Disclaimer: The main characters are not mine, this is an amateur effort written purely for the fun of it, and no money has exchanged hands, and it is not intended to breach the copyright of Paramount and Pet Fly Publication.
With thanks to Nancy, Gail, Dawn and Sabrina, thanks for the beta read and the input.
Children of the Blood is a stand-alone GDP story.
Children of the Blood
The Grand Hotel
Ellen Brooks pushed her dark hair back from her eyes and looked down at the man in her bed, his smile was everything that she could have wanted. Before she could speak, she was pulled down into an earth-shattering kiss, he rolled so that he was pinning her down, but there was no threat in his actions.
Her lover was well built and strong, but he was never anything but gentle. Even when they played he was always careful not to overpower her. He was considerate and loving, and he loved her with ever fiber of his being; she knew that with every word he said, and every touch. This was the man Ellen knew she was going to spend the rest of her life with.
He smiled down at her. It was brilliant and straight from the heart, and she could not help but return it. But all the same....
"We have to talk." He stilled her with the touch of his finger against her mouth.
"Come on, Ellen. I only have another four hours before I have to leave, and I can think of better things to be doing than just talking." The tone of his voice dropped to a sexy husky tone that melted her resolve, and she began to move against him, in a way she knew would get his immediate attention. Her mouth was plundered by his kisses, and she responded.
Three months later:
Lt. Ellen Brooks was on the run. She was three months pregnant, the GDP had taken an interest in her, and she had no choice now but to go AWOL. Her child, given her family history, would be either a sentinel or a guide. Either way, she wanted her to grow up free of the taint of the GDP.
Her mother had been of the People, and only on the Reservation would she be safe from the GDP. They had no jurisdiction on the Reservation since the early part of the century when it had been made an independent state.
Before leaving, she had collected together all her papers, her journals, and the picture of her lover. She had written a letter telling him about the baby, but had stayed her hand when she had been going to post it. The man her lover was would have come back to her through hell and high water, and he would marry her, damn everyone else. She could not let him do that, but she could make sure that later her daughter and lover could meet. Then, and only then, would the family be together.
19 years later
The Reservation of the People
Uncle Élan looked up at the full moon and began to chant. He was the Shaman of the People. He was nearly blind, and in his late seventies, but had enough energy for a 40-year-old. In each hand he held the feather of the eagle, the sacred bird of his people. With each pass of the feathers through the smoke he intoned the words.
He held the feathers in one hand as he added the powders to the red heat of the fire. They snapped and burst in the heat sending up a shower of sparks into the night sky.
BOAC Flight 344
Tehya Brooks looked out to the window of the aircraft, watching the clouds as they passed, then looked back to the young woman seated at her side, Zeta.
At 19, Tehya was a tall, well-built girl with short dark hair and deep hazel eyes. She was pretty in her own way, but lacked the cool classic good looks of her guide. She wore the light green uniform of a sentinel at the Institute of Sentinel Studies in Cambridge England. She had been attending the Institute since she was ten years old. After her mother had died, she had been sent to study out of America. Tehya could picture all too clearly the meeting of the Elders of the People. They had argued long and hard into the night, that she would have to be trained if she was one day going to be the Sentinel Prime of the People. But none of them trusted the GDP, even though Glen Evans had shown himself to be a trusted friend of the Council. Rather than her being rogue, it was agreed that she go aboard to train. This way the GDP would have not authority over her, since she was registered. Her visits home had been rationed by the cost of the air tickets. Since the oil had run dry in the Far East, the cost of transatlantic travel had more than tripled.
The email from her Uncle had informed her that the time was now right to meet her future guide, Tyler Grey-eagle. Following traditional Sentinel selection, the guide was always younger than the sentinel, the idea being that the guide would not challenge the dominance of the sentinel, the need to be the alpha in the relationship. But Tehya had a secret that she knew was now going to go like a lead balloon. She already had a guide. They had not bonded, and in England, guide and sentinel were more matched in age. A fledgling connection, rather than being frowned on, was encouraged. The idea was simple--the two would grow up together, and the bond, when it came, would be all that much stronger.
The guide was an equal in the partnership of the bond, not in the GDP mode of a second-class citizen. But she knew that her Uncle and the Council would not like this new addition. Tehya looked across at her fledgling guide. They were still too young to bond, but already they had a connection. Zeta was asleep, her head resting trustingly on her Sentinel's shoulder. Where as she was tall, Zeta was small and slim, well suited to Teyha's nickname for her of Stick Insect.
