Force of Impact is the fictional second story in the fourth trilogy. It takes place three days after the end of Final Hours, and exactly one year, three weeks, and three days after the events of Unwound Future.
I was given permission by SophiaDescole13 to use some of her material for Chapter 1.
Chapter 1 -- JeanneEdit
I couldn't stop moving about my cell -- I was so nervous. And I was mad at myself.
Why didn't I just shoot them when I had the chance? I asked myself. But I did bring it on myself, so I guess something deep in my conscience told me I couldn't kill anyone. I technically had a license to kill, but I was just not that kind of person, I suppose.
First sadness, then anger, I thought, I'm so very easily blinded.
But the anxiety was almost unbearable. I got up and gripped the bars of my human-sized cage, then I let go and banged my head once against the opposite wall.
What's taking him so long? I wondered.
Jean hadn't contacted me about his -- er, my means of escape, so I just had to be patient and trust him.
I was sure he'd been through this exact scenario before with someone else -- a past girlfriend of his, I think. I had to practically beg him to tell me about her, but even then he didn't tell me the whole story.
What was her name? I thought. Katie? Kathleen? Yeah, that was her. Kathleen.
A few tense minutes passed, and the door opened. I figured it was just a guard, so I didn't think too much of it, until the silhouette of someone very familiar cast across the wall of my cell.
"Well, you certainly took your time. What did you think this was, some leisurely stroll through the park?" I smiled, instantly dropping my attitude. "I knew you'd come."
I hoped he couldn't see my tear-stained cheeks.
"A few...unforseen obstacles cost me time, but I'm here now," he said, fumbling with the lock.
"So, which entrance are we to take?" I asked. "I presume we can't just waltz through the front door."
"Correct, though I've already planned for a way out of here."
We were outside my holding cell in the basement, which was completely underground, when he pulled out a small controller from his trouser pocket. He put his thumb on one of the black buttons, and with a sly grin, pressed it. A corrosponding thump came from above us, followed by the sound of shattering glass.
I ducked, hit the ground out of instinct. "What did you just do?!" I asked, following him up the stairs quickly.
I received my answer when we reached the ground floor. I had to keep low to avoid the thick layer of smoke. We were dangerously close to the flames, and I couldn't keep from coughing. Surprisingly, no one even noticed us until we climbed into the conveniently placed black helicopter, but by then it was too late for them to catch us.
"You blew the place up?!?!" I cried.
"Oh, not the whole building -- only part of it. A bit of C4 did the trick."
I was stunned. "Wow, you've got some tricks up your sleeve even I haven't seen yet!"
Chapter 2 -- BrittneyEdit
I arrived in my office to find a file with a note on it that said simply, "Jeanne." I assumed it was from Broneph because he had told me he had caught her.
"Wanted: Jeanne Descole," I read aloud. "Name: Nicole Sonatta--" I stopped right there.
One, two, three, four... I counted. Jeez, what's the chances that her real name has the same amount of letters as her fake name? I asked myself. I wonder if Jean's like that, too...
I continued to read. "Gender: Female, Age: 37-- she's got me beat by a year. Eye color: Green, Hair color: Tawny."
I KNEW that wasn't her natural hair colour! I thought.
"Height: 5' 8" (173 cm)."
She's just a bit taller than Jean, isn't she? I stifled a laugh. I flipped the page to find even more background information, specifically about her past occupation history.
Apparently, she enlisted in the Marine Corps at age 23, and was stationed in the U.S. until she was honourably discharged at age 28. A year later, she was recruited into the British Secret Intelligence Service and worked there for three years before being shot with a sniper rifle. She was unable to work there any longer because of her critical condition. Then she got engaged to Jean, adopted the 'Jeanne Descole' persona, and then got caught, not necessarily in that order.
I turned her real name over and over in my head.
Nicole Sonatta, Nicole Sonatta, why does that name sound familiar? I just couldn't place my finger on it.
"Well, it'll just have to wait until I -- er, we get back."
My best friend, Audrey Lancaster, had called me and asked if I could visit sometime with Hershel and Luke. The only problem was that she lived in my hometown, halfway around the world. I managed to secure plane tickets, and now all I needed to do was break the news to the boys.
Chapter 3 -- LukeEdit
The phone rang and I eagerly ran down the stairs from my room to answer it.
"I got it! I got it!" I yelled to my parents. "Hello?"
"Luke!" Brittney's sweet voice rang through the reciever. Ever since I met her, she'd been like a second mother to me.
"You'd best be packing your bags, we're leaving in two days!"
"To where?" I asked excitedly.
