Kathleen Klatte     kawklatte@aol.com

kath725@excite.com

 

"The Yellow Rose of Chan Ly”

JAG/Walker, Texas Ranger Crossover

 

Disclaimers:  JAG and Walker, Texas Ranger are the property of CBS, Donald

Bellisario, Top Kick Productions, et al.  This is a recreational endeavor, profit is being made and no copyright infringement is intended.

 

Walker is arrested for a murder committed while he was with the Corps in Vietnam. 

Note:  to the best of my knowledge, the village of Chan Ly is a figment

of my imagination.

Spoilers:  (For JAG) "Going After Francesca;"  "People vs. Mac;"  =

"Embassy;" "Webb of Lies"

Lots of thanks to lots of people for this one:  Bruin, Chris, Miki, Sheryl, and especially Tom

 

******************************************

"Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free."

John 8:32

******************************************

TEXAS RANGERS COMPANY B HEADQUARTERS

DALLAS, TEXAS

 

Cordell Walker looked up curiously as a uniformed Marine lieutenant accompanied by two MPs stopped at his desk.  "Can I help you?" he asked pleasantly. 

 

"Captain Cordell Walker?" the officer inquired. 

"Yes?”

"Captain, I have an order for your arrest," the lieutenant informed him.

"May I know the charge?" Walker asked. 

"You are being charged with the murder of General Nguyen Van Nguoi-Noi-Doi of

the Army of the Republic of South Vietnam.  Sir, I am under orders from the

Judge Advocate General of the United States Navy to place you under arrest,

pending court martial.  I must ask that you surrender your weapon and come

with me immediately." 

"I understand," Walker replied in a hollow tone of voice. 

By this time, Jimmy had drifted over to see what was going on.  "There must be some mistake, Lieutenant." 

"I'm sorry, sir, I have my orders." 

"It's all right, Jimmy," Walker said quietly, handing his weapon to one

of the MPs. 

 

The young lieutenant paused before speaking again, her eyes betraying her

embarrassment at her next words.  "Sir, due to the nature of the charge, I

will need to handcuff you for transportation." 

Walker nodded, holding out his hands.  "Do what you have to." 

"Hold on!  There's got to be a mistake here!  Walker," Jimmy appealed to

his friend, "tell them there's a mistake!" 

The MPs glanced at their superior for instruction as the young ranger grew

more agitated.  She shook her head sharply, not wanting to start anything if

she didn't need to.

 

Walker noticed the looks and spoke quickly.  "Jimmy."  Walker spoke

firmly to be sure he had his friend's attention.  "It's OK - they're just doing

their job.  I'll be fine." 

Jimmy Trivette stood dumfounded as Walker allowed himself to be led away. 

******

 

"I don't get it, Alex.  He just went with them - didn't try to fight it or

anything." 

"Well, you know as well as I do that resisting arrest is not the best way to

straighten out a situation like that."  Alex's tone was light, but her eyes

were worried as she dialed the Judge Advocate General's HQ in Virginia.

"Lieutenant Commander Harmon Rabb, please."  There was a slight pause. 

"I understand.  Major Sarah MacKenzie?  All right, may I leave a message? 

Thank you.  It's Alex Cahill, and this is an emergency."  She finished giving

hr information, then hung up.  "They're both in court.  I left a message to call

me as soon as possible, or to get in touch with you if I'm not available." 

Alex was trying to keep her emotions under control, but her anxiety level was

clearly rising and Jimmy could have kicked himself for not keeping a tighter

rein on his own feelings.  He manufactured a smile and plastered it on.

"Hey - Harm's the senior attorney, right?  He'll get this sorted out – I mean, we know this whole thing is a mistake, right?" 

"Right," Alex agreed.  "But, just in case Walker really does need a

defense attorney, I've got to go upstairs and do some fast talking.  Let me know

if you hear anything, OK?" 

"Sure."  Jimmy reached out and squeezed her arm reassuringly.  "We'll have

this all cleared up in no time," he told her cheerfully. 

Alex tried to smile for him.  "I know." 

 

******************************************

C.D.'S

DALLAS, TEXAS

 

C.D. looked up as Alex came in, trailed by Jimmy, Trent and Carlos.  He watched as they vied with one another to take her coat and hold her chair.

Under other circumstances, he might have laughed at the sight of three grown

men falling all over themselves to assure the comfort of one diminutive

female, but the situation was too dire, and besides, he soon found himself

doing the same thing.  He fixed her a cup of hot chocolate topped with whipped

cream and cinnamon, just the way she liked it.  Right on cue, Carlos appeared

at the counter and carried it over to Alex, who smiled her thanks. 

Jimmy came over a moment later to order drinks for the rest of them. 

Soft drinks, C.D. noticed approvingly - there was enough trouble without anyone's thinking being muddled by liquor. 

 

"How's she holding up?" he asked quietly. 

"Not good," Jimmy replied, glancing back at Alex.  "Her superiors won't allow her to take Walker's case.  The most they'll agree to is granting her emergency leave, so she can go to Washington with him." 

C.D. opened his mouth to say more, but his attention was drawn by a gasp from

Alex.  Following her gaze, he saw that the television was showing news footage

of Walker being escorted by armed Marines to a transport.  He quickly turned

off the set and hurried around the counter to put his arm around Alex, who was

nearly in tears.  "C'mon, sweetheart, it's not as bad as all that.  I know

you'd rather defend Cordell yourself, but you have friends at JAG. 

Commander Rabb is the Senior Attorney, isn't he?" 

 

Alex gave him a sad little smile.  "Harm and Mac are being assigned to prosecute the case." 

