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Straker, somehow it's
always about you.

Posts: 990
Location: Fulton, MO
The Bodyguard by Denise
Feb 19th, 2012 at 5:01am
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The Bodyguard
(A UFO Story)

by Denise Felt 2010

A Challenge Story for the SHADO Writers’ Guild

Chapter 1

“Look.  This is ridiculous.  You’re overreacting.”  Commander Straker glared at the psychologist before turning his gaze back to Henderson.  “As you can see, General, I am fine.”

“You can hardly consider yourself fine with a wrenched shoulder, Commander,” Dr. Jackson replied in his maddeningly reasonable Slavic tone.  “You have avoided the necessity for far too long as it is.  But you can no longer deny that you are a target, especially after reading that note Mr. Clark left on you.  Commander, you need protection.”

General Henderson looked at Straker’s furious countenance and said, “Thank you, Doctor.  That will be all.”

The psychologist gave him the slightest of bows before leaving the room.  Once he was gone, the commander came closer to the desk and said, “We’ve tightened security around HQ, as well as in the other areas that were mentioned in the note.  We’ll be fine.  I don’t know why Jackson is panicking like that.”

“I do,” the general said.  “This is the fourth attempt on your life in the past year, Straker.  It’s lucky for us that you have as many lives as a cat; but sooner or later, they’ll run out.  And then where will we be without a commanding officer for SHADO?”

Straker remained silent, knowing that he had indeed been fortunate to escape relatively unscathed from the attempts that had been made on his life over the past several months.  But surely the fact that he was still alive was an obvious sign that he could handle himself without any added protection?
“What will it take for you to accept a security detail, Commander?” Henderson asked quietly.

Evidently not.  Straker sighed, knowing that it had been just a matter of time before they forced him into accepting a greater measure of protection.  He’d expected this ultimatum after the aliens’ last attempt, if the truth be known, and had been quite relieved when nothing was said in the wake of that crisis.  But he was uncomfortably aware that it was becoming not only foolish – but dangerous – to refuse that protection.  He just wished he didn’t hate the idea so much.

“I can’t stand to be crowded,” he admitted tersely.

Henderson nodded.  He’d known Straker too many years not to know his particular quirks.  The commander was a very private individual, and would find the concept of being watched over by a team of security guards particularly invasive.  But Jackson had come up with an alternative idea, one that might work even for a recluse like Straker. 

Not that the general intended to give him the opportunity to refuse it.

“We’ll endeavor not to crowd you, Straker.  But you’ll have that protection, starting today.  Expect your detail to commence around the clock security before the end of shift.”

“General . . .”

“You’re dismissed.”

The commander met that unyielding gaze and sighed.  Without a word he left the general’s office to head back to SHADO HQ.  Damn! 

He tried not to think about it as he drove back to the studio (would he get to drive his own car anymore?), as he walked through the large open lobby of the studio on his way to his office (would he always have a stream of bodyguards hovering around him like a few of his more high profile actors did?), and as his studio office descended into HQ (how was he supposed to get any work done when someone would constantly be staring at him?)

The final question was the worst of all, because he knew that often the only way to stay ahead of their technologically superior adversary was to outthink them, anticipate their next move, and be ready to counter it before they struck.  But thinking like that required lots of silence – and privacy.  And how would he ever find that now?

Col. Foster found him a little more irate than normal when he reported in that they hadn’t yet located the UFO.

“Find it.  Now!” was his commander’s only response.

Sure, Commander.  Nothing to it, he thought sourly as he hung up his car phone.  Straker could sit back in his comfortable office at HQ and order everyone else around, but it was up to Paul and his team to see that they got results.  Well.  One day things would be different.  One day Paul would be the commander, then he wouldn’t have to chase all over creation trying to find a needle in a haystack.  Instead, he’d be the one barking out the orders for everyone else to follow.  Yeah.

His smile widened as he considered it.  He could hardly wait.

Straker tried to read the staff reports, but finally gave it up.  He didn’t even need a security detail breathing down his neck to make it impossible for him to work.  Just the threat of them was enough to make him miserable.  He set the reports aside and got up from behind his desk.  The Control room was quiet as he emerged from his office, and he gave a nod to Ford at his console as he passed. 

He wandered the lots, not having a particular destination in mind, just enjoying the freedom of being alone.  In spite of his position as executive producer, in spite of the fact that he was also a highly successful actor, he was quite used to haunting the lots undisturbed.  People rarely approached him, assuming by his preoccupied air and decisive walk that he was far too busy to be bothered with them.  Most of the time it was true.  He was too busy.            

But today he was simply too restless.  His whole lifestyle was going to change, and not for the better.  Oh, yes.  He’d be safer.  But at what cost to his own peace of mind?  And if he found command difficult now, with the pressure of knowing that the aliens were more determined than ever to take him out and SHADO with him, how much harder would things be when he was squeezed in from every side, so surrounded by security that he wouldn’t be able to breathe?

He preferred his present dangerous freedom to that smothering safety any day.

