factly.

"We've been looking for you. Tony, Jack, Sheldon, and Frank have all been seriously injured. I think they fell down a ravine and we've gathered everyone in the camp to try to rescue them..." David's words were interrupted by the static from his CB.

"David? Judy? Julie? Do you read me?" came Jon's voice.

David grabbed the CB and replied. "Ya, Jon, we just found them. We're over by the scenic overlook right now."

"Great, that's just a quarter of a mile to the right of where we are. If you follow the edge of the cliff to the west, you should see some lights. That's where we are. Jim, Betty, Stan, Danny, Rachel, Elizabeth, and Mary are all heading into the woods right now and should be here shortly. I'm sure we're gonna need you five to get these guys out."

"Gotcha, we'll head over right now," David said as he motioned for the rest of the group to follow him. Lee and Amanda and Judy and Julie all followed his lead as David lead them back into the woods in search of the rescue team.


It didn't take very long for the party of five to spot the lights that Jon told them they would see. They had all taken off like lightning, adrenaline fueling them and pushing them farther into the woods. Jon was right on target and exactly where he had told them they would find him.

Just about the time they arrived at the site, the group consisting of the nurse, kitchen staff, the other recruits and Jim had arrived.

At first everyone just stood there dazed, catching their breath from running so fast to get there and trying to decide what was their best course of action.

Lee shouted to the group so they could hear him over the rushing water. "Come in closer everyone, so you can hear me." Lee made a gesture with his arms to try to get the group to huddle in closer. "I think it would be a good idea for two of us to go down over the cliff and bring up the recruits one by one. Also, Betty if you think you can make it, I would like you to come down with us."

Betty nodded her agreement.

"Okay then, who wants to go with me?" Lee asked.

David raised his hand, "I'll do it. I've had some rock climbing experience, so I'd be happy to help."

That being decided, Lee, David, and Betty started putting on their gear. Stan, Danny, Jim, and Jon were helping them get hooked up.

"What can we do?" Julie asked Amanda. "I feel so helpless."

"I know you do. Maybe we can all line up to the edge of the cliff and use our flashlights to help them see where they're going and what kinds of injuries they are going to be dealing with."

All of the girls in the group nodded.

Lee came back over to the group. "Okay, we're going to need some anchors up top here. We can use some trees to tie the other ends of these ropes to, but I would like someone to hold onto each of our ropes and when we tug on them, to get some help pulling us up."

As Betty, Lee and David stood at the edge of the cliff to start rappelling down, Jim, Danny and Stan decided that once they got to the bottom they would be the ones to hold onto the ropes. Betty was obviously nervous, she was not fond of heights, but she wanted to be able to assess the wounded and help them right away.

The rest of the group turned their flashlights on and lined up along the cliff’s edge, giving sufficient light for the rescuers.

The three conscious guys at the bottom of the ravine looked up and at the sight of the three rappelling forms, smiled for the first time since the accident.

Lee made it to the bottom of the ravine with no problem. Betty was having more of a struggle. She had never done such a thing before and was trying to work through her fear of heights. David tried to help Betty by only rappelling down as she did. It was very difficult not being able to communicate. He wanted to encourage her, but the water made it too hard to talk. The distance down the ravine could only have been about 75 feet, but to a person afraid of heights, it might as well be 500 feet. That's what it felt like to Betty.

Lee quickly went over to the injured recruits and tried to reassure them that they would be fine. Lee knew he was not a medical professional, but he could tell that they were all in some stage of shock. Jack was still unconscious, and Lee went over and put his fingers to his neck.

He felt a faint thumping and thanked God that he was still alive.

Betty finally made it to the bottom and quickly went over to Jack to figure what the best plan of action was for him. Lee had given the thumbs up sign so that she knew he was still alive. Betty immediately went over to the other three and saw that compared to Jack they were doing relatively well. Her thought was that David and Lee would probably be able to help them out. She needed to get word to someone up top that she needed that ambulance for Jack and fast. Betty gave her rope a tug. She saw Stan look over the side of the cliff, her rope firmly in his hand. When he looked down she motioned for him to bring her up.

He got Jon, Judy, and Julie to grab onto the rope with him and slowly hoisted Betty up.

As soon as she made it to the top, she addressed Jon and Jim and told them that the situation with Jack did not look good.

"I think I'm going to need the paramedics to come into the woods and help us get him out of here. I don't want to move him and risk injuring him even more."

That's all Jim needed to hear. "I'll go back to camp and see if they've arrived." With that Jim took off back into the woods.

Meanwhile, Lee and David had decided to take turns getting the others to safety. They got Tony to his feet and Lee held onto him and gave a tug on his rope. Seeing that they had more weight to pull up than just Lee, the girls even gathered to help. Mary, Elizabeth, and Rachel grabbed hold of the rope with Jon, Stan, and Danny. Slowly they hoisted them up. When they reached the top, Betty and Jon had Tony put his arms around their shoulders and led him over to a rock and had him sit down. Betty had brought along some splints and immediately started to set Tony's ankle.

Lee rappelled back down and by that time, David had Frank and was ready to be lifted up. The group assembled again and hoisted them safely back to the top of the cliff. They led Frank over to where Betty and Tony were, to wait his turn to have his arm set.

Sheldon was next and when David got back down to the bottom of the ravine, Lee gave his rope a tug and they pulled him and Sheldon to safety. Sheldon also was taken over to Betty to have his wrist checked out.

Sheldon argued with Lee, "But it's not that bad, I'd rather try to help out."

Lee sternly told him, "I know you want to help, but you all are in shock and you just need to let the nurse check you out. Okay?"

Sheldon nodded his agreement. Amanda came over and wrapped a blanket around him like she did for the other two rescued men.

By this time, Jim was almost to the edge of the woods and was very quickly approaching camp. He could see the lights of the ambulance flashing and breathed a sigh of relief. As he came out of the clearing, he saw not one, but two ambulances had made it. One of the camp office staff and another of the kitchen staff had waited there to watch for the emergency team.

Jim breathlessly tried to explain the situation. "We have four injured men. Three are just possible broken bones, but one is very badly hurt. I would say probably a concussion or worse."

The four paramedics followed Jim back into the woods. One of them made sure to grab a board and a neck brace in order to stabilize the accident victim with the head injury sufficiently, without causing more injury.


Judy turned to see flashlights bobbing towards them through the woods. "Here they come!" she yelled to the group collected about her. That announcement brought about a scurry of activity by the team members sprawled all around the edge of the cliff. Jon, David, and Lee met Jim and the four paramedics at the small clearing near the top of the cliff.

"You've got one that's real bad," the female paramedic said in more of a statement than a question.

"Yes, he's unconscious and I don't think we can get him out without some kind of stretcher," Jon observed as he led the group over to the crest of the cliff. The paramedics let out a collective sigh as they realized the predicament the man was in.

"We'll just have to lift him out," another paramedic noted frankly. With that said, the other three grabbed the equipment and began giving Lee, Jon, Jim, and David instructions on how to pulley the board up once they got Jack stabilized. The four paramedics rappelled down the ropes towards Jack while the girls carefully eased the board down the side of the cliff. The four men then devised a makeshift pulley system next to a large oak tree near the top of the cliff.

"This ought to hold it," Lee said as he tightened the rope. The tree would support the weight while everyone pulled to get Jack up out of danger. With everything in place, the group peered over the edge to watch the medic team work. In a matter of five minutes, they had Jack strapped on the board with his neck securely fastened with a brace. He had still not regained consciousness, but somehow knowing that the end was in sight to this ordeal was comforting.

"Okay!" signaled the thumbs up from below. With that, the men and most of the ladies gathered around the pulley to draw Jack up out of the hole. Rachel and Mary were posted on each side of the clearing to make sure Jack's ride up was as smooth as possible. It took about 10 minutes of pulling and then the slack being secured before Jack made it to the top. Soon after came the four paramedics. With a whoosh, the previously isolated Jack was surrounded by his fellow trainees and leaders.

"Jack, buddy, we all know you're gonna make it through!" David exclaimed with a pat to the injured man's shoulder. "Don't give up."

A moment later the medics each grabbed a corner of the board and began the trek back into the woods to their waiting ambulances. The rest of the group picked up what supplies were lying around and helped the three other injured guys to their feet.

Jim and Jon gathered on either side of Tony so he could keep weight off his ankle. Frank was still a little woozy from his misadventure so he leaned on Mary and Elizabeth as they started back. Poor Sheldon only had a sprained wrist, but was scratched up and sore enough that he did not decline Julie and Judy's offer to assist him to his cabin.

In quiet desperation, the able members of the group quickly made their way back to camp. It was going to be a long night as they anxiously awaited to hear of Jack's progress.


Everyone gathered around as Jack was loaded into the first ambulance. Jon quickly addressed the group and said he was going to ride to the hospital with Jack and would make sure that he was going to be okay. The paramedic who was driving flipped the switch to start the sirens and like a flash the first ambulance made its way out of the camp.

The woman paramedic addressed the other three remaining injured recruits. "We would like to take all three of you to the hospital to treat you for your injuries and for shock. I know you may not think your injuries are as bad or need medical attention like the other gentleman who has a head injury, but I would advise all of you to at least come to the hospital and get checked out."

"But I just hurt my wrist a little," Sheldon started to protest.

Amanda spoke softly to Sheldon and convinced him that they would all feel much better if he just listened to the advice and went to the hospital. He consented.

The paramedics helped Sheldon, Frank, and Tony into the back of the remaining ambulance.

"I think it would be a good idea for you to come along also," a male paramedic said while pointing to Jim's obviously injured knee.

After much protest, Jim relented and decided to go with the injured recruits to the hospital to have his knee at least re-bandaged.

"Will you and Jon make sure you keep in contact with us and let us know what's going on?" Amanda asked.

"Sure thing!" Jim called back as the door to the ambulance closed.

"I'll take the van and go to the hospital, too," Betty said. "They will probably just treat and release the three guys who aren't so bad, and then they're going to need a ride back to camp. Maybe Stan or Danny will ride along with me?" Danny volunteered, nodding his head.

"Good idea, Betty. Thanks." Lee patted her shoulder. "Please keep in contact with us and let us know if there is anything else we can do."

As the second ambulance took off with Betty and Danny close behind, the rest of the recruits looked to Lee for reassurance.

"Come on guys!" Lee tried to sound more encouraging than he really felt. "Let's all try to get a good night's rest and in the morning, we'll decide what we're going to do. My guess would be that some of those guys won't be able to advance to Dodge City, but if the rest of you as a group decide you want to advance to the next phase of training, then we will discuss that tomorrow. See you in the morning."

"Lee and I will be up for awhile and in the mess hall if anyone needs us for anything." Amanda smiled weakly.

As the group dispersed, Lee and Amanda made their way to the mess hall. They figured that they would be there most of the night. One of the phone lines was there and they wanted to be close to it, anticipating word on how everyone was doing.

Lee went into the cafeteria and turned on one set of the lights. Amanda followed him in. "How about I try to find us some coffee?" she said.

"That sounds good," Lee said exhaling a loud breath and running his hand through his hair. "I think we'll be here for awhile."

Just as he said that, the door to the dining area opened and one by one the remaining recruits filed in.

"Do you mind if we join you?" Julie asked. "We can't sleep and none of us want to be alone right now."

"Come on in and sit down." Lee smiled tiredly. "We'll all get through this together." Amanda had returned from the kitchen with two paper cups full of coffee. She noticed that in her absence a whole group had formed. "Oh, it seems like we need more than just two cups," she said smiling.


The ladies and David found chairs and circled a table in the center of the room while Amanda and Lee headed into the kitchen to find drinks and maybe some snacks for the group.

"I can't believe this week," Lee sighed heavily as he grabbed more styrofoam cups and the bottle of creamer.

"I know, all these accidents still bother me, too," Amanda admitted as she set the coffee pot back in its place. "I wish we knew if it was just a lot of accidents or whether someone is planning these pranks."

"Maybe we can figure it out," Lee replied thoughtfully. "Tomorrow we can finish up the stations with these six recruits and see what happens. If nothing happens, it means these were only accidents..."

"Or the someone that was planting the problems is out of commission now," Amanda finished for him.

"It's just too weird to be coincidence...Judy fell, Jim was shot, Tony, Jack, Sheldon, and Frank end up at the bottom of a ravine. Someone has to be behind this!"

"But who?" Amanda questioned as she paused her search for more snacks. "People wouldn't injure themselves!"

"No, but there are two suspects that we still haven't cleared." Amanda rolled her eyes. "Jon?"

"And David."

"Both of which have escaped injury," Amanda admitted.

"But we can't totally eliminate the girls, either. Nothing has happened to them, except Judy. They could be behind this whole thing."

"You're paranoid!" Amanda laughed as she tossed a number of snack sized bags of Doritos and Chee-tos into a large bowl. "But you are one of the best agents in the country."

Lee rewarded her comment with a kiss on the lips. "Oh really?"


"Well, the next day will tell whether my hunches are right," he replied. Amanda just nodded as she added the coffeepot to her selections, and the two walked back out into the dining room where the remaining trainees were involved in a impassioned conversation.


As Lee and Amanda returned to the dining room, they caught the last part of Mary's sentence. "...but I don't think that it's a coincidence that everyone seems to be getting hurt."

"Not everyone is hurt," Julie stated. "There are some people in the group who have seemed to be able to stay out of harm's way. I don't know the reason behind all of these injuries, and call me naive, but I would like to think that they are all mere accidents."

David looked to Lee and Amanda and asked, "What do you guys think about all of these people getting injured?"

"Well, at this point we hate to speculate. I would like to get to talk to the guys about the accident at the ravine and see if they feel that any foul play was involved," Lee tried to explain as he and Amanda set down the trays with the coffee and snacks.

"I'm just really scared," Mary continued. Elizabeth put her arm around her sister's shoulder and squeezed affectionately. Elizabeth nodded. "I am, too."

