DISCLAIMER: I do not own these characters (other than myself of course) and do not derive any financial benefit (although I do derive a little personal benefit) from writing about or playing with them. The characters of The Magnificent 7 belong to CBS (Boo! Hiss!), MGM and Trilogy Productions and I’m just borrowing them. Of course, if they wish to sell Chris Larabee to me then they may have my entire bank account, house, car, personal possessions, all investment accounts I have accrued to date and anything else they want!
RATINGS: NC-17 (I think!) M/F
WARNINGS: Language, sexual suggestions (mild) and brief nudity (his, not mine and not graphic!)
NOTES/COMMENTS: This little story was written in answer to a fanfic challenge posted by Michelle N. on the general m7fic list. Basically, the deal is this....CBS and the powers that be have put our seven Magnificent Men into suspended animation in an underground facility somewhere in Connecticut. Your mission (as in the Real Life YOU), should you choose to accept it, is to get into the facility using fake identification and rescue ONE of the seven men. From there you must get him safely across country to Las Vegas where help, support and protection are waiting. Michelle was issuing only one story per Magnificent Man and guess who I grabbed??? So, the challenge has been issued and the RESCUE is on!
All feedback and comments are greatly appreciated but please be gentle with me as this is my first posting here and I have had limited experience at writing such material until just recently. Gee, I wonder why? Enjoy, Gang!
"Oh God! Oh God! Oh God! I can’t believe I let you guys talk me into this."
A lone figure dressed in a green scrub suit and a long white lab coat moved down the sterile tiled blue hallway of the institute, eyes darting nervously back and forth, expecting trouble to appear at any moment.
"I am gonna get caught. They are gonna lock me up and throw away the key. They are gonna torture me and then execute me. And what’s worse....they’ll take away my medical license!"
Fear and panic were usually alien emotions to the young woman moving furtively through the facility but this was a mission of some degree of difficulty and a high potential for danger awaited at every corner. As she walked the woman in white and green talked quietly but urgently into the business end of the stethoscope that hung around her neck, her words transmitted clearly to the command post above ground. The left earpiece served as the listening device so that she could clearly hear the instructions they were sending. She carried a black medical bag in her left hand that was heavy with resuscitative medications and equipment.
"Oh God! What am I doing? I am gonna die!" This last round of phrases was uttered on an ever-increasing note of anxiety and panic.
The crew listening above decided it was time to intervene.
"Look Doc, just shut up and keep moving, okay? You’ll be fine."
"Easy for you to say, Tirya! You’re not the one trapped below ground like a rat in a hole! You’re not the one who’s gonna get reported to the state medical board and have your license revoked!"
A slightly impatient voice snapped back at the woman doctor.
"Hey! Need I remind you that you weren’t here during the original campaign and when you joined our little ‘organization’ you offered to do anything and everything within your power to help should the need arise?"
The Posse upstairs couldn’t see the doctor’s pale white face but they could clearly hear her swallowing hard at the not so gentle reminder that was about to turn into a reprimand. She almost groaned out loud knowing what was coming.
"Well guess what, Doc? You offered, a situation has occurred, a need has arisen and I’m calling in my marker!"
"Okay, okay, Tirya....but why me? Why not get somebody else? How come it had to be me?" The soft grumbling overlaid with panic continued.
This time though, a new voice responded.
"Aw heck, come on, Doc! We all talked it over and you’re the one best qualified for this particular job. Nobody else even comes close to your training!"
The young woman below ground was not reassured.
"Gee thanks, Jo! Now why doesn’t that make me feel any better? Hmmm? Maybe because I’m about to get suspended?"
The sarcasm underlying her words was not lost on those listening. Their exasperation with their medical expert was rapidly increasing and it was all they could do to keep from groaning out loud at her reluctance to intercede on behalf of a Magnificent cause. Jo tried to reason with her again.
"Look Doc, who else but an anesthesiologist would be an expert on this particular problem? Not many people know much about ‘suspended animation’ and how best to bring somebody out of it! You are the best bet for the job!"
That brought the woman in scrubs and white coat up short and she stopped dead in her tracks in the hallway below ground. A look of disbelief spread across her face.
"Suspended animation? I don’t know nuthin’ bout no suspended animation, Jo! I put people to sleep and then wake them back up! I start IV’s and put in endotracheal tubes. I do spinals and epidurals, regional blocks and invasive monitoring. That’s it! None of this sci-fi mumbo-jumbo! You’ve got the wrong gal, here!"
A new voice, louder and more impatient and commanding than the first two, intruded upon the conversation.
"Just shut up and get the job done, Doc, before I come down there and make you take some of your own medicine!" They all knew how much she hated that.
The doctor quickly identified the voice....Rachel! Of course! The other one would be lurking in the background somewhere as always. Preferably with her own personal ‘gutwarmer’ in hand! All three of them there just to gang up on her!