Eventually he had to return, to accept his new existence with at least some semblance of equanimity.  But his heart was heavy as he headed for his office in the main studio building.  When he reached it, he saw that Miss Ealand was away from her desk.  She was such a fixture in the office that he had to stop himself from immediately going on alert.  Relax, he told himself firmly.  Not all her work could be done from behind her desk, after all.

He smiled ruefully as he entered the inner office.  All this talk of added security was making him paranoid.  He sat behind his desk and lifted the lid of the slim silver cigar case that sat there.

“Straker,” he said, sitting back and letting his eyes close as the Voiceprint identifier confirmed his identity.  He kept them closed as the office began its descent, savoring his aloneness for as long as possible.

But then he felt it.  A niggling awareness at the back of his mind.  He almost brushed it aside, wanting to prolong his final moments of freedom.  But he was too well-trained for that, so he opened his eyes. 

And saw her.

He was so shocked he was rendered speechless.  His mind acknowledged that it had already seen her standing near the corner of the room when he had entered the office.  But for some odd reason he had passed over that awareness, had not noticed her consciously, had not really seen her there.  Until now.

She was gazing calmly back at him, her grey eyes having an unusual silver cast in the overhead lights of his office.  And her absolute stillness, her complete absence of movement, made the small hairs at the back of his neck quiver.  He was instantly alert, wondering if perhaps his new security detail would find his dead body when the office finally reached the bottom of the lift and opened into HQ.

“Who are you?” he asked cautiously, leaning back in his chair as naturally as possible so that he could reach his gun. 

“I am Tehb,” she answered, her deep voice resonating with a quality he could not define, but which he found oddly soothing.

His hand stopped reaching for his gun, and he said, “What do you want?”

“Dr. Jackson sent me.  I am to be your bodyguard.”

The sky is not the limit; nor are the stars.
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Re: The Bodyguard by Denise
Reply #1 - Feb 19th, 2012 at 5:02am
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Chapter 2

A woman?  Jackson had sent him a woman?  Was he out of his mind?  Straker opened his mouth to ask her just that when he realized something.  “Bodyguard?  One bodyguard?  Not a security detail?”

She gave him a slight smile, one she no doubt reserved for impertinent children or hormone-driven teenage boys.  “I am sufficient.  Do you wish for a demonstration?”

He almost said yes, just to see her in action.  He had a feeling that her fighting skills would be formidable.  Then he decided that to do so would definitely place him in her mind among the teenage boys of her acquaintance, so instead he said, “That isn’t necessary.  Do you have identification?”

She reached into the small pouch attached to the leather belt at her waist and pulled out her ID, coming closer to the desk and handing it to him without a word.  Her movements were fluid and graceful, and he found himself noticing that fact on a level he did not appreciate.  He frowned over her ID.

“Everything seems to be in order,” he said briskly and handed it back to her.  The room stopped descending, and he got up from his chair.  “Come with me.”

Suddenly she was in front of him before he could leave the office, a hand raised to keep him from exiting.  “You will not go first,” she told him, her voice firm while still maintaining its melodious aspect.

He was still blinking at how swiftly she had moved, so it took him a moment to react.  “It’s safe,” he said.  “Security sits right outside this door.”

She considered that a moment, her eyes boring through the steel door as if to see what lay on the other side.  When she looked back at him, she said, “Nonetheless, I shall precede you.”

He gestured with one lean hand.  “Very well.  After you.”

There were no red-suited aliens waiting to gun him down as they left the office; merely a security guard standing at attention.  One who, Straker noted as they passed down the hall, tried very hard not to stare at the commander’s companion.  In truth, the commander would have found it difficult to fault the man.  She was certainly a stunning sight.  Taller than she had seemed from across the room, she stood at nearly his own height of 5'11", although she managed to pack a lot more dramatic impact into her inches than he ever could.  Her dark hair was worn in a long braid down her back, but he could tell by the way small curls had escaped to frame her face that it wasn’t straight.  He had a feeling that if it were unbound, it would lay in sensuous waves to her waist.  She wore a fitted red vest with a high collar over a white blouse with full sleeves that gathered at the wrist.  Her leggings – because he really couldn’t call them slacks – fit her shapely legs snugly and were made from a dark brown fabric that he thought seemed too heavy to be a knit, but was far too flexible to be woven.  He would have to ask his wardrobe supervisor what it was.  Her soft ankle boots made no sound as she walked with him down the concrete corridors on the way to the Control room.

Lt. Ford blinked in shock as Tehb preceded the commander into HQ’s nerve center.  And Straker almost smiled at his open-mouthed stare.  He could certainly sympathize. 

He came over to the lieutenant’s console while his bodyguard interestedly gazed around at the banks of computers.

“Anything yet, Ford?” he asked.

The lieutenant snapped his attention back to his commander.  “No, sir.  Nothing so far.”

Straker sighed.  He could have used the diversion of a field report at the moment.  He wasn’t very pleased to be so aware of the woman who stood next to him.  What had Jackson been thinking?

“Right.  I’ll be in my office.  Inform me as soon as they radio in.”

“Yes, sir.”

Tehb followed him to his office, then went in ahead of him as he gestured for her to do.  He didn’t want another scene at this doorway; he had a feeling that his Control room staff would find it far too humorous for his liking.