Lee took a sip of his coffee. "I know. I have half a mind to call off this whole training exercise, but we've come so far already. I would hate to make everyone re-take the whole class just because we had bad luck. Then again, I would hate to put anyone in any more danger, if in fact there is someone trying to sabotage an individual in this class or even the whole class."

"We just don't want to risk the safety of anyone. Yet since I've gone through the class myself, I know what a disappointment it would be for you to have to stop now," Amanda explained further.

The whole group sat in the mess hall for hours, talking and trying to weigh the consequences of a decision they would have to make very soon, to continue on with training or to stop where they were to avoid any more catastrophes.

Around 3:00 A.M. the phone in the kitchen rang. It gave everyone in the room a start and they all visibly jumped at the intrusion of that first ring. Lee went to answer it and everyone in the room fell silent, hoping to hear a piece of the conversation between Lee and whoever was on the other end of the phone.

"Hello?" Lee said uncertainly into the receiver.

"Um...is this Lee?" the voice said.

"Yes. Is this Jon?" The voice on the other end confirmed that Lee was correct.

"I just wanted to give you and everyone else an update on what is happening at the hospital." Jon went on, explaining, "Jack is in critical condition. They took him into surgery almost as soon as we made it here to the hospital. The doctors are trying to relieve some of the swelling in his brain."

"That doesn't sound good," Lee sighed. "What can we do here? Is there something any of us can do to help?"

"Actually there is. Could you get into Jack's personal file and find out who he has listed as his emergency contact and then give that person a call and update them on Jack’s condition?"

"Sure thing, I'll do that right away. How are the other guys? Do you know how they are?" Lee made eye contact with Amanda as he asked.

"I think they are all being treated right now. Betty will be bringing them all back to camp with her when they're ready. Sheldon's wrist and Tony's ankle just suffered sprains and they just had to wrap those, but Frank's arm was broken and they are putting a cast on it right now."

"Okay, well that's kind of good news. It sounds like in time they will be as good as new," Lee went on. "Oh and what about Jim, how's his knee?"

"They cleaned him up and even put in a few stitches, but he seems to be doing okay, too." Jon looked over to Jim who was giving a thumbs up signal while sitting in a chair in the waiting room. He was sporting a new clean bandage on his knee.

"That's great! I'm going to get that information to make that phone call for Jack. Keep us posted if anything new develops, would you?" Lee's eyebrows furrowed as he made this last request before hanging up.

"I'll be sure to do that," Jon added. "And thanks for making the call to contact Jack's relatives. He will really need them here when he wakes up. I mean, if..." Jon trailed off.

"We have to believe that he will," Lee tried to reassure him. "Thanks, Jon, for everything. Keep in touch."

They both said their goodbyes. Lee knew that the whole group in the dining hall had been listening to his every word. He went over the information that Jon had relayed to him and then told the group that he and Amanda were going up to the office to contact Jack's family.

"Would you listen for the phone in case Jon calls back?" Amanda said to David. "And we'll be back as soon as we can."

"Sure," David nodded.

Lee grabbed Amanda's hand and squeezed it reassuringly as they left the mess hall and headed for the office.


The office door opened with a screech and Lee poked his head inside. He nodded to Amanda who followed behind him and shut the door softly.

"I think the files were over here," Lee said with a motion to the metal cabinet against the wall.

Amanda clicked on the overhead light and joined Lee. After perusing the stack of manila folders, a tab reading "Hayes, Jack Alexander" caught his attention and he flipped open the folder.

"Mmm, looks like the next of kin is....Oh my..."

"What? What?" Amanda questioned. Lee tossed her an "Oh no" look and angled the folder so she could read the name listed.

"Peggy Marlow?!" Amanda gasped. "That's impossible. Wasn't she put away over two years ago?"

"Correction, Tanya Pablovich was put away two years ago."

"Maybe it's just a coincidence," Amanda offered. "There has to be a real Peggy Marlow out there somewhere."

"It just makes me very suspicious," Lee replied as his eyes scrunched together. "If Tanya is involved in this, it would explain a lot. She vowed to get revenge and she knows the layout of the camp very well. Let me call Billy and see what the status is on our dear friend Tanya."

Lee turned towards the desk and made his way across the room to where the phone lie on a stack of papers.

"Lee! It's 3:30 in the morning, and besides, isn't Billy in New York?"

"Shoot!" Lee muttered as he slammed the phone down. He stood still for a moment before continuing. "Oh Amanda, what have we gotten ourselves into? If she really is involved in this, that means she's had someone here doing the dirty work for her."

"And that person was probably Jack," Amanda finished for him.

"And where is Jack? In the hospital fighting for his..."

"Lee! Maybe we have it backwards. Maybe Peggy or Tanya wasn't trying to get rid of the trainees, just Jack."

"Her own brother? Why?"

"Well, you're gonna think I'm crazy, but during dinner the first evening here I overheard Jack telling Frank that he had visited his sister on the way here and they'd had a disagreement."


"And when Frank asked where his sister was..."

"Don't tell me, he mentioned..."

"Chesapeake," they said in unison.

"That's the Federal holding center where Tanya was sent," Lee noted. "But that still doesn't explain why Peggy would want her brother killed."

"Except there is something else Jack mentioned. He was telling Frank how sorry he was that he had to testify against his sister and she was going to have to spend extra time there before she'd be allowed to go home."

"So you think Peggy or Tanya...whatever her name is...wasn't trying to use Jack to knock off trainees, but is working with someone else to knock off Jack?"

Amanda nodded her head slowly. "And maybe some of those accidents were foiled attempts to get rid of Jack. It's worth a shot, isn't it?"

"Yes it is," Lee agreed as he began scanning Jack's file again. "But I say we hold off on calling the next of kin until morning. Jack is stable, so three hours to find out who this Peggy Marlow person really is won't hurt."

"Let's just hope he doesn't take a turn for the worse."

Lee rubbed his forehead. The excitement from the night and lack of sleep was starting to have a negative effect on his mood. "Listen, if Tanya is really behind this and was out to get Jack, we are safe to continue our training exercises."

"If," Amanda sighed.

"All we can do for now is reassure the group that things will be fine and then question Frank, Tony, and Sheldon when they get back to camp. Betty should be bringing them, plus Jim and Jon, back here any time."

"Maybe you could call the Agency in the morning and get the info on Tanya," Amanda suggested. "In the meantime, why don't we head back to the cafeteria? I have a feeling I'm gonna need another cup of coffee."


Lee and Amanda returned to a room full of sleeping forms that were slumped over the table with their heads resting on their arms. As soon as the door to the mess hall closed, everyone tiredly lifted their heads and raised half-opened squinted eyes towards Lee and Amanda.

Lee addressed the sleepy recruits, "Why don't we all go to bed and try to get some sleep? It is very late and we're all exhausted. Tomorrow we will have a free morning and won't be waking you up for morning exercises. We'll all meet sometime tomorrow afternoon and talk some more about what we want to do next. Okay?"

The mumbled responses were barely audible, but Lee figured that they all agreed with what he said and would just meet with him and Amanda sometime tomorrow afternoon.

"Goodnight everyone," Amanda added. "Oh wait! We've forgotten about the phone. What if Jon tries to call back?”

"I'll stay!" both Rachel and David said at the same time. They both looked at each other and smiled and then looked to Lee and Amanda for a decision on which one of them would be allowed to stay and listen for the phone.

"How about we both stay?" David said. "That way we can take turns taking naps and still get a little bit of rest."

"Okay," Rachel agreed. "Maybe we can take a few cots and pillows and blankets from the infirmary?"

"Are you sure you want to do this?" Lee questioned.

"Yeah." Both David and Rachel nodded their heads, confirming their willingness.

"Only if you're sure," Lee said. He could tell that they were both eager to stay. He started to question their enthusiasm with a knowing glance towards Amanda.

As the rest of the group shuffled off to their cabins for much needed rest, Lee, Amanda and David went to the infirmary to gather two cots and the blankets and pillows. Rachel and David were all set for the night with instructions to come get Lee if they got any new information from the hospital.

Lee walked Amanda to her cabin. They walked in silence, with Lee's arm firmly wrapped around her waist. Amanda's exhaustion gave her a good excuse to rest her head on Lee's strong shoulder. They stopped right inside Amanda's door and faced each other, standing closely together. They whispered to each other in hushed tones.

"What do you make of Rachel and David both wanting to stay at the mess hall to listen for the phone?" Lee asked Amanda as he smoothed a piece of stray hair that had fallen across her forehead.

Amanda said through a yawn, "...I'm not sure....don't want to think about anything right now, but sleep."

She leaned forward and Lee wrapped his arms around her. Amanda shivered slightly, a mixture of exhaustion and the fact that through her fatigue, Lee's strong arms holding her felt so nice. Lee held her close and Amanda returned the embrace. They stood there for a few minutes, slowly rocking back and forth. Finally, Lee felt his own exhaustion nagging him and slowly loosened his grip.

He knew he shouldn't take advantage of her drowsy state, but he couldn't help himself as he leaned forward to kiss her. Amanda already had her eyes closed and didn't know what he was intending until she felt his warm breath on her cheek. Right before his lips met hers, she smiled.

Lee meant to just plant a small little peck on her lips, but as soon as his lips met hers, he felt her lips moving below his and knew that she couldn't have been as sleepy as she appeared. ‘Wow, can this woman kiss,’ he thought to himself. Little did he know that was exactly what Amanda was thinking about Lee. ‘Wow,’ she thought to herself.

Lee broke off the kiss. Opening his eyes and clearing his throat, he looked at Amanda. She was standing before him with her eyes still closed and a smile as wide as the Grand Canyon on her face.

He was holding onto her arms trying to steady her. She just would not stop grinning. He shook her slightly to try to wake her, but she wouldn’t open her eyes. He thought, ‘To hell with it, I'm going to have to put her to bed. She is asleep standing on her feet.’ He gently put his arm around her shoulders and with his other arm, scooped under her knees and picked her up. Amanda immediately wrapped her arm around Lee's shoulder and nuzzled her face into his neck. Lee carried her over to her cot. Right before he set her down he let out a little groan when he felt Amanda's lips gently moving across a very sensitive part of his neck.

"Not now, Amanda," his voice came out in a raspy whisper. He laid Amanda down on her cot, gently removing her tennis shoes and pushing them under her cot, so she wouldn't trip on them getting up the next morning.

As he pulled the blanket up over Amanda's sleeping form, he couldn't believe how lucky he was to have found such a woman. ‘Fate definitely brought her to me, just when I needed her the most. So it took me awhile to admit it. I hope I can make up for lost time and show her how much she means to me,’ he thought. “You’re definitely a keeper,” he whispered as he leaned down and kissed her forehead, running the backs of his fingers across her cheek.

As he turned to leave, he heard Amanda sigh in her sleep, "I love you, Lee."


The rays of the noontime sun were descending upon the somewhat drowsy gathering of recruits. Lee and Amanda stood chatting while the group waited for Rachel and David to finish getting changed and join the others.

"What did Francine say?" Amanda questioned in a whisper. Lee had just returned from the office where he had spent a good part of the late morning. Billy had called at 9:00 to check on how things were going, Lee filled him in on the problem, and Billy had gotten Francine on the case immediately. Just arriving back from New York on the red eye, Agent Desmond was not initially thrilled about the goose chase, but being the professional that she is, had dug in deep and helped crack the case.

"Peggy Marlow has been at Chesapeake, does have a younger brother, and..." Lee shook his head almost in disbelief, "that brother's testimony got her extra time."

"Well, does that mean we can assume someone ELSE has been planning these little mishaps? Jack is in the hospital..."

"Yeah, now the question is 'who put him there?'" Lee added. "I can't wait to talk to Sheldon, Frank, and Tony to see what really happened at that cliff."

"They're eating lunch now."

"Uh huh, and I think I might just pay them a visit. The sooner we figure out who is behind this, the safer we'll all be."

Amanda was going to reply but her train of thought was interrupted by the arrival of David and Rachel. They had walked over from the cabin area and joined Mary, Elizabeth, Julie, and Judy on the grass.

"Now that we're all here, I thought we would talk about the plan for the rest of the week," Lee announced.

"We're going to continue?" Judy questioned as she rubbed her sore ankle.

"Yes, I feel it's pretty safe to go on. We only have a few exercises left. It's my opinion that with you six being so close to the end, it would be more fair to let you finish instead of having to redo the course." The six nodded in agreement.

"What do we have left?" Julie wondered out loud.

"Agent King and I have modified the remaining courses. We are going to do a few exercises that we should have finished before tomorrow. Today we will complete those and then tomorrow you will go to Dodge City."

"And for those who don't know," Amanda began as she noted the confused look across the recruits' faces, "Dodge City is a deserted town where you will try to get through buildings filled with surprises."

"With guns?" Judy asked with a grimace.

"With guns," Lee repeated. "Each of you will be assigned a building in the town and you will have to get through it. We will grade you based on what you shoot at and what you don't. Consider it a final test."

"So what are we doing today?" Rachel questioned.

"Today we are going to finish the obstacle course and go through the defensive driving course. That should only take the afternoon and by 7:00 we should be done and ready for supper."

"I'm going to take you six over to finish the obstacle course while Agent Stetson finishes up some work back at camp, and then he will join us again for the defensive driving. We'll probably break up into groups of three before heading over to the driving course, with each of us taking a group." Lee tried to hide a groan as that thought crossed his mind. He did not exactly relish the thought of spending a few hours grading these particular drivers.

"Okay, let's get going!" Amanda announced. The six got up, brushed the grass off their bottoms, and followed Amanda to the far end of the field where the intricate system of tires, ropes, and bars awaited them.

Meanwhile, Lee made his way back to the cabin area. He was anxious to talk about that fall down a cliff and to call and get an update on Jack's condition, which had been upgraded to stable as of 10:00 this morning.


Lee approached the mess hall, going over in his mind just exactly what to ask the accident victims to try to get them to remember anything suspicious that might have happened yesterday. When he opened the door, all four heads popped up from their plates to see who walked in. Jim was sitting at the table with Sheldon, Frank, and Tony. They were all voraciously attacking their food. Each had asked for seconds and were shoveling it into their mouths when Lee entered the dining room.