Zeta was from the East End of London, and although the school had taken away her accent, they couldn't take way her past or the fact that she had a vocabulary that would blister paint.
They had agreed to come together. She had felt through the link that Zeta was scared. This was a country that treated fellow empaths like slaves, and she was an empath. Tehya had told her again and again that she did not have to come, but Zeta had stuck to her guns. No American empath was going to claim her sentinel, and as a British citizen, the GDP could not touch her. They had decided to enter the county in uniform to just make the point.
Tehya picked her book up, and began to read through it. Know your enemy; the book was the GDP Handbook. The most basic difference appeared to be that the GDP had started off following Burton's work, still a cornerstone of their thinking, but then had gone on to take in the work of Speke, Burton's often partner in his exploring. The Cambridge Institute had remained faithful only to Burton. A simple thing, but a factor in when the GDP had turned from their original aims some fifty years ago.
Tehya reached out and covered her guide's hand. //Okay, we're not bonded, but Zeta is the only guide I will ever acknowledge as my own.//
It was then her eye caught the flicker of red in the sky, like a thousand fireflies, but there could not be fireflies this high, could there?
Uncle Élan covered the fire with the earth. He had made his connection with Tehya. He knew now that she was coming, and with her was her chosen one. A smile tugged at his lips. For what his daughter had told him about the man she had loved, Tehya was going to be every inch his niece. She would go her own way, proud and independent, but she would be their guardian.
South America: Lima
Dr. Terri Grant looked at the small idol that was nestled in the box. She smiled at the beauty of the idol, its intricate gold work. She peeled off her white gloves as her lover entered her office.
"Wow, so that's the idol," Jeff Reynolds breathed.
"Yes." She hesitated, holding onto it. She was not too happy about the look on his face; it looked as if he was looking at the Holy Grail. He put his hand out.
"I'm not going to steal it, but can I see it?"
"You'll have to put gloves on. The acids in your fingers could cause damage to it."
Jeff turned it over in his hands.
Terri was too excited to remain quiet. "This is the only idol of the War God Huitzilopochtli that has ever been found. When the Conquistadors sacked the sacred temple, the High Priest hid the idol, and it's remained hidden for the last five centuries, until now. I have to take it to Rainier University today. The government has given permission for the idol to leave, and be put on display at Rainier. It's going to be the key figure in the whole exhibit."
Jeff turned, and took it to the window for a closer look, then slipped a small chip into the recess at the bottom, returning it to the box. He watched as Terri sealed it up with sealing wax, and then placed it into a secure box.
As he drove away, the car peeled away. His shadow was still in place. In three days time he would make the decoy meet, and by then the chip would be out of the country, heading to the US.
The Reservation of the People
Teyha's welcome back to the People was muted somewhat when they saw Zeta. The Council called on Uncle Élan to tell them what this would mean to them. They believed in the destiny of the sentinel and the guide to meet, that for each sentinel there was only one chosen one, but they had always believed that he would be from the People.
Uncle Élan sat near his niece. He was proud of her. She was strong in mind and body; she knew her own mind and would serve the People well. Although his eyesight had faded, his other senses had become more heightened to compensate for it. He had never been a sentinel in the full sense of the word, but had the abilities or the blessing of three of the senses, which now did him well.
Taking her hands in his, he leaned forward. "Tehya, we need to walk on the higher plain. There you will see what is to be. There is no need to be frightened, nothing there can hurt you, it is only a reflection of what is to come."
Listening to his voice she began to drift into the spirit world.
Tehya found herself lying on the ground. She got up and looked around, then knelt by the side of her Uncle Élan, only he was younger, sound of body. He reached his hand out, and then drew her to her feet.
"It is here that you will find your spirit guide, and we will learn if Zeta or Tyler is your guide." He hushed her when she was about to protest. "No, Tehya, the guides will tell us."
From the woods came a Panther, young and sleek, it was a female. It came forward slowly towards them.
"It is all right, Child, this is your spirit guide. She has walked by your side since the day you where born, and now she is coming to you. From now on you will be able to see her in the land of flesh as well as the land of the spirit."
Lowering her hand, Tehya carefully petted the broad head, and smiled as she heard it purr. Its head moved so that it could lick her hand.
