Nothing is what it seems
An Alternative Future.
The city of Cascade had two faces; that of the day, and that of the night, when creatures, long thought of those relegated to nightmares and horror films, took to the street. To combat this menace, a new type of law was needed, and a new type of lawman - the Sentinel.
Captain Katherine Merry looked up into the night sky and then, with a heavy, heart weary sigh, down at the dead body at her feet.
The girl looked like a broken doll, her clothing black and lacy, another Vamp hag, as some of the officers called them. Humans who needed Vampires as much as they were needed in return. But there was always the risk of meeting a vampire that didn’t care if it killed, one that was still in the coffin, and had yet to come out and be registered. They followed the old ways, and killing was second nature to them.
She had died, because in the last ten years the world had finally acknowledged what Katherine Merry’s unit in Department of Supernatural Crime, had known since WW2, that the supernatural was real, it was just very well hidden.
Vampires, Werewolves and Ghouls, and God knows what else that fell in between, were out there, and ready to bite back. At least the Department of Supernatural Crime, could now function in the open. Not that it could have saved her life.
Merry nodded to Jim Ellison, the detective was one of her senior investigators, and a sentinel. No supernatural being that one, just a throw back to pre civilized man, with six enhanced senses, making him a crime lab on two legs. The downside, however, was that he was prone to zone outs, a near lethal condition, if he concentrated too much on any one of his senses. Katherine dropped a hand to rest on her friend and sentinel’s shoulder as he went to work examining the body. How her touch grounded Jim, Katherine didn’t know, but it worked and there was always one of the Supernatural Crimes unit around to help him.
Jim Ellison’s nickname in the Unit was the Grim Reaper, and one that the criminals, supernatural and normal took to heart; he was not a man to be crossed.
Katherine cursed, as she saw Cassie Wells coming up. The woman was young and personable, but she was a wanabe police officer, and was a pain in the ass to everyone around her. On her hit list was one James Ellison; Cassie believed, wrongly, that she could be a good partner to Jim. So far the man had managed to keep clear of her. If Wells weren’t such a good forensic officer, the Captain would have thrown her out the first time her amateur Nancy Drew tendencies had surfaced. .
Wells listened carefully to what Jim was telling her about the murder, she worked quickly and the body was soon on its way down to Pending. Once, there was a hospital for the living and a morgue for the dead, now there was ‘pending’. The victim would remain there for three days, to see if she was rising as a fledgling vampire. If so, she would be taken to a halfway house, and if she was lucky, the vamps would take her into one of the clans, if not, she would be kept there until an Enforcer came to Cascade.
The Enforcers where the Vampire Police, they destroyed anyone that threatened the rule of the National Council of Vampires. .
The local Clan was in a state of flux at the moment, a new Master was due to arrive in Cascade. At 1200 years old, he was the most powerful vampire in the northern territories, and word was, that the last vampire to challenge him had been dead a nanosecond later. It was rumoured that he was one of the very first Enforcers, an Angel of Death once he found a vampire guilty there was no appeal, the vampire would face only the final true death at his hands.
So far, none of the living had seen him, and since he hadn’t yet registered
there was no knowing how reformed he was; some said he was still red of tooth and claw. If he followed the old rules then the streets could run red, and this young woman would only be the first of many that would die.
Over the next ten days another two bodies where found, all had their throats torn out, and were left in plain sight. It was no longer possible to keep the murders quiet. While the police worked, it hit the front pages and by 9.00 am one morning, the Cascade news programmes where full of it.
Dominating the newscast was Gerald Kincaid, the founder of the Sunrise patriots, a group of humans dedicated to keeping the human race clear of the taint of the supernatural. Kincaid made the most of the murders, and the threat that the supernatural posed to the people of Cascade.
Jim Ellison stepped off the elevator onto the floor, which housed the Department of Supernatural Crime, and saw the mission statement of the Cascade Police.
Bridges and partnership with each community, that together we improve the quality of life and sense of safety for us all, ensuring peace and security through sensitive, caring and creative police service.
Some said that in the modern world this statement was redundant, but Jim believed that they could make a difference, but not in the field of supernatural crime, the demarcation between normal and supernatural could never be crossed. The killing of the girls had been proof of that, they had paid the price for their infatuation with the undead, a warning to all those that might be seduced by the so-called romance of the vampire.
Sentinels were the hunters of the undead, but at the same time they had a lure to them that vampires could not ignore.
Ellison was aware of this, but if one of them ever thought they would claim him as their sentinel, then they would feel a wooden stake through their chest before they could draw the breath needed to speak.
His thoughts were brushed aside as he saw his Captain; she waved him into her office, closing the door behind her.
Taking a seat, Captain Merry opened the file in front of her.
“We have received word from one of our informers among the undead, that a new nest is being created. The vampire Master is only a fledgling himself, and instead of turning, he killed the two girls. You leave tonight and I want him staked.”
She watched Jim Ellison leave, the file in his hand. As a Sentinel with enhanced senses he was the perfect hunter, and as such, his hardwired mission, burned into his very heart and soul, was to protect the innocent from the evil that would prey on them. If anyone could find out the truth, it would be Jim Ellison.
Three Days Later:
The place only had one name, it was called the Facility, and for many people it was the last place they ever saw. It was situated deep inside a mountain, a military facility where the government wanted to recreate a legend. The scrolls told of a sentinel that would come, he would be the most powerful of his kind, and would unite the sentinels and create a clan to rival those of the ages. To control him, no that was too strong word - to partner him, would be his guide, who would match him in power and ability. They would work together, but the government wanted to make sure that it would be their hands controlling these two powerful beings.
They now had their chosen pair, all they had to do was put the two men together, and let the bond take place. In the past, they had tried chemical inducement to make the sentinel and guide bond, but Doctor Fields scoffed at that, nature was best. All that had to happen was to put the feral aggressor in a position that led him to his soul mate, then bonding would take place and it would be a bond that could not be broken. Now all they had to do was start the process.