She muttered softly under her breath, "Next time, God, just have them dial 911 instead, please?"
"Hey, we heard that!"
The young woman began moving forward down the hall once again, her face flushing slightly red at the stern scolding from her commanders. She continued noiselessly down the empty hallway, her steps silenced by the blue shoe covers placed over the outside of her white tennis shoes. She was just beginning to congratulate herself on her good fortune at not being seen when she turned a corner and came face to face with two security guards sitting at a table obviously designed to be a check station of some sort.
Backing up slightly, she whispered into the stethoscope.
"Sitting Duck to List Moms, Sitting Duck to List Moms! Come in, over! Can you read me? Come in, over!"
The one called Jo answered her.
"Okay Kathy! You know your addy is ‘Saloon Songbird’ so quit playing around now and get the job done!"
Saloon Songbird whispered back, "But there are two security guards sitting here! How am I supposed to get past them? What do I do?"
All was silent for a moment as the staff above ground consulted their list of rules and regulations. This took several minutes as the volume was quite large and was entitled "All I Really Need To Know I Learned From The Magnificent Seven." Finally, the one called Tirya supplied the answer.
"Okay, here it is! Rule number thirty-two! When faced with a superior show of force, show them your credentials!"
"What?" came back the doctor’s startled response.
"You heard her, Doc! Whip out them credentials and let ‘em have it!" Jo replied encouragingly.
The young woman doctor reached into the right pocket of her white lab jacket and slowly removed her staff identification badge, glanced at it briefly and wished that for once the name was not displayed so prominently on it. With a small sigh of resignation, she pinned it to her lapel, took a deep fortifying breath and started forwards toward where the two security guards waited.
Both guards were big burly men whose uniforms looked like they were about two sizes too small. And their beady little eyes glistened as they watched the woman wearing the long white coat approach. When she was within a few feet of them, they both rose to their feet and managed to tower over her by at least a good foot and a half, not to mention outweighed her by a good one hundred and fifty pounds each. They both looked like former pro-wrestlers to her.
"Hold it right there, ma’am! This is a secured area. Off limits to all but essential staff and personnel."
She came to a halt just in front of the guard’s table and managed to put a small smile on her stiff face.
"Good afternoon, gentlemen! I’m here to check the stasis units," she said with no small amount of trepidation.
The bigger of the two guards answered her back.
"Sorry ma’am, but this area is off limits to all but network executives, programmers and the occasional producer. No one else is allowed down here. Not even the critics." His voice was gruff and very firm offering no room for compromise.
The doctor looked him straight in the eye and somehow managed to choke out the story that the Posse members had concocted for this devious plan. She raised one shaking hand and showed the men her fake identification badge.
"Well sir, I’m Dr. Kate Taylor and I’m the medical expert who’s been sent to check your newest group of prisoners....I mean arrivals to the facility. The head honchos want to be sure that the stasis units are functioning properly and have asked me to check the vital signs on the latest bunch to arrive." She was somewhat amazed to find that the lie rolled so easily off of her tongue. Maybe this wouldn’t be so difficult after all. A small ray of hope gave her much needed courage.
"We never received any notification about a medical expert coming, ma’am. I’m sorry, we don’t have you on our list and we can’t let you through." This from the slightly smaller of the two who narrowed his eyes at her for good measure in an effort at intimidation.
But 'Dr. Taylor' was finally warming to her assignment and determination was evident in her reply.
"Well sir, if you want to be the one to explain why the newest members to arrive here weren’t checked and are willing to take the responsibility if one of the units isn’t functioning properly and the occupant dies...well then who am I to stop you?"
She would have added a smirk if she thought she could’ve gotten away with it.
The two guards looked at her somewhat uncertainly and shuffled their feet. Their eyes glanced around at the floor, at each other and at her again somewhat nervously, not entirely sure what they should do.
The doctor fixed them with her best professional glare and said, "Well, it’s no skin off my nose I’m sure. After all, I’m just a consultant here. But I am a busy lady so if you fellas don’t want to cooperate then I’m outta here! And that will leave you two to explain things to Mr. Moonves."
As if to emphasize her point, the doctor turned like she was going to leave.
It had the desired effect. Both guards began to look panicked and hastened to stop her. After all, she had mentioned the head man’s name himself.
"Uh, wait ma’am!" One of them stammered. "We don’t want to cause any trouble here so...why don’t you just go ahead and check those units and then everything will be okay!"
With a sweet knowing smile in their general direction, the woman in the green scrub suit managed to say "Thank you" before moving quickly off down the hall behind them. As soon as she turned the corner and was out of view, her shoulders sagged with relief. She could hear her crew upstairs laughing at the ease with which her story tricked the guards.
"Way to go, Doc!" Jo called. "You can tell lies with the best of them."