"You'll have to wait and see, but I will tell you that it's overseas," she replied.
"No way, we're going to the U.S.?!" That was a total guess on my part.
"How did you know?" She laughed. "Yes, we're going to my hometown in California."
"Ok, I have no idea where that is, but alright! Is the professor coming?" I asked.
"Of course," she answered. "Now, got tell your parents, I'm sure they'll let you come. See you!"
I hung up. "Mum! Dad!" I yelled.
My mother entered the room first, followed closely by my father.
"Who was that?" Mum asked.
"Brittney, and she said that she and the professor are going to the U.S., and she wanted me to come," I said, preparing to get down on my knees and beg.
My mother turned to Dad. "What do you think?" she asked him.
"I don't see why not. If he's with Hershel and Brittney, they'll keep an eye on him."
"So...is that a yes?" I asked.
My dad nodded.
"Thankyouthankyouthankyou!" I said, hugging both of them, and ran up to my room to pack.
Chapter 4 -- BrittneyEdit
Two days later, Clark and Brenda dropped Luke off at the airport, and he met up with us.
"Are you excited, Luke?" I asked.
He nodded. "I am, but why are we going to California, anyway?"
"Long story," I began. "But when we get there, I'm going to visit my friend Audrey."
Settling into our seats, with Hershel on the aisle, me in the middle, and Luke by the window, Luke said, "I've never liked planes."
"Why is that?" asked Hershel.
"I don't know, I've just never liked them."
"Well, it'll be fine," I assured him.
I laughed involuntarily.
"What's so funny?" asked Luke.
"Oh, I just remembered what you said to me the first time I told you I was American," I said.
"You're AMERICAN?!" Luke exclaimed.
"It's not that big of a secret," I said.
"So...that means you used to drive on the RIGHT side of the road?!"
"I just thought it was weird," he said.
Eight hours later, we arrived at Sacramento Executive Airport, one of the biggest airports in Sacramento, California.
Luke, who had slept through most of the trip, was a bit surprised at what California looked like.
"This is not at all what I'd imagined!" he said. "I didn't expect there to be palm trees here!"
I could tell Hershel felt like the odd man out. "It's fine," I said, putting my hand on his shoulder. "They, too, know who you are."
After everything was registered, I told the boys to call a cab and check into the hotel that was only a fifteen minute drive from the airport.
"But, where are you going to go?" asked Luke.
I smiled. "Look, after you check into the hotel, I'll call you and tell you what to do next, alright? See you!"
And with that, I left them to their own devices.
Chapter 5 -- JeanneEdit
I popped the cap on the bottle I'd gotten--I hadn't had a Patrone in quite a while, and I was surprised Jean even had any--took a sip, and set it down on the edge of the billiards table. Jean walked in.
"Care for a game?" I asked.
"Rack 'em." After putting chalk on the tip of my cue, I said, "Look, I'm sorry."
"For what?" he asked, finished setting up the table.
"For getting caught."
"Don't give it another thought."
"No. I was too naive, I ruined my own disguise, and I made you blow up the building I was kept in." Changing the topic of conversation, I said, "I'll break."
On the first shot, two solids went in. "Little ones."
"It's fine," said Jean, resuming conversation. "I did what I had to do. That was the only thing I could do. But you can't afford to be seen in public for a while."
He didn't sink any.
"I realise that," I said. I hopped up on the table, just like the professionals do, to get a better shot. I could see him eyeing me from across the room.
Shouldn't he be drooling right about now? I wondered. The pose was just a little more provocative than I had originally intended.
The cue ball jumped over the eight and sank one of mine, exactly like I'd planned it to.
A few shots--with the cue ball and even a little alcohol--later, I asked, "Having any luck?"
I had cleared the table, and was about to sink the eight ball. He wasn't doing so well.
"I think you're the pool shark," he said.
He sank one.
And another, until we were tied.
"What were you saying again?" he asked. He took his shot and missed entirely.
"Fail," I said. I switched to the left hand position, shot behind my back, and won.
"Now, how's that for a winning shot?" I asked.
Chapter 6 -- BrittneyEdit
I called Hershel to let him know I was in front of the hotel, and they should come out to see me. I saw them waiting for me, so I pulled up to them in a shiny black sports car.
"Hello, boys," I said grinning. "This is my Christmas present."
"Woah," breathed Luke. He had the look every guy had when staring at a cool car: the deep gaze, the big eyes, the small drop of drool on the side of his mouth. Just the overall look of "Oooohhh....shiny!"
"Don't scratch the paint," I said.
"Where did you get the money for this?" Hershel asked the obvious question. I could tell he liked the car, too, but probably not so much the cost.