Trent spoke up quickly in their defense.  "Look, C.D., it's not their fault.

Their orders come directly from the Judge Advocate General of the Navy."

“I know, son," he said softly. 

Jimmy, trying to be upbeat, reached across the table and grabbed Alex's hands.

"Look, besides Harm and Mac, and yourself, who's the very best lawyer you know?"  

"My dad?" Alex asked, hope dawning in her eyes. 

C.D. pounded his fist on the table.  "Now yer talkin'!" 

 

******************************************

0907 EASTERN=0A=

JAG HEADQUARTERS=0A=

FALLS CHURCH, VIRGINIA=0A=

=0A=

A.J. Chegwidden looked up as Harm, Mac and Bud filed into his office.

"As you were," he said as they came to attention.  "Sit down.  What are you

working on right now?" he asked in a clipped tone. 

Harm glanced questioningly at Mac, who gave the slightest of shrugs, then started to list their caseload. "Turn everything over to Imes and Mattoni.  This was hand-delivered to me by SEC/NAV yesterday while you were in court.  You will be prosecuting."  He passed a thick file folder to Harm. 

Harm opened the file and scanned the contents.  He looked up in surprise.

"Sir, this is nearly thirty years old." 

"There's no statute of limitations on murder," A.J. reminded him. 

Mac leaned over the arm of her chair to read along with her partner. 

She gave an involuntary gasp as she read the contents of the file.  "Sir, this

can't be right," she protested. 

"I'd have to agree with the Major, sir," Harm said slowly.  "Cordell Walker is

a distinguished law enforcement professional with an outstanding record.

Moreover, the Major and I know him to be a man of great personal integrity.  I

simply can't conceive of a circumstance where he would kill a man in cold blood."

"Or lie about it for twenty eight years," Mac added. 

A.J. let out an explosive breath, leaning back in his chair.  "I am aware of

Ranger Walker's history.  He's a decorated veteran, and a lot of people think

he'll be the youngest man ever to be inducted into the Texas Ranger Hall of

Fame.  I am also aware that he's your friend.  At the moment, none of that

matters.  What does matter is that an officer of the South Vietnamese Army, an

ally of the United States, was murdered, and the evidence suggests that Cordell Walker is the culprit.  This couldn't have happened at a worse time,"

he sighed.  As we speak, there is a diplomatic envoy from Vietnam here in Washington conducting negotiations for the return of remains believed to be

those of American POWs.  This is a highly volatile situation." 

"Yes, sir," Harm agreed somberly.

"With that in mind," the admiral continued, "I need you both to put aside your personal feelings and prosecute this case to the absolute best of your abilities.  The Vietnamese delegation has already gotten wind of this, God

knows how, and they've threatened to break off the talks at the first sign of

deceit or favoritism in these proceedings." 

A.J. scrutinized his officers closely, then nodded, satisfied with what he

saw.  His expression softened slightly as he went on, "It's the best thing for

your friend, too, you know.  If he's innocent, the truth will come out, and

he'll be exonerated, but if there's the least hint of a cover-up, it'll be a

blot on his record for the rest of his career." 

"Now, Mister Roberts, you will be assisting the defense attorney, one Walter Cahill, Esquire."  Harm and Mac exchanged a quick glance.  "Excuse me, sir," Mac inquired, "don't you mean Alexandra Cahill?" 

A.J. looked back at his notes.  "No, Major, it says Walter Cahill.  Are

familiar with the name, Lieutenant?" he asked, seeing Bud's eyes widen.

"Yes, sir!  He's one of the most brilliant criminal attorneys of the twentieth

century - I had a whole seminar on his cases!" 

"Then you should have no trouble providing him with any assistance he requires," A.J. replied dryly. 

"Uh, no, sir I mean yes, sir" 

"Dismissed, Lieutenant." 

"Aye, sir," a grateful Bud Roberts replied, beating a hasty retreat. 

A faint smile quirked Mac's lips at their young colleague's abrupt departure.

The smile faded as the admiral spoke once more. 

"Major, Commander, there's just one more thing I have to say on this subject.

I know how much you value your friends I know the lengths you'll go to for

someone you consider a friend hell, it's one of the reasons I'm still alive

today."  He paused, unused to speaking to his subordinates this way, and unsure of how to continue.  "I know you believe that Ranger Walker is innocent, and from all I've heard of him, I'm inclined to agree with you.  But you're both too young to remember Vietnam the same way I do."  He raised a hand to forestall the objection Harm was opening his mouth to make.  "I was there.  It was a very bad place."  He winced at the total inaccuracy of the word.  A.J. seemed to see to a far-off place - a place he'd hoped never to see again.  "People good and decent people, did things they could never have conceived of, because they had to because it was the only way to survive."  He focused on the faces of the young officers before him once more.  "Do you understand what I'm trying to tell you?" 

 

"Yes, sir," Mac answered softly, recalling a haunted look she sometimes saw in

her Uncle Matt's eyes.

"Yes, admiral," Harm added a heartbeat later, realizing that the admiral was right;  he'd been a very small boy when his father's plane went down.  It wasn't the same as being there. 

A.J. watched the play of emotion in the younger man's eyes and nodded in satisfaction.  "Dismissed." 

 

******************************************

BRIG, WASHINGTON NAVY YARD

WASHINGTON, D.C.

 

Harm got to his feet as Alex and Trent entered the conference room.  His expression was uncertain as he extended his hand.  Alex surprised him by walking right up and hugging him tightly. 

"I'm sorry," Harm whispered as he held her. 

"You have nothing to apologize for," Alex told him firmly as she stepped back.

"Mac," she said, smiling as she extended her arms to the other woman.