"Umm, gee, thanks! I think!" she replied. Looking around at the layout of the building in front of her, she asked uncertainly, "Uh, which way do I go now?"
Tirya answered back, "You go to the wing that houses the CBS units, of course!"
"Right......Which one is that?"
A huge sigh of exasperation could be clearly heard through the earpiece of the stethoscope. Obviously, the doctor was not an expert at reading floorplans. Otherwise, she would have known exactly where to go from the little strategy planning session they had had earlier.
"Hang on," Rachel replied in disgust. "We’ll get the map out...again."
A few minutes later, the list moms had the doctor headed down the right hallway in the correct wing towards the properly labeled door to the area that they were looking for. A huge sign on the gleaming metal smoothness of the door proudly proclaimed "THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN."
"Oh my God!" she breathed quietly, clearly stunned that she had been able to locate the right room. "I think I found them. They’re really here."
"Great work, Doc! Now go get them!"
One shaking hand reached out to grasp the doorknob and turn it as quietly as possible, whispered prayers for silence the only noise heard as it turned seamlessly and opened without a sound. Pushing the door wide open, she quickly entered the room and turned to close it behind her.
Placing her back against the door, she glanced around the room, her gaze searching and anxious. It was a fairly large room that had almost no furnishings to it at all. There was a single stretcher lined against the far wall and then in the center of the room, seven oblong cylinders with glass tops that strangely reminded her of caskets. She quickly moved toward these objects and peered into the glass covers anxiously, excitement coursing through her at her wondrous discovery.
"I found them" she exclaimed triumphantly.
She could hear yelling and screaming through the receiver on the stethoscope. The gang upstairs was obviously very happy. She briefly looked at each cylinder, taking note of the labels on them and the exact order in which they were placed. Her search turned up a control panel located on the left hand side of each cylinder, a red light blinking steadily but slowly off and on.
This was gonna be so much easier than they had thought. She almost felt giddy with relief and gave a slight giggle. Her hand reached for the control panel on the cylinder nearest to her when all of a sudden, she had a desperate thought. There was a problem here that none of them had thought of. Oh dear! What was she supposed to do?
"Umm, ladies? We have a slight problem here," the doctor stated as calmly as she could into the bell of the stethoscope.
Dead silence greeted her statement. Then a soft groan before a disembodied voice asked "What?"
"Well, there’s only one stretcher....and there’s only one of me....so I’m only going to be able to take...," she swallowed hard here, knowing they weren’t going to like what she had to say next. ".....to take ONE of them!"
Muffled groans of pain were audible in about fourteen different vocal ranges as the bad news was relayed from one person to the next. The doctor could hear some sort of conversation being carried on in the back ground as she waited patiently for further instructions. She didn’t have to wait long.
"Um, Doc? Are you sure you can only get one of them?" Jo questioned her.
"Absolutely sure, Jo! Unless you can come up with some way to instantly clone me....that’s all you’re gonna get is one....just one!"
More groans greeted this pronouncement as the good doctor continued, "Now we need to choose which one."
Several minutes more of whispered conversations followed with an occasional emotional outburst of yelling and crying before finally they answered her question. Jo, being the lawyer, and the most practical one, answered her.
"Well, we’ve pretty much decided that it should be either the easiest one to take or the one that could potentially be the most useful to take. What do you think?"
Oh Lord! They were asking her to choose! This was going to be extremely difficult and no matter what choice she made, there would be some unhappy parties concerned. But there just didn’t seem to be any way around it.
"Umm, well, let’s see." Walking over to the cylinder on the far right, the doctor cleared off the name plate on top to reveal who was inside the object since the glass tops were frosted and covered with condensation on the inside making it impossible to see the interior. The nameplate of the first one said simply "JD Dunne." A growing sense of excitement filled her with the confirmation that these seven objects did in fact contain the men she was searching for.
"Well, this one says it has JD. Now, he is the smallest and would therefore be the easiest to take. And his being the youngest might very well work to his advantage in being the quickest to recover from the suspended stasis they’ve been placed in. But I’m not convinced he’d be the best choice. He’s too hot headed and stubborn and just might go off half-cocked gunning for revenge."
Moving to the next one, she found Nathan Jackson. "Here’s Nathan in the one next to JD. Now, he’d be very helpful since he’s the ‘healer’ of the group and could help me revive the others but how would just the two of us get everybody else out? We couldn’t carry everybody else and even if I woke him up, he wouldn’t willingly leave any of the others!"
Oh boy, she sighed, this was going to be a difficult decision. She continued on down the line, uncovering the names as she went, talking out loud in the silent room where no one could hear her but those who listened above ground. The gambler was next in the row of 'caskets'.