He was watching her face closely, more closely than perhaps was wise, so he caught her fleeting smile at the sight of the animated mural behind his desk.  Her entire face lit up for an instant, her unusual eyes shimmering as her lips curved into a smile that could stop a man’s heart at ten paces.  Then it was gone, and her impassive gaze tracked around the office as he went to sit behind his desk.  She wandered closer to the large abstract painting on the wall behind the conference table before turning to give him a look.

“Questions?” he asked quietly, relaxing now that he was in a familiar setting.  It was unnerving to realize how much her unexpected presence had unsettled him.  He’d been expecting a security detail, not a . . . what?  Amazon warrior was the closest he could come up with on such short notice.  Give him time, he thought.  Eventually he would find the right description for her, the one that said it all.

“If it is not intrusive,” she said in her deep voice. 

He nearly smiled, knowing that Jackson had no doubt prepared her carefully for her difficult client.  “Please.  Go ahead.”  He wanted to know what she was thinking.

“You have a taste for beauty,” she said, indicating the mural behind his head with a nod.  “And a taste for ugliness.”  She gave the large painting a dark glance.  “It seems a contradiction.”

Now he did smile, sitting back and steepling his fingers.  “Actually, the ugliness you refer to is merely a depiction of chaos with all its random factors.  I find the painting stimulates me to try and find order in that chaos.  In short, it helps me think.”

She gave it another glance, as if doubting its ability to do any such thing, but she merely said, “Thank you for explaining.”

“Perhaps you’ll explain something for me,” he said when it seemed as though she was done speaking.

“Perhaps,” she agreed archly.

His grin flashed momentarily.  “Your name.  I’ve never heard of it before.  What does it mean?”

Her grey eyes held a fugitive glimmer of silver as she answered.  “It means: one who shadows or travels close beside another.”

Straker’s brow lifted.  “That is a very fitting job description.  Did you choose it?”

“No.  It was chosen for me.”

He almost asked who had chosen it for her, but he could tell by the set of her lips that she had no intention of telling him.  He wondered where Jackson had found such an intriguing bodyguard?  She had to be military, or she would never have gotten clearance for an assignment this important.  But although she stood straight and tall, she didn’t have the rigidity that came with military training.  Instead, she stood with all the regality of a queen. 

And he really had to stop staring at her.

He turned to the reports that he had neglected earlier and began reading.  As he studied and initialed them, he found that in some ways it was as though he was alone in the office.  Unlike most women of his acquaintance, she neither fidgeted nor chattered, so it was possible to almost forget that she was there.  But in other ways – ways that he hadn’t contended with for more years than he wanted to remember – he was intensely aware of her.  And although he did not doubt that she was quite an accomplished bodyguard, he could not help wishing that Jackson had chosen someone else for the position.  Someone less . . . fascinating.

The sky is not the limit; nor are the stars.
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Re: The Bodyguard by Denise
Reply #2 - Feb 19th, 2012 at 5:04am
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Chapter 3

At 2200, he called it a night.  His bodyguard had remained silent and watchful throughout the day, seemingly tireless.  And although both Col. Foster and Col. Lake had noticed her standing near the conference table when they’d come into his office, they both knew him well enough not to comment on her presence.

Or perhaps they’d been warned not to make a big deal about it.  He wouldn’t put it past Alec to be behind the entire scheme.  His second-in-command had been badgering him for months about increasing his personal security.  And wasn’t it interesting that now that Straker had, Alec was nowhere in sight? 

Coincidence?  The commander didn’t think so.

“Do you drive?” he asked her as he held one of the main studio doors open for her. 

She passed out onto the parking lot, but turned to say, “I can do whatever is required of me.  However, I am not usually called upon to do much driving.”

“I see.  In that case, perhaps you’ll allow me to do the driving.”  So saying, he gestured for her to get into the passenger seat as the doors of his car slowly lifted.

She got in, but said as he hit the button to close the doors, “Oh.  You meant driving a vehicle.  I misunderstood you.  No, I have not driven a vehicle.  Do you wish me to learn?”

He wanted to ask her to explain what she had driven, if it wasn’t a vehicle.  But the very matter-of-factness in her tone made him unsure he wanted to know the answer.  He had a feeling it would be something outrageous.  “No.  That’s not necessary.  I prefer to drive myself.”

In the close confines of the car, she seemed even lovelier than he already thought her.  Her face drew his attention away from the road time and again.  She was not classically beautiful, but her features – not particularly extraordinary by themselves – added up to a uniquely attractive whole. From her high cheekbones to her wide grey eyes to her delicate olive skin, she had an effect on him that he couldn’t seem to dampen to any great degree.  No matter what he tried.  Even calculating the values for the quasimomentum of electrons in a crystal lattice didn’t help. 

He began to seriously wonder how much sleep he was going to get tonight. 

This close, he could smell the perfume she wore, a subtle scent that brought to mind wooded hills and crystal clear waterfalls.  He could almost envision such a place if he closed his eyes.  But somebody had to drive, so he kept them open.

“How is it that you never learned to drive?” he asked, more for self-preservation than out of an actual curiosity.