Mac embraced her friend, then held out her hand to Trent.  "It's good to see

you again - I just wish it were under better circumstances."

"You and me both," he replied. 

Harm cleared his throat nervously.  "Look, we're not allowed to talk to Walker

until his attorney arrives, but we arranged for you to have some time together." 

Touched beyond words, Alex softly laid her hand on Harm's arm.  "Thank you,"

she finally managed.

"Hey, it's the least we could do," Harm responded. 

Alex looked from Harm to Mac and back again.  "Stop it, both of you.  Stop

walking on eggshells around us.  You haven't done anything wrong." 

"I know," Mac tried to explain, "but it's hard to be asked to prosecute a

friend especially when the stakes are so high." 

"That's why I'm glad that you're prosecuting the case - because the stakes are

so high.  I know that you two will stop at nothing to find the truth - and

that's what's going to save Walker." 

 

******************************************

WASHINGTON NATIONAL AIRPORT

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA

 

"Daddy!" 

Walter Cahill's eyes immediately picked out his daughter from the crowd milling around the gate.  Her face was pale and her lovely blue eyes clouded with sorrow.  A tall, sandy-haired man whom Walter didn't recognize hovered

protectively at her side, some friend of Walker's he guessed.  He hurried over

to hug her.

"Oh, Daddy, I'm so glad you're here," Alex whispered as he stroked her hair

reassuringly. 

"Of course, I'm here, baby.  Everything's going to be all right."  Walter

rocked his daughter gently in his arms, desperately hoping he was speaking the

truth.

The crowd seemed part and flow around them, an occurrence engendered by Trent's stern mien.  Something in his flinty gaze made even the most harried commuter decide it might be best to jostle someone else. 

 

When he sensed that Alex had calmed somewhat, Walter stepped back slightly,

still keeping one arm wrapped firmly around her shoulders.  He looked inquiringly at Trent, who stepped forward, offering his hand. 

"Trent Malloy.  I'm a-" 

"-friend of Walker?" Walter finished the sentence with a broad smile. 

"Yes, sir."

"Thank you for looking out for my little girl." 

Trent smiled then, a charming, country-boy expression that lit up his countenance and elicited answering smiles from several passing ladies. 

"It's my pleasure, Mister Cahill." 

Walter waved that off.  "Just call me Walter, son, I've a feeling we going to

be spending quite a bit of time together the next few days.  We've got our

work cut out for us." 

Alex's face fell.  "Oh, Dad it looks bad the evidence"

"Now, Alex, calm down.  I have evidence, too."  He patted his attach case.

"I've got Walker's service records from the Corps, and the Texas Rangers, records about Kick Drugs Out of America, depositions - hell, I had so many

depositions, I had to pack 'em in a box and Fed Ex it."

"What kind of depositions?" Trent asked as they headed for baggage claim. 

"Testimonials, character references, if you will, from people Walker has helped over the years.  I didn't have to ask for them, either.  As soon as the press got wind of the fact that I was defending Walker, the phone started ringing off the hook.  We're gonna beat this thing, Alex." 

"But, Dad, it's a court martial, not a civilian trial Harm and Mac are the

best there is at this type of proceeding," Alex said worriedly.

"Now, Alex, you stop worrying.  The Judge Advocate General is providing me

with an assistant to help me with the peculiarities of the military judicial

system."

Trent fished a note out of his pocket.  "That's right.  His name is Lieutenant

J.G. Bud Roberts.  He's Harm's protege." 

Walter smiled and hugged his daughter again.  "See, darlin' - I'm in good hands - and so is your fiancé."

Alex leaned her head against her father's arm, hoping and praying that all would go well.

 

******************************************

1747 EASTERN

JAG HEADQUARTERS

FALLS CHURCH, VIRGINIA

 

"So, what have we got so far?" Mac asked wearily.

"Well," Harm began, without looking up from the file he was studying, "General

Nguoi-Noi-Doi died in 1971, in a small village called Chan Ly.  Evidently, the

matter came to light during the search for the remains of American POWs - seems there was a prison camp not too far from there." 

"Let me see that," Mac requested, holding out a hand for the file.  She

studied it, frowning over something she saw.

"What is it, Mac?" 

"I'm not sure," she sighed in frustration.  "There's something about his name"

"What?  You mean you've heard it before?" 

"No," she said slowly, struggling to put her finger on something.  "It's just wrong somehow," she finished lamely, obviously irritated with herself.

"Mac, this whole case is wrong from the get-go."

She smiled slightly.  "Yeah, I just can't help feeling that this might be important. 

Harm patted her hand reassuringly.  "It's late go home and relax it'll come to

you." 

"I hope so," she replied, her voice troubled.  "There's just too much at stake

this time."

 

*****

The next day

 

"Hello," Clayton Webb said rather too cheerfully as he breezed into Harm's

office.

Harm barely looked up from the deposition he was studying.  "Whatever it is,

the answer's no," he said curtly. 

Seeing storm warnings in the other man's eyes, Mac tried to smooth thing over

a bit.  "Look, Clay, we're prosecuting a very important case - things are just

a little tense right now."

"I know all about your case, Mac.  In fact, I brought you some evidence."

That got Harm's attention.  Clay noticed, and rather pointedly handed the files to Mac.  He grinned smugly, knowing this little favor would come in handy sometime down the road.  He was surprised when, rather than the effusive response he'd expected, Mac's eyes widened and she turned pale.

"My God," she breathed, "there's an eyewitness."

"The very best kind," Clay elaborated, wondering what it would take to get a

little show of gratitude out of these two.  "Unimpeachable.  I got you a copy

of the report from the State Department.  Your witness is a Buddhist monk - a

holy man, revered for his piety and wisdom - this will be the equivalent of

putting the Archbishop of New York on the witness stand.  You can't lose."