"Here’s Ezra," and nearly yelped with pain from the squeals of joy being transmitted through the stethoscope. "He could come in mighty handy if we have to fast talk our way out of a situation or wear disguises but he’s so shifty and tricky...can we really rely on him when the chips are down? Or will he take off again if he find the odds are better somewhere else?"
Next to Ezra was the ex-preacher, Josiah Sanchez. "Now here might be a possibility," as she proceeded to elucidate her thoughts. "Josiah is big and strong and could carry at least two of the other guys, especially if we go for JD and Ezra but all that increased muscle mass will make him more prone to Stasis Syndrome and its associated weakness so that he probably wouldn’t even be able to walk once I wake him up. Besides which, having Josiah around is kinda like having a bull in a china closet. You just can’t keep him quiet. We’d get caught for sure. Way too much righteous anger!"
The next cylinder contained Buck Wilmington. Now having looked at four of the "caskets" already, the good doctor was starting to get just a little bit curious as to how this ‘stasis’ thing had been done. She leaned in closer to the one containing Buck and scratched on the surface of the glass with a fingernail. For some reason, there wasn’t as much frost covering the inside of this one, a fact that she was quick to notice and attributed to the slightly higher temperature inside this one cylinder. A small amount of coating came off on her fingers, just barely enough to let her catch a glimpse of the gunslinger inside. One glance told her that Buck would be of no help to them at all.
"Um, sorry gang! Just found Buck and he doesn’t look like he’d be able to help anybody, especially since it looks like he wasn’t even able to help himself!"
"What do you mean? What’s wrong with him?" came back the almost frantic reply.
"Oh, well, it doesn’t look like there’s anything wrong with him at all. At least not as far as I can see!" The doctor grinned.
"Well then what’s the problem? Buck can be very helpful and he’s great in a sword fight!" the higher ups returned.
"Well...umm....it’s just that he’s wearing...or should I say not wearing.....he’s dressed only with a towel around his waist and wearing a great big grin! The powers that be must have caught him in the bathhouse again."
That brought a general chorus of catcalls, whistles and THUDS! But no, it was generally agreed upon that Buck was not the best choice at this particular time.
Moving over once more, the physician found Vin Tanner, the group’s tracker and former bounty hunter. She made sure to pull the stethoscope away from her ear before announcing her findings to the group gathered up above. Her eardrums couldn’t take another high-pitched pounding.
"I found Vin Tanner, too." She had to wait for the ‘squealing’ to subside before continuing. "Looks like he’s okay and he’s got his clothes on." She didn’t miss the groan of disappointment following that statement.
"Vin would be a good choice to take cuz he’d be able to track the others when CBS moves them after they find out about this little escapade. He’s deadly accurate with that sawed-off Winchester and is real dependable too." The doctor was starting to think maybe she’d found the one to grab but then another thought occurred to her.
"But...lately he’s been a little soft in the head....that whole Charlotte/Harlotte thing, don’t ya know? Kinda acting completely out of character! So just maybe he’s not the steady dependable Vin Tanner we all think we know and love!"
She sighed heavily with frustration as she realized they were rapidly running out of options as well as time.
"Yeah, but Kathy? Didn’t you tell us he’s your cousin since you have the same last name and are both from Texas? Shouldn’t you know him better than just about anybody?"
Dang that Jo and her impeccable lawyer’s memory! Can’t get anything past her!
"Umm, well yeah....but....we haven’t seen each other in a while," replied the tracker’s longlost cousin.
Well, that evaluation left only one more. Moving to the last remaining cylinder on the far left side, she sidled up to it and attempted to clear the glass with her sleeve. The layer of ice on it was so thick that it would’ve taken a month of Sundays in a hot July in Texas to thaw it. Somehow, instinctively, she knew that this last "casket" had to contain the leader of the group, Chris Larabee. Who else was known to have such an icy glacial stare that he could freeze a flow of molten lava at thirty paces?
"Okay, I found Chris Larabee," she reported back and then grinned wickedly as a sudden thought occurred to her. "How about I ‘grab’ him?"
The double meaning was not lost on her listening audience but they deliberately chose to ignore it, deciding instead to focus on the task at hand.
"In your expert medical opinion, is he the best one or the easiest one to take?" Tirya questioned.
"Well..." she had to think about it and word this one carefully. "I think that he would probably be the best one to nab because he IS the leader of the group, he’s smart and resourceful and a hell of a fighter, although he doesn’t always ‘fight’ by the rules. He can get nasty and psychotic when he needs to and he definitely won’t quit until the other six are rescued! Not to mention the fact that he’s very ‘handy’ with a gun!"
The good doctor was very pleased with her line of reasoning. She only hoped she’d been able to convince the ladies listening upstairs. Several long minutes passed as she waited for confirmation of her choice. Finally, they agreed.
"Okay, it isn’t unanimous but majority here rules. So....you get to nab Chris! Now, get to work!"