The two doctors sat looking at the monitor, watching the man they had degraded down to a letter, a lab rat, more than a man. He had been stripped naked while unconscious and cleaned, then dressed in blue surgical scrubs with the identification X stencilled on the clothing. The moment he woke up, the wild, feral side was in charge, all vestiges of humanity were missing from him now. He was pacing the room, moving with the grace of an apex predator, his eyes fixed on the wall as if he could see them through the camera lens. The anger radiating from his body; his fist thudded into the door, rattling it even though it was bolted, denting the reinforced steel. If the onslaught continued he could be through the door, but that wouldn’t happen: they had something better for him than revenge, something he needed.
Dr Darren, a tall, grey haired man, his body slightly stooped, pointed to the second camera; his voice was matter of fact.
“We thought this might happen. Subject X’s level of violence was well documented when we took him, he killed three of our men before we managed to get him sedated, he tore their throats out with his bare hands.”
He paused, then added, “he shows great potential for the future, if we can harness that rage”. But even the doctor faltered when their subject looked into the lens of the camera as if he could see them, his lips pulled back in a snarl, as his hand lashed up, punching through the glass and smashing the camera lens. The last thing they heard was a blood curdling roar.
Dr Darren switched to the containment cell of Subject Y, who was heavily sedated. It was thought that this was for the best, because if Y struggled against the bond, then X might resort to violence as he had done the other times and kill the would-be mate. Better that Y, the most superior candidate they had ever had, remain passive through the bond.
The orderly had just finished preparing him for the bonding, the look on the man’s face was one of disgust, the connection between sentinel and Guide was one that most people didn’t understand, and it was hidden behind ritual. Mystic voodoo people could believe in, but it was the stark reality of it that they shied away from.
Subject X spun round as the door to his containment cell was opened, and he stalked through it, eyes flashing, a low rumbling growl coming from his throat. The door at the end of the short passage was still closed, but his head come up, and his fists began to pound against it.
Dr Darren swore, the release system on the door had failed and already it was beginning to buckle under the onslaught of Subject X . The orderly working on Y flinched as he could see it begin to give way, he made for the only other exit only to find that it was sealed closed. Frantically he hit the release button, only to hear the dull click as it refused to open, then suddenly the other door gave and Subject X was inside the cell, his eyes fixed on the unconscious man. The orderly backed away from the door, trying to circle round to the one that now stood open, the heavy door swinging on it’s remaining hinge. In moving, however, he attracted the attention of X who caught hold of him by the front of his overalls, and pulled him off his feet. Bringing the man forward until he was nose to nose with him, he bared his teeth, and snarled in his face, then with one quick movement threw the hapless man across the room. The orderly hit the wall with a sickening thud, and slumped to the floor, his body unmoving.
Dr Fields was on his feet, but was caught by the sleeve and pulled back down, as Dr Darren hissed, “It’s already too late, the fool should not have taken that long. They have been trained well; in the case of being caught in a bonding situation, they were to keep low and in a corner, so that the aggressor of the two would not see him as a threat.”
Even as he spoke, the orderly stirred and slowly, head hanging down, trying to regain his senses, struggled to his feet and lunged towards the open door. Before he could take more than a couple of steps, Subject X was on top of him; the crack was like a rifle shot as his neck was broken.
X turned back to the silent, still, figure on the table, his eyes fixed on him and for the first time a smile twitched his lips. He reached down, and almost timidly, trailed his fingers over the man’s face, his actions in stark contrast to the explosion of pure violence he had unleashed to kill the orderly, and to protect what was his, what he would claim.
Subject Y, eyes still closed, made a soft moan, as somewhere in his muddle-drugged mind, he recognised the touch, pushing up against the hand. For a moment, a look of total contentment touched Subject X’s face as if he felt the connection between them. Slowly, he leaned over Y, his face brushing the other mans’ throat, as he rested a hand over Y’s chest feeling the beat of his heart. He felt the lifeblood, thrumming through the veins, and knew then, their bonded life together, when it took place, would be magnificent.
Looking straight into the camera positioned over the table, he knew what they wanted; they thought him nothing more than an animal in heat that would take what he wanted without any regard for the other man.
No. When the bond came, the other would be willing, and it would be a bond of mind, body and soul.
In the control room Dr Field, hit the emergency alarm. This had gone too far, the two men had to be contained and that meant moving them into the bonding suite, the guards would do that, and then they could get this over and done with. He shot Dr Darren a withering look, the man saw things in black and white, and had seriously underestimated the reaction that X would have once they allowed the scent from Y’s room to bleed into his.
Now, as always, he was left to pick up the pieces of Darren’s botched experiments.
The emergency crew all carried stun sticks, which had enough power to put down an ox.
The smile X gave them was chilling, “want to play?”
The first one lunged forward only to be caught and thrown across the room. Blood splattered up across the walls and the camera lens, causing the shocked doctors to recoil backward from the monitor.
The doctors had never seen such force and power, all they could do was watch the men die.
X pulled Y over his shoulder in a fireman’s lift and walked out, stepping over the dead and dying. One of the crew made to grab at his ankle and received a crushing kick to the head.
Alarms began to sound all over the facility, the corridors began to be bathed in pulsing red light; security was running towards the escaping men to contain them before they could escape . The computer suddenly registered the breach to the outside world, and when the doctors arrived with reinforcements, all they found were corpses, shattered bodies of the men who had tried to stop X from leaving the facility. Anyone that stood in his way, had died.
Later, when they looked at the monitoring recording, they saw the final scene captured by the security cameras. X looking back up at the lens, “Come after us and you are dead.” Then he was gone, carrying his most precious cargo with him.
X travelled through the night, there was no way that he would allow his companion to be taken from him. His soul mate, for that was who he knew the other man to be, a meeting of old souls that were joined through destiny to become one. Better for them both to die and start the dance again in another age and time, than to risk being caught and experimented on.
Looking towards the breaking dawn, he shuddered, the light would be threat to them; he had to find cover to hide them until nightfall. The pipe sticking out of the bank proved to be the best he could find, it was off the road, and hard to find. Carefully he laid Y down, and leaned over him, checking his pulse, he felt the man shiver under his hand, he was cold. Lying down, he curled round the other man, pulling his unresisting body close, using his own body to keep him warm. His blissful thoughts were that soon the drug would release his mate and they would bond. No one then could take him away from him.