Then in front of them came a roar. Immediately her sprit guide moved to protect her. This Panther was much larger. It came out of the woods, and stopped just short of them, its head pulled back to show its teeth. It roared again.
Uncle Élan's hand rested on Teyha's arm. "Easy my child, this is the spirit guide of your father."
"But I thought I got my ability from my mother. You have senses."
"Our side of the family have only ever had two or three enhanced senses. It was through your father that you have gained all five. That is the reason that your mother ran. She feared the GDP might try to take you away from her."
"By why is his guide here, when he rejected me?"
"Tehya, he never rejected you. Your mother never told him that she was expecting you, but by the time he returned, your mother was gone. He has long mourned her loss."
The Panther roared its challenge, and lunged forward when a large Wolf barreled out of nowhere and hit it in the shoulder, pushing it away. It then moved between the two Panthers. It was barking at the Panther, covering each move, insistent. Finally, the bigger Panther stood still and sat back on its haunches. The Wolf moved up and licked its muzzle and brushed against it, calming the much larger animal. Only then did the Wolf turn to Uncle Élan and Tehya, its head cocked to one side.
"That, Tehya, is the guide of your father."
Slowly, the female Panther moved towards the Wolf, and sniffed it.
The large Panther growled low and deep throated, telling her that the Wolf was his.
"If your spirit guide is killed before you have bonded with your chosen, you can never bond. It is the spirit guide that makes the connection for you."
She moved closer to the larger Panther, and then lay down, offering her throat to it. Classic submission to the leader of the pack. The bigger cat stood over her, his teeth nipped at her throat, teeth that could have ripped her apart. Then he nudged her with his head. The Panther had recognized his cub.
The female got to her feet. The Wolf moved around to the larger male Panther's side.
Then a wombat appeared. It blinked its eyes, slowly, and then looked around, its gait was almost comical. Straight away, Tehya knew that was Zeta. Trust her to have a wombat as a guide. But the female Panther had not hesitated, and went straight up to it, beginning to lick and pet it, as the male Panther and the Wolf looked on. Slowly the picture began to shimmer and break away.
Then, with a gasp, Tehya opened her eyes. She had to find her father.
"You have seen the Panther and the Wolf. Now you must find the men they represent. Your mother asked me to show you this when you where of age, then what you do is up to you.
Uncle Élan, for all that he was in tune with the ways of the Shaman, still had some of the modern trappings, among them his video and TV.
When people scoffed at it, he would just shrug, and say, "Just because I am in touch with the past does not mean I have to lose touch with the future. A wise man balances both worlds."
He reached for the video and switched it on.
Tehya found herself looking at her mother, just as she remembered her.
"Tehya, my darling, you are now of age. Your abilities come from your father, not our side of the family, we have never had a full sentinel. You will be a strong sentinel, and a true protector of the People. Your father is a Lieutenant in the Rangers. We met when I was a nurse in the Army. He loved me deeply, and would have married me, but he was sent on a ten month posting in Nepal with the British Army training with the Ghurkhas.
"I had no choice but to run, when I realized that the GDP knew of my pregnancy. In your hand you will see the letter that I wrote for him, but I never posted it. If I had, he would have come, and nothing short of marriage would have satisfied him. But he was off-line, and I knew that although I loved him, and Tehya, how I loved your father, when I was with him all I wanted to do was melt in his arms, I knew that it was best that he did not know. Now you must find him. He may still be in the Army; he was a career soldier. But when you find him, be patient, he will be shocked."
Tehya was surprised to hear her mother chuckle. "Believe me that he doesn't do shock well. I would guess that he will be on-line now, so approach him through his guide. Oh, and by the way, his spirit guide is a black Panther, just like yours, if I remember right. It looked rather pissed off last time I saw it. I know, I know, I can just see your shocked look, very much like him when I would say something he did not expect. You have a great deal of him in you. You're intelligent, proud, and a real pain sometimes when you think you're right. I know this is going to be hard for you, but remember, he is new to this as well. But you will find a man to trust; this was the only man I would ever have married.
"I cannot entrust his name to his tape for the same reason, I cannot even trust his name to the journal. If the GDP got hold of it, and traced you both, it would be more that I could stand.
"Take the photograph and use whatever means you can to locate him."
The video switched off. Uncle Élan reached down and pulled out a thick book. "Your mother always kept this journal, and she asked before you do anything, that you read it. As he handed it to her, he placed a picture on the front of it.