It was all she could do to keep from executing a dance of joy at their recommendation. Instead, she settled for a little satisfied grin and knelt down next to the round cylinder. Working quickly and efficiently, the doctor set about bypassing the control panel with items from her medical kit. The blinking red light on the display teased her eyes with its irritating red glare, acting as if it was some sort of warning beacon.
She worked diligently for several long moments before all of a sudden, the light changed from red to green and a soft hissing sound issued forth as the seal on the cylinder was broken. Ever so slowly, the glass lid raised up and folded itself over to one side and out of the way. Icy fingers of mist floated up into the stale air inside the room.
Rising up to stand next to the opened cylinder, the doctor found herself staring at the hatless but still black clad figure of the leader of the group, Chris Larabee. He lay very still and quiet, almost corpselike inside the curled tube. His skin was pale and waxy in appearance and if she hadn’t known better, she would have thought the man inside was dead. Which to her way of thinking would have been a great tragedy considering the extremely handsome face and long lean lines of his finely muscled body.
She knew that when he wasn’t locked in the arms of suspended animation, he moved with an almost panther-like grace and quickness that underscored the intense brooding nature of his personality that was reflected in the fierce light shining from his incredible eyes. To see all that restless energy and vitality gone, extinguished by the powers that be and placed into a cold unfeeling early "grave" was a huge mistake. One that she was here to rectify. Flames of righteous anger burned within her soul.
Reaching out with her hand, she touched his where it lay beside him on the white sheet, automatically noting how cold and stiff his skin felt. Expertly, her fingers moved around to the soft side of his wrist, searching by touch for any evidence of a pulse beating there. She was severely disappointed when her sensitive fingers found none. Panic started to clutch at the edges of her heart. She prayed that it wasn’t too late!
Taking a flashlight from her medical kit, the doctor moved to the head of the bed enclosed within the cylinder and with an expert touch, lifted up one of Mr. Larabee’s eyelids to reveal one blue-green orb. Flashing the light into his eye, she noted pupil size and response before turning her attention to listening for heart and breath sounds with her stethoscope that doubled as a two-way radio. She was pleased to hear a very slow but steady heart beat and a shallow and almost as slow respiratory sound indicating that the man in black was still alive and still breathing.
Relief flooded through her as she allowed one small hand to brush the stray locks of blond hair back off of his forehead. Just a simple touch really but one so filled with compassion and caring that it was an automatic gesture of comfort coming straight from within her "healer’s heart," a heart filled with joy at finding him alive!
"Okay, he’s alive!" she almost squealed.
"Great! You go girl! Get him out of there and wake him up!" But the group upstairs was starting to celebrate just a little too early.
She hesitated and then said, "Well, you see, it’s not really that simple, gang!"
"What? What are you talking about, Doc?" Jo called.
"It’s not just a matter of waking him up. There’s more to it than that. This could be dangerous, possibly deadly." A shudder of unease passed through her.
The Posse upstairs got really quiet all of a sudden.
"You see, part of what they’ve done here is to deliberately produce a controlled hypothermic state to reduce the body’s level of metabolism which thereby facilitates the stasis that they have somehow managed to chemically induce with their medical agents they have created that generate the suspended animation in the first place."
Dead silence greeted this enlightening statement from the lady doctor until finally, one very disgusted voice spoke up.
"What the hell did she just say?"
"Quiet, Rachel!" Jo demanded. "Um, hey Doc? You want to put that in plain English for those less gifted?"
"Okay, fine!" she replied, "Here it is in plain English! They drugged them and then froze them to make the drugs last longer! I can’t wake him up until I thaw him out first!"
"So go thaw him out!"
The doctor rolled her eyes at that command. She should have known it was coming. Some people just didn’t understand.
"And just how do you propose that I warm him up? This is not a hospital in case you guys haven’t noticed and I don’t have access to cardiopulmonary bypass or a dialysis machine. I don’t even have warmed intravenous fluids that I can give. Just what the heck do you propose I do to heat him up? Blow on him?"
Although that last idea did have certain merits, she was getting just a little bit testy now with the demands that the list moms were placing on her, the miracle that they were expecting her to perform. Needless to say, she wasn’t prepared for Rachel’s reply.
"Look Doc, just climb up in there and take him for a RIDE, okay? If that doesn’t warm him up, nothing will! Besides which, you’ll both enjoy it!"
The doctor nearly choked with embarrassment. "It’s just not that simple, Rachel! There can be problems and complications. He might have a fatal arrhythmia if this is not done right!" She could hear Rachel and Jo snickering in the background, obviously misunderstanding her medical concerns.
Tirya, the voice of reason as usual, stopped the developing argument.
"Okay, enough you three! Let’s get our priorities straight...we need to get Mr. Larabee out of there and revived as soon as possible. Let’s just take one problem at a time, all right? Now....Doc? You find some way to move him and we’ll look for the nearest medical facility, okay?"