Y regained consciousness and his reactions were fast, he pushed the other man off him, and pinned him down, an arm pressed across his throat.
“Keep the fuck still.”
The smaller man obeyed the command, but far from being frightened he seemed proud of his mate’s reaction. He allowed himself a smile and it was then Jim Ellison swore, as in the moonlight filtering into the pipe, he saw the glint of the long fangs. He breathed one word. “Vampire!”
X slowly moved one hand, letting the fingers trail up the strong muscular arm. Noting the Sentinel didn’t brush it away, gave him hope.
The blue eyes that looked down at him didn’t show revulsion, as the sentinel leaned down and with one hand turned his face so that he could scent the vampires throat, and a feral growl rumbled deep in his chest.
Who, or what, his companion was didn’t matter, all he recognised now was that this was his mate. Deep in him the urge to bond had been ignited, and tonight, in a partly water-logged drainage pipe, they would bond.
He would take his mate and they would be joined, mind, body and soul.
The sun was setting as Blair Sandburg woke; his body held in a firm grip, his face pressed to a powerful chest. Before he could panic, he felt the emotions of his sentinel; that one word his, burned through him. He had a sentinel. He had spent his whole life searching for a sentinel.
The big man stirred against him, and for a moment, Blair felt a surge of fear, what if the sentinel rejected him? Now that the burning need for bonding had receded, he was, after all, a Vampire; the very prey that Sentinels sought out and killed. He alone had known the old Chronicles, hell he had written them, and knew the true relationship, between their species.
He remembered what had happened earlier, the sentinel had begun to run his hands over him, pulling open the scrubs to map his body, imprint him on his senses.; the touch had been like wild fire to him, for so long he had denied the very human need to touch and be touched. When finally complete, the sentinel had eased down on his side, and pulled him close, tucking him against the long hard line of his body.
After years of being alone, Blair had finally met the one person that would accept the truth, and he had allowed the darkness to take him.
The sound of a car engine brought the sentinel awake in a heartbeat, and Blair found himself pushed flat under the larger man, as Ellison readied himself to launch an attack if the Facility people had discovered them.
Blair had, for so long, been used to taking care of himself, he was quite surprised to find himself in such a protected position.
Head turning, Jim listened to the people talking and released his breath in a sigh, they were just lost, soon they would be on their way, no threat.
Although still alert, the Sentinel relaxed, and allowed the man to come through again.
For the first time in days, Jim Ellison smiled as he looked at the other man sprawled at his feet. “You okay down there Chief?”
Blair spat out some leaves. “Sure man, what’s it looking like?”
Slowly Blair got a hand under him and propped himself up against the inside of the pipe and for the first time really looked at his sentinel, liking what he saw. Before he could comment further, he was caught by the scruff and hauled out of the pipe, as Jim decided they needed to move on.
That car had been harmless, but if the people that had taken him were out there looking, then the next one might not be.
“Got to keep moving kid, got to make Cascade. The Captain is going to be looking for me, and I want to nail those bastards.”
The venom in Jim’s words lashed round Blair like a whip. He shuddered, only to be pulled close, hard hands moving over his body checking for damage, his sentinel was in blessed protector mode, a good sign their bonding had been successful.
“I am okay, promise.” Reaching out carefully even as he spoke,
Blair patted the broad chest affectionately. For a moment his heart moved into his mouth, as he thought he had impulsively gone too far.
Through their new connection he felt the sentinel’s mind go suddenly cold and Blair shuddered, as through the link he felt one word fix him through the chest like a stake. Vampire.
“Then where do we get this bond broken? I’ve got a life and it doesn’t include getting bonded.” Jim made his words harsh, the vampire might be his guide but he wasn’t going to let him take charge of this partnership. It wouldn’t hurt the vampire to know he had that option, what he didn’t expect was the reaction his words got.
“No!” Blair spat the word as he added, “You can’t. Mine.” His grip tightened on the sentinel’s shoulders, the look on his face one of confusion.
Blair’s fingers wrapped into the cloth of the sentinel’s shirt shaking the bigger, older man like a doll.
“Never, never, give you up.” He closed his eyes, “never”. When he opened them this time they were blazing with fury and their gold colour was breath taking. His fangs where long, but Jim understood that there was no threat, Blair had for the moment lost control.
“Okay chief.” Jim placed his hands on the younger man’s arms, the panic had been alarming but he had felt the kid’s emotions and believed him, and silently cursed what he had said. He had never bothered with the sentinel/guide lectures; it was not a state that he had ever wanted to enter. His records clearly stated that if he ever entered a Sentinel coma he should not be resuscitated by a guide. Better to die as he lived, independent and free, but now all that had been turned on its head. Whereas he didn’t want his young guide, correction his vampire guide, to take control, no sentinel would permit that, he no longer wanted to be alone and he sensed the same emotions in the vampire.
Getting a firm grip on Blair, he moved him backward, creating space between them, waving a finger right in the younger man’s face as a warning. When words failed to get across what he wanted to say he just shrugged, there were so many questions he needed answering about his unconventional guide, but they could wait, for in the meantime there were more important things to face.
“Now let’s get the hell out of here.” Jim began to walk.
For a moment Blair didn’t move, then began to follow, then quickening his pace, caught up with him.
Together, they began the long walk back to Cascade.
For a long time the guide was quiet, then finally he said.
“So what do you do, man?” Blair asked.
“Detective, Cascade PD,” he paused “YOU?”
Blair looked at him hearing the stress on the word you.
“Student, Rainer University, working on my PhD.”
Blair did a little bounce and grinned, “At the last count, five PhD’s six MA’s,” he shrugged, “BA’s who knows? Stopped counting. You?”
“High school diploma.”
Blair stopped in his tracks, as Jim kept walking “Honest?”
“No Chief, I have a degree in engineering,” then added low enough for Blair to just hear him, “typical Vampire, thinks they have all the smarts.”