It was of a young man, leaning against the side of a car. He was in uniform, his arms around her mother. The look that passed between them, even on this faded picture, all but set the paper alight. So this was her father.
"Uncle, what should I do?"
He smiled softly. "Read her journal, and then find your father, for he is your destiny."
For a moment, Tehya hesitated and then nodded. Zeta had a friend at Rainier University named Ronnie Clay. If she was right about his work with Jack Kelso, the whistle blower CIA agent, he might have the information, or rather the means of gathering the information, from this photograph.
She felt the touch of her guide on her arm. Looking down at Zeta, she found a smile forming as her younger guide grinned at her. "Don't worry, we'll find him. After all, a Panther and a Wombat can't be wrong."
Rainier University Cascade
Ronnie pushed his dark blond hair out of his eyes, and squinted at the computer screen. He had been only too pleased to take on the role of TA for Jack Kelso; the man was an urban hero. He had started out as a spook for the intelligence community and then had blown the whistle on some of their more dirty covert operations.
Jack Kelso had been confined to a wheelchair when rogue agents had tried to kill him by pushing his car off a bend up in the mountains, but the guy had the guts to crawl to safety, and see his attackers brought to trial for attempted murder. Jack had been telling him about a new program called the King Maker, but he had been unable to find any use for it until now. He glanced at his watch. The girls would be with him any time soon, and he still hadn't found anything concrete about her father.
He pulled the picture out of his folder. Zeta had sent it over to him on the Internet last night. His fingers flew across the keyboard, and he enhanced the picture. Ronnie got up and poured himself a cup of coffee, then sat back down again. The patch on the left side of the man's uniform was now visible. The name was Ellison, J J. Given the rank, and the fact he could now make out the badge on the beret, he was sure he could locate the man. Lt. J J Ellison, Ranger.
Making a note of the name, he checked out the rest of the picture. The newspaper on the ground near them gave a year date, now he was in the groove.
Switching programs he brought up the King Maker. This was Jack's pride and joy, and he was pretty sure a present from someone in the Game, as Kelso called the undercover world of agents.
The program sliced through the Army data protection like a knife through butter. Its key was that it covered up behind itself, sealing off the tracks. He punched in the name and waited. Ellison brought up three possible matches. The first he dismissed, wrong sex, the second, JAMES JOSEPH ELLISON, had left the service five years ago, honorable discharge. There was a list of his service assignments, the last three years had been covert by the look of the notations. Getting in there would be pointless. The man had been born in Cascade, and Ronnie was pretty sure the guy would have returned, so maybe Tehya could track him after all. He was just about to exit when he saw the next name.
The same JAMES JOSEPH ELLISON. He accessed the file, and then leaned back and tried to digest what he was looking for. The first J J Ellison had been … he noticed the name at the bottom of the file and whistled softly, Phoenix Force. Jack had spoken about the Phoenix Force, and now he actually had a name of a man connected with it.
Working quickly, he downloaded both the files. It was then that Ronnie noticed the flash in the corner of the screen; it was so fast that he was not sure he had seen it. The icon looked innocent, but with a sinking feeling he knew that they knew all about him, he was in the system.
Ronnie began to pull out of the database. Only the King Maker program stopped the virus from hitting and taking out his entire computer. Kelso would be pissed if he had lost it. His boss had taken hours, hell, months, custom building it to his own specs.
He felt the bile coming up, and nearly vomited. That had been too fucking close for his liking.
He loaded the file back onto a disk, and then thought about sending it to Zeta by email. He halted, fingers in the air. James Ellison was the name of the sentinel that Blair had bonded with. It might be better if Zeta's sentinel was serious about meeting her father, that she see Blair first.
Ronnie sent an instant message on the server, and was rewarded when Zeta came on-line almost immediately. The exchange was quick, they would be on their way. She confirmed they should be arriving at Rainier at 10:00 p.m. that night. He settled back, and took a deep breath; he could not help but wonder what the hell was going on.
Cascade International Airport
The trip from Peru hadn't been a good one; the flight had been three hours late leaving Lima, due to the airline missing its departure slot.
Dr. Terri Grant pushed her long hair back from her face. She was exhausted. Due to mechanical failure of the landing gear, the wheels had had to be hand cranked down. That had meant that the plane had been forced to circle until it had used up most of its fuel. It was way too much excitement for her. All she was looking forward to was a warm bed and a good night's sleep.