"Well, there’s a stretcher right here that I can use."
"Fine. Go get it, get him on it and let’s go."
Placing her black bag on the tray lining the bottom, the lady doctor quickly grabbed the stretcher and wheeled it over next to where Mr. Larabee lay apparently sleeping in deep hibernation. She lined the stretcher up just right and then stood there for a moment in confusion.
"Uh, gang? How am I supposed to get him on the stretcher?"
"What do you mean? You move people in the operating room all the time, don’t you?" Jo asked.
"Well, yeah but I usually have at least three other people helping me!" the Doc replied.
"Well you’re not in the operating room now so just do the best you can," Rachel offered sweetly.
She sighed with exasperation. How on earth did they expect her to move a full-grown man by herself? Grabbing hold of Chris’s shoulders, she tugged and pulled and pulled and tugged until she had him partially rolled up on his side. Darn good thing she hadn’t decided they should take Josiah or Buck, she decided grimly. This was hard enough as it was just trying to move Chris, let alone one of the bigger fellas.
She was out of breath and fatigued by the time she finally got Chris loaded onto the stretcher, his still and cold body lying there silently on the small cushioned mattress. Grabbing the white sheet from inside the cylinder, she quickly covered his prone form from head to ankle since that was all that it would effectively cover. His black boots with their silver spurs remained uncovered and hung off the end of the stretcher which was too short for his long lean frame.
"All right, Mr. Larabee," she huffed, "Let’s get you out of here!"
Pushing the stretcher smartly in front of her, a skill developed after long years of patient practice, she maneuvered her Magnificent cargo through the door and out into the hall. Heading back in the direction she came, her agile mind was once again at work as to how she was going to get past the burly guards with the covered form of Chris Larabee. A sudden idea popped into her head and she smiled wickedly at the cleverness of her plan.
Rounding the final corner, she came face to face with the big guards who had tried to prevent her entrance in the first place. Oh, how she was looking forward to this little confrontation. She pasted a huge smile on her face as she pulled to a stop in front of them.
"Well, gentlemen, I do believe congratulations are in order. It seems that while you were so preoccupied with doing your job and keeping me from doing mine that one of the units malfunctioned and as a result, one of the new arrivals is no longer with us. Excellent job, gentlemen. I’m sure that corporate headquarters will be pleased with your performance and I will be sure to include a very accurate account of your activities in my report to Mr. Moonves."
She could do sarcasm real well and both men were flushed and somewhat embarrassed when she finished her scathing attack. They shifted uncomfortably again, unable or unwilling to meet her gaze. She cocked one eyebrow at them and then rather acerbically asked for their permission to proceed with removal of the body. Both of the big men managed to look sick when she asked that particular question.
At their affirmative nod, the good doctor started off down the long hallway with her precious load heading towards the elevators that would take her to the surface and get the rat out of the hole, so to speak! She almost jumped in surprise when Tirya’s voice sounded in her ear once more.
"Hey Doc, hold on! I think we may have something here. It seems that even though this is a storage facility for shows and characters that are put into suspended animation, they also are equipped to revive them again as well. I’ve gone over the floor plans again and they happen to have a physical therapy room that may provide just what you need for Mr. Larabee."
"That’s great!" she replied in a somewhat surprised voice. "Where is it?"
Tirya gave her instructions on how to reach the PT room from where she was and after taking a sharp right turn that nearly dumped the chilled form of one legendary gunslinger on the floor, she was off and moving rapidly down another hall. It wasn't long before she located the correct door leading into the physical therapy area. The lady doctor once again thanked whatever providence had provided her friends with such an accurately detailed map of the place.
Pulling the laden stretcher behind her, she entered the room and locked the door closed behind them. This might take a while and she didn’t want to risk them being discovered. Glancing quickly around the room, she was surprised to find all sorts of wonderful therapy equipment and such that would rival that of any modern state-of-the-art hospital....except for one thing.
There was no crash cart! No cardiac resuscitative equipment at all!
But what they did have were lots of gleaming stainless steel whirlpool therapy tubs that she knew came supplied with hot and cold water. Perfect, to her way of thinking, for warming up one very cold desperado dressed all in black. She really would have liked to have had the rest of the equipment but hey, you just had to make do with what the good Lord provided you with sometimes.
"Gang? I think I can do this....yep, I just might be able to make this work! I don’t have everything I would like to but I think we just might be able to get Mr. Larabee warmed up enough to where he hopefully would be at least somewhat cooperative and coherent."
She didn’t pause to listen to the excited cheer pouring through the earpiece of the stethoscope, but instead, wheeled the stretching bearing Chris directly over to one of the large silver tubs. She turned on the water and waited until the temperature was just right before closing the drain and starting to let the water fill it up. It wasn’t until she turned back and uncovered Chris’s still body that she realized there was another problem she hadn’t thought of before.