"Hiya Lee!" Jim greeted him.

Lee went forward, extending his hand to Jim. He gave it a firm shake, while smiling and saying, "Boy, it is good to see you guys." Lee patted the shoulders of Sheldon and Frank who were sitting across from Jim and Tony. Lee went over and grabbed a chair, seating himself at the end of the table.

"How are you guys feeling?" Lee inquired, looking at each member of the group with a quick glance around the table.

"Sore, but not as hungry now as we were before," Jim replied, smiling and patting his now satisfied stomach.

"I know all of you have been through a lot in the past 24 hours, but I really need to ask you some questions about what happened last night," Lee went on.

"Do we have to go through it all again? We got questioned enough by the cops last night!" Tony chimed in.

"Yeah, can't you just read the police report?" Frank asked.

"I suppose I could, but I would rather have you guys tell it to me the way you remember it," Lee said as politely as he could. He had an ulterior motive for wanting to hear them tell the story. He knew that the police had surely questioned them last night. You can't have an *accident* of this magnitude come into the emergency room without setting off some warning bells with the police. He made a mental note to have Billy pull some strings and get him that police report, so he could compare the stories.

"Come on guys, what went on out there last night?" Lee asked again.

Sheldon was the first one to speak. "Well, we were all out there just having fun. It had started to get dark and I mentioned that maybe we should turn around and go back. It seemed to me that we had gotten lost. But the rest of the group just wanted to keep going. I was really tired and decided to sit down for a minute and told the guys that I would either catch up with them, or catch them on the way back. Tony said that they were just going to go up a little ways and then would start back."

Lee looked at Tony and Frank as Sheldon went on. Neither of them said anything, they just listened intently to Sheldon's story.

"Well, I sat there for what seemed like an hour," Sheldon continued. "I didn't like the fact that they hadn't come back my way. I couldn't see all that well, so I tentatively made my way down the path and was yelling for the guys, but got no answer. I started to hear what I thought was rushing water. As I made my way further down the path, it just kept getting louder and louder. I was yelling at the top of my lungs, trying to listen for any kind of response from my fellow recruits, but all I could hear was water."

Sheldon went on while Lee listened attentively. "I was really starting to get scared. I had a bad feeling about it. I couldn't put my finger on it, but something just wasn't right. And then it happened..."

"What happened?" Lee was on the edge of his seat, he couldn't stand the suspense of the whole thing. He had wondered since they had found them in the ravine, what in the world could have caused this to happen?

"I tripped." Sheldon shook his head, like he couldn't believe it. "I caught myself at the edge of the cliff, but I couldn't hang on and I ended up sliding down the wall of that ravine. Just like I tried to climb back up, when I was sliding down it, I grabbed onto tree roots trying to stop myself, but before I knew it I was at the bottom. I was scared to death, thinking I was going to die there alone, until I landed on a pair of legs. I nearly jumped half out of my skin. That's when from behind me I felt Tony wrap his arms around my chest, restraining me. He knew I would try to fight him off. I had no idea what was going on. He kept yelling ‘you're okay, you're okay’."

Lee looked over to Frank and Tony who were shaking their heads in agreement with the events as they were being told.

"What I didn't know, was that I had landed on Jack and that he was already in bad shape." Sheldon's eyes filled with tears as he recalled. "Immediately, Tony, Frank, and I decided that we needed to try and get some help for Jack. Frank's arm was injured and Tony's ankle was, too, and I knew it would be up to me to try to get back up the side of that cliff and go for help."

Lee stopped Sheldon right there. "Wait a minute, can we back up for a second? You say you tripped? That's it, you just tripped? What did you trip on?"

"You know, I can't really say for sure. I just know that when I stepped closer to the edge, I felt something catch both of my ankles and before I knew it, I did a somersault and was at the edge of that cliff hanging on for dear life." Sheldon again shook his head in disbelief.

"Okay, I got that part of the story," Lee continued. He then addressed Frank and Tony and questioned, "What about you three, including Jack? What happened last night?"

Frank spoke up and said, "It's our own fault, you know. We were horsing around and decided to race each other. Which wasn't a very smart idea, because it had already started to get dark. We couldn't see all that well as we made our way down the path. Jack was up ahead of both Tony and I. I really can't tell you what happened with Jack because I didn't see him until we all ended up at the bottom."

Tony chimed in then. "I was right ahead of Frank. We think Jack had gotten way ahead of us because we couldn't hear him. As we approached the sound of rushing water, we started to slow down. We stopped right before the cliff's edge to catch our breath and to wonder what had happened to Jack."

"Then it happened," Tony went on. "Someone pushed me."

"Yeah, I was pushed too," Frank said.


The look of utter shock on Lee’s face was promising to become a permanent fixture. “You were pushed? By who?”

“I don’t know exactly,” Tony admitted. “One minute there was no one around us and the next thing I knew someone was pushing my legs.”

“Yeah, like the person wasn’t standing, but already on the ground,” Frank added.

Tony nodded his head as Lee shook his.

“Why would someone do that? And *who* would have done that?” Lee questioned. The men just stared back at him with blank expressions on their faces.

“When we first found Jack we asked him what happened. He whispered something about getting revenge.”

“Revenge?” Lee asked hesitantly.

“I guess that he was going to get revenge on whoever did this,” Frank explained. Lee nodded his head.

“Is that all he said?” Lee asked.

“He did say something about a struggle,” Tony replied. “Do you think he was pushed, too?”

“I don’t know. Maybe he knew the person who pushed him,” Lee answered, trying to not release too much information.

“It’s all so strange,” Sheldon muttered. “Why would someone want to hurt Jack...or us?”

“Well, listen guys, why don’t you finish your lunch and get some rest. We’re all just glad that you are safe now,” Lee said as he rose from the table.

“Thanks, Lee,” the men chorused as the agent exited the cafeteria.

As he made his way to the office, Lee’s mind raced. Instead of just being tripped, it sounded like Jack may have struggled with someone before falling. And that same person pushed the other three men over the cliff. Revenge? Was Jack really saying he was going to get revenge or somehow telling the guys that someone was getting revenge on him? His mind swam with the possibilities. For now he was going to concentrate on getting a copy of that police report and then check in with Billy.

After a quick update to his superior, Lee dialed the number for the local county hospital where Jack lay fighting for his life. His call was transferred numerous times before he finally got to talk with Jack’s physician. Assured that Jack’s condition was improving, much quicker than even the doctors had hoped for, Lee hung up the phone and decided it was time to stop avoiding the inevitable. It was time to help Amanda with the driving course.

Suddenly an ironic thought crossed his mind: Could it be that he would survive the foiled attempts of an assassin and countless brushes with catastrophe, yet lose his life on the defensive driving course? He let out a small chuckle as he began his walk to the far end of the camp where two old “General Lee” muscle cars awaited his arrival.


As Lee made his way to help Amanda out with the defensive driving portion of training, he heard a voice call out behind him. He turned around to see who had addressed him. He found Sheldon approaching him at a hurried pace with Tony, slightly limping, trying to keep up with him. Tony didn't want his injury to be a detriment in Lee's decision whether or not to let them continue on with training.

Tony and Sheldon looked at each other, not sure which one of them should ask Lee about it.

Tony spoke up. "Uh, Lee.....do you think it would be okay, if we attempted to do this part of training?"

Lee looked at Sheldon and Tony with a puzzled look. "Are you serious?"

Sheldon looked at him with pleading eyes, "Yes, we're serious. Would you consider it? We think we can do it. Both of us want to advance to Dodge City, so we would like the chance to try this defensive driving exercise."

Lee ran his hands through his hair and let out a long breath while shaking his head. "I think you're crazy for attempting it with your injuries. But I have to admit that if I were in your shoes, I would want to do the same thing." Lee stepped between both guys, slinging his arms around their shoulders. “Come on," he told them. Lee couldn't help thinking how he admired these guys for wanting to continue on. Already they had lost two recruits to their injuries. Jack and Frank definitely were out, both of them obviously hurt too badly to finish.

Amanda had gathered the small group around the cars and had already passed out the helmets. They were all fastening them on, when they saw the guys approaching.

"Hey, it's great to see you guys!" Julie exclaimed.

The rest of the group also joined in welcoming them back.

"Okay, it looks like we have four people to a team now," Lee said, surveying the group and smiling.

Since they had formed a circle while standing around talking, Lee had each person count off 1,2, 1,2 until the whole group had been numbered. The ones went with Amanda and the twos were with Lee.

"Okay, decide amongst yourselves who wants to go first," Lee told both groups.

Since Mary and Elizabeth were on opposing teams they decided to go first so they could "race" each other. Amanda and Lee each got into a car with one of the twins and off they went. The rest of the group cheered them on, like they were watching a drag race. They seemed to think of it more as a team event than an individual one, but everyone would be graded on his or her own performance.

Amanda and Lee had their clipboards out and were grading as they drove along. Each recruit would be judged on how well they took instruction and also how they handled the vehicle.


“Mary!” Amanda yelled as she coughed away the dust that was kicking back into her face. With a wave of her hand, Amanda pointed to the obstacle in the road of which Mary seemed oblivious. With a jarring motion, Mary swerved to the left to avoid a stack of baled hay that had been plunked in the middle of the road. Amanda forced a smile in Mary’s direction and marked a box on her sheet.

“How am I doing?” the trainee asked as she pulled the car out of the spin and was now steadily plowing down the road.

“Oh, you’re doing fine. Just, uh, watch the road,” Amanda suggested with a tinge of nervousness.

Meanwhile, Lee was not having better luck with Elizabeth.

“Oops!” Elizabeth giggled as she spun the wheels through the dust and rocks of the road’s shoulder. Lee just grimaced and tightened his hold on the car door.

“Those rocks didn’t hit you, did they?” she questioned without ever taking her eyes off the road ahead of her.

“Not very hard,” Lee quipped in reply.

Elizabeth just forced an awkward smile and returned her gaze to the task before her.

After another five minutes of near misses, hay bales, and dirt roads, both cars came to a stop back at the starting point. The crowd of spectators cheered as the trainees exited their vehicles.

“Okay,” Lee drawled with a hint of apprehension, “who’s next?” Amanda and Lee both scanned the group to see Sheldon and Tony waving at them.

“We could try it,” Tony offered as he began walking towards the car. Lee nodded as he waited for Tony to meet him at the car while Amanda and Sheldon got started.

Considering the extent of their injuries, Tony and Sheldon fared well in their driving. Only one mishap, Tony’s foot slipping off the brake, occurred and even then, the result was just a brief encounter with a hay bale.

“They’re not doing *so* bad,” Amanda observed as she met Lee at the back of one of the cars. “No major injuries anyway.”

“Just my sore neck,” Lee replied with a stiff rub to his neck and shoulders.

“We can take care of that tonight,” Amanda said as a sly smile spread across her lips. Lee gave her a wink and squeezed her arm a little tighter.

“I’ll remember that when I’m all alone in my cabin later,” he whispered back to her.

An hour later, the last of the drivers, Julie and Judy, had finished the course and joined the group of recruits at the edge of the field. For the most part, the trainees were remarkably well-coordinated in the driver’s seat. Well, Mary and Elizabeth needed a little more practice, but the rest of the team was very impressive.

“I see no reason why the whole group cannot proceed to Dodge City,” Lee announced, looking to his clipboard for confirmation. “You all did well...or as well as can be expected,” he corrected with a side glance to Tony and Sheldon. A round of “yahoo!” and “yeah!” circled the excited, sweat suit clad recruits.

“It’s 4:00 now,” Lee observed as he checked his watch. “Too late to start today. Supper is at 6:00 and then we’ll have a free evening to pack and relax before heading out tomorrow. Be sure to get adequate rest tonight. Dodge City is the final test of whether you will proceed to advanced training.”

A few mumbles were heard as the group broke out into conversation and headed back into camp, Lee and Amanda lagging back behind.

“What sorts of plans do you have for tonight, Agent Stetson?” Amanda asked as she watched the trainees advance towards camp.

“Let’s see, it will take me about three minutes to pack and then...”

Amanda arched her eyebrows. “And?”

“Well, I never did get to finish showing you that scenic overlook,” he remembered out loud.

“So you want to take a walk after supper?” she questioned.

“Sure. And maybe do a little more detective work on our case.”


"I just had an idea." Amanda stopped walking to make her point to Lee. "Why don't we have a bonfire tonight, you know, sit around the campfire and tell stories?"

"You mean you wouldn't rather go to the scenic overlook with me?" Lee asked her while grinning and raising an eyebrow.

"You betcha, buster, you haven't gotten out of your overlook promise. I was just thinking that everyone might enjoy coming out and roasting marshmallows and making s’mores."

"Actually Amanda, that's a great idea. I'll announce it to everyone at dinner tonight that at sundown we'll have a bonfire."

"Plus we'll probably get to know these recruits even better, and on a more personal level." Amanda wrapped her arms around Lee's neck and whispered, "I know someone I'd like to get to know on a more personal level."

"That can certainly be arranged," Lee said lowering his head slightly to kiss Amanda softly.

"Ooooh, you taste like....dust!" Amanda teased as she pulled back from him.

Lee just let out a hearty laugh as he said, "I was thinking the same about you!"

They both leaned in for another kiss saying at the same time, "Who cares?"

Amanda was the first one to break contact by suggesting, "We better get going or we won't get anything accomplished before dinner tonight."

"Anytime I get to be alone with you and try out my field experience is an accomplishment in my book," Lee teased.

"You know what I mean." Amanda rolled her eyes.

"Oh, alright." As they started to walk again Lee said under his breath, "Spoil sport!"

"I heard that!" Amanda said while playfully hitting Lee on the arm.

They both headed towards their cabins to freshen up before dinner. They also decided to spend that time packing up for Dodge City. They promised each other to try to sneak off to the scenic overlook after the bonfire activities were over.