The vampire all but hugged himself, the fact that Jim was teasing him, was a good sign that they would develop a friendship beyond the bond.
Jim just nodded, his senses had wrapped round the guide, and his questions had now been answered, but there was something wrong. Looking critically at him, he decided, for the time being, it didn’t matter.
During the journey they kept away from the main road, there was no telling if the facility was still looking for them and they travelled only at night.
Carefully they skirted round one small town before coming to Sherwood.
It was the kind of place where everyone knew each other. From a vantage point, Jim knelt and using his senses, carefully scanned the town. The lights of the small town began to burn through his brain, when a hand touched his shoulder and instead of completing the spiral down into a zone out, he was pulled back by the touch of his guide.
Only when he was sure there was no sign of any of the Facility’s vehicles, did he get up, and start to head into town. He didn’t have to turn round to know that Blair was following him. He could feel the vibes coming off him, the natural hard wired instinct that allowed a sentinel to know where his guide was at all time.
Blair smiled and bounced, his sentinel was accepting him. Only when he was sure would he be able to tell him the whole truth.
Jim paused round the corner from the Police Station, making one final check, before taking his guide in. Carefully he listened for the heart beats in the
Station, counting four, their talk was nothing that indicated that the Facility men had been there.
One of the police officers got to his feet as the two strange men entered, only for the senior officer to wave him down.
Looking them up and down, critically, he drawled. “What can I do for you gentlemen?”
Jim began to fill the man in, starting with his name.
A look of recognition flitted across Captain Joe Reynolds face, “Lot of people been looking for you, detective.” His gaze switched to Blair, “but no one told us about this kid”.
The sentinel nodded and continued with his story; suddenly the phone rang and Reynolds reached out to answer it. As queer as the story sounded, the facts that Ellison was a police officer and had been kidnapped was enough for him.
He looked puzzled as he handed the phone to Jim Ellison, “It’s for you.”.
Keeping his face neutral Jim took the phone, the voice was one he remembered from when he had first arrived at the Facility, the doctor that had examined him when he was restrained, and then had drugged him. Jim’s mouth set in a hard line.
“Detective Ellison, the people you are with are in danger, the beast is out, and it will kill everyone there, can you afford that to happen?”
Jim took a steadying breath. “It’s controlled and that is something your kind will never understand,” he snarled, and slammed the telephone down with a bang
Jim looked at Blair and shook his head, and then turned back to Captain Reynolds.
“We need to get back to Cascade as quickly as possible, can you arrange that?” he asked, then began to dial the number for Cascade Department of Supernatural Crime, .
Halfway through he paused and looked over his shoulder at the younger man standing back from him. His eyes down, not looking at the police officers but at the floor self-consciously, all too aware of what he looked like; long, shoulder length hair matted, clothes dirty, hands scratched.
Blair Sandburg flinched and glanced up as one of the police officers came over, the man examining him over the top of his cup of coffee, making no attempt to offer him a drink.
Turning to Jim as the detective put the phone down, he said. “You really going to take that lab rat to Cascade with you?”
Blair looked back to the floor, and pulled back, physically and mentally.
When Jim moved, it was so fast that the police officer only had a chance for a muffled squawk as he was thrown up against the wall, his feet drumming on the ground, the coffee splashing out from the dropped cup.
“Now how would you know that he was a lab rat, I never told you that?” He tightened the hold on the man’s throat, ignoring the other police officers pulling their guns on him.
“Tell them!” Jim’s voice was arctic cold.
“Okay,” the man croaked. “They gave me $450 dollars for every body I could find for them, why the hell not? They’re only drifters.”
His voice faded as the grip on his throat tightened and then Jim threw him across the room to Captain Reynolds, “You heard him.”
Captain Reynolds was already getting the cuffs out, a look of disgust on his face.
Only then did Jim reach out and pull Blair to him, his blue eyes ice old. “And this is my guide, no lab rat.” He felt the younger man lean into him. The connection between them flared, reacting to the threat to the bond.
In that moment he publicly acknowledged the bond, and felt the guide’s emotions rush through his mind. Jim’s eyes widened as he saw parts of his guide’s former life swirl past him. He looked down at Blair, as he felt the smaller man’s hand grip his shirtfront, but met his gaze levelly, and a smile touched his lips.
Blair lowered his head, he had seen total acceptance in his sentinel’s eyes, and that was all he needed. He had waited more than one lifetime for this moment.
His gaze settled on the man who had betrayed the trust of countless people, delivering them to the horrors of the Facility, and for a heart beat the mask of the innocent student slipped, and his true personality showed, then it was gone. Looking up, he knew his sentinel had seen it, but all the man did was pull him closer.
“Let the police deal with him, believe me, in prison his life is going to be a living hell.”
Blair nodded, and buried his face against his sentinels shoulder, but if justice failed them, he would not.
Jim was shaving, when the door to the bathroom opened and Blair wandered in, and for a moment just stood there. Watching his sentinel, he frowned as he saw a scar running across the man’s body at waist level, it looked as if something had tried to gut him. Blair shuddered at the thought he might have lost his sentinel before he’d had a chance to meet him. He would use all his knowledge and ability to keep his sentinel alive.
Jim just kept on shaving, the tugging at the back of his mind had lessened when the guide had entered the room; he could feel the emotions of the younger man winding round his mind, a soft caress fuelled by a need.
The sentinel hesitated with the razor in his hand; it was this kind of violation that he had always fought against, the need of another person that he felt keener than any emotion he’d ever felt before. In the mirror he could see the younger man, and felt a surge of protective need, the animal inside of him rising up in response to that need.
Now he had to explain Blair Sandburg to the Cascade police department and get him accredited as his guide. Then he realised, “I can see you”, and he motioned with the razor at the mirror”.
Blair shifted. “That’s because we’re bonded James,” his tone caressed the name, causing the Sentinel to roll his eyes to the heavens, but Blair continued.
“Others would only see a blank mirror, but you have the sight, because of our bond, you can see me where others can’t. You are,” he paused, “in tune with me, one mind, one body, one soul”.