"Well, truthfully it's only a rental. But, you can thank my savings account." I smiled. "Get in."
"Where are we going?" asked Luke.
"The police station. It might be a few minutes before we get there."
After only ten minutes of the drive, Luke said, "This is just really weird."
"What is?" I asked.
"We're not supposed to be driving on this side of the road into on-coming traffic!"
I laughed. "Still can't get used to it, eh? Trust me, the people over here think your driving habits are odd."
"I know, I know, but just look at the license plates here, Professor!" he said. "They're so...short!"
Hershel and I just laughed. Obviously we were more adapted to sudden change than Luke.
"Oh, what does that license plate say at the top?" Luke asked, squinting as he tried to read it aloud. " 'Organ.' "
I snickered. "It's pronounced 'Or-eh-gun'. It's the state north of us." I said. "They're probably just visiting."
Luke said nothing.
I sighed. "A state is like a province; it's a division of land."
"Ohhh...I get it."
Twenty minutes later, we arrived at the Sacramento Police Department.
"You stay here while I go see if she's at work today," I said, and headed towards the building.
Chapter 7 -- AudreyEdit
The phone rang while I was working on writing a report on the Snyder homicide case.
"Lancaster, there's someone who would like to see you."
"Send them in," I said.
"Knock, knock," said Brittney, opening the door.
"Hey, you!" I got up and hugged her. "How long has it been?"
"Oh, far too long!" she said.
"But who's counting?" we said in unison, laughing.
The little boy with the blue cap, who had entered with Brittney, seemed embarrassed by our chatter, so he stood off to the side with Professor Layton.
"I see you've brought the whole gang with ya," I said, sitting back down.
"Ah yes. Audrey, Hershel, my husband, and his 'apprentice' Luke," she introduced.
"Your husband is Professor Layton?" I already knew this, but I was still surprised.
"Oh, so you've heard of me?" he asked.
"No need to be humble," I said. "You sir, are a global legend!"
"Well, I wouldn't say that..." He smiled shyly.
"Actually, there is something I'd like to talk to you about," said Brittney, changing the subject.
"And what would that be?"
"Well, does the name 'Nicole Sonatta' ring any bells?" she asked.
I tried to recall any details about that name, but I just couldn't remember any.
"Sorry." I shook my head. "Nuthin'."
"Ah, that's okay."
"How long are you staying here?" I asked.
"We only planned for a week," she answered.
"Well, I'll do some research about this 'Nicole' and see what I can find."
"Oh, that'd be great!"
"We'll leave you two to catch up," said Layton. He turned to Brittney. "We'll just take a cab back to the hotel."
"Alright. We won't chat for too long," she said. After they left, she asked, "So, what's new with you?"
"Well, Michael and I tied the knot last spring."
"FINALLY!" She fell back in her chair with relief. "That took forever!"
We laughed, and talked, and laughed some more.
Chapter 8 -- BrittneyEdit
"Oh, look at what time it is!" I said. I looked at the clock, which read 8:05. We had been talking for three hours, and completely lost track of time. "I should get back to the boys."
"Oh, you have to go so soon?"
"Audrey, we've been talking for three hours! And plus, we'll be here for a week! I'll be back tomorrow, I promise."
"Oh, alright," she said.
"Bye!" I headed out to the car and discovered it was pouring down rain, which was a rare event in California, and even worse at night with traffic.
"Really? You picked now to cause a traffic jam?" I asked the other drivers, who obviously couldn't hear me. No one could cross the intersection, and no one in front of me was moving. I was caught in total gridlock.
After five minutes, which I thought had to be a record time, things finally got moving, but still very slowly.
I was directly in the middle of the crossroads, and I assumed that someone decided, "To hell with this, I'm gunning it," and floored it.
That car came from the left so fast I didn't even know what happened. They didn't even make an effort to hit their brakes, and blindsided me, knocking me out of my seat, held in only by the thin seat-belt.
I was thrown sideways with such a force that everything went black instantly.
Chapter 9 -- LukeEdit
"What's taking her so long?" I asked. I plopped down on the couch.
"I'm not sure," said the professor. "She should have been back by now."
"Maybe she just got caught in traffic or something," I suggested. Out of sheer boredom, I turned on the television. The sound of a newscast crackled through the speakers.
"--a hit-and-run accident at the intersection of 35th Avenue and Freeport Boulevard--"
I was about to change the channel when the professor told me to wait.
"--when the driver of a black Porsche was blindsided by a sliver Toyota Celica. The driver of the Toyota fled the scene, and the victim is in critical condition at Sutter Memorial Hospital."