She was exhausted, but her face lit up as she recognized Dr. Woodward's teaching assistant, Blair Sandburg, waiting for her as she came through customs. Her paperwork was impeccable, and she breezed through.
"Hello, Blair. Thanks for coming so quickly, it's been a long flight, and the sooner I get this into the University the better it will be." She handed the box to Blair to carry. "How is the display coming along?"
"Well, we have copies of the original Cortez documents blown up, and are using them as a backdrop. I must admit it's looking good. Dr. Woodward is looking forward to seeing the idol."
The man pushed off the wall, then folded his newspaper and began to follow. He spent his days at the railways, bus depots and airports, looking after stray bits of luggage that the travelers' mislaid. He had seen the woman come out of customs, and the box looked interesting. Slowly he closed the distance between them. Blair moved back so that Terri could walk in front of him on the escalator.
The man stepped behind him. He waited until Blair had gotten to the bottom, and then brought his foot down hard against his ankle. The grad student went flying. He twisted to avoid landing on the artifact box. Blair landed hard, but tried to roll with the impact. Then he saw the man make a lunge for the box. All he could do was hold on for dear life, and use his body to shield it. The kick in his side took his breath away, and lifted him bodily off the floor, but he refused to let go. The man pulled his knife and was about to slash at Blair when Terri swung her bag hard at the man's head. The man twisted and hit out, the knife slicing through her shoulder. The man knew he had to get out of there, and took to his heels. A quick look over his shoulder showed the woman, Dr. Grant, kneeling by the side of the younger man. He was straightening up and trying to peel her hands away from the wound.
Two passengers tried to grab him, but the man barreled his way out, and kept on running.
Blair was hissing in pain from his ribs as he tried to use his handkerchief to staunch the bleeding from the knife wound on Grant's shoulder.
He was thankful to see that the Airport's paramedics had arrived. He tried to ease of out the way, but movement meant pain. He pressed one hand against his chest, and with his other hand, gathered the box to him.
The police officer was not too happy about him getting up, but when he realized that it was either help him or he would fall flat on his face, the officer caught him under the elbow.
The police officer released his hold when he was sure the kid wasn't going to fall flat on his face.
"Can I have your name first?"
"Blair, Blair Sandburg. Officer?"
"Gilbert, sir." Then he added, "Can you tell me what happened here?"
A second police officer came up, and looked critically at Blair. "Don't I know you?" The police officer was younger, and wore the flash of an un-bonded sentinel. Immediately, Blair snapped his barriers up. He saw the frown on the sentinel's face, but with some luck, the man wasn't tooled up at the moment, and wouldn't realize that he was facing a guide. Otherwise, his life was going to get really interesting fast.
Blair shook his head. "Sorry, I don't think so." Although the new regulations had come into force, most of the police officers hadn't had time to learn them, and the last thing he wanted to do was argue GDP rules with an un-bonded sentinel.
But the police officer just kept looking at him. He had a good memory for faces, and this kid was one he knew. "You were at the PD, you're someone's snitch."
"No, I am Detective James Ellison's partner."
Gilbert shook his head. "No way, Eerie Ellison doesn't have a partner."
The un-bonded sentinel, his nametag read Rydal, suddenly snapped his fingers. "You're his guide. I thought I could smell something on you, just couldn't place it. He let you out in that condition?" His nose wrinkled back in disgust.
Blair flushed. He had been about to bond with Jim when the Detective had been called out, and they had postponed the bonding until later. He had not banked on meeting any other sentinels. Any other sentinel wouldn't have let him out of the house. The telltale sent of linkage would be underscoring his own and Jim's scent.
Jim hadn't liked him going out, but had stepped back, trying not to do his heavy-handed Dark Sentinel routine, but he could see an intense bonding in his near future. Glorious throwback that Jim was, he would want to stake his claim on his guide the minute he walked through the door, so a sentinel night was certainly in the offing. Now all he had to do was to talk these cops into letting him go, preferably without calling Jim, and a trip to the local hospital. Too many bad memories there.
Gilbert was already pulling his radio out. "You keep him here Sid, and I'll call dispatch and tell Ellison we have his property here, ask him to pick it up."
Blair drew himself up. He knew logically that, new regs be damned, his best course of action was to keep things on a even keel, but that property crack was something that he could not let go by him. Not now. "I am not his property."