Cascade Police Department.
Office of the newly merged Department of Supernatural Crime, , now Major Crimes Department.
“James Joseph Ellison,” Captain Simon Banks said the name slowly, and fixed the woman sitting across from him with a stern look.
Katherine Merry had been promoted to Commissioner, due to take over her new post in three days time. She was trying to explain things to her replacement, and old time friend, what he needed to know if he was going to survive in office. With the increase in funding Katherine had obtained ; it had allowed Simon to bring his old department, nearly intact, into the newly created Major Crimes Department.
“Katherine, you can’t be serious,’ the grim reaper’, half of my department would s...” he trailed off. “Have a heart attack if he walked through the door, he’s an executioner, pure and simple, he...”
“He’s a good man Simon, one that will lose himself, if we don’t help him.
I have worked with him for the last year; believe me, when he first walked through my door, I was just as unsure about him. But there is a man deep in there that is worth saving; you just have to get through to him. It’s not easy, but once you have his trust, you have his loyalty.”
Simon was about to make a snide remark when he suddenly remembered something he had heard about a group of terrorists that had gone after Katherine Merry’s family out for revenge and that Ellison had been the one who had saved them. She seemed to read his mind.
“Jim did that for me, and took a bullet in the side that nearly killed him. I owe him the chance of living; former Commissioner Jack Miller and the others would see him dead. I need this, I need to repay him. We nearly lost him once, I will not see him lost again.”
Simon leaned back in his chair. “How are Sentinels connected to the supernatural? They’re mortal, just like us.”
“That is a long story. It appears that sentinels are connected through time; they are hunters and protectors of the tribe. Cascade is Jim Ellison’s tribe and he will lay his life down to protect it, and I see it as our duty to help him. Don’t you Simon?” She left the question hanging in the air.
Brian Rafe was the youngest member of the newly merged department, he, like all the others, had heard about Jim Ellison, and the fact the Sentinel was back in Cascade. But he had yet to meet him; all he knew was the man had gone on duty the moment he had returned. Now he was looking at him.
Ellison was dressed in the black combat clothes worn by the Hunters, the Elite supernatural Squad; he had a couple of days growth of beard. The weaponry he carried was the favourite of the Squad; he had a cut to the head, and was dragging in a limp body behind him. Letting it fall with a thud to the floor, he fixed Brian Rafe with a look. “See to him, get him booked and watch the fangs.”
At that moment the vamp tried to lunge at Brian, his teeth snapped shut only inches from his neck; the Hunter had a hand on the Vamp’s throat and was holding him back.
He looked Brian Rafe up and down and made a tutting noise, then threw the snarling vampire at the uniformed officers who’d hurried up. He was caught and forced down on the carpet and cuffed.
The rest of the room was staring at the newcomers until the older man snarled. “What are you waiting for? Want me to draw you a picture?”
Brian immediately went across to help drag the prisoner away, keeping well away from the hunter.
The Hunter reached into his pocket and pulled out a cigar and lit it, exhaling the smoke slowly, as Simon came to his door.
His companion was a smaller man, younger, his clothes typical student style; his hair was long and came down to his shoulders in long dark curls. Moving close, right into the Hunter’s personal space, he reached up and plucked the cigar from his lips and took a drag on it himself, puffing the smoke into the air, his eyes never leaving that of the sentinel.
“Earn you an early coffin James,” his tone, as he said the name, dropped to a seductive drawl, then added, “Can’t have that.” He took another puff, savouring the taste of the cigar then dropped it onto the floor and ground it with the toe of his hiking boot. “Unless you want to share”.
It seemed as if the whole room was holding its breath, waiting for the explosion. Instead, the older man just shook his head, ruffled the dark, unruly hair affectionately, then saw his Captain and made his way across to her.
Katherine Merry stepped back allowing the two men to enter Simon’s office. She kept her face neutral, the companion was a new element to her, and she was just as keen as Captain Simon Banks to find out who he was. Anyone that could get that close to Ellison and live needed a medal.
The last man to get into his personal space had been smeared across the wall five minutes later.
“James.” Whatever Katherine Merry was about to say remained unsaid, she couldn’t stop a flinch as she heard the hiss. It was the particular sound, once heard never forgotten, it was a hiss on the intake of breath and only one creature could do that.
Simon reached for his gun, only to be surprised when Katherine caught his arm. She had seen that look before, and kicked herself for not understanding.
The reason that a sentinel was so useful in catching Vampires was they where like catnip to them. The kid might look like a riot in a paint factory, a throw back to the 1960 hippy culture, with his long hair, he didn’t look a day over 23, but there was more to him than that.
She was looking at a vamp, and of course, those flashing fangs where a dead give away, she gave a slight smile as she pardoned the pun.
“Detective Sentinel, I don’t think that you have introduced us to him.”
She saw the muscle in Ellison’s jaw tighten.
“Captain Katherine Merry, Guide Blair Sandburg.
Chief this is my Captain,” Jim completed the introductions.
“You’re missing something Detective.” Simon put in, and then held his ground as two of the most penetrating blue eyes he’d ever seen fixed on him.
“Sentinel, Guide, it’s easy. What do you need, finger puppets?” The young man cut in, then ducked as the Sentinel clipped him across the back of the head, he did nothing more than ruffle his hair.
“Like what, Sir?” Jim asked politely, but the tone was far from respectful.
“Why I am looking at a Vampire in my office?” Banks asked.
“Blair is a guide, my guide.” It wasn’t just as answer it was a statement of fact.
“Think of it as an alternate life style,” Blair cut in again. He couldn’t help it, the tall, dark man was such a good foil; he knew he could have hours of fun with him, if his sentinel would allow him.
“Chief,” Jim drawled, “what did I tell you?” He raised an eyebrow waiting for an answer.
“Don’t play with your food?”
Jim just looked at him, and the younger man shrugged. “Okay man, okay.”
He ticked them off on his fingers: “Don’t play with your food, never bed a vampire hag, keep your d...” He looked at the older woman, and gave her a grin, “we should skip that one Jim,” he paused. “No screwing with the mortals’ heads.”