“It has not been a skill that was needed before now,” she answered.  “But perhaps I should acquire it.  That way, I can assist you in an emergency situation.”  She watched his hands on the wheel for several moments.  “It does not look very difficult.”

“It isn’t,” he assured her.  “If you like, I would be happy to help you learn.”

Those unusual eyes gazed at his profile in surprise.  He held his breath as she measured him, and he supposed that she was wondering why he was offering.  That was okay, because he was wondering too.  Perhaps he had gone mad.  Maybe the knock on his head from Clark’s rough handling earlier today had caused temporary insanity.  Maybe . . .

“Thank you,” she said, her voice softer and deeper than he had yet heard it.

As his system went into overdrive at the sound, he pulled into the drive and gratefully turned off the car.  He sighed with relief once he was out in the fresh night air, and walked with her to the front door.  Once he’d unlocked it, he allowed her to enter before him, then he reset the security as she watched.

“I have a spare bedroom down that hallway,” he told her as he set his briefcase near the couch.

“That will not be necessary,” she said calmly.

He frowned.  “You’re not required to stay up all night, Tehb,” he said irritably.  One of us should get some sleep, he thought.  “That’s not part of your duties.”

She lifted a brow at him, clearly willing to debate just what her duties entailed.  But she only said, equally calmly, “I shall watch over you while you rest.”

“You most definitely will not!” he said firmly, trying to keep his heart from racing at the mere idea.

“Very well.”

Straker frowned at her, mistrusting her easy compliance.

But she merely gazed back at him impassively.

“The spare bedroom is there if you want it,” he said before retreating to his own bedroom.  He didn’t hear her moving around as he prepared for bed, nor when he slid beneath the blankets.  And although his ears strained to their fullest, he could not hear whether she had gone down the hall to the other bedroom or curled up on the couch in the living room.  And it bothered him that he couldn’t hear her.  It shouldn’t have.  He should have been pleased that she knew how to move about quietly.  But since he could still feel her there, in spite of her silence, he wished he knew what she was doing.

It was over an hour later that exhaustion finally overcame him and he slept.  And somewhat later still when she crept into his room to stand near the corner, keeping vigil.

When the phone rang, he reached for it before his eyes were even opened.  “Straker.”

It was Col. Lake, informing him that the Fairfield Tracking station had been destroyed after finding an intruder on their grounds.  Mr. Clark.

The commander didn’t really even hear everything she said, because his eyes had finally opened, and he saw his bodyguard standing in the corner near the door.  He glared at her, but she only gazed calmly back at him.  He knew his glare could make a man blanch, so it angered him that she seemed impervious to it.  He began to think that either he had lost his touch or she was used to being glared at by her employer.  And that thought made him wonder who she had worked for before him – which was none of his business, damn it!

He cut the colonel off mid-sentence and, hanging up the phone, turned to Tehb.  “I need to go in to HQ.  Please wait for me in the living room while I dress.”

If his words were polite, his tone was not.  But she merely gave him a nod and slipped silently out of the room.  As he quickly dressed, he determined to speak to Jackson first thing in the morning.

After conferring with Captain Lauritzen in his HQ office, Straker sent him to rendezvous with Skydiver 3 and keep it safe from attack, since it was second on the aliens’ list of ultimatums.  Once the captain left, Col. Foster and Col. Lake tried to get their commander to return home for the remainder of the night.  But it was already after 0430, and he knew he wouldn’t get back to sleep if he did return home.  How could he, knowing that as soon as he was out, his bodyguard would come in to stand guard over him again?

Irritably, he dismissed them and turned to the written report of what had occurred at the tracking station.  If he could only figure out how one unarmed man had managed to blow up an entire facility, perhaps he wouldn’t be so worried about the rest of the aliens’ threats.  He reached for his coffee, only to find the cup empty.  But before he could get up to refill it, his bodyguard had come out of her corner and done it for him.

“Thank you.”  He was still angry with her for disobeying his orders.  And embarrassed that she had watched him sleeping.  Especially since he’d been dreaming about her.  He seriously hoped he hadn’t talked in his sleep.  But somehow, he didn’t feel as though he could ask her.

In many ways, she was an ideal bodyguard.  She was both silent and still, knowing how to blend into the woodwork, so that he was only peripherally aware of her in the room with him.  Except on a purely physical level, but he could hardly blame her for that.  She was doing nothing to entice him, after all.  It was his problem that he found her so alluring – not hers.  He hadn’t yet seen her in action during a crisis, but he was certain that her reflexes were excellent.  Bodies didn’t get as toned as hers was on their own.

He appreciated Dr. Jackson’s efforts to give him security that he didn’t find intrusive.  It was surprising to him that the doctor had made the effort to work with his particular idiosyncracies and find a way around them.  And it showed a consideration for his feelings that he hadn’t known Jackson possessed. 

However, he refused to be watched over while he slept.  That was carrying security just a bit too far.  So when Lt. Johnson informed him that Jackson had arrived and was in his office in the Medical Centre, Straker got up from behind his desk and headed over there, his silent bodyguard keeping up with his long strides without difficulty.