Promptly at 6 o'clock everyone assembled in the mess hall to eat. When everyone was seated, Lee brought up the idea about the bonfire. Everyone seemed to take to the suggestion and were excited about it. Lee leaned over to Amanda and said, "Obviously that was a good thought you had there."

Amanda had her mouth full of food, so she just nodded and smiled.

Jon and Jim also happened to be sitting at Lee and Amanda's table. Jon reached his hand over and put it on Amanda's. "Yeah, great idea Amanda!"

Lee glared at him. Amanda knew that Jon's gesture would infuriate Lee. Sometimes Lee was just too over-protective. It was an innocent gesture, but she knew, innocent or not, Lee would not like it.

She smiled weakly to Jon, glad that he had only left his hand on hers for a brief moment. She looked at Lee and slightly nodded her head back and forth slowly. She was trying to be discreet with her signal, letting Lee know that it was okay. One look into his eyes and she knew he was furious. She could see the muscle in his jaw clenching. Amanda spotted Lee’s hand under the table and slipped her hand into his, squeezing it reassuringly. She wanted him to stay calm. The last thing she wanted was for Lee to make a scene.

"Well, Amanda and I have some work to do before the bonfire tonight, so we have to go." Lee kept hold of Amanda's hand as he practically pulled her out the door with him.

Once they got outside, Amanda tried to talk to Lee. He wouldn't listen, he also wouldn't let go of her hand. He was walking so fast that she had a hard time keeping up with him. She was trying to wriggle her hand loose, but his grip was too tight.

"Where are we going?" Amanda asked several times. Lee didn’t answer. They were walking towards the office cabin when Amanda stopped dead in her tracks. "Where are we going?" she asked as sternly as she could.

When Amanda's eyes finally made contact with Lee's she again saw jealousy in his eyes. He still didn't answer her for a moment. He didn't even realize that Amanda had asked him a question until she gave him one of those *are you going to give me an answer or not* looks.

"What?" he asked.

"Where are we going?" she asked again.

"I need to call Billy again and check in with him," Lee said while resuming their walk to the cabin.

"Did you have to act like a caveman and practically drag me out of the mess hall before I could even finish my dinner?" Amanda asked. She had said this to him this before when they first came out of the mess hall, but he didn’t answer her. She just didn't understand where this terrible jealousy came from.

They had reached the office and went inside. He finally let go of her hand. He started to pace the office floor. Back and forth, back and forth. Amanda knew that he needed to cool off before he could make his phone call.

"Don't you think we should talk about this?" Amanda questioned.

Lee ran his hands through his hair as he kept pacing. "What? What are you talking about, Amanda?"

"I'm talking about the scene you just made in the mess hall."

"No, that was not a scene. A scene would have been if my fist would have contacted with his face. That's what I really wanted to do."

"I really just don't understand. Help me to understand what makes you so mad. Jon just barely touched my hand. That's all, nothing more."

"I don't want another man touching you, period. I admit I have a jealousy problem, I always have. Even when I was younger, if any guy ever touched my girlfriends or made rude comments to them, I went crazy."

Amanda remembered the Colonel telling one such story of how Lee stood up for his girlfriend when he was a young boy and how he had gotten beaten up pretty bad. The Colonel seemed so proud of the fact that Lee wouldn't cry. She thought how sad it must have been to be raised thinking it wasn't okay to cry when you were hurt or sad.

Amanda continued to get lost in her thoughts as Lee's pacing seemed to slow down little by little. Loving Lee was not going to always be easy. He was such a hard person to figure out. Just when she thought she knew him, he would so something to let her know that he could be a difficult person sometimes. But she couldn't imagine not loving him. From the moment they met at the train station, she felt it, that pull that he had on her heart since that day. It had only gotten stronger over the years and every day it grew and would continue to do so.

Lee finally plopped himself down behind the desk and dialed the agency. When Billy's voice came on the line, he said "Hi Billy. I'm just checking in. Did you get any new information for me?"



Amanda watched as Lee jotted down some notes on a scratch piece of paper. Whatever Billy was telling him had Lee happy, that’s for sure.

“Okay, Billy, thanks a lot!” Lee exclaimed as he dropped the phone back onto the receiver.

“Good news?” Amanda questioned.

“Not necessarily good, but it looks like we can narrow down our options a little.”

“Oh really? So who’s our man?”

“Billy said that Tanya Pablovich was quite mad that her brother turned her in. Actually, they are only half-siblings. They have the same mother but different fathers,” Lee explained. Amanda nodded.

“And Peggy Marlow,” he continued, “is Tanya Pablovich. They did some checking into his records and Peggy Marlow is listed as next of kin for Jack. The address and phone number Billy has matches the info we had on Tanya.”

“Why would he list her if Peggy or Tanya had caused trouble before? It seems like he wouldn’t want us to know about his connection with her.”

“Well, Amanda, Jack is clean. He helped convict her so he’s on our side. As far as we know, both of Jack’s parents are dead, and Tanya is his closest living relative. I’m sure it didn’t occur to him to *not* list her.”

“So what does all this mean to us? How does knowing this help us figure out who hurt Jack?”

Lee was thoughtful for a moment before replying. “First of all, we are now pretty sure that Jack was the target all along. It should be safe for the group to continue on. But, we still don’t know who was doing all this. We need to catch this person now. If it’s one of our trainees, we can’t afford to have them in the Agency.”

“But now that Jack is taken care of, how are we going to find out who has been doing this? Their job is done and things will return to normal.”

“That’s the kicker,” Lee agreed. “There is a slight chance that Tanya would want to sabotage the whole group. I’m sure it would give her a big thrill to disrupt our recruitment. She may have been after Jack, but she, or whoever she has working for her, might still have some plans for us.”

“I hope not,” Amanda sighed.

“I don’t want anyone to get hurt, but it may be the only chance we have to smoke this guy out.”


The Indian summer was starting to cool off a bit as the group made their way to the old campfire area just east of the scenic overlook. Except for Jack, who was still in the hospital, all the members of the trainee group and its leaders were heading out together.

“Wow, I didn’t expect it to be all set up already! I knew the supplies would be here, but they went to the trouble of arranging everything,” Amanda said to Lee as they approached the campsite and saw a fire lit, wooden logs configured around the bonfire, and a few sacks of graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate bars. Also, a big canister of hot water, some packets of hot chocolate, and styrofoam cups sat next to the bags.

“The cook must have sent some of the crew out here to set it up for us,” Lee replied. Amanda shrugged her shoulders and found a seat on a log. The rest of the group followed her lead and soon they were making s’mores and drinking hot chocolate while telling stories.


“...And the address was a *cemetery*,” Elizabeth cooed as she completed her story.

“Oh, and what about the babysitter who got the phone call?” Mary interjected.

“That’s just an urban legend!” Rachel quipped.

“No, that happened!” Mary defended. Rachel just rolled her eyes.

“What do you say we head back?” Amanda asked after checking her watch. “It’s already after sundown and we have a big day ahead of us tomorrow!” With those words the group started collecting their things.

“Did anyone see where Tony went?” David asked when he noticed the remainder of the log he’d been sitting on had been vacated by Tony.

“I think he just went back in the woods...uh, for a minute,” Julie stammered. “He mumbled something about going to the bathroom.”

“Oh, then we’ll just wait for him,” Lee said as he helped the others gather the bags of goodies they’d devoured.

After 15 minutes had passed, the group started getting concerned. “He’s been gone a long time,” Judy observed with a glance towards the dark woods. “Maybe someone should check on him.”

“His ankle was bothering him earlier,” David noted. “Maybe he fell and couldn’t get back.”

“Ya, I don’t have a good feeling. Why don’t David and I go check it out and you guys stay here,” Lee announced.

The ladies, plus Frank, Sheldon, Jim, and Jon, all sat back down on the logs and began discussing what possibly could have happened to Tony. Everyone figured he must have fallen or gotten lost and assumed Lee and David would be back with him soon.

Meanwhile in the woods...

“There is no sign of him anywhere!” David exclaimed in frustration. “He would not have gone off far.”

“Hey, David, have you noticed that there are three sets of footprints we’ve been following?” Lee observed. He shone his flashlight towards the ground. “At first I didn’t think much of it since a bunch of us had been over here, but these are all very fresh prints and they extend beyond where our group would have been.”

“What do you think that means?” David wondered out loud. “You don’t think someone...took him?”

“I don’t know, but we’d better get back to the campfire and get people back to their cabins for the night. Then maybe we can return to this spot,” Lee replied.

As Lee and David approached the camp, they were met by worried gazes.

“No luck?” Amanda asked as she greeted the two men at the edge of the campfire.

“No, but I think we’d better get everyone back to camp,” Lee urged.

Amanda agreed. She had been working with Lee long enough to know when to act now, ask questions later. “Alright everyone, let’s get going!”

“Wait, where’s Tony?” Rachel questioned. “We just can’t leave him out here!”

“I’m coming back with a few of the men, but for now we need everyone back to camp!” Lee ordered. Silently, the group picked up their things and walked somberly through the woods. Ten minutes later they were back at camp.

“Listen, Amanda, I don’t know where Tony is, but you might suggest that people bunk together tonight. At least two to a cabin. I’d just feel better knowing they weren’t alone tonight.”

“Lee, what happened? I thought we were safe now!” Amanda asked in a tone that almost made Lee shiver.

“Someone is not done with us yet,” Lee answered softly, “and I have a feeling Tony is in a very bad spot right now.”

“But who? Everyone was at the bonfire with us tonight!”

“Not everyone. The kitchen crew and nurse Betty had a free evening.”

“You think Betty had something to do with this?”

“I’m not sure, but I’d like to know where Stan and Danny went after they set up the campfire for us.”


As David and Lee took off back into the woods, Amanda did as Lee said. She started going cabin to cabin to tell everyone to bunk up together, at least two by two. All of the girls decided that even two to each cabin didn't feel safe enough to them, so they all decided to grab sleeping bags and congregate in Julie's cabin. None of the recruits felt much like they were going to get many hours of sleep anyway.

After Amanda had all the women settled, she decided to do the same thing with the men. Jon and Jim had decided to help Lee and David look for Tony, so that only left Sheldon and Frank. Sheldon decided to stay with Frank and keep an eye on for him because of his injuries. Actually Frank really had no purpose in staying, he was already resigned to the fact that he was too hurt to continue on with training. But he had decided to stay on and be a cheerleader of sorts to the rest of the group and encourage them through what was to be the hardest phase, Dodge City.

Amanda didn't know what to do next. She felt so helpless--all she could do was just wait for the men to return from the woods, hopefully with Tony in their possession. Amanda could not stop worrying. She decided to go back to her cabin and wait. She was only there for about 15 minutes when she decided that she, too, didn't want to be alone.

She approached the cabin where all the female recruits were assembled and knocked on the door. Judy came to the door and asked who was there. Amanda answered and went into the cabin to wait for word from Lee.

She tried joining into the conversation, but instead found her mind wandering to all sorts of trouble Lee and the other men might have encountered. A deep furrow had settled between her eyebrows, but she didn't realize how she had attracted all of the female recruits’ attention by her expression until her subconscious mind had realized that all the chattering in the cabin had ceased. She looked around at them all and gave a quick, nervous smile. She tried to reassure them, but she knew her worry was written all over her face. She could see that same worry mirrored in all of their faces, too.

Meanwhile out in the woods...

Jim, Jon, Lee, and David all met at the site of the bonfire. Deciding to go for an hour and then meet back, they all checked and synchronized their watches.

Jon and Jim took off to the left and Lee and David went right. Both groups were armed with their flashlights and Lee was carrying his gun. It wasn't drawn, but he had it with him just in case. They all immediately started calling out Tony's name. At first both groups could hear each other, but before long they were too far away to hear each other anymore.

Jon and Jim weren't having any luck. All they had encountered so far were a few animals in the woods. It gave them both a start when one of their flashlights would catch a pair of eyes. Only to make them both laugh nervously when they realized it was a rabbit or any other such harmless animal.

Lee and David continued on in their direction. Lee yelled, "TONY!" No response came. David yelled the same. Still nothing. They decided to spread out a little ways and to cover more ground. Lee continued on the perimeter of the woods as David went more into the thick of them. David had not gone more than 100 yards when his flashlight came across a hole in the ground. He approached it with much trepidation. It looked too big to be any kind of animal burrow. As he came to the mouth of the hole he shone his flashlight into it. He gasped and took a step back as he saw Tony, bound and gagged and obviously unconscious lying there. The hole wasn't so deep that a good attempt at getting out couldn't be made, if only the victim was conscious, which wasn't the case with Tony.

David yelled as loud as he could, "Lee, I found him."

Lee heard David yelling although he couldn't make out exactly what he said. He just started running in the direction of his voice.

David got down on his hands and knees and tried to figure out a way to get Tony out. That's the last conscious thought that he had, because just at that moment he felt a forceful blow to the back of his head.

Although Lee was running in David's direction, he was still too far away to hear the trainee’s muffled groan when David was knocked unconscious.

Lee still hadn't located David, when he felt an arm encircle his neck. ‘What the hell?’ he thought to himself. He tried to get loose, but before he could put up much of a struggle, he was being punched in the stomach repeatedly. The last punch had knocked all the wind out of him and he slumped forward. The arm around his neck loosened long enough to hit him on the back of the head with his own gun.

"That wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. Can I shoot them all now?" a voice hissed in the darkness.

"You are too trigger happy. No, we're not going to shoot them. Come on and help me finish this up," the second voice said.

The two figures in the woods proceeded to push Lee and David down into the pit with Tony. They both landed with a hard thump.

"Ha, ha," the first one laughed. "I hope they never find them."

"Even if they do, we will be long gone by then. Come on, let's go!" the second one commanded.


Jon and Jim had been waiting by the bonfire for about 30 minutes now.

Jim looked at his watch again, "This is not a good sign."

Jon shook his head, agreeing with him. "Not at all. Do you think we should go looking for them?"

"I'm not sure we should go in there alone," Jim replied.

"I think we should go back to camp and let someone know at least before going back out." Jon had already gotten up and started back towards camp.