“Yeah that one. I got your message Captain Merry, what can we do?”
Instead of taking time off, Jim had gone straight back to work, cleaning out some illegal vampire nests. This was the first time since the abduction that he had returned to the office, and his new commanding officer.
“First, by telling me how you met. Guide Sandburg, doesn’t look your type.” Simon was good, at reading people, and Ellison looked old school military, all my way or the highway, the kid, especially since he was a vampire, didn’t fit the picture he was building in his head.
“Met Blair in the zone. Some doctors decided I looked like a lab rat, Blair was taken too, he’s a guide and we bonded.” Jim saw the look his Captain was giving him; she would want the story in full.
“Bonded?” Simon asked.
Only to be treated with a look of utter disgust from Blair; the mortal was so dim, he didn’t understand that no one asked a sentinel anything about the bond, it was sacrosanct.
Jim looked the newcomer up and down, and raised an eyebrow at Katherine, but before he could comment Blair said.
“Bonded, mortal, until true death.” Blair allowed the long fangs to slide into place, as his eyes changed to the colour of old gold. He had not taken his sentinel from that place to have his bond questioned.
Blair, subject X, had destroyed the people in the Facility, removing any threat to his unconscious Sentinel, as he had used his super human strength to carry him way over his shoulder. If Simon Banks was going to be a problem he was sure that he could justify another massacre.
. Blair’s lips twisted up slightly as he liked the idea, he saw the way the man leaned back away from him at the sight of his fangs, and that smile became a little broader. He was sure he could make his sentinel understand that it was for the best.
Katherine exchanged a look with her Hunter. “He really that old?”
She didn’t need the words to confirm what she was thinking, it was a verified fact that the colour of the eyes of a vampire told the age of the creature, only those of great age had eyes the colour of old gold. He might look like he was only in his mid-twenties, but he was at least five hundred years old and counting.
“Yeah, Blair’s at least what....?” he cocked his head at his Guide.
“850, last birthday, but don’t feel a day over 25,” the vampire drawled back, his head tilted to one side, “this the lady you were talking about?” He moved forwards and slowly circled her; his eyes flicking up and down her body from face to toes and back again. There was nothing sexual in his gaze, but there was a calculated menace.
Katherine kept her nerve, Jim would never let anyone harm her, but this vampire was something different, and Jim was looking at him with such a look of tolerance. Finishing his 360 around her, Blair repeated the same circling of Simon and then suddenly grinned and did a bounce.
“Captain Simon Banks, right?” he gave another bounce as he saw the confirmation. “This is sooooo good, James.” He cooed the name as he took his place at his Sentinel’s flank, his hand moving up and down, caressing his arm, igniting the link between them.
He let his head drop on Jim’s shoulder, rubbing his face against his sentinel’s neck just because he could.
He seemed to almost lose himself in the sensation, but as Simon moved, his head lifted quickly and his eyes fixed on the tall captain.
“There is a contract on your head Captain Merry, worth a cool half of a million”. He gave a flash of his fangs, “and that would buy a lot for my sentinel.” Blair was almost purring.
“Chief!” the one word was a warning.
Katherine cut across him; “Captain Banks is taking over Major Crime next week on my promotion to Commissioner.”
Jim’s smile was brilliant, “Congratulations, Captain Merry.”
“Thank you James.” She saw the way that Blair was looking at her.
When she had first acquired Jim into her department she had read up extensively on Sentinel and Guides, and understood more than the normal person. The dynamics between the two were intense and no guide would take kindly to anyone trying to take their sentinel. It was a two way street, and the main reason that no marriages between a bonded sentinel and guide and a normal had taken place in the last 100 years and looking at the Vampire in front of her she could see why. Newly bonded, the intense way he was looking at her was a clearer warning than if he was holding a six foot sign over Jim Ellison reading ‘touch him and you’re history’. She could only hope that as the bond established it would calm down, but looking at the Vampire she had a gut feeling that Simon was going to have his hands full. Guide Sandburg’s protective and possessive nature fused with that of the vampire could be lethal.
“Blair mentioned a vendetta, so what did you do now Captain?” Jim drawled but there was real concern in his voice.
Simon sat at his desk, looking from guide to sentinel and back again, as Katherine explained, “I came close to taking down Gerald Kincaid, leader of the Sunset Patriots.”
“Kincaid has a hatred of all things supernatural.” Blair gave a soft whistle, “ambitious and stupid.” He grinned, “This is going to be fun”.
Jim ignored his guide and cut across him. “So why did you do it?”
“He was behind the attack on two of the local vamp nests, with a loss of three fledglings. It was escalating to an all out war, and so I brought him in, but was unable to hold him.” There was a pause. “The people see him as a saviour against the evils of the supernatural. No human witness would stand up, and the defence knew that no human jury is going to find against him, not unless the evidence is water tight and that’s why they let him go.”
The look of disgust on Blair’s face changed to one of total contempt.
“Whose nest was hit?” Jim asked, with a glance at his Guide.
“Lucas, and Richard.” Katherine looked towards the vampire, “you know them?”
Blair ignored the questions, Simon saw his lips move and the sentinel nodded.
Simon jumped in, and brought his fist down hard on the desk. “I will not have that, you speak and you do it so that everyone can hear, none of this sentinel voodoo.”
“Jim “ Katherine said. Simon was a good friend and she could understand his concern for her and her family, but she had a good friend in Jim Ellison. So had to intercede.
The Sentinel shook his head. “I apologise. Chief, tell him what you just told me.”
“Huh, Lucas and Richard are good masters, they will want revenge for the death of their young, but they are also good men. If you can prove that you’re taking it seriously, it would guarantee that there would be no blood bath.”
“Then that, Detective Ellison, is your next job. Go to the nest and speak to them, reassure them of our good intentions.” Simon put in and then added, “Captain Merry said that you had gone to get information, did you find anything about the killing?”
“No, he was dead when I arrived, and then I got involved with Blair.”
Simon looked thoughtfully at the Vampire, “How do you know that he wasn’t involved in your kidnapping?”