"Uh, Jo? Tirya? Rach? I think I’ve got another problem."
"Now what?" cried three very exasperated voices.
"He has his clothes on." Maybe it would have been better to take Buck after all, she reasoned, but it was too late now.
"Well, if I put him in the tub, they’ll get wet and with those tight black pants he wears....we could be talking some permanent damage here!"
"So, okay...take them off!" offered Jo helpfully. Rachel just snickered and she heard Tirya chuckle as well.
"Excuse me, what?" the young lady nearly shrieked. Surely they could feel the heat of her blush all the way up to the top floor.
"You heard her. Just take his clothes off and get him in the tub." Tirya ordered.
"Yeah, you’re a doctor. He ain’t got nothing you haven’t seen before." Rachel came out of lurker mode again for that observation.
Oh my Lord! breathed the good doctor silently. Just the very idea of having to undress the handsome gunslinger...oh my! Her face was flushed bright red. Well, there were some things you just had to do no matter what and it was all for a good cause anyways, she reasoned.
Trying to be quick and efficient, she moved to undress the unconscious form of Chris Larabee although she did think it would take a little extra time and effort to get those tight black pants off. Her nimble fingers easily unbuttoned his black shirt and managed to slip it off of one well-muscled arm before rolling him slightly to bunch it up beneath his back. Then she turned him in the other direction to pull it off his other arm and out from underneath him. She swallowed hard at the broad expanse of tanned chest revealed by the gleaming white lights and couldn’t help but compare the finely toned display of muscle and bone to a perfect sculpture she had seen once in an art gallery.
Lord, but this room was sure getting warm!
She moved to the end of the stretcher and tugged on first one booted foot and then the other, placing the well worn leather with spurs still attached on the floor next to one of the glistening steel tubs. She removed his socks as well, marveling at the fact that it was possible to find something sexy in just the way a man’s foot looked, before turning and placing his socks on the rim of an empty tub next to where she had placed his shirt.
Taking a deep fortifying breath, she then moved to his waist and began to unbutton those tight black pants he was so well noted for. Her hands shook quite a bit as she accidentally brushed her fingers against the skin of his abdomen. A sudden strange thought struck her and she couldn’t help the small nervous laugh that escaped into the silent room.
"What’s so funny, Doc?" a disembodied voice asked her.
She chuckled again before answering, "I was just wondering if he wears boxers, briefs or Dalmations! Anyone taking bets?"
A few nervous laughs greeted her question and several long minutes passed as everyone tensed with anticipation at finding out. The doctor’s hands were shaking so bad she had to silently reprimand herself for such unprofessional conduct. Finally, she was able to peel back enough of the fabric to look and satisfy everyone’s curiosity.
"Ooohhh! We all lose!" she exclaimed breathlessly, her eyes burning brightly in her flushed face. "Or should I say we all win?"
"How’s that, Doc? What’s he wearing?" came the voices again.
"Um, how about ‘none of the above’?" she replied in a husky sounding voice as it had become fairly difficult to breath in the suddenly claustrophobic room.
She couldn’t hear the squeals of excitement coming through the stethoscope-radio over the pounding of her own heart.
"Are you sure?" asked a voice she didn’t even recognize.
She looked again....just to be sure....and because she wanted to.
"Oh, very sure!"
"Not even speedos? Didn’t Mo say something about those at one time?"
"Nope, not even speedos! Nada...zip...nothing..." she finished in a breathless rush. "I guess there just ain’t room for anything else underneath these pants!"
The blood was roaring in her ears now and she had to take several deep calming breaths and count to ten at least three separate times before she could continue, chastising herself for violating the medical code of ethics. Her hands gripped the black leather tightly and she began the struggle to remove his pants, first from around his hips and then down the rest of his length. Tugging first one way and then pulling in the other, having to roll his dead weight back and forth in order to facilitate the process. Inch by inch, she slowly peeled the material down the long line of his legs, trying desperately to remember how to breathe as she worked, her voice muttering soft and low, a litany of prayer on her lips.
"What is that you’re saying, Doc? We can’t quite make out your transmission."
"Uh, I was just wishing I was Catholic or something," she said between rapid pants of breath.
"Why is that?" someone asked from above.
"Oh, I just wanted to...be able to....thank God properly...in Latin you understand...for creating something as...beautiful......as the male body......at least this particular.....male body...." She huffed as she worked before adding under her breath, "And carry rosary beads to keep my hands occupied!"
They were laughing at her again. She could hear them.
"Hey, you keep that up, Doc, and you won’t need to put him in the tub to warm him up!"
"Thank you, Rachel," she muttered sarcastically.