"Yeah, good idea," Jim agreed.

When Jon and Jim showed up at Julie’s cabin, Amanda could see the look of fear in their faces.

"What is it?" Amanda almost couldn't find her voice to ask.

"Now Lee and David are missing," Jon replied.

"Jon, please stay here. Jim, come with me." Amanda motioned for Jim to follow her.

"What are you going to do?" Rachel asked, wide eyed.

"Call in the reinforcements." Amanda said over her shoulder as she and Jim set out for the office, so Amanda could call Billy.

"I should have thought to do this an hour ago," she said aloud to herself as they reached their destination.


“Melrose here,” came the irritated greeting through the wires.

“Sir, it’s Amanda.”

“Amanda? What’s the problem? It’s midnight!”

“Well, sir, we have a major problem here. Two recruits and Lee are missing in the woods. We went out for a bonfire when Tony disappeared. Agents Hudson and Thomas went out with Lee and another recruit to look for him and now Lee and David are missing. Sir, I think we need serious help.”

“I’ll agree with you there. Okay Amanda, give me half an hour to round up my team and I’ll send them out there immediately. You and the rest of the group stay put. Where are the other recruits?”

“The ladies are all in one cabin and then Jon, Frank, and Sheldon are in another. Lee and I thought it would be a good idea to keep them together. And Jim is here with me.”

“Good thinking. Now I want you to join the ladies and have Jim join the men. Wait for us.”

“But sir, what about the workers? Do you think they are in danger?”


“Nurse Betty and the kitchen crew, sir. Should we get them, too?”

The line was silent for a moment while Billy processed the information. “They are probably not in any danger since it’s unlikely they are targets, but it would be safer to have everyone together until we get it figured out.”

“Yes, sir. We’ll get right on it.”

“Okay, now Amanda. Once you notify the workers I want you back into a cabin until Francine and I and our team get there.”

“I understand, sir. I’ll see you soon.”

The phone clicked and went dead. Placing it gently back on the cradle, Amanda turned to Jim who had been eavesdropping on the conversation.

“Help’s coming?” Jim questioned, even though he knew the answer.

“Yes, we need to get Betty and the kitchen staff into the cabins with us and then wait for the Agency team to get here.”

Jim nodded and followed Amanda out of the office into the cool, dark October night. First rousing Betty, the trio continued on to the head of the kitchen crew, Janet. Explaining the situation, she agreed to join them in awakening the rest of the staff.

“Hello?” Amanda called towards the door of cabin #15. She knocked again and received the same reply. Shrugging to her entourage, she stepped down off the stairs.

“Whose cabin is this?” Amanda asked.

“Stan’s,” replied Janet. “Where would he be at this time of night?”

Amanda didn’t reply. She had a good idea of what Stan had been up to.

“Maybe he’s asleep already,” Betty offered. Jim shrugged and approached the door. With a turn of the knob the door swung open to show an uninhabited room. The bed had not been slept in and there was no sign of Stan anywhere.

“Let’s try Danny’s cabin then,” the cook offered. “He and Stan are good friends.”

The group moved down the row of cabins to where #18 was perched around a bend. A small light flickered inside.

“Well, at least it looks like someone is here,” Betty noted as Jim walked up the small set of stairs. With a knock came a rustling of legs and feet and moments later the door creaked open.

“Ya?” Danny asked as he peeped his eyes and nose through the crack in the door. “What do you guys need? I was just about to go to bed.”

“Danny, there’s been a security breach and we need the whole camp staff with us.”

“Are you kidding?”

“No. And do you know where Stan might be?”

“We were just playing cards, he was getting ready to head back to his cabin.”

“Well, we’ll need him to come with us, too.”

Danny gave an exasperated sigh and nodded his head. “Okay, we’ll be over in a few minutes. Where are we meeting?”

“Go to Frank’s cabin--it’s #11. The men will be in there and the girls are over in Julie’s cabin, #1. Please hurry,” Amanda added.

Five minutes later the group had notified the two other kitchen workers and were back in their cabins. It was 12:30 AM and all was not well. Amanda was trying to put up a brave front, but whoever was responsible for the missing men meant business and she would not feel safe until the backup agents were at camp and Lee and David had been found.


Something about the whole situation with Danny and Stan didn't sit right with Amanda. She couldn't stop thinking that there was more she could do. She decided she needed to talk to Billy again. She excused herself from the cabin and went back to the office to once again call Billy and let him know of her suspicions. After getting the Agency operator and going through security codes AGAIN, she was finally patched through to her section chief.

Billy was in his car en-route to the agency. He had gotten used to those late night calls, but he thought how Jeannie probably never would. Just then the mobile unit phone rang. He thought, ‘Who could this be now?’ He picked it up and said flatly, "Melrose here."

At the sound of Billy's voice, Amanda went on hurriedly."Hello sir, it's Amanda again. I'm sorry to bother you. I'm sure you are really busy right now, but I needed to tell you what just happened. I just had this bad feeling and you know when I get those gut feelings, I'm usually right about it and so I thought to call you again sir, because well you know, Lee is missing and so I really couldn't tell him about it and ask him what to do, so I'm just doing what I think would be best in this situation."

Billy took the split second when he finally heard Amanda take a breath and tried to calm her down. "Okay, Amanda, it's going to be alright. Just slow down and breathe. Now, tell me what happened."

Amanda went on to explain how she got the most uneasy feeling while trying to round up the camp staff workers. She told him that she just had a bad feeling about Stan and Danny. She thought they may have something to do with all the accidents happening. She thought that she had interrupted something at Danny's cabin and had a feeling that they were packing up to make a hasty retreat.

Billy had reached the Agency parking lot by then. As he pulled his car into his parking space he reassured Amanda that they would take care of it, and she was to go back and stay with the rest of the recruits.

"Isn't there something else I could do, sir?" Amanda pleaded into the phone.

"No, Amanda. Just sit tight for right now. I've already ordered a team of helicopters that are being dispatched out to Station One right now. I have a ground crew who will start setting up roadblocks right away. I'm going to have Francine run background checks on all the camp staff and see if she can come up with anything."

"Yes sir," Amanda replied.



"Really great work, Amanda . Those instincts of yours are a great asset. I've always thought so."

"Really sir? Well...thank you, that's nice of you to say." Amanda smiled into the phone.

They hung up the phone and Amanda did as she was told. She started to go back to the women's cabin, when she felt someone grab her from behind.

A cloth was put over her mouth and before she knew what was happening, she was out.


William Melrose jumped in his seat as his phone rang once again. He sighed heavily and picked up the receiver.

"Melrose here."


"Hi Amanda. Did you forget something?"

"Billy! I do *not* sound like Amanda!" Francine replied sharply. "I was calling with those backgrounds you wanted."

Billy rolled his eyes and apologized. "Sorry Francine. What'd you find out?"

"Well, I really hit the jackpot," she practically sang into the phone. "I checked out the temporary service that provides the kitchen staff. Some of the employment histories were missing. When I typed Janet Patterson into the computer she came up clean; however, Danny Blair and Stan Martin did not register."


"And," Francine repeated, "I checked the CIA database and found a 'Blair Danielson' and 'Martin Stanley.'"

"Oh no," Billy muttered. "Did you get photos?"

"Yep, I printed them out and sent a copy of them with the team headed to Station One. Billy, if these two are involved there is big trouble. The rap sheet on them is as long as my arm."

"Francine, I'll be in my office in five minutes. I want you ready to go with me to Station One. It sounds like we're gonna need a lot of help with this one."

"I'll be ready to go. The rest are already headed down to camp so they can start the search without us."

"Good. At least Amanda is there to keep everyone calm until we can arrive," Billy said in consolation.

"Yeah, well, Billy, these guys are totally out of her league. We'd better get there as soon as possible."


Judy checked the window one more time. "Where could she be?" she whispered to Julie, who was standing guard next to her.

"We never should have let her go alone to get that file, with all these crazy people running around."

"I have a bad feeling, too. Should someone go look for her?"

"I don't know, Judy, people leave and never come back!"

"We have to do something. She's been gone 45 minutes to get a file? Something has to be wrong," Judy insisted as she let the window covering drop back. "We should let Jim and Jon know we're gonna go look for her."

"Wait...wait...wait...You want to go out there? Judy, are you nuts?"

"Maybe," she admitted slowly.

"Well I say we get a guy to go out there. What are we going to do if we run into trouble?"

Judy thought for a moment before replying. "Okay, let's just go down to the men's cabin and let them know. It's not that far away. What could happen?"

"I don't want to think about what could happen," Julie admitted. "I think we should stay here. If she's in trouble there isn't much we can do about it. Jim has been checking in every so often, I say we wait for him and then let some men go looking."

"I suppose. I'm not crazy about the idea of heading out into the dark but I can't leave her out there!" Judy said with a twinge of sadness in her voice. “If it were me out there I'd want someone to be at least be looking for me."

Meanwhile in the woods...

The body landed with a thud on the earth. "Ow," came a muffled reply as the woman squirmed to wrestle free.

"That takes care of them," one man said to the other. "We'd better get back."

In a moment the pair were gone, leaving the four tangled masses of humanity to attempt freedom from the confines of the pit.

Amanda squirmed her body, trying to free her hands from the ropes that tied her ankles and hands. Suddenly a groan emitted from an object below her.

"Lee? Is that you?"



Amanda took some deep breaths, trying to steady herself after having the wind knocked out of her from the fall. "Oh my gosh Lee, are you okay?”

"I will be once your elbow is out of my ribs."

"Oh, sorry," Amanda said, rolling off of Lee, thus removing from his side the source of his discomfort.

They both felt so helpless having their hands and feet bound. They had been in some predicaments before but this one wasn't looking so great. The one bright side was that Amanda's hands had been tied in the front, so she had more mobility with her fingers.

The pit was so dark that they couldn't see each other. Amanda asked, "Are your hands and feet tied up too?"

“Uh yeah, and my hands are dead, I can't feel them anymore."

“Well, one good thing for us is that my hands are tied in the front, so I may be able to get you untied before too long." Lee shifted to a sitting position and scooted his back up to Amanda. She felt for Lee's hands and proceeded to start working to loosen the ropes.

"I hope they didn't use the Killick Hitch," she joked. They both laughed nervously.

"What happened, Amanda? How did you get down here?"

"I don't really know. I had called Billy to tell him of my suspicions about Danny and Stan and then when I left the office, the next thing I know someone is grabbing me and knocking me out with chloroform and I wind up down here."

"What about Stan and Danny? What the hell is going on?" Lee asked the second question rhetorically and somewhat to himself.

"Lee, I think Stan and Danny are behind all of this. After you and David were missing, we went to round up the rest of the staff and I just got a bad feeling about them."

"I guess it makes sense now. I think it was two men who grabbed me right before they threw me down in this pit. One had me around the neck while the other was using my stomach as a punching bag."

Amanda was still working hard at the ropes and had them loosened some. Lee could actually feel some of the circulation in his hands starting to come back. Lee heard Amanda wince as she imagined the pain they inflicted on him even before they threw him down in this hole. Lee tilted his head back to touch the top of Amanda's head in what he hoped was a reassuring gesture, letting her know that it was okay, that he was okay. Amanda smiled and thought,’ for a tough guy intelligence operative he sure did have a tender side.’ She had a feeling that she was privy to that side of Lee and smiled even more for it.

"What did Billy say when you called him?"

"That he was going to look into their backgrounds and that he already had dispatched a crew of helicopters to this area. I would think they would be arriving any time now."

"That makes me feel a little better. So Stan and Danny, huh? I never would have thought it."

"I didn't even suspect them until tonight, when I went to round everyone up. It was just too suspicious to ignore. And I was worried sick out of my mind because you were missing." Amanda said the last sentence with a catch in her voice.

"I know, I know. But we're okay and we're going to get out of here."

Just then the ropes were loosened enough for him to pull his hands free. He shook them for a few seconds to get some feeling back into them and started on the ropes on Amanda's hands. It didn't take him long at all and then they started on the ropes around their feet. When they were freed they held on to each other for support and stood up. Instantly they put their arms around each other and held on tight.

"Thank God, you're okay,” Lee whispered into Amanda's hair. He could feel her trembling so he held her even closer.

"You are okay, aren't you?" Lee asked when Amanda made no sound. He put his hands to her face and felt the tears that he knew she was trying to hold in.

“Shhhhh, it's okay." Lee rocked back and forth slowly, running his hand up and down her back, much as you would to soothe a child who was sick.

"Lee?" Amanda said softly. "They were going to take me."

“What do you mean?"

"I mean, I heard them talking about taking me as collateral." She started to tremble again.

"Well, something must have made them change their minds."

"I just kept acting like I was unconscious and one of them said that having to haul me with them would just slow them down." Just then they heard something stirring and a soft groan coming from someone who was in obvious pain.

"David? Tony?" Lee asked, not sure which one of them had started to stir.

"What? Lee? Where the hell are we?" David's voice came from the opposite side of the pit.

"We haven't figured that out yet,” Lee explained.

"We?” David asked. "Oh...did Tony come to?"

"No, not yet. I meant Amanda and I." Amanda and Lee started to walk towards the sound of David's voice, trying to locate him.

When they got to him, they felt the ropes on his hands and feet too and set about getting him freed.

"I don't understand, what is going on?" David asked incredulously.

"We don't fully understand it either, but let's locate Tony and try to get out of here!" Lee said while helping David to his feet.

Tony was just coming to when they finally found him in the darkness. He was also confused about what had happened. They reassured him that everyone would know the whole story once they could put all the pieces together.

"Okay, I have a plan." Lee began. "Everyone gather up the ropes they used to tie us up with and we'll try tying them together to make one large rope. We'll hoist Amanda to the top and she can tie the rope to a tree or something that will support our weight and the rest of us can use the rope to climb out."

"Sounds like a plan to me," David said while all four of them went back to gather their ropes together.


Thirty minutes later, the foursome had escaped out of the pit and were sitting somberly next to the hole that had just recently imprisoned them.