“Ellison. NO.” Katherine just managed to get between him and his new Captain.
She had seen that look before and was stepping in before it got out of hand. A newly bonded sentinel was particularly touchy about their guide, and Simon was punching all the wrong buttons.
She held the icy stare and added, “Answer the question Ellison.”
“Blair got me out of the facility, they were trying to force a bond, they had plans for a bonded Sentinel and Guide pairing.”
In his mind, Jim saw through his drugged eyes, Subject X coming to him, the young man with the face of an angel and the fangs and blood strained face of one of the apex predators, the Vampire. He had been pulled to his feet, his hand had brushed the X marked overalls that the young man was wearing, then he had been thrown over a shoulder, and that was the last thing he had remembered.
Jim pulled himself back from the past as he continued. “Later that night we bonded.” The look in Jim’s eyes softened as he looked at his guide, wrapping his senses round the smaller man. Reaching out, he snagged his Guide’s arm, pulling him close, only then did some of the tension leave his body. Blair turned in his grip, his back to the two senior officers, he looked up and met the intense burning gaze of his sentinel, his smile was knowing. Jim wanted to bond.
“Ellison.” Katherine snapped the name, bringing the sentinel out of his guide-induced overload. New sentinels could lose themselves in their guides, it was then she realised that she could never afford to underestimate Sandburg. Where Jim was concerned he held all the cards
Picking up on Katherine’s silent cue, Simon asked.
“Captain Merry mentioned the arrival of a new Master Vampire could prove to be a problem, he hasn’t yet made himself known. Would he have been beyond the death of the girls? We believe the Sunset Patriots are killing in revenge for their deaths. If he is, how did you call him, Red of tooth and claw? Could he be marking his territory first?”
It was Blair who spoke, not bothering to turn round, his attention fixed on his sentinel. “A new master in Cascade would have been more likely to have been recruiting then just feeding, he would need to create his own nest first. Have any of the dead raised yet?”
Katherine shook her head, “No, the last victim has been released for burial.”
“Then you have someone killing for the joy of it, not for creating a new nest. You need to look closer to home Captain.” Only then did he turn round and when he smiled he showed his fangs, “We need to bond, so if you’ll excuse us.”
Blair pulled back, and was rewarded with a dark throaty growl. He tapped Jim’s broad chest affectionately, “Catch me if you can sentinel.” Blair moved and before the others could register it, he was out of the door, and Jim was on his heels.
Seeing the shocked look on Simon’ s face Katherine smiled, “You haven’t worked with a sentinel and guide before, have you Simon?”
The Captain shook his head, “No.”
“If you had, you would be used to that. Bonding is the cornerstone of their relationship, it’s through that, they achieve the balance that allows the sentinel to use their powers without fear of falling into a mental void that would kill them. And that includes hunting down their guides, call it part training exercise, part courting ritual. All you can do with it, is to find a neutral corner, close your eyes, plug up your ears and hum the hits of the 1990’s until it all goes away.”
Simon’s head suddenly snapped round as he heard a roar echo through the building, the sound of a large predator hunting its prey.
Pointing towards the door he asked, “That was Ellison?”
“Yes Simon, that was Ellison.” She reached across to her office bookcase, and out of the box of books she was packing away, picked one out and tossed it to him. “Sentinel 101, read it, and then you’ll know just what I mean. Oh, and now Jim’s bonded, take a look at chapters 10, 12 and advance level 15.”
Simon turned the page to advance level 15 and stared at the picture, his mouth dropping open. He moved the picture away from him, and then rotated it slowly, as if trying to get a handle on what he was looking at.
“Just go with the flow Simon, just go with the flow.”
Simon had the feeling his world had just gotten a lot more complicated.
Henri Brown and his partner Brian Rafe exchanged a look as they saw Jim Ellison and his guide get out of the car. They knew all about Jim Ellison, the man was called the Grim Reaper, and you didn’t mess with him. The younger man bouncing along by his side was his guide.
Ellison nodded a greeting to them and then looked up at the building. Richard’s nest was an old Theatre; as they entered, they were confronted by a steel door, and a data pad. Jim raised an eyebrow, then smashed his hand down on it. The result was instantaneous, and a Vampire appeared, looking down at them from an observation platform. Holding his ID up he knew that the Vamp would read it.
“Cascade PD.” Then added “or do you want us to call round at dawn?”
There was a long pause and the steel door opened in front of them.
The vampires were grouped round their Master, a tall blond haired man, in flowing black.
“Master Richard.” Jim spoke without any hostility, “we are here to investigate the death of your fledglings”.
“If you fail I will...” he trailed off and focused on the man who came out from behind the large, powerfully built man. His mouth worked and he finally said the name. “Blair”.
“Richard,” As Blair came forward, one of the younger vampires jumped at him, angry at the disrespect to their master.
Blair lashed out, sending him flying across the stage, without even breaking stride. “Fledglings.” Blair dismissed him with contempt.
“You are with this... “ Richard paused, his face lightening, “Sentinel,” his voice caressing the word, and took a step forward then stopped as he saw the look on Blair’s face. The smaller vampire’s fingers flared and the long claws slid out as his teeth pulled back over his lips, and his eyes became golden.
Richard immediately stepped back, “Sorry M...”
“It is accepted.” Blair cut in quickly, “James is mine, bonded and claimed, understand?” The last word was said with a snarl, confirming the threat.
Richard nodded and waved them to take a seat, “I am sure that you will Detective...?”.
Richard smiled, “Yes of course.” He paused “What are you going to do about my fledglings?”
“We fill find the killer and he will face the full justice of the court.”
Richards’s eyes flicked from the sentinel to his guide, “Your word is enough Sentinel Ellison”, and he gave a small nod of the head to Blair.
Leaving, Jim knew that, for the moment, he had bought time, but if the killings continued then it might unleash a civil war in Cascade that would bring nothing but grief.
Blair was sitting on the desk, a file in his hands, his eyes flicking up from the page to look round the room; this was going to be his sentinel’s working environment, and he wanted to know who was hostile against him.