The partners exchanged troubled glances - maybe they couldn't lose – but Cordell Walker certainly could.

Clay looked from one to the other in exasperation, then finally turned to leave.  "You're welcome!" he shot back over his shoulder. 

 

******************************************

HARM'S APARTMENT

2019

 

After an hour of studying the increasingly damning evidence, Harm was ready to

howl in frustration.  He settled for throwing down the file and leaning back

onto the couch, rubbing his face wearily. 

Mac watched him out of the corner of her eye as she continued her research.

There was just something about that man's name;  she'd just have to make time

to get to the library and find out what it was.

Finally Harm sat up.  "I don't think I can do this, Mac."

"Yes, you can," she replied steadily.

Harm just shook his head.  "I'm not Mic Brumby I can't look someone in the

face and call him friend, then turn around and gleefully pound nails into his coffin."

Mac put down her work and turned to face her partner, catching his hands in

her own.  "No, Harm, you're not like Brumby.  You're not doing this to prove a

point, or to show someone up you're doing this because you've been ordered to

do it, and because it's the right thing to do."

"Is it?"

"Yes, it is," Mac relied firmly.  "If he did it-"

"You can't believe that!"

"I don't want to believe it, but Harm, that's what the admiral was trying to

tell us - there was a war on, and some terrible things happened.  It's hard to

accept the idea that a friend, someone we know to be a good and honorable man,

may have done something like this, but that's why we have to find the truth.

If Walker is guilty, he needs to be brought to justice.  Either way, we have

got to uncover the facts.  Don't you see, Harm?  Brumby was out to get me you're out to get the truth." 

Harm stared into her eyes, captivated by the faith and passion shining forth

in her gaze.  Slowly, the tension drained out of his face, replaced by his

familiar, easy grin.  "You're incredible, you know that?"

"And don't you forget it," Mac replied, pulling him into a warm embrace.

 

******************************************

1447 EASTERN

JAG HEADQUARTERS

FALLS CHURCH, VIRGINIA

 

"Where the heck have you been?" Harm griped as Mac came into his office.

"The Sackler Gallery," she replied with a triumphant smile.

"Oh, that's just great!  We're prosecuting a case that's probably gonna get a

friend the death penalty and you take an afternoon to go traipsing through a

museum."

She folded her arms across her chest to contain her irritation.  "For your

information, the Sackler is the Smithsonian's research center for Asian art

and culture.  And you can't very well study either of those without a good

working knowledge if the languages involved."

Harm looked up as her words registered.  As Mac watched, the pieces slowly

fell into place for him.  "The name?"

"The name.  I know just enough about Vietnamese nomenclature to realize that

the name was wrong, but not how or why, so I went to the experts.  Here, look

at this.  See the first part of the name?  Nguyen?  That's his family name -

it's very common."

"Like Smith or Jones?"

"Exactly.  Now this - Van - that just indicates that the name is masculine.

This is the weird part.  Nguoi-Noi-Doi - three parts.  You usually don't see a

man's name like that.  Sometimes maybe a woman's name would have two parts,

but not three and a man's wouldn't have more than one."

Harm groaned slightly.  "Mac, this is very interesting, but-"

"Let me finish!  Given names in Vietnamese always have meanings." 

"What does the general's name mean?"

"Liar."

"Somebody named their kid 'liar'?" Harm exclaimed in disbelief.

"Doesn't that have the same connotation, no matter what language you're working with?"

"Mm-hm."

Harm thought for a moment.  "This thing with the name - you'd have to be fairly conversant with Vietnamese to pick up on it?"  Mac nodded.  "So your average Joe wouldn't think anything other than that it's just another unpronounceable foreign name?"

"Exactly."  Mac watched as the rest of the puzzle came together for him.

"An alias for dealing with westerners?" Harm guessed.

"What else could it be?"

"That would mean CIA or whatever they were calling themselves back then."

"We could ask Clay," Mac suggested. 

"Even if I was inclined to ask him, do you really think he'd help us?

He's working with the people who are trying to get Walker convicted.  I think

we're on our own."  Harm hit the intercom.  "Harriet?  Can you come in here a

minute?  The Major and I are going to need some research."

******

"I'm sorry, sir," Harriet apologized.  "I've tried every way I can think of,

but I can't find any records pertaining to that particular place."

"Could you try extending your time frame?' Mac asked.

"I did, ma'am.  I can't find anything for the entire duration of the war."

"Thank you, Harriet.  Dismissed." 

"I think we're going to have to ask Webb for his help," Mac told her partner.

"All right, I'll give him a call."

"Whoever it is, you can call them in the morning," Admiral Chegwidden informed

him.  Checking his watch, he continued, "You're both expected at the White

House in three hours for a black tie reception, in case you've forgotten."

The look they shared suggested that they'd been trying very hard to forget. 

"Admiral, this case requires a great deal of research, I think perhaps our

time might be better spent in preparing for court."

"Commander, your presence has been requested by the Vietnamese ambassador and

his new best friend, the Secretary of State.  You will both attend or you will

both find yourselves assigned to the new JAG office in the Aleutian Islands.

Do I make myself clear?"

"Aye-aye, sir," Harm replied for both of them.  When he thought A.J. was a

safe distance away, he turned and looked ruefully at Mac.  "I didn't know there was a JAG office in the Aleutian Islands," he muttered.  He wondered why Mac's eyes widened in horror, then he heard the admiral's voice from the doorway behind him.

"It's a nice, cozy Quonset hut with all the latest in field rations. 