"So what do we do now?" Tony asked as he rubbed his ankle, now just as swollen as it had been at the accident.

"We have to get back to camp," Lee insisted. "Danny and Stan are back there doing who knows what to the rest of the group."

"You don't think..."

"Yes, David, I think Stan and Danny had everything to do with all this. It fits, it just fits!" Lee yelled as he yanked at the small tuft of grass next to him.

"I just don't get it. Why would they have it in for us?" Tony wondered out loud. "What would two kitchen staff have against some recruits?"

"Well, there is probably more at work here than just Stan and Danny. Why is not as critical now as just getting them stopped. Every time we think they are through, one more person becomes their victim," Lee replied as he scanned the woods.

"We should get going then," Amanda announced as she started to push herself off the earthen floor.

"I think our campsite is just back there," Lee noted as he motioned to the north. "We can't be more than a few minutes walk from camp."

"Tony, can you walk okay?" Amanda questioned as she spied him trying to shake off the pain in his ankle.

"Yeah, I'll be fine. Let's just get back." The four gathered what few things they had with them and set out through the dark woods back towards the cabin area.


Less than a mile away, a line of cars raced through the narrow driveway into the heart of the camp.

"Uh, Billy?" Francine said with a hint of edge in her voice. "Could you try to take those curves a little tighter?"

“Francine, do you mind? I’m trying to concentrate here!”

"I'm just suggesting it! I don't usually get to see a squirrel face to face as he scurries up a tree in search of safety from an oncoming vehicle," Francine replied sarcastically.

Billy’s only response was to toss her a look that said, “Can it.”

A minute later the caravan of government-owned vehicles had arrived in the center of the camp. The cabins were dark except for two that held all of the trainees, agents, and camp staff. Billy and Francine, along with the other agents, leapt out of their vehicles and headed to the illuminated cabins. With barely a knock, Francine, opened the door of the nearest and entered the room gun first.

“Ah!” came the chorus of responses as Julie, Judy, Rachel, Mary, Elizabeth, Betty, and Janet all lifted their hands to the sky.

“Where’s the rest of the group?” Francine questioned as she lowered her gun. The girls followed suit and brought their arms back down to their sides.

“The guys are in the other cabin, but people are missing!” Rachel interrupted bravely.

“Who’s missing?” Billy asked as he joined Francine in the center of the cabin.

“Amanda! She never came back from the office and it’s been over three hours!” Judy reported. “We were really worried about her and were just about to leave to go looking for her.”

“Okay, listen everybody. I’ll leave an agent here to guard you. No one leaves this cabin until we get back. Period. Understand?”

Seven women nodded their heads in agreement as Billy and Francine exited the cabin and headed over to the other occupied building. A minute later they were at the doorsteps where an open door greeted them.

“You’re finally here!” Jim exclaimed as he met them at the door. “Now Tony, Lee, David, Stan, and Danny are all missing.”

“Stan and Danny, too?” Francine asked. The men nodded their answer. “That explains why Amanda is missing,” she said under her breath.

“Jim and Jon, you stay here with Frank and Sheldon. Don’t leave. It’s not safe out there. We have a team of agents on the ground looking for them and helicopters above searching for any movement in the woods,” Billy ordered.

“Those copters won’t be able to find anything in the dark,” Jon observed.

“They have lights. If anyone is moving, they’ll find them,” Billy answered. Just then the CB attached to Billy’s side fuzzed and came on.

“Copter 1 to Melrose.”

“Melrose here.”

“We have movement at the edge of the woods near the lake. I see at least four people walking towards camp.”

“Good work. We’re heading out right now.”

With a nod towards Francine, the two met the other agents at the center of the cabin area and the posse headed towards the woods hoping to find their agents and recruits safe.


By now Stan and Danny knew that they were all but caught. They could hear the helicopters humming above them in the sky. It sounded like a whole squadron of them so they knew that they had brought out the big guns to try and catch them.

They both were dressed in fatigues thinking that would help them stay somewhat disguised while in the woods. Just in case they had to try to make it out of there on foot.

They had hidden a car at the west end of the woods, as far away from the campsite as possible. It was close to one of the little known dirt roads leading away from Station One. It was mainly used for the service vehicles that were driven by the groundskeepers.

Danny and Stan sat in the car while they contemplated their next move.

Danny was visibly shaken. "What.....what do we do now?"

"Shut up and let me think," Stan whispered. "I thought we would have more time than this to make our escape. I guess we just have to go with Plan B."

"What is Plan B?" Danny asked.

"Plan B is, we create a distraction to throw them off and then make our escape," Stan replied, thinking that this plan was genius.

"What kind of distraction?" Danny asked further.

"I'm thinking...I'm thinking. Oh, I've got it!" Stan said excitedly. "We still got that gas can in the trunk?"

"Uh, I think so."

"I know we had it just in case we needed it later, but I think we need it now." Stan went on. "Get in the trunk and get it. Open the lid and stuff one of those old rags down into it. Then light it and throw it as far as you can. That should be enough distraction to throw them off our trail for a little while."


"Alright, come on, time is wasting. Do what I told you!" Stan couldn't stop the smirk that crossed his face as Danny got out of the car to do what he was told. He did exactly as Stan instructed him to do. He walked as far from the car as he thought he needed to, but still close enough to be able to run back to it once he had thrown the gas can. His hands visibly shook as he took out his lighter and held it to the rag sticking out of the gas can. As soon as it was lit, he threw it as far as he possibly could get it. But what he didn't realize was that he wouldn't have time to throw it before it had also ignited his own clothing. Stan was watching from the rear view mirror as he saw the bright flash of light and the can hurling through the air. He also noticed that Danny's clothes had caught on fire and in shock Danny hadn't even realized it yet. All of a sudden the gas can exploded.

Danny started to scream as his shirt became engulfed in flames. He dropped to the ground and started to roll, trying to extinguish the fire. The last conscious thought he had was the sound of tires squealing and Stan leaving him there.


"What in the hell was that?" Billy asked incredulously. He instantly got on the CB and asked for a report from the helicopters in the air.

"This is Copter 1. We heard an explosion and can see fire, but we are at the opposite end of the camp. We're heading over there right now."

"This is Copter 2. It seems to have been some kind of explosion. A little patch of the woods are now on fire. We can't see much from here, but we are going to land and check out the situation."

"I'll radio some of the field crew and get them over to that side of camp, right away!" Billy yelled into the CB.

"Melrose, this is Copter 2. We have spotted some movement in a clearing in the woods. It seems to be a car moving at breakneck speed. Should we stick with it or attend to the fire?"

"Copter 1, how long until you reach the site?" Billy asked into the CB.

"We're almost there now," Copter 1 replied.

"Copter 2, follow that vehicle. Repeat, follow that vehicle!" Billy yelled into the CB.

Billy then looked at the group of agents and recruits standing there with wide eyes. " I need to get out there and fast. Lee, Francine, come with me! Amanda, you and the two recruits get back to camp and hustle! Don't think, just do it!"


Amanda led David and Tony back to the camp as Billy had instructed, while Lee, Francine, and Billy were in a race against time. They were sure that it was Danny and Stan in that car heading down the service road. If the men got outside the bounds of Station One, the search for them would become much more difficult.

Copter 2 was hovering above the car as it raced down the service drive towards a highway that ran along the far western side of the camp.

“Damn it!” Stan spat as he maneuvered the car down the dusty dirt road. The road had been made when the camp was originally built and was only used occasionally by service vehicles. Therefore, the road was laden with ruts and holes that tossed the old car as it wound its way through the woods. The light from the helicopter was making it difficult for Stan to see very far ahead of him, and a few times he narrowly missed hitting one of the many trees about him. It seemed the dirt path he was driving on would never end when he finally noticed the road opening and cars buzzing ahead of him. With a giant twist of his arms, he made a 90-degree turn onto an old state highway.

Unfortunately for Stan, he was not alone on that highway. There to meet him were several police cars in addition to some unmarked Agency vehicles. After some skidding, Stan’s car swung sideways until the passenger side smashed into the trunk of a large oak tree. For a moment there was nothing but silence while the onlookers waited for Stan to make a move. He never did.

Meanwhile in the woods, Copter 1 had landed in a small clearing at the northwestern side of the camp. A group of trees were already ablaze as the occupants of the helicopter exited to see if anyone was nearby. The land around them appeared vacant except for the bits of metal near a blackened area of earth and some torn and charred clothing now in bits and pieces in a pile of leaves.

“We’d better get the police and fire department out here, I don’t think we can control this fire with the equipment we have,” the pilot shouted to his co-pilot.

“I agree.”

“I’ll radio ahead and let them know, you grab the extinguisher,” the pilot instructed the other.

In a seemingly futile attempt to control the blaze, the two men started attacking the fire tree by tree. Since they were in the woods near the service road, they hoped the firefighters could get close enough to drench the fire.

Ten minutes later they heard the familiar sounds of a siren coming their direction. Coming to a stop near what the men presumed was the starting point of the fire, five men in yellow suits jumped out and set to work, stopping the spread of the fire.

“What’s this?” one of the men asked the pilots.

They shrugged their shoulders. “It was near this pile of metal, which I assume used to be a gas can, when we got here,” one replied. The fireman scrunched his eyebrows together and started scanning the area seriously. “This looks like human clothing. Whoever was wearing this might be in bad shape.”

That was all the encouragement the two helicopter pilots needed to start searching the area for an signs of a person--dead or alive.


By this time the car carrying Lee, Billy, and Francine had almost made it to the site of the explosion and the fire. As their car made its way down the service road the headlights caught what looked like someone walking slowly on the perimeter of the woods. Lee was the first one to spot it. "Stop the car Billy, I think I see something moving over there."

Billy slowed to a stop and Lee exited the passenger side of the car. As he came around the front end of the car, he pointed his flashlight in the direction of the form moving in the darkness.

"Oh my God!" Lee uttered to himself. He rubbed his eyes and looked again, unsure of what he thought he saw the first time. His second glance confirmed it for him. It was a person. A badly burned person.

Lee leaned into the driver's side window and said as calmly as he could to Billy, "That has to be either Danny or Stan. Get some help out here now. He looks to have burned most of the upper part of his body."

Billy got on the CB and dispatched to Copter 1 that one of the suspects had been found and needed medical attention. The chopper asked which direction they could be found and took off.

"Francine, come and help me." Lee motioned to Francine who was still in the back seat of the car, her mouth hanging open at the sight before her.

Francine moved slowly and got out of the car. She had never seen the sight of someone like that who had been burned so badly. She was hesitant and didn't really want to help Lee, but something forced her feet to follow Lee and approach the suspect.

Lee didn't know what he would do once he got to him. He would leave that up to the medical experts, he just wanted to make sure that this person got help and that he didn't get away. He thought that in the condition the suspect was in, he wouldn't be able to get away but he wanted to make sure. Lee shook his head still not believing what he saw. How this person could even move with his injuries was beyond his comprehension.

Just then the sound of the helicopter brought a sigh of relief from both Francine and Lee. They really didn't know what to do for him and were glad that the helicopter arrived just at that precise moment. Two of the firemen had tagged along and got to the suspect and got him stabilized as much as possible. Lee helped the two firemen load the victim onto the chopper and off they went.

"Melrose, this is Copter 1. We have radioed the hospital to tell them our ETA. One suspect is accounted for."

"The strange thing is, we don't know if we have Stan or Danny. That person was not recognizable," Lee said as he and Francine got back into the car.

"Melrose, this is Copter 2. We're on the ground right now. The suspects’ car has been stopped. It looks to be only one suspect in the car. He was knocked unconscious in an accident. We've dispatched the ambulance and it's on it's way."

"We're on our way, too," Billy said back into the CB.

They reached the site of the accident as the ambulance was pulling in. It happened to be the same ambulance crew that helped with the ravine rescue. The woman paramedic addressed Lee when she said, "Wow, you guys sure do have a lot of excitement around here!"

"Uh, yeah...too much, if you ask me," Lee replied running his hand through his hair and sighing.

As they pulled Stan from the car, Lee exclaimed, "Stan!"

Francine asked, "Who?"

"That's Stan. Danny has be the one we found in the woods. I couldn't even tell who it was!" Lee replied, shaking his head in disbelief. He knew he wouldn't be able to chase that vision from his mind soon enough.

Billy walked over to the driver of one of the police cars and one of the agency cars and asked them to ride back to the hospital and keep an eye on both suspects until he could get there.

As the ambulance took off for the hospital with its mini entourage in tow, Billy decided that they needed to get back to camp and let everyone know what was going on. One quick call on the CB confirmed that the fire was well underway to being extinguished. Pleased with that report, Billy, Francine, and Lee made their way back to the heart of Station One, the cabins holding the agents and recruits being their destination point.


Three exhausted agents exited a car parked near the cabin area and walked in silence. The camp was drenched in darkness except for the flickering of lights in one cabin area where the girls had been congregating since late last night. Jim, Jon, Frank, and Sheldon had tired of being alone and had long since joined the others in Julie’s cabin.

Not sure if they would find the recruits asleep or awake, Lee tapped at the cabin door and was promptly greeted by a fully alert Amanda.

“Did you get them?” she asked as she changed position in the doorway to let them enter.

“We have Stan and Danny in custody, but neither one was in very good shape last time I saw them.”

“What happened?” Judy, whose sleeping bag was near the door, asked as she rubbed sleep out of her eyes.

By this time the others had awoken from the light sleep they had drifted off to and were sitting up wondering the same thing. Francine, Billy, and Lee all took seats around Julie’s bed and a small kitchenette table.

“Well, we’re still piecing things together, but it looks like Danny and Stan were trying to make a diversion and then make a run for it,” Billy explained. “Danny was badly burned in the woods and Stan was badly injured in a car accident just as he left the camp.”

An audible sigh escaped the lips of the recruits as the head agent recounted the details.

“I can’t believe it!” Rachel exclaimed. “Are they the reason all these accidents have happened?”