With one last giant tug, the black leather pants came off and the job of undressing Chris Larabee’s cold still form was finished. She would have sighed with relief if she could’ve drawn enough air into her lungs at that particular point to even try. Long endless moments passed as she gazed her fill at the figure lying on the stretcher, trying desperately to tell herself that it was just admiration and appreciation for a work of art that had her staring so.
"Hey, Doc? You’re awful quiet all of a sudden. What’s taking so long?"
"Umm, just examining the patient for any signs of damage or injury!" Her voice sounded choked even to her own ears and she was more than a little embarrassed at their knowing laughter.
"So, we’re assuming you got those pants off....good!" They were laughing at her again. "Now get him into the tub and be quick about it. We’re burning daylight."
Finally tearing her eyes away from her "patient," she glanced in astonished amazement at the pair of black leather pants she held in her hand. The doctor then walked over to where his other clothes were and laid them across the rim of the tub next to his shirt and socks. She shook her head slowly, incredulous that anyone could fit into those things and wondered how he managed to put them on. Various theories on that particular subject had floated around the Posse before and usually involved baby powder, grease and an appropriate layer of paint but until the man was revived, no one would know for sure.
The room had heated up considerably while she worked and she removed her white lab coat leaving herself dressed in the ugly green scrub suit that she always wore at the hospital. Her "stethoscope" hung in a half circle around her neck. Anyone who happened to wonder by and look in the room would’ve thought she worked there. That she was just reviving one of the poor unfortunate souls who’d had the unlucky circumstance of being in a really great show with a fantastic cast and crew that was placed in a stupid time slot on a night where practically no one stayed home and watched TV combined with a dumb lead-in show on a major network that wouldn’t advertise or promote the fact that it had the best show on television in its prime-time lineup.
Forcing herself to continue working, she rolled the stretcher with the stripped gunslinger next to the tub she had filled. She tried to be as gentle as she possibly could but it was a little difficult to know just where to put her hands in order to move him. She tried grabbing him in first one place and then another but couldn’t seem to quite get hold of him in the right place to provide the leverage she needed.
Finally, taking him by one bare shoulder and hip, she managed to roll him up onto his side, off of the stretcher and into the tub of water with a fairly loud splash. She quickly grabbed a handful of his blond hair to keep him from slipping under the surface, automatically apologizing for what would have been a painful tug if he’d been awake and out of stasis. Her other arm went quickly around his chest from behind so that she could turn him until he was sitting upright in the tub. Once she was satisfied with her "patient’s" position in the steel container, she reluctantly released him and sat back with an exhausted sigh. The front of her scrub suit was wet from the water.
Her face was a bit flushed from working in such close proximity with his naked form but there was no help for that. Some things you just had to bite the bullet and do! Some sacrifices just had to be made. Besides which, it was all in the name of a good cause....or as Josiah would have said, "A righteous cause!"
"Okay," she informed her listeners, "It’s done. He’s in the tub."
"Great!" they replied, "Now what?"
"Well, now we wait....and we watch," she informed them. "It’s just a matter of letting his body temperature rise to an acceptable level before I can administer the reversal agent."
"How long is this gonna take?"
"Without the proper monitors, I don’t know for sure," she answered them a bit impatiently. "Why? You got something better to do with your time on Friday evenings?"
"Now don’t get testy, Doc!" Jo soothed from the command post above. "We just wanted to know how much time to allot for this little ‘rescue’ of yours."
"Well, ladies....I’d say time was the one thing we all have plenty of right now!" the doctor replied sadly.
Oh, she now felt sure that she could revive Chris Larabee....and that somehow he could then effect the release of the other six men....she could even bring the rest of them out of suspended animation. But what none of them could predict or even attempt to answer was what the corporate network executives were going to do once all H**L broke loose. And break loose it would!
You didn’t sneak into a secured facility, into a highly restricted area using fake credentials and spirit away seven handsome men who’d been placed in suspended animation until their future could be decided without creating just a little bit of a fuss.
And the network had unlimited manpower, money and resources behind their efforts to win the war that was coming.
The Posse, on the other hand, was made up of everyday people from all walks of life with varying socioeconomic status who just happened to have found a common interest in one simple television show and the seven men in it who fought for justice in one small Western town. A show that had been treated unfairly and unjustly and was summarily dismissed by the powers that be. Somehow and against all belief, a significant wrong had been done to these seven men and their show!
Following the example set by these Magnificent men, the Posse intended to see it made right. The Posse intended to see justice done!
The good doctor sighed as she watched her patient sitting in the steel tub filled with the water that would warm his chilled body. The light of battle was in her eyes and she was determined to do all she could to help this just cause. It would take a little time to revive the gunslinger but what else did any of them have to give at this point but time. Time to plot...time to plan....time to organize....time to save....time to revive...
Yes, it was only a matter of time!
Continued in Part 2.
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