Part Two: Heartstrong
Chapter Twelve: Nemesis

"Jason, slow down!"
Copper sent her captor a frightened look, struggling to loosen the bonds on her wrists as she attempted to get a steadying grip on the seat. "Slow down! You can hardly see where we're'll kill us both!"
"I won't let them take you away from me." Jason spoke in dark tones, and Copper saw an obstinate look flash across his face. "They don't understand...they need to leave us alone!"
"Please, Jason!" Tears spilled down Copper's cheeks as she made one last desperate attempt to free herself. "I told you I wouldn't leave you - I won't run away. This is dangerous! We're here in Las Vegas, isn't that what you wanted? We're well away from the gas station now! Can't we stop? Please?"
Jason did not answer her for a moment, then, curtly, he shook his head, indicating his mirror.
"Look." He snapped. "We're not alone."
"What?" Despite herself Copper turned to stare in the fogged up wing-mirror, biting her lip as she made out the outline of a car in the misty reflection. " you think that's...I mean..."
"I don't care who it is, only that they're following us." Jason said grimly. "And have been since the intersection! Dammit, I'm gonna lose em or mash 'em up on the curb in the process!"
He screeched around a tight bend, pulling the car onto a side road and making no attempt to slow his pace. Copper swallowed hard, feeling sick.
"You have to slow down." She begged again. "What if you crash?"
"I won't crash." Jason told her bluntly. "Shut up. I'm concentrating."
Copper did as she was bidden, casting her glance to the wing mirror once again. The outline of the car seemed further away now, and her heart skipped a beat. Was the car just an innocent resident of the busy city, whose presence had inadvertently excited Jason's paranoia? Or could it really be someone trying to come to her rescue?
"But they have to stop this." She murmured, blinking back her tears. "I'm frightened...someone is going to get hurt!"
Jason screeched around another bend at top speed, ramming his foot down hard on the accelerator as he registered another car approaching them from the other side of a roundabout. This time there was no mistaking a squad car, for as soon as they came into view the sirens began wailing, and Copper could see the glint of flashing blue lights as the vehicle joined the chase. She took a deep breath, trying to steady her heart.
"They have to stop this." She repeated, out loud this time. "It's silly and dangerous!"
"Don't worry, my love. They won't catch us. I promise." Jason did not take his eyes off the road, but his tone was once more gentle. "I said we'd always be together and we will be. I'm not going to slow down. I've a full tank of gas. So we can't stop in Vegas for the wedding - we'll have to go south and head for Mexico. There they can't stop us being together."
"Mexico is so far away." Copper protested weakly. "Jason, I don't feel very good. Please can we slow down?"
"I'm sorry, my darling, but you have to see that's not an option." Jason shook his head impatiently. "It will be over soon. I promise."
Copper closed her eyes, inwardly saying a prayer for help. In the short time she had been in Jason's company, she had learnt that when his mind was made up, it was made up, and she would just have to hang on and hope for the best.
A stream of epithets from her captor's direction made her open her eyes, and she soon realised the reason behind them. The single trailing car had been joined by not one but several squad cars, each whirring lights and sounding sirens as other vehicles hurried to get out of the way. At a crossroads ahead Jason screeched the car through a red light to avoid the waiting officers, and Copper was aware of a yell somewhere behind them as the patrol car joined the pursuit. Fear coursed once more through her veins.
"What if they shoot at us?" She whispered. "I've seen them do that on the chases like this. Please, Jason...I'm scared!"
"They shoot at us, I'll damn well shoot the whole lot of them dead." Jason said darkly, his eyes flashing with anger. "They don't know what they're messing with."
Copper's breath caught in her throat.
"But you promised not to hurt anyone!" She pleaded. "You can't!"
"I said that if anyone tried to get in our way, then I would kill them. You know that." Jason responded quietly. "Don't sound so upset, my darling. I'm doing this for you. It isn't your fault."
They swerved around another impossibly tight corner at that point and Copper felt her nausea returning. Turning her attention back to the speeding landscape, she found herself wondering how this would end. Her mind flitted to Aaron and she bit her lip.
"Will I ever see you again?" She whispered. "Or is it too late?"
A yell from her companion jerked her gaze back to the road ahead and she let out a shriek as the wall of a derelict casino loomed large in front of them.
"Jason, you have to slow down!" She cried. "We're gonna hit it!"
Jason rammed his foot down on the break, turning the steering wheel in a frantic attempt to bypass the casino, but at that moment one of the vehicle's abused tires gave up the ghost. With an ear-splitting bang it blew out, sending the car careering out of control. Copper shrieked again, screwing up her eyes as the wall of the casino seemed to rush upon them. Then there was the sound of crunching metal, and the world went dark around her.