I'm sure you'll be very happy there." 

******************************************

WHITE HOUSE

WASHINGTON, D.C.

A.J. Chegwidden watched as his two officers entered the reception room.

Others watched, too, their gaze drawn to the tall, handsome man, impeccable in

mess dress, and the striking woman on his arm.  Sarah MacKenzie's gown was

pure white silk and organza, a simple a-line design with thin black velvet

straps criss-crossing her back.  Floral appliques worked in ebony beads provided a vivid contrast.

Only someone who knew them very well, as A.J. did, would notice that their smiles were a trifle forced, and their posture rather more alert than necessary for walking into a party.  He saw Mac's black-gloved fingers curl tighter around her partner's arm as the Vietnamese ambassador greeted the pair.  The man moved on, then Harm bent his head to whisper something in his companion's ear.  Mac laughed, and Harm led her out to the dance floor.

A.J. watched as she relaxed in her partner's arms. 

"I hope they didn't insult the ambassador," a familiar voice grumbled.

"I doubt that very much, Mister Webb," A.J. replied acidly.

"Hmph you never know with those two.  They're not very good at hiding their feelings."

"I prefer to think that they have a healthy regard for the truth," A.J. countered. 

"Sometimes the truth is better left buried," Webb replied, moving on =

before the admiral could ask what he meant by that.

******************************************

 

0937 EASTERN

JAG HEADQUARTERS

FALLS CHURCH, VIRGINIA

 

Tiner opened the door to the admiral's office.  "Commander Rabb and Major MacKenzie, reporting as ordered," he announced. 

"Thank you, Mister Tiner.  Hold all my calls," A.J. instructed. 

Harm and Mac were surprised to see Harriet Sims and Clayton Webb seated before

the admiral's desk. 

Admiral Chegwidden folded his hands on the desk in front of him and looked up

at his officers.  "Commander, Major, perhaps you can shed some light on a small security problem."

"Sir?" Harm asked, puzzled.

Webb spoke up.  "Yesterday, someone tried to access classified files pertaining to intelligence operations in Vietnam.  Lieutenant Sims here says she was acting under your orders."

"That's correct, she was helping us with some research for our case," Mac replied.

"The Walker court martial?"

"Yes, sir," Harm answered. 

The admiral nodded slowly, than glanced at Webb.  "Lieutenant, you're dismissed."  He carefully hid his smile as Harm quickly stepped forward to

hold Harriet's chair as she struggled to her feet.  Once she was safely out of

the room, he turned back to his officers.  "Now, would you mind telling me

exactly what you were looking for?"

Harm and Mac exchanged glances, then Mac explained.  "Sir, when we first started researching this case, something about the General's name struck me as rather peculiar.  I couldn't put my finger on it, but something just seemed wrong, so I did some research and discovered something peculiar."  She went on to outline their theory about the general being involved in some sort of covert operations.  "Is this true, Mister Webb?" A.J. asked in a deceptively mild tone.

"Not that it matters, but yes."

"Not that it matters!" the admiral exploded.  "There is a decorated United States veteran on trial for the murder of a man who may well have been a war

criminal and you didn't see fit to share that information with us?"

Webb glared right back at him.  "That information is on a need to know basis and you didn't.  Besides, you're supposed to be prosecuting the murderer, not investigating the victim!" 

"If this man was involved in some sort of covert ops, he may not be a murder

victim!" A.J. shot back. 

"A.J., as far as you're concerned, he is," Webb stated flatly.  "We are in the

middle of some very delicate negotiations with the Vietnamese government.  In

the middle of a search for remains of our POWs, they come across a story of a

Vietnamese general being shot to death by an American soldier.  This isn't

about your misguided notions of justice - it's about giving the Vietnamese a

demonstration of our good faith.  They say Walker is guilty, so he's guilty - and he will be punished to the full extent of the law." 

Harm's jaw clenched in absolute fury.  "Are you planning on telling Admiral Morrison how to run his court martial?"

"I don't have to, Rabb.  SEC/NAV's done it for me.  Besides, think of all those families who've been waiting for decades to find out the final fate of their loved ones - I would think that would mean something to you."

"It does," Harm ground out.  "I do know how those people feel.  I also know

that I would never have traded a living man for information about a dead one."

"Webb," the admiral intervened, "get out of my office before I break something."  The Special Assistant to the Undersecretary of State didn't need to be told twice.  A.J. glared at the door for a long moment after it slammed shut.  He rubbed his forehead wearily, hoping to head off an encroaching headache.  Finally, he looked up at Harm and Mac, who were observing him intently.

"Unfortunately, he's right.  Admiral Morrison and I did receive orders from

SEC/NAV.  The government's official position is to appease the Vietnamese on

this point.  Someone higher up than you or I will ever be has decided that one man is an acceptable rate of loss."  His officers looked rather as if they

might be ill, and he didn't blame them.  "You have your orders.  Dismissed." 

 

******************************************

BRIG, WASHINGTON NAVY YARD

WASHINGTON, D.C.

 

"We're going to beat this," Alex stated, smiling bravely for her fiancé as she

held tightly to his hands.  "We are going to find the truth, and get you out

of here."

Walker looked down at their intertwined hands, gently rubbing his thumbs over the backs of her hands.  "Alex," he began slowly, "what if the truth is that I

killed that man?" 

"Walker, what are you saying?" she gasped out in a horrified whisper.

The look of despair on her beautiful face wrung his heart, but she had to know.  "Alex, back in 'Nam, in '71, I was assigned to work with an officer from the Special Operations Group."

"Isn't that what they called the CIA operatives who worked in Vietnam?"

Alex interrupted. 