He was sure that Banks and Merry hadn’t told the others that he was a vamp, they wouldn’t be acting this friendly if they had. Of course he was sure that the two commanding officers were hoping to get rid of him, they would like Jim to have a nice guide, a human guide. But he had waited more lifetimes than a human could comprehend to be united with his sentinel, and no one would ever take him away.
Jim came in and sat down in his chair and the hint of a smile touched his lips.
He tapped his file on Blair’s thigh, “How many people know what this master looks like?”
Blair tilted his head slightly, and shrugged, “The Master hasn’t been in this territory before, so you’re looking at none. Why?”.
“No one is ,going to be safe until we get Kincaid under lock and key, legally and no Chief; his death would just add fuel to their anger. We have to catch him in the act. So meet the Master” He saw the sceptical look on Blair’s face and asked, “You have a problem with that?”
“Won’t work James, you’re not a vampire, even a fledgling would know that. But since I am 820, I could pass myself off as the Maser, and the fact that you, my sentinel, my mate, would add to the illusion”.
Jim looked up to the heavens. “My name is Jim not James, and Richard and his nest know you’re not the Master, they...”.
Blair bounced “I know him James,“ the Guide deliberately put the stress on the name. ”I could convince him to go along”.
“Are you sure chief?”.
“I am sure I can”. Reaching into his coat he took out his dark glasses, as he got to his feet his hand skimmed Jim’s shoulder, and then he was gone.
Katharine approached as Blair left, “Dawn’s breaking, is it safe for him?”
Jim nodded. “Blair’s taking the truck, I have had the windows treated against sun rays, and he will be alright.” He paused. “What aren’t you asking me?”
“James, are you sure that he is the one?”
“I don’t doubt it for a moment. I didn’t want him to start with, but then something clicked in my head, and I can’t think of my life without him. In the sentinel vow there is one line which until now, I could never understand, it’s this one, ‘my guide unto death, one body, one heart, one soul”.
Now he knew why, and it was no longer just words.
Jim Ellison stood in front of the mirror and looked at his reflection, he was clean-shaven and had had a good sleep, and he was dressed all in black. He would soon step in front of the cameras very soon, as the Master of the City’s Sentinel bodyguard, a role that had never been seen in living memory. A throwback to the times when the Masters each had a Sentinel bodyguard to protect them;, their enhanced senses tuned into the Master, their primary mission to protect their Vampire Guide, and Master.
He heard the gasp from behind him, and turned slightly to see Blair standing there, without for once the colourful clothes. He, too, was wearing sombre all black. He closed the distance between them, and then brushed a spot off the broad shoulders. “Ready Sentinel?”
Jim returned the smile, “Ready”. He paused then added. ”Master”.
Blair’s smile was brilliant, and then he was heading for the door, as Jim called after him, “Don’t get used to it Chief, you hear, you’re just play acting remember?”
The smile he got in return was brilliant, as he flashed his fangs at his sentinel.
The Vampire Council for the city of Cascade was in session, but everything stopped as Blair walked through, flanked by his sentinel. If he was nervous, the younger man didn’t show it, he looked at Joseph who sat in the central chair.
“I believe that you’re in my place.”.
The Nest Masters looked at him, as if sizing him up. Joseph’s mouth twisted in a smile, “Child, you would have us believe that you are the Future Master of Cascade?”
Blair smiled back; he looked down at his nails then moved so fast that the other vampire didn’t even have a chance to get to his feet, as he was thrown backward, still in his chair, with a foot to his throat. Looking up into the gold eyes of the younger looking man, he saw the fangs slide down into place.
He had misjudged the situation and was now going to pay the price.
Jim heard the Vampire behind them move and dropping to one knee, he brought his hand out from his jacket and the fire hardened stake arched up, and into the chest of the attacking Vampire. It screamed and then staggered back, smoking hands clawing at the stake, then gasped and smoke poured from the open mouth, the head arched back and then the body ignited, and only dust remained.
Bending, Jim picked up the stake, and only then turned back to Blair. The look on the faces of the Council was a picture, they said one word ‘Sentinel’.
Their Master was here, with a sentinel bodyguard, the first in a millennium.
Blair’s voice took on a lower timbre as he spoke in a language that was older than time. “Who am I?“
“Master of Cascade, Lord of the Council.”
The younger looking vampire nodded, only then removing his foot. Turning, Blair walked back to his sentinel. Jim suddenly yelled his name, Blair dropped to the floor as the stake thrown hard and true like a javelin cut through the air over his head, thudding into the chest of the vampire, Blair had humiliated.
Not even looking over his shoulder, Blair closed the distance to his sentinel. Reaching up he cradled the other man’s face in the palm of his hand so that his thumb brushed his lips as his fingers rested on the jugular vein. He could feel his Sentinel’s heart pumping the elixir of life through his body. Their eyes met and held as he placed his other hand over Jim’s heart. He could feel the life’s blood, then a strong arm circled round his waist and he exhaled as felt their connection run through them. Jim’s reactions, already lightening fast, had been ratched up even higher, as he fulfilled his destiny.
Blair looked up again, and then with Jim flanking him, turned and took his seat at the head of the Council.
Richard smiled broadly “It’s good to see you Master Blaer”
“Richardo greetings.” Blair’s voice took on a warm tone.
Without looking round he could feel through their link his sentinel tensing.
“James, a small deception nothing more.”
“Master of Cascade, you said you were 820 years old.”
Richard laughed, “Blaer has seen more than one change of the Millennia..“
Only then did Blair turn to see his sentinel.
“You’re that old?” Jim raised a hand, his fingers brushing the younger looking man’s face.
“Good bone structure runs in the family.” He gave him a smile, but Jim was looking as grim as his nickname the Grim Reaper.
Blair shrugged and then turned back to the council. He could see that he would have a lot of explaining to do.
First, however, he had to enforce his will on the Council and then on a stubborn Sentinel Prime of Cascade and Bodyguard of the Vampire Prime of Cascade and the Northern Territories. That could wait.
Allowing his eyes to glow and his fangs to slide into place he leaned forward, “Now, to business, gentlemen.”