“We think so. Listen, there’s no use in talking about this now. What’s important is that Stan and Danny are not going to be causing any more trouble,” Lee replied. “Why don’t we all try to get some more sleep and we’ll meet in the lunch hall around eleven?”

The words were barely out of his mouth before more yawns and groans were heard all around the room and the tired bodies were once again horizontal with the floor.

“Well, I think I’m gonna head back to my own cabin and get some shut-eye on my own cot,” Amanda announced. “I think it’s safe now.”

“But still be careful, Amanda,” Billy began. “We don’t know a motive or who else may be working with them.” “That’s true, Billy, but it’s unlikely that there was anyone else at camp, or they would have made their escape with Stan and Danny.”

“Yes, and whoever is masterminding this plot probably doesn’t know what happened to those two, especially if we can get the authorities to keep this hush-hush,” Francine added.

“But how are we going to figure out who was behind this?” Amanda asked seriously. “Stan and Danny are our only suspects.”

“Not exactly,” Lee reminded. “Remember our clue with Peggy Marlow? Well, I didn’t tell you this but one night after I walked you to your cabin I saw Stan leaving the office. I went to check it out and nothing was out of order so I figured he had just used the phone.”

“And there would be phone records, too,” Francine agreed.

“Well, maybe we have a lead after all,” Billy said with a smile.

Lee headed towards the door with Amanda. Turning to Francine and Billy he said, “Yes, and come morning I have a feeling I know what those records will show.”


Billy turned to Francine and asked, "What do you say we get down to the hospital and see what we can find out?"

"I'm ready. Let's go," Francine agreed, nodding her head.

Stepping out of the cabin, they encountered Lee and Amanda, who were waiting to speak with them alone.

"First thing in the morning, we'll check those phone records," Lee said tiredly. "But right now all I can think about is getting a little rest."

"Do you really think the worst is over?" Amanda asked to no one in particular.

"I think Station One is safe again. I really think we have the source of all the problems safely in custody," Billy replied.

"Yeah, if they stay alive long enough for us to question them," Francine added.

"Yeah, let's hope they do," Billy said frowning. "Anyway, we'll be at the hospital and will get word to you as soon as we know anything."

"That would be great," Lee said, patting Billy on the back.

Lee put his arm around Amanda's waist as they watched the car carrying Francine and Billy make its way down the path leading to the entrance of Station One. They both let out long sighs, a mixture of exhaustion and a sense of relief that maybe their problems at Station One really were over.

Lee turned to Amanda, "I don't like the idea of you being in your cabin alone."

"Oh Lee, I'll be alright."

"I would feel a lot better if we stayed together."

"I don't know if that's such a good idea," Amanda started to protest.

Lee sighed. He thought they had come a long way in getting past this obstacle. He wasn't quite sure why she was always so adamant about them not spending the night together. That was his Amanda, though, always trying to be too independent for her own good. Or was there a different reason that she suddenly seemed so skittish? At that thought, a slow grin started to form on his face.

"Amanda, I promise to be on my best behavior. You won't be compromising yourself in any way. I promise to be a perfect gentleman. Besides, it's not like we haven't stayed together alone before."

"I know, but those times we had to, to preserve our cover or we were running from some of our own people and we didn't have much choice."

Lee just gave her a look as if to say he wasn't going to take no for an answer anyway.

Amanda chuckled. "I really don't think it's necessary, but if you really feel you need to..."

"I really do," Lee said. "I won't be able to get a wink of sleep if I have to worry about your safety all night."

"But I thought..." Amanda started to argue the fact that their problems were already in custody.

"Just humor me? Huh?" Lee grinned.

Amanda just nodded her head in agreement. Lee could be very persistent when he wanted to and besides, what woman didn't appreciate a man watching out for her? Especially a man with whom you share mutual trust, respect, and love.

"I'm going to change and bring my cot and things over in a few minutes," Lee said as he left her off at her cabin.

Kissing Amanda quickly on the forehead, he whistled as he made his way to his cabin. Amanda entered her cabin and set about changing her clothes, too. She put on her nightgown and decided to wear the robe over it also. She had no idea why she felt the need to be so modest in front of Lee. She was normally a modest person anyway, but she felt herself being even more so around him. ‘Why was that?’ she wondered. She thought it probably had to do with temptation. They shared an almost electrical chemistry and attraction towards each other. She was surprised that sparks didn't ignite with some of the looks he would give her, or when he would put his arm around her or hold her hand. She could feel the tingling on her skin when they touched almost as if there were an electric current going through her body.

She was so lost in her daydream that she didn't hear Lee step onto the front porch. The sound of his knocking startled her and brought her back to reality. Amanda cleared her throat as she approached the door. "Um...yes, Lee is that you?"

"Yeah, it's me," Lee replied.

Amanda thought she would tease him a little, and with her best Mrs. Marsten impersonation, she asked through the door, "What's the password, Mr. Stetson?"

"Wha...?" Lee was puzzled at first. His arms were loaded with his gear and he just wanted to get in and set the stuff down. It dawned on him that she was teasing him, so he decided to go along with her. With a smile in his voice he answered, "The password is...I love you, Amanda King."

With that she swung the door open and planted a quick kiss on his lips before he even could enter the cabin. He dropped everything on the floor and caught Amanda up in his arms and kissed her. His lips were making a long and slow assault on hers. Amanda felt like she couldn't breathe. That electricity she was just thinking about was making its way through her body.

When Lee finally broke the kiss, they were both breathless. He smiled when he saw how flustered that kiss had made Amanda. Her cheeks had almost turned crimson.

"Lee! You promised to be a perfect gentleman!" Amanda reminded him.

"I did and I am," Lee flashed one of his deep dimple smiles.

Lee went about setting up his cot and making up his bed. He started to whistle again and pretended he didn't notice that Amanda was nervously straightening up the rest of the cabin. Lee wondered why Amanda was acting so nervous. Surely she knew he wouldn't do anything that she didn't want to do. Hadn't she been just as aggressive as he had in the past few months? ‘Women! Always sending you mixed messages. But this one is worth waiting for,’ he thought. ‘I would wait as long as she wanted me to.’

"All done." Lee stretched his arms wide to show a perfectly made up cot, not two feet from Amanda's.

Amanda tried not to react to the close proximity of their cots. She tried to act like it was no big deal. ‘Because it is no big deal,’ she thought to herself. ‘Why am I so nervous all of a sudden?’ Because this is Lee, her heart answered. It's just been so long since... She stopped that thought mid-stream. ‘I don't know how much longer I'm going to be able to stand trying to do the right thing and wait until we're committed to each other. He stirs up so many feelings in me, sometimes I feel like I will go crazy before I'm able to express the depths of what I feel for him. Her mind and her heart were a flurry of thoughts and feelings.’

Lee watched from the corners of his eyes, as many expressions crossed Amanda's face. He felt a little guilty that he was enjoying the fact that he was the cause of Amanda's anxiety. Okay, so maybe he didn't feel that guilty. If she only knew all the sleepless nights he had spent trying to figure out their relationship himself. Being in the same room with Amanda and not touching her would be a feat in itself. But, he knew he needed to give her time to sort through the conflicting emotions she seemed to be struggling with. One of the things he loved about Amanda were her morals. He wasn't about to be the one to make her compromise them, as much as he would have liked to.

"Well, I don't know about you, but I'm exhausted." Amanda let out an exaggerated yawn and stretched.

"I'm pretty tired myself," Lee replied. He sat down on the edge of his cot and proceeded to take off his shoes and socks. Next, his t-shirt came off and was flung to the floor beside the cot. He swung his legs over the cot and lay down. Amanda was perched at the top end of her cot. She had been watching Lee's every movement. She clutched her robe around her neck and her eyes widened at the sight of Lee's muscular back as he had pulled the t-shirt up over his neck.

Amanda squeezed her eyes shut and said a little prayer to herself, ‘Oh Lord, give me strength!’ She leaned over and blew out the candle, making the room darken.

As soon as the room became darker, she thought it safe to take off her robe. She knew that she would be too hot wearing both the robe and the nightgown to sleep in. Especially since Lee coming into the room had made it seem about 50 degrees warmer in there.

Amanda's cot squeaked as she lay down and she immediately brought the sheet and blanket up to her neck. Amanda lay on her left side and Lee on his right, causing them to be facing each other. The room was light enough to see the silhouette of each other, but not enough to make out the distinct features of each other's faces.

Lee reached his hand out and found Amanda's hand that was lying on top of her covers by her face. He started to rub his thumb across her hand in a very endearing way. She remembered another time he did that to her and how she had asked him if doing that was necessary. He said it was very necessary to corroborate their cover. They were supposed to be newlyweds after all! She now realized that he wasn't being totally honest. He was doing that back then because he knew she liked it, which was the same reason he was doing it again now.

Lee stopped rubbing her hand after a few seconds and leaned over and kissed her very lightly on the cheek. "Good night, Amanda," he whispered as he lay back down on his cot. She could hear him shifting his weight, trying to find a comfortable spot on the cot.

"Good night, Lee.” She let out a small sigh. She laid there for a few moments, listening to the sound of Lee's breathing taking on a steady beat. Before she knew it, he was softly snoring as she drifted off to sleep herself, feeling very safe.


The automatic door closed behind Billy and Francine as they exited through the main entrance of the hospital. Worry lines were etched into their foreheads as they found their car in the deserted lot and slowly climbed in.

“What are we going to do now?” Francine sighed as Billy turned the key, bringing the car alive.

He was thoughtful for a moment. “I don’t know. I assumed we’d have someone to interview, I just didn’t expect this.”

Francine nodded as she quoted the doctor. “We did all we could do, but the burns were too severe.” Danny was dead. And Stan was not in such good shape, either. He still lay unconscious in his hospital bed with weak vital signs.

“What if neither makes it?” Francine asked as she turned to face Billy.

“All we can do is comb that camp for clues,” Billy replied as he stared ahead at the dark Virginia highway. “In the meantime, let’s just be grateful that Jack is doing so well. With the injuries Lee described, we could very well have lost him, too.”


“Okay people, listen up!” Billy shouted to the group of agents gathered around him in a semi-circle. It was only 11:00AM and not nearly enough time had elapsed since they’d gotten to bed last night. “I want every inch of this camp searched. We’ll start with the buildings in the main part of camp, then spread out to the activities area and the woods. Anything that looks suspicious, I want it reported to me.”

“What are we looking for?” a young agent questioned.

“Anything. We’ve had a lot of accidents at this camp and someone is behind it. Danny and Stan may have been a part, but we don’t know that there wasn’t someone else.”

“Okay, Amanda and I will start with the cabins, Tom and Jim will help us. Jon and Keith, take the storage buildings,” Lee instructed.

“And Francine and I will check the office. I’m anxious to get the phone records from this week,” Billy noted with a nod towards the group. “Let’s go!”

While the rest of the agents scattered, Lee and Amanda, with Tom and Jim tagging along, started searching the cabins recently deserted by the recruits who were eating an early lunch in the cafeteria. Lee and Amanda were going to start with David’s cabin and then check out the ladies, while Tom and Jim set out to inspect the rest of the cabins.

“Okay, here goes,” Amanda said somewhat unenthusiastically to the door of David’s cabin. By far this was one of her least favorite spy pastimes.

“Amanda,” Lee sighed as he entered the cabin behind her.

The two set out searching closets, drawers, and suitcases. They were about finished with their inspection when Amanda stopped in her tracks.

“Lee....LEE!” Amanda said forcefully when her first attempt received no response.

“Hum? What?” he asked as he crossed the length of the cabin.

“Look at all this stuff!” she exclaimed as if she couldn’t believe he didn’t notice it.

“Yeah, the pictures of the recruits, we already found those.”

“Don’t you think it’s a little weird that the only girl injured is the only one with a heart around her?” Amanda questioned. Lee thought for a moment and then shrugged.

“And look at these other things I found,” Amanda insisted. “In this drawer there is this pad of paper filled with little notes.” Amanda paused as she began reading off the list.

“Favorite color is purple.”
“Lives in Michigan.”
“Enjoys sports.”
“Looking for long-term commitment.”

“And,” Amanda continued, “There are these little symbols next to the descriptions, and a number.”

“So the guy likes rating girls.”

“Lee, Billy said to let him know if there was anything out of the ordinary and this is *definitely* out of the ordinary,” Amanda said seriously. Lee chuckled.

“Okay, okay, let’s move on to the next cabin and as soon as we see Billy again we can let him know.”

“You don’t think this is a clue?” Amanda asked when she recognized Lee’s tone.

“Frankly, no. The guy might be a little weird, but there is no connection.”

Amanda tossed Lee a quick look and followed him out of the cabin and into the next one. It was a good hour before most of the agents had returned to camp. The main area had been searched and Billy was anxious to hear what trinkets of information they’d uncovered. After a few minutes of short reports of “nothing,” Amanda finally spoke up.

“Sir, there is something a little odd in David’s cabin. He has pictures of all the women recruits on a board and a bunch of notes stuffed into the drawer.”

Billy cocked his head sideways and furrowed his brows. “What kind of notes, Amanda?”

“It looks like they are about the girls, sir, but I don’t know. They were just scribbles on a notepad.”

“We’d better give it a second look anyway,” Billy instructed. “The phone logs are being wired here and who knows what kind of connection we’ll find there.”

Billy and Francine followed Lee and Amanda back to David’s cabin. With a creak the door opened and revealed a fairly neat arrangement of furniture and average camping supplies. Walking in further, Amanda found the board again and pulled it out from behind the headboard.

“See, this was hidden back here, and then the desk drawers are full of notes,” Amanda repeated as she handed Francine the board with the various women recruits tacked onto it.

“Well, well, well, aren’t we a bit...”

“Francine!” Billy interrupted. “Please keep your personal comments to yourself.”

“Sorry, it’s just that...I knew a guy who had something similar to this in his apartment.”

“Oh really, and where exactly on his board did your picture end up, Francine?” Lee asked with a smug grin. She pretended to laugh at his joke and then handed to board over to Billy.