When they entered the Medical Centre, Dr. Jackson looked up from his microscope and blinked at the sight of Tehb.  He came around the worktable and gave her a small bow before turning to the commander.

“How may I help you, Commander Straker?” he asked in a tone just this side of cordial.

“I’d like for you to tell me the specific duties you’ve outlined for my bodyguard.”

“Duties?”  The doctor glanced from Straker’s unyielding face to Tehb’s impassive one.

Straker’s features hardened further.  “Yes.  As in, what she is required to do on my behalf to protect me.”

Jackson was clearly at a loss as to what the commander wanted.  He turned to her.  “Tehb?” he asked cautiously.  “What duty is Commander Straker referring to?”

She said, “I have sworn to protect the commander to the best of my power, dying in his place if necessary to ensure his continued survival.”

“What?” Strake asked, startled out of his anger by her calm statement.

She met his gaze, her eyes shimmering intensely silver for a moment before returning to their normal grey.  “I will do all in my power to ensure that he remains safe, especially when he is at his most vulnerable.”

As he stared into those unusual eyes, he finally understood something profound.  This wasn’t a job to her.  The knowledge humbled him, even as it terrified him.  She was willing to give her life for him.  He didn’t know if he could change her mind about that, but he was determined to try.  But not here.

“Thank you, Doctor,” he said almost automatically as he turned to leave.

Jackson’s brows raised ironically.  “Certainly, Commander.”  He watched them leave the Medical Centre without another word, and pondered for a long time several possible meanings for the visit.

The sky is not the limit; nor are the stars.
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Re: The Bodyguard by Denise
Reply #3 - Feb 19th, 2012 at 5:10am
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Chapter 4

Back in his office, the commander set out breakfast for them both, gesturing for her to be seated at the conference table at his left.

Tehb ate the toast and cantaloupe slices as if they meant nothing to her.  Straker marveled at her detachment and wondered how she could look so fresh after a night of no sleep?  He waited until he had finished his meal and poured a second cup of coffee before he spoke.

“Tehb,” he said quietly.  “Why did you take this job?”

She looked at him in surprise as she finished wiping her hands on the napkin.  “I wished to assist you,” she said, as if that should have been obvious.

“I’m grateful,” he told her.  “But I don’t want you to put your life on the line for me.  I assure you, I’m not worth it.”

She seemed to consider his words for a moment.  Then she said, “It is never easy to see ourselves as others see us.  You do not find your life worth saving over mine.  That is noble.  However, I do not value my life over yours.  You may call it nobility, if you will.”

He caught the odd inflection in her deep voice and found himself asking her, “What would you call it, Tehb?”

Her eyes held his for a long moment, then she looked down at her hands.  “Lyubov.”

He felt at the cusp of finally understanding her, and his heart beat faster.  “And what does that mean in English?” 

She shook her head, refusing to answer, still looking down at her hands.

He reached over and laid his hand over hers.  “Tehb?”

She met his eyes at last, hers shimmering with silver.  “Love,” she said softly.

He searched her face for a long time.  Then he said, “I don’t understand.  You’re saying you took this job because you loved me.  But you didn’t even know me.  Did you know me, Tehb?  Because I know I’ve never met you before yesterday.  I would not have forgotten you.”

“No, we did not meet before,” she admitted.  “But I have watched you for years.  I have witnessed your courage, your valor, your honor.  I was drawn to you from the first, but in the end I knew that I loved you.  So when the request was made for a bodyguard for you, I accepted, knowing that no one would care for your safety as well as one who truly valued your life above all others.”

He shook his head, unbearably saddened by her admission.  “Tehb, what you saw, what you watched, wasn’t me.  They were just films, made up stories about make believe people.  None of those movies were about the real me.  They were just parts that I played.  They weren’t real.”

She stood and cleared their plates in silence, then returned to her favorite spot near the corner.  She did not look at him, nor say another word.

He didn’t know what he could say to her.  If she finally understood that there was a difference between who he was onscreen and who he was at SHADO, then she would be feeling cheated.  And probably wishing she had never taken this job.  But if she didn’t get it, if she couldn’t accept that he was any different from how she had seen him in the movies, then it was even worse.  Because then there was nothing he could do to help her.

He knew that delusions could be very real to those suffering from them.  Years of being an executive producer at a film studio had shown him every kind of fanatical obsession and delusion out there.  He’d seen it all, and Miss Ealand had the files to prove it.  But this . . . God!  This magnificent woman – delusional?  It made him ill to even consider it. 

He needed to talk to Jackson again, find out more about her.  Where she’d come from.  What could be done for her.  But he needed to talk to the doctor alone, without her in tow.

“Tehb,” he said quietly.  “You’re welcome to take a break and get some rest.  I won’t be leaving this office all morning, so now would probably be the best time for you to catch up on the sleep you missed last night.”

“Thank you.  I am not tired,” she said calmly.

He sighed.  Well, she should be.  He certainly was!

In the end, he let her accompany him.  The doctor was surprised to see them back in his office, but accepted Straker’s explanation that he had some questions about the destruction of Skydiver 3 that had just occurred.

“Do you have anything for a size A problem – deluxe version?” the commander asked. 