As Raymond pulled his car to a halt, Aaron was already struggling with the door handle, his grey eyes anxious as he took in the scene in front of him. Officers were already beginning to swarm around the crashed wreck of Jason's vehicle, and with one frantic tug Aaron managed to loose the catch, hurrying out into the rain before anyone could stop him.
"Aaron! He has a gun!" Nancy shrieked, but Aaron took no notice. His mind was on one thing - his fiancee and whether or not she had been in the vehicle when it had collided with the old casino. Crumbling blocks had tumbled down onto the dashboard, shattering the windscreen and sending shards of glass everywhere. The front had been crumpled on impact, and a thin wisp of smoke curled out from under the bonnet. Aside from the odd siren, the scene seemed deathly quiet, oddly still after the chaos of a few moments before.
"Copper." Slowly Aaron stumbled towards the car, but a stocky police officer blocked his way.
"It might not be safe, sir." He said firmly. "Stay back."
"But my fiancee might be in that car!" Aaron protested, struggling against the officer's grip. "I have to..."
"Stay here, sir." The officer shook his head, his hold firm. "When we know if it's safe, then you can go. Not now."
Raymond pushed through the uniformed men, drawing his gun from it's holster and approaching the vehicle with caution. All was quiet, however, and slowly he made his way right up to the driver's door of the battered car. What he saw made him swear under his breath, then beckon to the officers to join him.
"He won't give us any more trouble." He said quietly, one eye to the anxious Aaron. "Better get in touch with forensics. We're gonna need an ambulance, too."
"What about the girl? Is she in there too?" One officer asked.
"On that evidence, I hope not." Raymond gestured grimly to the car. "Someone make sure the Pelligrini boy isn't let anywhere near the car till we know what's what, okay? After all..."
He froze, a frown touching his lips. "Did you hear something?"
The officer paused, listening. He shook his head.
"What are we listening for?" He asked.
"It sounded like..."
Raymond trailed off, hurrying round to the other side of the car and, with some force, pulling the door open.
"I think she's alive!" he reported. "Get a damn ambulance!"
Troubled by the sight of blood, he put his finger to Copper's neck, feeling for a life-beat. To begin with he found nothing, but then he found it, faint but reassuringly stable. At his touch, Copper's eyes fluttered open.
"I heard you call for help." Raymond told her gently. "Don't try to move. We'll have you out of there as soon as we can."
Copper's brown eyes registered confusion, and she made no attempt to speak.
At that moment, Aaron managed to break free of the officer's stern grip, charging towards Raymond and the wrecked vehicle. "Copper!"
"I thought I told you to keep out of it." Raymond told him sharply. "This is no place for you!"
"Aaron?" A faint voice came from the car, and Aaron was at the agent's side in an instant, ignoring the reproach in his desperation to reach his fiancee. He swore softly at the sight of the blood, then, steeling himself, he touched her cheek gently, casting her a smile.
"Hi." He said softly. "You doing okay in there?"
Copper managed a faint smile.
"Kinda carsick." She whispered. "I...I want to get out of here."
She frowned. "But Jason? He said he...he'd kill me if..."
"Jason won't be hurting you, Miss Santiago." Raymond cut her off, shaking his head. "He's taken care of."
He paused, then, "I think it better that you stay where you are until the ambulance arrives. You've been in a nasty crash, and we don't know what kind of injuries you might have."
"I...I feel upside-down." Copper moistened her lips.
"Do you remember what happened?" Aaron asked quietly. Copper nodded.
"We...we hit something." She shivered. "Fast. I...I thought I was dead."
"Well, you're not." Aaron ran his finger across her hand, pausing at her engagement ring. "Thank God."
He frowned. "But you're tied...Agent Nicholson, can't you at least untie her hands?"
"With pleasure." The agent nodded, deftly releasing the bonds. Copper gingerly moved her hands down from their uncomfortable position, rubbing her wrists clumsily. As she did so she caught sight of the driver seat and she let out a horrified cry.
"Shh..." Aaron gripped her hands tightly. "It's okay, Copper. It's over."
" he dead?" Copper's face was ashen. " that what you meant, when you said...that he wouldn't b...bother me now?"
"I'm afraid he died on impact, Miss." Raymond said gravely. "And here, thank goodness, is the ambulance. Mr Pelligrini, I suggest you go back to my car and wait with your sister. We'll have enough getting Miss Santiago out of here safely."
"Nancy's here?" Copper asked faintly.
"She came to keep an eye on me." Aaron agreed. He squeezed his fiancee's hand gently. "Don't fret, Copper. It will all be fine, I promise, and I won't be far away."
With some reluctance he stepped away from the scene as the medics hurried to help his fiancee. He felt a hand on his shoulder and he turned, meeting his sister's apprehensive gaze.
"She's alive." He said quietly. "The guy...wasn't so lucky. You don't wanna go over there, Nance. I mean it."
"I aint squeamish." Nancy said with a shrug. "Is she hurt?"
" a lot of blood. I...I don't know if it's all his or hers." Aaron pursed his lips, glancing at his red-spattered hands. "She's pretty shook up, but she was awake and she knew who I was and what happened. She saw him, though...I hoped that she wouldn't, but she did." He grimaced. "It ain't a pretty sight. Something clocked him pretty good on the side of the head and I'd guess his neck was broken."
Despite herself, Nancy shivered, wrapping her coat more tightly around herself.
"Are you going with Copper to the hospital?" She asked, changing the subject. Aaron nodded.
"If they'll let me." He agreed. "If to do nothing else than make sure she knows she isn't alone. And I want to stop Agent Nicholson and his goons from questioning her until she's up to it. The guy is dead - it's not like they have a time limit in which to get the truth out of him. She could've been killed."
Nancy swallowed hard.
"Makes it kinda real, when you think about it." She murmured. "Makes me remember Uncle Jeremy...and how close Mom and Taylor came to getting killed."
She shook herself out of her reverie. "Do you think they'll let me come too? I'm not marrying her or anything dumb like that, but she is important to me. I'd have hared after you to the car but those dumb officers stopped me before I could get two paces."
"Come on. We'll find out." Aaron decided. "They aren't stopping me, either way. I came to Vegas for Copper and now I've found her, they're not taking her away again."
He led the way towards the ambulance, where Copper was gently being carried on board. She cast him a feeble smile as they approached, and after a brief word with the paramedic, Aaron clambered aboard, indicating for Nancy to follow suit. He was quickly down at his fiancee's side, taking her hand once more in his.
"You're gonna be fine." he murmured. "So don't worry, okay?"
Copper swallowed hard.
"I can't believe I'm alive." she whispered. "I really thought that when we hit that wall...but..."
"I think he took the worst of it." Aaron told her gently, as one of the paramedics settled herself on Copper's other side, carefully monitoring the fluid drip that they had administered not long before. Aaron glanced at the medic.
"She will be okay, right?"
"Her vital signs are good, but we're treating her in anticipation of shock. Sometimes after an accident like this it kicks in later." The medic nodded. "We don't think anything is even broken, but she's got the collar on in case - till she's x-rayed we won't know for sure. But I think she's a lucky young lady."
Nancy squeezed down beside her brother.
"Hi trouble." She said lightly. "You haven't half led us a wild goose chase."
Copper managed another smile.
"I'm glad to see you." She murmured. "Both of you. I wasn't sure I ever would again."
She shivered involuntarily. "He wanted to marry me. When he knew I'd called home he went mad...I thought he might kill me then and there."
"Are you cold?" The medic asked her kindly.
"A little." Copper admitted, as the woman pulled a blanket from beneath her seat, gently covering the drummer over whilst all the time monitoring her condition. "But...but I 'm just glad to be out of there. To be safe...and among friends!"