I gulped. "Was that the rental car?" I asked. I already knew the answer.
"Let's go, Luke," said the professor.
I said nothing and followed him quickly.
"To Sutter Memorial Hospital, please. Drive quickly," said the professor.
Nothing of importance was said on the cab ride to the hospital.
Chapter 10 -- LaytonEdit
"Excuse me, but I'm looking for a miss Brittney Layton?" I told the nurse at the desk.
"I'm sorry, but visiting hours just ended. You'll have to come back tomorrow."
I tried my hardest to retain composure. "Would you allow this time to be the one exception?"
"Oh, alright. She was just released from the ICU, and she's in room 217."
I thanked her greatly and made my way down the hall, with Luke closely in tow. Before we could get too far away, the nurse called after me.
"I wish your wife good luck!"
She had recognised who I was, and realised that I was married to the patient, but I didn't even turn around to acknowledge her comment.
Laying in the hospital bed, Brittney looked like a completely different person. She had her eyes closed, which made me think she was dead, but the beeping from the heart monitor thankfully disproved my theory.
I sat down in the chair beside her bed and buried my face in my hands, desperately choking back tears.
"Professor?" asked Luke, who was standing in the doorway. "Are you alright?"
Before I could answer, one of the doctors walked in.
"What's the state of her condition?" I asked.
"Luckily, she only fractured her right shoulder blade, but there was a bit of nerve damage between her right sholder and her neck," said Dr. Carnahan.
"Will she be alright?"
"She'll probably need to go through a few weeks of physical therapy, but she should be fine after she comes out of her coma."
"When will she wake up?" asked Luke.
"Unfortunately, I don't have the answer to that," said the doctor. "It's just a waiting game, now."
"Well, thank you, anyhow," I said.
He went to leave, but then thought better of it and returned.
"You two aren't from around here, are you?"
"No. London." I tried to smile.
"I know it's different here. It's a foreign land to you, after all. But we'll take care of her, I assure you."
I nodded. "Thank you, doctor."
After Dr. Carnahan left, I clasped my hands together, bowed my head slightly, and closed my eyes.
"Professor? What are you doing?" asked Luke.
I lifted my head. "Praying. I'm praying, Luke." I wasn't a terribly religious man, but I felt it was the only thing I could do.
Chapter 11 -- AudreyEdit
The next day, I was already in Brittney's room by the time Layton and Luke got there. I sat there on the padded bench on the other side of the bed, crying.
I looked at Layton with tears in my eyes and said, "Why did this have to happen?"
He put his hand on my shoulder. "I truly don't know."
"It's all my fault," I sobbed. "We talked for too long a time. If I would've just shut up and let her leave, then this never would've happened!"
"It isn't your fault," he objected. "There was nothing you could do."
"Well, then who did this? They didn't even find the driver who rammed into her," I said.
After a few moments of silence, he asked, "How long have you two been friends?"
I smiled wanly. "Ever since kindergarten. I think you'd call it Year One or something."
"Ah, I see," he said.
"We did everything together, like a couple of girls'll do. We even went to the same police academy in London," I said.
"Did you live in London?"
"For a time, yes. We were both born in California, her in Sacramento, me in San Diego, but when she was nineteen, she decided to go to London to meet up with her dad, Nathaniel," I explained. "I, being the same age and virtually joined at the hip with her, decided to go with her. She'd always wanted to be a cop, and so did I, so we both wound up going to the same police academy. But, after we graduated, I realized my family missed me greatly, so I moved back to the States, while she stayed in London. But we've kept in touch ever since then."
Chapter 12 -- LaytonEdit
"I had no idea she had a friend as dedicated as you," I said.
"Well, friendship will make you do almost anything," she replied.
After a moment of silence, Audrey lowered her voice and said, "Whenever she'd call me, Brittney couldn't stop talking about you and Luke."
"She loves you both very much, you know."
"I know," I said.
Our conversation was interrupted by the long continuous beep of the heart monitor. Audrey gasped. We all knew what it meant.
She had flat-lined.
Doctors and nurses rushed in almost immediately. They knew how critical the situation was, so they didn't even bother to wheel her to the emergency room. One nurse started to perform CPR, and another got some sort of drug ready as back-up.
I wasn't exactly a major in this subject, but I knew well enough that the paddles weren't going to help anyone. The paddles are only used if the patient has an irregular heartbeat, shocking it back into normality. But if you try to stun a heart that simply isn't beating, you're not going to solve anything.
One nurse switched positions to give the other a break from the chest-compressions. I watched the clock nervously. With every passing second, we had less of a chance of getting her back.