Later, after they had discussed the problem and come up with a possible explanation (even though Jackson’s theory was a bit out there), Straker turned to his bodyguard and said, “What I need to confer with Jackson about is highly classified.  Will you please wait outside until we’re finished?”

She regarded him impassively for a moment, weighing his words.  Then she said, “As you wish.”

Only after the door slid closed behind her did Straker let out his breath.  He turned to the doctor and said, “Listen, Jackson.  I need to see Tehb’s psych evaluation.  Can you get it for me?”

The doctor pursed his lips and scratched his head a moment before answering.  “Commander, I don’t have a psychological evaluation for Tehb.  What worries you about her?  Perhaps I can help.”

“What do you mean, you don’t have a psych evaluation?” Straker demanded.  “Every employee gets one before they start work here.  Then they’re tested again every three months after that.  You had to run tests on her, Jackson!  I just want to see the results.  Please.”

The doctor shook his head.  “I am sorry, Commander.  I did not give Tehb any tests before hiring her to be your bodyguard.  She came so highly recommended that I felt it would be offensive to question her capabilities.”

Straker stared at him in shock.  “You didn’t test her at all?  What could you possibly have been thinking, Doctor?”

Jackson sighed.  “You are not an easy candidate to hire security for, Commander.  Surely you realize that?  When every option for your safety had been rejected for one reason or another, I decided to appeal to a higher power for help.  When we were sent Tehb, I was grateful – very grateful that my request had been heeded.  I did not want to appear suspicious of the gift by running tests on her.”

“What higher power?” the commander challenged, disturbed that the doctor had circumvented every safety procedure SHADO had in place to ensure the fitness of its staff.

“Odin,” Dr. Jackson said quietly.

Straker gaped at him. 

Jackson sighed.  “Commander, I am aware that you are not a religious man.  But some of us are.  And when your safety could not be assured by any means I could come up with, I was desperate enough to appeal to the God of my fathers, who answers all sincere prayers.  I asked for a bodyguard that you would not find objectionable.”

“And He sent you Tehb,” Straker said, trying to get his brain around the concept.

“Yes.  She is one of His own,” the doctor said with a certain amount of awe in his voice.  “One of His handmaidens.  You should feel honored that He sent you someone that special, Commander.”

“A Valkyrie,” Straker said, wanting to be certain he was hearing the doctor right.  “You’re saying that Tehb is a Valkyrie.”


“But I thought that they were only used to bring fallen heroes to Valhalla.  Do I have that right?”

“Yes,” the doctor agreed.  “That is correct.  But sometimes a Valkyrie will find a warrior that she admires.  When that happens, she will keep him from dying, protecting him against all of his enemies.  I think that Tehb might think about you that way.  She certainly sounded devoted when she said earlier that she would give her life for you.”

Straker frowned at him.  “I don’t want her to give her life for me!” he said, somewhat overwhelmed by a situation far beyond his normal existence.  Good God!  Weren’t aliens enough of the supernatural for anyone to have to deal with in their lifetime?  Why would anyone want to add gods and goddesses into the mix?

“What do you want, Commander?” the doctor asked him.

“I want . . .”  Her.  When it came down to it, he realized that what he wanted was her.  And if she wasn’t delusional after all, and he hadn’t managed to offend her to the point where she hated his guts – then maybe he might be able to fix things between them. 

Maybe.  He couldn’t be sure.  After all, he wasn’t used to dealing with goddesses.  But surely they couldn’t be that much harder to handle than actresses, could they?

The sky is not the limit; nor are the stars.
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Straker, somehow it's
always about you.

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Location: Fulton, MO
Re: The Bodyguard by Denise
Reply #4 - Feb 19th, 2012 at 5:12am
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Chapter 5

He wanted to speak to her immediately, but did not get the chance for a while.  Col. Lake found information about a murdered police officer that pointed to the possible identity of another ‘psychobomb,’ as Jackson had called it.  He sent her and Col. Foster to locate the woman in question.  Finally, they might have a lead in this bizarre case.

Straker ran a hand across his eyes after they left his office.  He was exhausted.  He considered taking a short nap in his small room here at HQ, but didn’t want to have to fight with his bodyguard about her idea of keeping watch over him.  He glanced at her – and froze.  Was that . . . wings?  He blinked and they were gone.  He drank the rest of his coffee and sighed.  He really needed sleep.  He was starting to hallucinate.

“You should rest,” she said quietly. 

They were the first words she’d said in hours, and he was startled out of his half-doze by them.  “Yes, I know,” he agreed wearily.  “But I really don’t want to be watched while I sleep.  Will you give me that privacy, Tehb?”

She gazed at him for a long moment, then said, “You make it harder for me to adequately serve you if I cannot protect you while you are at your most vulnerable.  But it shall be as you wish.  You need your rest.”

“Thank you.”

She insisted on searching his room before she would leave him, and he allowed it without comment, knowing that she was only trying to do her job.  Her job that wasn’t a job.  He was so bewildered by everything he’d learned from the doctor that he knew it would take some time for him to sort it all out. 

Maybe once his mind was clearer – after he had slept.  He watched her move around the room, checking everything thoroughly.  Once or twice he thought he saw wings trailing behind her, shimmering translucent wings nearly as tall as she was.  But when he blinked, they disappeared. 