"Yes.  I was given orders to execute General Nguyen Van Nguoi-Noi-Doi.  They

had proof that he was working for both sides.  He betrayed troop movements,

sold classified information to the highest bidder - he had to be stopped."

"But Walker, if this man was an enemy agent, and you were acting under orders"

Shaking his head, Walker tightened his grip on her hands, hating to dash the

hope he saw rising in her eyes.  "No, Alex, that's not the way SOG worked there were no written orders.  The officer who gave me the assignment disappeared as suddenly as he turned up.  I knew from the start that if this ever came to light, I'd take the fall."

"Walker, no!"  Alex's hands convulsed in his, her nails digging into his palms.  Her voice cracked with anguish and her eyes sparkled with tears.

"You can't just give up!"

"Alex," he replied patiently, "I have no choice."

"Yes, you do!  We can fight this!  We are talking about your life, Cordell Walker - don't you dare quit on me!"

"Alex, it doesn't matter anymore even if you could find the man who gave the order, it wouldn't make a difference.  The Vietnamese delegation is demanding

reparation for what they perceive to be a war crime."

"Reparation?  That's not justice - that's revenge!"

"If that's what it takes to keep the negotiations open, it's not too great a

sacrifice.  Do you know how many families could finally find peace, knowing

once and for all what their loved ones' fate was having them rest in peace in

their native soil?  If my sacrifice is what's required to achieve that, I can

live with it." 

"No, you can't," Alex said in a strangled whisper as her tears finally got the

better of her.  "The Vietnamese ambassador is demanding that you be charged with treason, in addition to murder.  As far as anyone knows, the general was a loyal ally of the United States, so there's no real reason not to comply with his wishes.  You'd be executed."

Walker closed his eyes and prayed for strength.  "Alex, I don't want to die,"

he said slowly, "but there are things in life that are bigger than any one

man."

"Walker, no!"  Alex sobbed.  "I won't lose you!  I won't!  Not without a fight."  She drew in a deep, shuddering breath.  "What was the name of the officer who gave the order?"

Walker looked down at the small white hand that wore his ring.  It was killing

him to hear the pain in her voice.  "Alex, I don't even know if it was his

real name you never did know with spooks."

"Just tell me," she pressed.

Sighing, Walker relented, unwilling to take away her last shred of hope.

"Neville Webb."

 

******************************************

JAG HEADQUARTERS

FALLS CHURCH, VIRGINIA

 

"Good morning, Miss Cahill, Mister Cahill" Bud said politely, relieved to see

that Alex looked so much brighter this morning. 

"Good morning, Bud," Alex replied with a brilliant smile.  "Can you help us find some information?"

"Certainly, ma'am.  What do you need?"

"We need records for a man named Neville Webb," Walter told him, wondering at

the expression that crossed the young officer's face.  "He was SOG in Vietnam.

Can you help us with that?" 

"I'll do my best, sir," Bud responded earnestly. 

"Thank you, son," Walter said warmly.

******

"Commander Rabb?"

"Yeah, Bud?" Harm replied without looking up.  He was mildly surprised to hear

the door shut and footsteps approach his desk.  He looked up, biting back an

irritated response at the troubled expression on Bud's face.  "What have you

got there?' he asked, indicating the files clutched tightly in the junior officer's grasp. 

Bud hesitated for a minute, then blurted out, "Sir, what if Ranger Walker did

kill the general, but what if the general was really a traitor and Ranger Walker killed him on the orders of Special Operations Group?"  The younger man held his breath, waiting for an answer.

Harm's expression changed instantly, hope dawning in his eyes like a drowning

man who has suddenly broken the surface.  "If this is true, and you can prove

it, all charges would be dropped.  Can you prove it?"

"Not without help, sir," Bud admitted.

"What have you got?" Harm asked, reaching for the file.

"Ranger Walker claims that he was acting under the orders of an SOG operative

named Neville Webb."

"Webb?" Harm asked, astonishment and suspicion mingling in his voice.

"Yes, sir.  The problem is that most of his records are sealed.  I can only access the most basic stuff."

"Such as?" 

"That he served in Vietnam, came home and worked for the State Department,

he's deceased, survived by a wife, Elizabeth, and a son-" 

"Clayton."

"Yes, sir."

******

Harm was still staring at the file an hour later when his partner came to check on him.  When he didn't answer her greeting, she walked over and touched his shoulder lightly.  "Hey."

Harm looked up slowly.  "Sorry, Mac, I didn't hear you come in."

"It's all right," she said soothingly.  Prosecuting a friend right into the

death penalty was taking a dreadful toll on her partner.  Mac knew he wasn't

eating properly and she was beginning to suspect he wasn't sleeping either.

"Whatcha working on?" 

"Trying to figure out how to ask Clayton Webb to allow us access to his father's service record." 

"Why?" Mac asked quizzically.

"Walker told Alex that he did kill the general, under the orders of one Neville Webb, Special Operations Group."

"And if we can find the records to prove it, then Walker would be exonerated."

"So the problem is how to ask Webb to implicate his father in a thirty year

old murder."

"Exactly."

"Kneepads," Mac suggested.  "And say 'please,' a lot."

"Or I could just let you talk to him," Harm countered, sounding more like himself than he had in weeks. 

"Well, I am more likeable than you," she teased.

"You still have that blue dress?  You could wear that when you talk to him." 

"It's ripped," she protested.

"I know," Harm replied, grinning wolfishly.

 

******************************************

STATE DEPARTMENT

WASHINGTON, D.C.

 

Clayton Webb looked up warily at the guest who'd just entered his office.

"What can I do for you, Mac?" 

"I need a favor," she explained frankly.