One doctor, whom I now realised was Dr. Carnahan, injected some drug in hopes of increasing electrical activity in her heart.
After sixty precious seconds, Brittney's heart miraculously regained a heartbeat.
"Stay here and keep an eye on her heartbeat and BP," said Dr. Carnahan to two nurses.
"What caused the asystole?" one asked.
"A severe drop in blood pressure, I believe, though I can't be sure."
"How did it get that low?" the other asked. I assumed she was a medical student.
"We'll run some tests to find out."
As the rest filed out, I stood up to thank him, but no words would come out of my mouth.
"You're welcome," he said, shaking my hand. "All in a day's work."
Chapter 13 -- AudreyEdit
For the next three weeks, Layton, Luke, and I came every morning and stayed until visiting hours ended and they kicked us out.
Sometimes we made small talk amongst ourselves, sometimes we just sat in silence, awaiting the moment when Brittney woke up.
One day, I asked Layton how he and Luke met. He explained to me that Luke was actually the son of his good friend and colleague, Clark. Then he told me that in their hometown of Misthallery, there was supposedly a specter attacking the town, and Luke had accompanied Layton to solve the mystery.
He told me the rest of the story, and then I asked, "So, did you ever catch this 'Descole' guy?"
"Unfortunately, no," said Layton. "That's what Brittney was working on before we came over here to meet you."
"Oh," I sighed.
And then, it happened. The miraculous event that we'd been waiting for, happened. Brittney's eyelids opened halfway. She had finally woken up.
Chapter 14 -- BrittneyEdit
I vaguely remember waking up from my comatose state and seeing Luke, Hershel, and Audrey hovering over me.
"Brittney!" said Audrey.
"Quick, how many fingers am I holding up?" asked Luke.
I giggled. "Three."
"You gave us quite a scare," said Hershel. "You had flatlined."
"Oh...really?" I was still groggy.
"What do you remember?" asked Audrey.
"I remember getting hit, then I was flung against the passenger seat, and then it all went black," I said. "And now, I'm awake. Kind of." I rubbed my neck. "And I'm pretty sure I got whiplash or something, 'cause everything hurts."
"Well, we're glad you're still here," said Hershel. He went to hug me, but thought better of it.
"The doctor said you'll have to go through physical therapy," said Luke.
"That's alright," I said, my eyes half closed.
"Come, let her get some rest," said Hershel as I dozed off.
The physical therapy wasn't that bad. They had me do exercises to basically strenghthen my shoulder blade, and they used what is called a 'electrical muscle stimulator', which apparently stimulates nerves and muscles, too. I'm proud to say they even gave me massage therapy every three days, can you imagine that?
I was lucky because the amount of damage wasn't too high. To this day, I can still use my gun stance!
After a little over six weeks in an American hospital, I was ready to go home.
"Bye, Audrey!" I said, while we were at the airport.
"Stay in touch, alright?"
Eight and a half hours and one ocean later, we arrived back in London.
"Feels good to be home," I sighed happily.
Chapter 15 -- JeanneEdit
I coughed violently for the umpteenth time, when Jean asked, "Are you alright?"
"Yeah, it's just a cold. Probably from the smoke or something. I'll get over it. But listen to this," I said. I had been reading the London Times and a headline caught my eye. " 'Beloved London Inspector Gets in Car Crash in U.S.' And then it says, 'Detective Brittney Earnhardt of Scotland Yard was the victim in a tragic car accident in Sacramento, California, in the United States, while visiting her friend and local detective, Audrey Lancaster.' "
"Shhh! There's more," I said. "It says, 'There was a time when her heart stopped, but the doctors were able to save her. We are eternally greatful,' says Professor Hershel Layton, renowned puzzle-solver and husband of the detective. Earnhardt has underwent three weeks of physical therapy, and has returned safely home to London.' "
I was sadistically beside myself with laughter, however, Jean didn't think it was so funny.
"Did you do this?" he asked sternly.
"No I didn't. I swear," I said, sobering up a little. "That's why it's so funny. She nearly got killed, and I didn't even have to lift a finger!"
He gave me a look as if he were to say, "Are you sure you're not lying?" and crossed his arms.
I started laughing again. "Don't look at me like that!" In between giggles, I said, "Why would I ever lie to you? I swear I didn't do anything to her! You told me not to be seen by the ouside world, so I haven't left the house! No phone calls, no nuthin'!"
"That's a double negative," he pointed out.
"Ok, then, 'I didn't do anything!' " I corrected.
"Oh, alright. I believe you."
"THANK YOU!" I said, exasperated.