Once she was confident that his room held no hidden dangers, she said, “I shall be just outside if you need me.  You have only to call for me, and I shall come.”  At that, she left the room, taking up her post outside his door.

And he stood staring after her, wondering if he would be able to get to sleep after all.  Because he knew he’d dream of her – and what if he murmured her name in his sleep?

Straker woke a few hours later, feeling much more alert.  Knowing that she was probably worried about him, he opened the door and let her in while he went into the tiny bathroom to freshen up. 

They returned to his office to find Col. Lake on the point of coming to look for him.  Their suspect, a Linda Simmons, had apparently killed her boss in a very violent manner.  The colonel was nearly frantic, because Foster had been sent to make contact with her at her apartment and couldn’t be reached on his phone.

Straker reassured her that the colonel knew how to handle himself.  She left the office calmer, but the commander wasn’t so confident.  Foster was well-trained and on the alert, but Straker knew that even then, it was possible to be blindsided by a beautiful woman.  Hadn’t he been himself?

He looked at his bodyguard.  She was watching him and met his gaze calmly.  And damn it!  Those were wings behind her!

“Tehb, where did those wings come from?”

She smiled slightly – that smile that made his heart stutter – and said, “They have always been there.”

He frowned.  “But I didn’t see them before.”

“You did not believe before.”

He was surprised.  “I can see them because I believe in you?”

She nodded.  “Believing is seeing.  This is a maxim.”

He sat back in his chair.  “We usually say ‘seeing is believing’.”

Tehb looked quizzical.  “But surely belief is not necessary once you have seen?”

His brow lifted.  “You may be right,” he conceded.  “Tehb, I am sorry that I didn’t understand when you tried to explain yourself to me.”

“You thought I was a zealot.”

He grimaced.  “You see, I’ve dealt with them before.”

She gave him a look.  “Do I seem like one to you?”

“No.”  He got up and came over to where she stood.  “No, you do not.  But I didn’t know of any other way you could have watched me.  So I misunderstood.”

“I have watched you for years,” she said, her deep voice like a caress.  “You have faced so many hard decisions with such courage, such determination.  Like earlier today, when you had to order that submarine to submerge with a man outside.  For the good of the many.  For the survival of your world.  How could I not find that admirable?  How could I not be drawn to you?”

He reached out and lightly touched her cheek, his eyes on hers.  “I didn’t know anyone was watching,” he said huskily.

Her smile widened, turning her eyes silver.  “That only makes you more amazing.”

“You’re the one who’s amazing,” he said, his heart hammering in his chest.  And he kissed her.

He remembered vaguely – while his entire body suddenly exploded with sensation – that he had read once that it was fatal to kiss a goddess, because once having done so, you would pine for her forever and waste away with wanting her.  And goddesses were fickle creatures and would not stay long in one place.

Straker broke the kiss and met her incredible eyes.  “Tehb,” he whispered breathlessly.  “Stay with me.”

Her arms tightened around his neck.  “As you wish, noble warrior.”

But he shook his head.  “Not as I wish,” he said.  “As you wish.  Do you wish it, Tehb?”

“With all my being,” she answered, pressing her lithe body to his.

“Tehb,” he murmured after a while.  “Where is that place – the one with the trees and the waterfalls that I can almost see when I hold you?”

“That is my home,” she said between kisses.  “Would you like to go there?”

He met her eyes in surprise.  “Now?”

She chuckled, and it resonated throughout his body.  “Most assuredly now.  We would be quite alone there.”

“I have this crisis that I need to take care of first . . .”

“Where I live is outside time,” she assured him.  “No one will know we ever left.”

“Really?” he asked in delight.

She threw back her head and laughed, holding him tightly as her wings came around them . . .

. . . and the office was suddenly empty but for the echo of her laughter.

Tehb watched him as he slept, admiring his face – relaxed now as it seldom was when awake, his long blonde lashes soft against his cheeks.  He had tried valiantly not to sleep, but she had been determined to show him the abundant merits of having a valkyrie for a lover and had eventually tired him.  He had displayed incredible stamina for a mortal, likewise showing her the merits of having a powerful warrior as her lover. Her heart thrilled as she remembered his lean strength as they had rolled on the grass together.  He had murmured the loveliest words to her, making her feel more alive than she had ever felt before.  And she marveled that he had such power over her – power to make her weak with longing or wild with passion.

When Straker woke, the first thing he heard was the waterfall thundering down the cliff nearby.  And the first thing he saw was Tehb, smiling at him.

“Hello,” he murmured, bringing his hand up to run it through her beautiful dark hair.  Unbound, it truly did reach her waist, and he had been driven to try and tell her how the sight of it loose had affected him.  But words couldn’t begin to describe what his heart had felt, and eventually he had fallen silent, showing her instead.

“Hello,” she said, her deep voice languid and warm in the perpetual sunlight of this place.  He noticed her wings beating quietly back and forth, expressing her satisfaction as surely as her face.  He was fairly sure that at least once during their lovemaking they had been airborne, but his memories of it all were still rather jumbled and chaotic.  That was alright.  Sooner or later, he would sort them all out.