"Well, at least you don't beat around the bush," Clay replied with a tight

smile, gesturing to a chair.  "Did Rabb send you to get on my good side?"

"Harm doesn't think you have a good side," Mac laughed.

"But you know better?"

"Yes," Mac replied firmly.  Her smile dimmed slightly.  "You won't like what I'm going to ask," she warned.

Clay sighed.  "Well, I don't suppose you've liked some of the things I've

gotten you involved in," he admitted.  "Fire away." 

"We need your father's service record from Vietnam," Mac said carefully.

"Why?" Clay asked bluntly, folding his hands on the desk in front of him.

"Because Walker says that your father, under orders from SOG, assigned him to

eliminate General Nguoi-Noi-Doi because he was a double agent."

"Tell me something, Mac.  Why are you so ready to believe the best about guys

like Walker, and the worst about people like me?" 

"Clay, if that were true, would I be here asking for your help?"

"No, I guess not," he answered slowly.  "But assuming I can even find those

files, and assuming they say what you think they do, why exactly should I be

willing to drag my father's name through the mud?" 

"Because it's the right thing to do." 

"You say that as if it was so obvious so simple."

"It is."

Clay stared into Mac's beautiful dark eyes and felt his resolve wavering.

"Why is this so important to you?"

"Because Walker is my friend, and he's on trial for his life, and he doesn't

deserve to die for something he did nearly thirty years ago while acting under

someone else's orders." 

The passion that rang in her voice and shone in her eyes would have melted a

harder heart than Clayton Webb's.  "All right," he finally sighed, "I'll see

what I can do." 

"Thank you, Clay," Mac responded sincerely.

"I'm not making any promises," he warned her. 

"I know."  She smiled at him. 

 

******************************************

 

JAG HEADQUARTERS

FALLS CHURCH, VIRGINIA

 

Clayton Webb slipped into a seat at the back of the courtroom.  He'd had to

resort to calling A.J.'s office to gain admittance - Admiral Morrison refused

to let his courtroom be turned into a circus and had banned all extraneous

spectators, as well as the press.  He listened as Harm calmly presented the

facts that would convict his friend.  The strength of his voice and professionalism of his demeanor were the same as always - it was a hell

of a good act.  Only his eyes betrayed him, and Clay wasn't even sure if anyone

else would notice that. 

Well, Mac would.  Very little about her partner escaped her attention. 

Clay noticed that she'd fallen back to 'Semper Fi' mode to conceal her pain. 

Her spine was ramrod-straight and her voice rang out clear and true across

The room.  He didn't think Admiral Morrison suspected that this was killing

them.

His eyes drifted to the defense table.  Cordell Walker sat quietly observing

the proceedings, strangely detached, almost as if the entire process concerned

someone else.  Clay had heard how he'd refused to take the stand to say anything in his own defense.  Obviously, he'd understood the consequences when he accepted the mission and intended to follow through. 

Clay shook his head in admiration - this man had given his word and would

stick to it, even if it cost him his life.  Men like that were very rare these

days.  It was a shame that someone like that would have to die - especially

for a piece of garbage who'd conspired against both sides. 

He looked at the small group seated behind the defense table.  He knew about

all of them, of course.  The small blond woman was Alex Cahill, an assistant DA from Tarrant County in Texas, and Walker's fiancé.  She looked like she was

on the verge of a breakdown.  Two men flanked her protectively.  One was tall

and sandy-haired - Trent Malloy, he recalled, a private investigator from the

Dallas area, a long time friend of Walker's.  Clay remembered a curious fact

about the man - he refused to carry a firearm - a result of an accident as a

child.  He must be pretty amazing to survive in that line of work, Clay

thought admiringly.

The other was a young black man, Walker's partner, Jimmy Trivette.  Clay

remembered when Jimmy played with the Cowboys.  Jimmy held Alex's hand tightly

in his own.  Now and again, he'd lean close and whisper something to her,

obviously trying to distract her and keep her spirits up.  These people

believed in Walker - beyond a shadow of a doubt.  Their confidence in his

innocence radiated in their every word and expression. 

Clay wondered what it would be like to inspire that kind of loyalty in others.

Then his conscience prodded him, stirring memories of days spent hiding out on

a ship, wounded and alone, until Harm had found him.  He remembered other

times that Harm and Mac had come through for him.  All right, maybe not always

willingly, but a small voice in his head insisted that they might have been

more forthcoming if he'd made a habit of telling them the complete truth from

the start. 

He looked at Alex again.  If Harm and Mac won this case, she'd never be a

Bride - never be a mother - she didn't deserve that.  He thought of his father, of his long, distinguished, and almost completely classified career. 

Neville Webb was many years dead, and the details of the operation were too classified to become public knowledge.  If he could find something to prove that his orders had come from SOG, Walker could be cleared.  Clay might not even have

to bring up his father's name at all.  And of course, if he helped clear their

friend, Harm and Mac would owe him again.  Perhaps there might be some kind of

lead in his father's old files at home.

Clay's gaze fell on Walker again.  The man seemed to have gathered a wall of

stillness around himself, containing his own emotions so as not to upset his

friends any more.  If everything he'd heard about the man was true, Neville

Webb had made a fine choice.  Having accepted the orders and carried them out,

Walker would also accept the consequences, going to his death without a word

of protest.  It was the right thing to do and at the same time, it was

horribly wrong.  Clay wondered what his father would have to say about all this. 

Harm's voice caught his attention once more.  "The prosecution rests."

Clay saw Harm's face as he returned to his seat.  Something in his eyes had

died.

 

******************************************

2345 EASTERN

WEBB RESIDENCE

 

"Clayton?"