“I’m just saying that the guy seems a little kinky,” Francine commended innocently. “What do the notes say?”

Amanda turned the stack over to her and Francine spied them carefully.

“Single White Female”
“Candlelight dinners”
“Long walks on the beach”

“You’re right, Francine,” Billy said with a heavy sigh, “it does sound a little bizarre. Where is this David person at right now?”

“Eating lunch, sir, with the rest of the recruits,” Amanda replied.

“Get him here right now!” Billy insisted. “I want to know what he’s doing with these photos and where he got them.” Amanda and Lee both nodded and exited David’s cabin.

“Lee, you don’t really think David could have been involved in this whole scheme, do you? I know the photos are weird but I can’t see David being involved with Stan and Danny.”

“I know, I don’t want to believe it either, Amanda,” Lee began, “but we can’t have some guy out there with photos of the other women recruits. We have to know what he was planning on doing with them.”

Amanda nodded her head slowly as they approached the cafeteria. “Well, here goes nothing!”


Everyone's eyes in the mess hall turned towards the door as Lee and Amanda entered. Amanda stood right inside the door as Lee smiled weakly and approached David as quietly as he could without causing too much alarm. He spoke in hushed tones as he put his hand on David's shoulder. "Can I talk to you for a minute?"

David looked around and noticed that all eyes were on him. He felt the beads of sweat starting to form on his forehead. Not wanting to make a scene and cause more attention to be brought on himself, he answered quietly, "What is this about?"

"Just come with me, we need to ask you some questions." Lee still kept his voice down. He wasn't sure if David was going to come along willingly or not. He didn't want to have to use force on him, especially since he didn't know for sure of what David could be guilty, or even if he was guilty of anything.

David stood up slowly and walked outside. He whirled around and in an accusing tone addressed Lee, "What is the meaning of this?"

Amanda tried to keep him calm and spoke in a soft tone. "We found some things in your cabin that we need to question you about."

"Oh, this is unbelievable," David said shaking his head. "You think I had something to do with all these accidents? It wasn't me. I'm telling you, it wasn't me!" His voice had continued to get louder and louder.

Amanda continued, "We're not saying that you did. We just need to question you about the pictures we found in your cabin."

Lee grabbed David's arm. "Not here, let's go to your cabin and talk this over."

David yanked his arm away from Lee. "Alright, I'm coming. You don't have to lead me there. I know the way."

Lee and Amanda walked beside David in silence until they reached his cabin. All three of them made their way inside and found Billy and Francine waiting for them.

Lee made the introductions and Billy took over from there.

"Have a seat," Billy instructed to David. "I asked Lee to bring you in to talk about this." Just then Billy pulled out the notes and the pictures of the female recruits.

"I have to say that we find this...disturbing," Francine added.

"This is all very innocent," David smiled.

"It doesn't appear that way," Billy frowned. "Do you care to elaborate?"

"Sure," David went on. "See, I've been wanting to change careers for awhile now and I got this idea that I should start up a dating service. They seem to be the ‘in’ thing right now and I just thought I would try it out and see if I could make it work."

"You can't be serious," Francine replied.

"I'm totally serious. As I got to know little things about the recruits, I would make notes about them to put into a profile," David further explained.

"Are we supposed to believe this explanation?" Billy shook his head incredulously.

"Whether you believe it or not, it's the truth!" David replied.

Francine leaned down so that she was eye level with David. "And why don't you have the pictures of the male recruits? Wouldn't you need males and females in order for your dating service to work?”

"Well, the truth is. I have enough male subjects right now with all my single male friends. I just needed some females."

"Oh, so you were going to provide this service just for your buddies?” Francine accused. "You're disgusting!"

David just shrugged his shoulders.

"Where did you get these pictures in the first place?" Francine asked, pointing to the board.

It was then that David fell silent. He didn't answer her. He just looked down at the floor and wouldn't make eye contact.

Amanda approached him and asked him softly, "David, tell us how you got those pictures."

David shook his head no.

"If you don't tell us how you got those pictures, we're going to have to take you in," Lee told him.

"On what grounds?" David asked.

"On the grounds that we have suspicions that you were involved in some way with the accidents here at Station One," Billy answered.

"You have no proof!" David's voice was starting to get louder. "You can't take me in for just a suspicion. You have to have proof!"

"Well, I'd say these photographs are all the proof I need," Billy replied. "You better start explaining this and fast! I'm losing my patience."

"I swear, I didn't do anything wrong...she wanted me to. She even sent me the pictures, but I couldn't do it, I couldn't go through with it." David put his head in his hands and let out a long held-in breath.

Billy looked over to Francine and nodded to her as she got out a notepad and starting taking notes.

"The ‘she’ you are referring to wouldn't happen to be Peggy Marlow, would it?" Lee asked him.

He shook his head affirming that it was. David then started to explain how he knew her. "Peggy and I went to high school together. We even dated for awhile in our junior year. I was so in love with her, or so I thought. She was not a girl who stayed with one guy for very long. She broke my heart when she dumped me, we had been really good friends and I always thought we would always be together. But even though she dumped me, I still loved her and we stayed in touch even after high school."

He stopped for a moment as Francine continued to furiously take notes on her notepad.

"About two years ago, I got a letter from her asking me if I would come and see her. I couldn't believe she had gotten herself in trouble and was in the Chesapeake Federal Holding Center. But I went. It was so good to see her. All of those feelings I had for her came rushing back and we even talked of being together once she got out. She would call me quite a bit and once a week she would write me letters. But eventually those calls and letters came with her asking me to help her with a plan she had come up with to get revenge, all in code, of course."

Amanda and Lee exchanged glances as they realized how manipulative Peggy really was. She was using this poor guy and the feelings she knew he had for her.

"Peggy convinced me to join the list for recruit training for the government. Somehow she found out who was going to be at training, had them followed and photographed and had them sent to me. I told her I would help her get revenge. She mentioned to me that her brother Jack had been selected to come to training also. She told me how bad he had hurt her by testifying against her and getting her more time in prison."

"But you and Jack didn't know each other?" Amanda asked.

"No, I had never seen him before in my life. I thought Peggy was an only child. She explained to me that Jack was her half brother and they didn't even meet until she was in college." David shook his head as he explained that he didn't know Jack before this week or that Peggy had a brother.

Francine stopped writing and asked, "So you came here to do Peggy's dirty work for her and to get revenge on her brother?"

"Yes...NO! That's what she wanted me to do. I did consider it; I won't lie to you. I would have done anything for her and she knew it. But I couldn't in good conscience do it. I swear, I didn't do anything to hurt any of these people."

"Then why didn't you just drop out of training? Why didn't you just stay away from the whole situation?" Lee asked.

"I had decided to break it off with Peggy. I realized that she had become this terrible, bitter woman. I knew I couldn't have any more contact with her. Peggy had said that if I wouldn't go through with it she would find someone who could and that I would be sorry. When things started happening to people, I got scared and knew that she had made good on her promise and she had found someone to do her dirty work. I thought I may be able to help and figure out who she had convinced to help her with her plan."

"And the pictures?" Francine added again.

"I really had the idea of starting the video dating service. I really thought it would be harmless to use these women as kinda my ‘test subjects.’ They are all single and seemed to be decent girls and I thought they would be perfect, so I just took advantage of it and learned all about them that I could. I really was going to inform them of what I was doing and see if they wanted to participate in my service."

The agents just looked at each other. They didn't know what to make of what David had just told them.


Billy nodded his head and motioned for Francine, Lee, and Amanda to join him on the other side of the cabin.

"What do you think?" Billy asked simply.

"He seems sincere," Francine admitted.

"Other than this incident, has he given any other sign that he is involved with the accidents here?" Billy questioned.

"No, Sir, he has been nothing but helpful this week, and until this 'dating service fiasco' we hadn't been suspicious of him," Amanda answered quickly. "I think he's telling the truth."

"He seems harmless enough," Lee agreed with a glance back to David. "I doubt he was involved, or he'd be on his way out of here like Stan and Danny were."

"Sir, I have a question," Amanda interjected. "What about Dodge City?"

"Dodge City? No, I don't think it's safe to continue," Billy said with a shake of his head.

"But Stan and Danny are in the hospital and Peggy Marlow is locked away at Chesapeake," she defended.

"I know, but I think these trainees have had enough for one week," Francine added. "Maybe we can reschedule."

Amanda hesitated for a moment before speaking. "Well, I just know how much I wanted to go to Dodge City when I was training. These recruits have been though a lot this week, and that's all the more reason to let them go. They've come this far, I think we should let them take on Dodge City."

Billy, Francine, and Lee stood thoughtfully, pondering the situation.

"Really, Billy, it probably is safe enough for them to continue. We have the main troublemakers away and no one is going to try anything at this point with all the agents around," Lee said convincingly. Amanda gave him an appreciative look.

Billy and Francine exchanged looks. Francine shrugged her shoulders in response to Billy's questioning expression.

"And who would lead out? Jim and Jon are probably too injured to be walking around Dodge City," Billy asked, almost mischievously.

"Amanda and I, we could do it," Lee conceded. "There are only eight recruits able to participate, anyway.”

"Okay, but I'm sending extra agents with you," Billy said with a side glance to Francine, who was innocently inspecting her fingernail polish. She looked up suddenly to see Billy's gaze on her.

"Billy, you don't mean...I have gotten no sleep since..." Her remarks were cut off by Billy's waving hand.

"No problem, we'll rest up today and do the final exercises tomorrow."

"Thank you so much, Sir," Amanda said. "We'll go tell the recruits and start preparing."

Lee and Amanda left Francine and Billy with David, who was off the hook for now. They confiscated his photo collection and let him return to lunch. Meanwhile, Lee and Amanda gave the good news to the eager recruits. Not only were they excited about finishing the training, but the prospect of a free day to recuperate sounded great as well.

As they exited the cafeteria, the sounds of happy trainees in the background, Lee and Amanda headed for their cabins to prepare for the next day's activities.

"Are you sure you're up to this?" Lee questioned as they approached the steps to Amanda's cabin.

Amanda tossed him a contented smile and replied excitedly, "Oh, yeah. Dodge City, here we come!"

< pause for a commercial break >


All of the eligible recruits had finished up with their Dodge City maneuvers. After defeating the challenges in the saloon, they had all assembled back outside, anxiously awaiting word of whether they had passed or failed.

It had been an exhausting week, but the group consisting of Julie, Judy, Rachel, Mary, Elizabeth, Tony, David, and Sheldon had all made it through Dodge City. Lee and Amanda stood beaming with pride at the accomplishments of the seven trainees and Tony, who had never blown his cover as the ringer.

"I'm so proud of you all," Lee said grinning. "Each and every one of you has done a remarkable job this week and you deserve to be commended."

"I second that!" Amanda added.

Lee posed a question. "Before we go on, would anyone like to guess who they think the ringer in the class was? I'd also like to know how you came to that conclusion. Just a little test of your intuition skills."

Mary spoke up first. "I think the ringer is David because he's very physically fit and athletic."

Amanda was shaking her head ‘no’ as Lee said, "Nope, it's not him."

Sheldon raised his hand while adjusting his glasses with his other hand. "I think it might be Julie. I felt like she adapted to all the situations well and she never got hurt."

Julie laughed. "You really thought it was me? Well, I'm not the only one who didn't get hurt."

Amanda and Lee both shook their heads, showing that Julie wasn't the right answer, either.

No one else had a guess. Everyone just shrugged their shoulders and mumbled, "I'm not sure" or "I don't know."

Finally Lee said, "Will the ringer take a step forward?"

No one stepped forward at first as they all just looked at each other. Then finally, Tony moved.

Judy hit her forehead with her palm and said, "Oh, I should have known." That gesture caused everyone to laugh.

"I actually had no clue and Tony would have been one of the last people I probably would have guessed," Elizabeth said shaking her head in disbelief.


After a few moments of discussion about how convincing Tony was as ringer, the group turned their attention back to Lee and Amanda.

“As a symbol of your week at Station One, and to show you have passed Dodge City, we will be awarding each of you a certificate of completion,” Lee announced.

“What is the next step?” Rachel questioned, raising her hand to her eyes to block out the sun that was remaining in the early evening sky.

“Now that you’ve passed the physical endurance, and I think we can all agree that you have certainly done that,” Amanda quipped with a quick grin, “you will continue on with testing, such as ability and personality tests, and then go on for advanced training.”

“And at that point you may become an agent. But first, you need these things!” Lee exclaimed, holding up the short stack of certificates. The group filed into straight lines and waited as their names were called. One by one they shook hands with Lee and Amanda, and received their well-deserved rewards.

Soon Dodge City had been vacated by the trainees who were dismissed and heading back to Station One to pack up and eat a quick supper before heading out on their long trips home. Amanda leaned against the blue wooden booth that stood guard at the entrance to Dodge City and gazed thoughtfully at the trail of dust left behind by the recruits, or more appropriately, “apprentice agents.” Her mind was in conflict as to whether she felt more or less at ease knowing this rag-tag bag of recruits would be safeguarding the country in the near future.

“Penny for your thoughts,” Lee chimed as he slipped in next to Amanda. Without hesitation they answered in unison, “It’ll cost you a nickel. Inflation!” They each chuckled at each other good-naturedly.

“Oh, I was just thinking of the last time we were here. Did you ever think we’d return to Dodge City?” Amanda asked, almost rhetorically.

“Mmm, I hoped we wouldn’t have to,” Lee replied. “But I have a sneaky suspicion that this will not be our last adventure here. Now that Stan is headed for prison and Danny is dead, we have two less bad guys to chase around. But there are so many more out there.”

“Yeah, it’s that kind of world. We’ll always need new agents to replace the old ones,” Amanda said seriously, then grinned as she noted Lee’s reaction.

“You!” Lee said with a laugh as he grabbed hold of Amanda’s face and planted a generous kiss on her lips. “What am I going to do with you?”

“Take me home!” she replied quickly.

Lee nodded, wrapped his arm around her waist, and gave her a squeeze as they walked towards the setting sun. “Home it is.”