“Should we get back to SHADO?” he asked her, his thoughts slowly returning to the problem they had yet to solve there.

“If you wish,” she said, standing up in one lithe movement and stretching like a cat.

Straker got to his feet, his eyes darkening with pleasure as he admired her nakedness.  “Tehb,” he said.  “Is there really no record of time passing here?”

“None,” she assured him, heading to where her pile of clothing lay on the grass.

But he stopped her with a hand on her arm, bringing her into his embrace.  Huskily he said, “Then there’s no hurry, is there?”

She grinned, running her hands up his back as she said, “None at all, my warrior.”

After Col. Lake stormed out of his office later, infuriated by his refusal to be more concerned about Paul’s actions in bringing Miss Simmons to HQ, Straker turned to his bodyguard.

“Tehb,” he said quietly.  “Am I being a fool?”

“You need to face your enemy’s fire,” she answered calmly.  “Else how will you quench it?”

He smiled.  “Yes.  That’s it exactly.  Thank you for understanding.”

She gave a soft chuckle.  “You are not difficult to understand, Edward.”

He looked up in surprise.  “I’m not?”  He wasn’t sure that was a good thing.

But her smile reassured him.  “You will always do that which is the best for your people.  Whatever it is.  And whatever it asks of you.  Indeed, you are quite easy to comprehend.”

He relaxed in his chair, content with her assessment.  “And you’ll have my back?”

She grinned, her wings flexing once in a sort of salute.  “Always.”

“This is Commander Straker to all Mobiles and search aircraft.  It is imperative – repeat, imperative – that the UFO be located as soon as possible.”  He got off the microphone at radar, giving Col. Foster a stern glance as he saw that he had entered the Control room. 

“Commander.”  Foster came over to him as he was walking away.  “I can’t explain why I did it,” he said.  “I believe she’s innocent.  But to bring her back here . . .”

“Forget it, Paul,” Straker said, sympathizing with the turmoil the colonel was dealing with.  Women could mess you up a lot faster than any alien.  “In the end, it was my decision.”

Just then, a SHADO operative fell into the Control room.  As Straker looked up, he saw Miss Simmons throw off another as she headed toward them.  Foster went after her, and was tossed aside, knocking over his commander in the process.

Tehb’s wings fluttered, but she could see that the commander was unharmed as he got to his feet.  The real concern was the woman who even now was tearing the metal plate off of the control box.

“Miss Simmons!” Straker yelled, trying to get through to her.

She yanked the two main leads of the inside panel, effectively cutting power to HQ.  Every computer terminal in the Control room fell silent as the emergency lights came on.

The commander tried again to reach her.  “You gave us an ultimatum.”

At that, she turned and said, “Surrender . . . surrender SHADO.”

He shook his head.  “You know that we can never do that.”

“You have no alternative,” she informed them, her voice devoid of any emotion.

Paul was gazing at her, wondering how she could possibly be the same girl he’d spent the afternoon with, when he suddenly realized.  “High voltage!” he said to Straker.  “That’s the trigger!”

Straker thought quickly, then said, “The UFO that controls you has been destroyed.  Miss Simmons!  If you touch those cables . . . !”

She was almost human for a moment as she hesitated.  Then the programming took over once more, and she said, “Surrender!”

Straker went for her, hoping to reach her before she could annihilate them all. 

But she was too quick, grabbing the ends of the leads in her hands.  But instead of causing a massive explosion, she only managed to electrocute herself.  She cried out, then fell to the floor as the leads let off sparks.

“Emergency circuits!” Straker demanded, and normal lighting resumed.

“Linda!” Foster cried, going to her and holding her lifeless body in his arms.

When they heard the news from Sky 4 just then that the UFO had been destroyed, Col. Lake asked the commander, “How did you know Sky 4 had got that UFO?”

“I didn’t,” he said, then headed out of the Control room, Tehb following close behind him.

When they reached his office, he sat down wearily, his head in his hands.

She brought him a cup of coffee, and he took it, drinking it down in one gulp.

“Thanks,” he said.

“You did well,” she told him.

He grinned weakly.  “So did you.”

She shrugged.  “I could not allow her to destroy you.”

He shook his head at her.  Now who was easy to figure out?  “What did you do?” he asked, somewhat curious now that it was all over.

“She was trying to draw on the power of the universe,” she explained.  “I stopped her from receiving any.”

He blinked at her for a moment.  “Oh.  Of course.”  Jackson had been right.  The psychobombs had truly been able to harness the power of the universe, using it destructively on behalf of the aliens.

How grateful he was that Jackson had also been right about what he needed in the area of personal security.  His bodyguard was perfect – in oh, so many ways!

“Shall we call it a day?” he asked as he got to his feet.

“Indeed, it has been a full one,” she agreed, walking out of the office with him.

As they left the main studio building, heading for his car, she told him firmly, “I shall watch over you as you sleep, Edward.  You will not keep me from your bedroom.”

He smiled sweetly at her.  “I wouldn’t dream of doing so, Tehb.”

The sky is not the limit; nor are the stars.
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