"In here, mother."

"What are you doing here at this time of night?" she asked, stepping into the

room and pulling the door quietly shut after her.

"I'm looking for Father's records from Vietnam."

"Whatever for?" 

"Because a man who was involved in one of Father's operations is on trial for

treason.  I'm hoping to find the evidence that can clear him."

"I see," Mrs. Webb replied gravely, taking a seat.  "And have you considered

the consequences for your father's good name and reputation?"

"Yes, Mother," Clay responded patiently.  "I have."

"Your father was a good man Clayton.  He gave his life in defense of his country.  Don't do anything to disgrace his memory," she begged.

"Father was a good man.  Do you think he'd want to see another man - young

man, with a brilliant law enforcement career and a fiancé - die for following his orders?  Besides, if what I've been told is true, this is so classified

that the details will never become public knowledge."

His mother sighed softly as she stood up.  "You do as you think best, Clayton," she said, laying her hand on his shoulder and stooping to drop a kiss on his cheek.

"Don't worry, Mother," Clay responded, squeezing her hand and smiling.

She returned his smile and moved to leave the room.  "Mother?  You know what they say about the truth setting you free?  I think maybe this time it will set a lot of people free."

 

******************************************

JAG HEADQUARTERS

FALLS CHURCH, VIRGINIA

 

Walter Cahill leaned back in his chair, trying to massage a way the headache

that was pounding at his temples.  He was about to lose the second-most

important case of his life and there wasn't a damn thing he could do about it.

He'd poured his heart and soul into defending this case, but in the end, it

all came down to proof-proof that he and Bud couldn't get their hands on. 

He sighed heavily, thinking of Alex - how would he ever face her, after failing

to acquit her fiancé?  God, he needed a drink "No, you don't, sir," Sarah MacKenzie told him firmly. 

Walter looked up at his visitor.  "I'm sorry I didn't realize I'd spoken

aloud.  You're right, though.  I've failed them enough this week I won't add

insult to injury." 

"You didn't fail, sir," Mac told him sadly.  "This whole mess is bigger than any of us." 

"Greater good, and all that, Major?"

"Something like that."

"I fail to see the 'good' in sentencing a decorated veteran and dedicated law

enforcement official to death for an action performed under orders, in war

time, nearly thirty years ago." 

"For what it's worth," a quiet voice interjected, "I agree with you.  I believe you'll find what you need in there."

Walter's jaw dropped as a young man dressed in the quintessential spy's dark

trench coat pressed a thick file folder into his hands, then spun on his heel

and left.

Mac hurriedly excused herself and went after him.  "Webb!" she called, stopping him as he was about to board the elevator.  Finally catching up to him, she looked quickly up and down the corridor, then stretched up and kissed his cheek.  "Thank you," she said softly.

"What was that for?" Clay asked suspiciously.  "I just cost you your case." 

"You just saved my friend's life."

Clay stared at her for a long moment.  "Mac, do you know what 'Chan Ly' means?" he asked slowly. 

"Yes, I do.  It means 'truth.'  Why do you ask?"

"I was just wondering if my father knew that and what he'd think of me right

now."

"I think he'd be very proud of you," Mac replied sincerely.

Clay had a very peculiar expression on his face as he stepped into the elevator.  "You think so?"  And then the door slid shut, and he was gone. 

 

******************************************

 

"In light of this new information, I recommend that all charges be dropped." 

"I concur.  Case dismissed." 

Admiral Morrison had barely finished banging his gavel when Alex Cahill flew

into her fiancée’s arms.  Jimmy, Trent and Carlos weren't far behind, happily

exchanging hi-fives and back slaps with anyone they could reach. 

"Congratulations, Mister Cahill," Bud said warmly, offering his hand.

"Thank you, son," Walter replied, taking Bud's hand in both his own.  "We never could have done this without you." 

"It was my pleasure, sir."

At the prosecution table, Mac watched the scene unfold with shining eyes.

Smiling, she laid her hand on her partner's arm.

Harm rested his hand atop hers and squeezed gently.  "I've never been so happy

to lose a case."

"Amen to that," Admiral Chegwidden stated.

Both officers jumped slightly - they hadn't noticed his approach.  "You both

did a damn fine job."  'I'm proud of you,' he added silently, but somehow, he

knew that they heard that, too.  He glanced over at the happy crowd at the

defense table.  "They're still your friends, you know," he added softly.

Exchanging troubled glances, Harm and Mac rose and went to speak to Walker.

He noticed them hovering tentatively at the fringe of his circle of friends

and smiled broadly.  He stretched out the arm that wasn't wrapped around Alex.

 

Harm took his hand.  "Walker, I apologize"

"No, Harm, you didn't do anything wrong.  You were following orders. 

You were trying to find the truth, not hurt me."

"I wish we didn't have to push so hard," Mac offered, her dark eyes still troubled.

"I'm not," Walker replied frankly.  "If you two hadn't pushed so hard and dug

so deep, the truth might never have come to light.  The Bible says 'the truth

will set you free.'  It does, you know.  The truth sets everyone free."  He

tried to shake Harm's hand at the same time Alex reached out to Mac, and the

result was a group hug that left everyone laughing. 

A foreign accented voice spoke up as the resulting mirth died away.  "I think

perhaps you are right, Ranger Walker.  I let my anger blind me to the truth,

and for that, I must ask your forgiveness.  Will you accept my most humble

apology?"

"Yes, Mister Ambassador, I will."

"Thank you, Ranger Walker.  If you and I can forget our differences and forgive one another, then perhaps one day our nations may do the same."

"I think you're right," Walker answered, stretching forth his hand.