The funeral was meant to be small. Just some of the immediate family, and some close friends to pay their respects. That was how it was planned...
Things didn't exactly turn out that way.
The story of Jonathan Quest became the new "Lindbergh Baby" of the decade. Despite vehement protests by the family, the media coverage surrounding the funeral had everyone remotely connected to the Quests attending. The country was fascinated by the story of the bright, young, and successful young doctor and his equally bright, young, and successful wife. The Quests tried to turn away the attention, but they were too exhausted from grieving. They just tuned out the commotion. Rachel's father, Doug, tried to control the mob in their stead. He was not doing that well.
Some guests were welcome, like Alena Stasny, one of Benton and Rachel's dearest school chums, now an up and coming senator in the Czech Republic. Alice Starseer, a former student and confidant of Benton's also showed up. In other circumstances, Rachel might have minded the presence of the young Native American woman (and even Alena's, to a point), but there, at that time, nothing mattered but paying proper respect to her son. Even Phil Corven, Dr. Quest's liaison with the government, was welcomed as a familiar face.
Other guests were not as welcome. Nor as familiar.
"May I help you?" Doug Wildey said, with a suspicious look. He was getting tired of crashers. Some people that were not on the list and had never even met his daughter or son-in-law before kept trying to sneak in. They kept chanting that they were "bad" or something and wanted to console Benton. This was a child's funeral, for God's sake!
"Yes, I'm an old acquaintance of Dr. Quest...Benton. We went to college together. Just call me...Joseph. I believe my name is on the list?"
Doug checked the printout that had just spooled out of the dot-matrix printer connected to the computer Benton and Rachel had set up to lighten their work load. They weren't up to doing this by hand. 'All this newfangled technology,' Doug thought to himself. 'Even overheard that that thing is connected to a phone line, or some such nonsense...'
"Let's see, what was your name?" Joseph told him. Doug scanned to the very end of the list and found it. "Ah, okay. Go right in, Joseph."
"Thank you." Joseph went in. He avoided the cameras and the hosts, keeping a very low profile, just absorbing whatever he saw.
Looking at Benton Quest's expression as the funeral closed, the pretense of "Joseph" fell away, if just for an instant. And in that instant, plain for all to see (if anyone had noticed), Dr. Zin was a very happy man.
The door to the plush office opened as a slim, baby-faced man entered.
"Ah, Corven. Good to see you. What can I do for you?"
"General, it's about the Quests. Are you familiar with them?"
"Yes. Good man, if a bit naive. Very useful to us."
"Well, their son was killed, in an attack. Intelligence believes it was a planned attack to get at the doctor." Corven said, a bit tentatively.
"What! Corven, Benton Quest is an asset to this country! We can't lose him at this critical juncture in our operations! Any further attack, or kidnapping, of his family can have severely adverse effects on our tech development. What are you planning to do?"
"I've decided to assign the Quests a body guard, pending your approval. I've searched through personnel files for the top field agents qualified for the job, and here are some candidates. Here's my first choice. Roger Bannon."
"Hmm. Bannon, huh? What are these things under "Special Non-Combatant Skills"?
"He's been schooled as a tutor, sir. Officially it is for the purpose of schooling any underage, high-risk, charges. Unofficially it was something to keep him busy because he finished the courses so quickly." Corven gave a wan smile.
"Do you really think that two of the most brilliant people in the United States will need a tutor? Bannon can be better used elsewhere. What's your second choice?"
"Here, sir. Right now he's prepping for a mission. He is planned for a much bigger role in the operation, but I have put this at top priority due to the long-range implications of this assignment. In fact, Bannon is one also involved in the mission."
"His file seems in order. He'll be perfect. Pull him off the front lines immediately. Oh, and try to console him. He'll see this as babysitting. Just tell him it'll give him more chance to see his wife and kid."
"Very good sir. By the way, this has been classified as an official assignment by the high brass. File 037."
"Fine. Just get things done."
"Yes sir." Corven left to give the assignment to one of the most trustworthy, with Bannon, agents in I-1. He left to find Ezekiel Rage.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Author's Note: Hmm. I'm not sure about this chapter. (Of course, I say that about all my work). I think it packed in sufficient twists. The prose seems a little awkward, however. I might make a revision (probably not, but now I've said it publicly).
Let's see, I (sorta) introduced Race, I introduced Alena Stasny, Alice Starseer, Phil Corven (and the big one) Dr. Zin! I also fit Rage in (in pre-insanity state). I also have an idea on how exactly to introduce J&J HR into this fic, hurdling the quite daunting obstacle that one of the J's is dead. It might be too far out though (not in the 70's way, the unbelievable way) so it might become a splinter reality from the one developing here.
Maybe not, if I'm too lazy to develop two timelines.
As always, C&C is appreciated, flames are not, and money is humbly accepted.
(But not too much. I don't want to get sued.)
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Date: Sun, Apr 4, 1999, 5:57 AM
Category: P, ALT, E
Rating: TVPG (I decided to switch to TV ratings, because, well, it fits)
Archivers: You can have it!
Disclaimer: Don't own any of them, but technically, the people who _do_ don't use 'em, so why can't I? Anyway, don't sue.