Chapter One: Where Is Copper?
Chapter Two: Nancy Finds A Clue
Chapter Three: Marissa
Chapter Four: A Faint Lead
Chapter Five: Undercover
Chapter Six: A Reluctant Witness
Chapter Seven: Cynthia Takes A Gamble
Chapter Eight: A Play For Freedom
Chapter Nine: Aaron Decides
Chapter Ten: Midnight Flight
Chapter Eleven: The Race Is On

Chapter Twelve: Nemesis
Chapter Thirteen: Aftermath

Copper, Nancy, Sylva, Anna, Blade, Raesha, Sirena, Topaz, Aaron, Sophie, Justin, Elliot, Rosita, Luis and any other characters in this fiction which do not appear in the animated Jem series are copyrighted to me (E.A Woolley) as of January 2002 <unless otherwise specified> and are not to be reproduced without permission ANYWHERE. Jetta, Pizzazz, Stormer, Roxy, Raya and all other original Jem characters are the copyright of Hasbro Inc, Sunbow, Christy Marx and the other writers of the Jem series. The future world of Pizzazz, Raya, Jetta, Roxy, Stormer, Clash, Synergy, the fate of Jem and her memorial are all copyrighted to me. The future world of Kimber and Shana is copyrighted jointly to myself and Gemma Dawn.
The concept of 'Jewel' is entirely my own, and any apparent link with any fictional or actual person or persons of this name is entirely coincidental. Equally the characters in this fiction are not based on any real life individual.
The concept behind the future world of Danse, Aja and Craig, the idea behind Jerrica's futureworld and the split of the Holograms is copyrighted to Gemma Dawn, whose Teenangel Outsiders fiction is directly twinned with Just a Dream. The character Sammi and any of the other Teenangel Outsider characters mentioned in this fiction are entirely copyright to Gemma Dawn and appear here only with her permission.
Pay her page a visit!