The man’s shoulders were broad enough for two, and the shoulder boards only made them seem freakishly so. He had to turn a bit to enter the hospital room door, despite the Army guards’ grant of a wide berth with their salute. Their charge lay unconscious, connected to multiple monitors and an intravenous bag.

“Good morning, everyone,” came the obligatory baritone. Roger LeMoyne was already on his feet with an outstretched hand, and Agent Diaz stood.

“Admiral,” grinned LeMoyne. “It’s very good to see you again. Sir, this is Special Agent Rebecca Diaz. Diaz, Admiral Edward McMillan.”

“Rebecca, welcome aboard,” he said, trying his best not to deliver his typical alpha-male handshake. “I’d ask you to call me ‘Ed’, but Roger would have a fit.”

Diaz smiled a warm thank-you but said only, “Hello, sir.”

“And our patient?”

“Still out, sir,” nodded LeMoyne. “The blood loss was more than expected, due to some leftover fragmentation. He’ll recover fully.”

McMillan sighed. “I don’t envy the headache he’ll have when his BP comes up. I had hoped to debrief him, but it can wait. So, what have you learned about our mystery girl?”

LeMoyne deferred to Diaz, who cleared her throat. “Sir… we cannot ID her. She’s completely off-grid to law enforcement. At this time we know only that she’s extremely knowledgeable, has elite-level military training, and appears to be a friendly despite her distrust of authority.”

“You don’t see her posing any threat?”

“No, sir,” answered LeMoyne. “Honestly, she might well be credited with our survival thus far. If we could gain her trust, she and whomever she may represent could be a useful ally.”

The Admiral nodded. “Roger, you know that I trust your judgment. But she’s an unknown. More than that, an unknown by choice. She has an agenda of her own, and some extent of access to Koenig. It’s too great an information deficit; we can’t invest too deeply in her til we bridge that gap.”

He looked at David and pulled his chin. “Anyway, it looks like we have some time. He’ll be fine here, under guard. We’ll talk more over some coffee.”

Their voices trailed off down the corridor as they exited.

“So how is the coffee here anyway, Rebecca?”

“Worst I’ve ever had, sir.”

“Ha– !”

Pause. David tentatively opened an eye, then the other, and looked toward the door to find he was well screened from direct view. Good. He began to sit up in his bed, and a stab of pain instantly slammed him back into the mattress. Trying not to grunt for the pain and effort, he rolled to one side, wincing as he poked through a handful of personal effects on the bedside table. He grinned, shaking his head in amusement to discover among them the phone, given him by Lorelei.

1 Voice mail(s)

flashed the display. Starving for any news, David dialed for the message.

“Hey. Don’t worry about me; I made it out okay. I’ve got you on GPS and you’re somewhere near DC, probably Walter Reed. Now, leave the phone on silent. Don’t call me, and don’t answer any calls. Just save your battery for as long as you can. I’ll find you.”

David deleted the message, replaced the phone and went back to playing ‘possum.

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