"Sure you're not, kid." Gilbert drawled. He moved forward, not liking the way the guide backed up. He had an arm wrapped around his ribs, he was plainly in pain, but all the same he looked like he might run. And he was clinging to that box as if his life depended on it.
"Look, man, I have to get this to Rainier for Dr. Grant. I am the Senior Guide Prime of Cascade. Check with Jim, I can go where I WANT."
Blair hadn't meant to raise his voice, but he was going to be damned if he was going to wait here for Jim to collect him like a lost bag of luggage.
The un-bonded sentinel cop just looked at Blair. So this was the infamous Blair Sandburg, he had heard a lot about him, the Senior Guide Prime of Cascade. Looking at him he saw a small man, only around five-nine, in his stocking feet, with long curly hair. He looked younger than he had thought he was. Rydal knew he had yet to be accepted into one of the Clans at the PD, but he had heard good things. Then he realized he had a choice, he could side with the ones that said no change was good change, or he could go with the future.
"Stand still, guide, or we'll cuff you. We know the rules, you stay put until you're claimed. More than likely he doesn't even know you're here." Gilbert put in, then added, "Dr. Grant's on the way to Cascade General, so I'll get someone to take her statement there." He now ignored Blair, clearly indicating that as far as he was concerned the business was at an end. In his years on the force he had dealt with guides before. He had always felt uncomfortable with them, emotional vampires the lot of them.
Blair appealed straight to the un-bonded sentinel cop. "You know my Sentinel. You really think he's going to like being dragged out here to collect me? I have my car in the car park." He paused. "Come on, man, you know the new regulations." It was a heart-felt plea.
For a moment he thought Rydal was going to ignore him.
Rydal decided to go with the future. "Sorry, Senior Guide Prime. It's all right, Sid, the new regs give him the freedom to do it."
"You sure? I mean, Ellison is going to be pissed off . You're new, you haven't seen him vent. He nearly took Henderson's head off before over this little creep."
"I'm sure. Look, I'll drive back with him to the PD." There was only a slight hesitation, then he meet Blair's eyes levelly.
"This way, sir." Blair dipped his barriers; Rydal was honest in his emotions. He was safe with him. The un-bonded police officer slowed to allow the smaller, injured guide to keep pace with him.
The thief watched from his vantage point as the prize was taken away. His boss wasn't going to be happy about it. As he walked past an arguing couple from Michigan, he bent down and hooked the top bag from the trolley, then, with a grin, walked off. If his take on human nature was correct again, all the goodies would be in this bag; also it meant that the day wasn't a complete loss.
Rydal shifted uncomfortably in the car. He could smell the burning oil, and he was sure the thing belonged on a rubbish heap rather in the car park.
Blair slid the car in gear. "Look, rather than the PD, what say I drop this off at Rainier first, and then come in for the statement?"
"What's in it?"
"An artifact." Blair added with a chuckle, "Don't worry, it's not an Indiana Jones cursed artifact, the Mummy isn't going to rise. It's just a plain artifact from Mexico. It's the only idol of the god of war."
"Priceless to archaeologists and anthropologists, but it's only worth the gold it's made of. I suppose the guy just saw an interesting box, and decided to try his luck."
"More than likely, Senior Guide Prime."
Blair was about to correct him, tell him to use his first name, he was uncomfortable with the use of the title, then stopped as he realized that was how it had to be for the meantime. He was the Senior Guide Prime, and it was that authority that let him live his life.
It was dark by the time they pulled into the Rainier University car park outside of Hargrove Hall.
Rydal was concerned when he saw the way the guide had to steady himself as he got out of the car. It was then he decided that Guide Sandburg's next port of call was the hospital, and then the PD. He knew all about James Ellison, and none of it was comforting, including the way he had taken the last Sentinel Prime out with his bare hands. The guy was lethal.
By the time he hit the second floor, Blair was in pain, and Rydal took the parcel from him. Just then another late working student came out of his office.
"Hi, Blair." He pushed his glasses back into place and moved quickly to his friend's side. "You okay, man?" Turning to the police officer, he demanded, "What did you do to him?"
"I'm okay, Ronnie. Officer Rydal's helping me. Just had to drop this parcel off, to Dr. Woodward's office."
"I saw the Doc leave earlier." Ronnie reached out to help Blair, and then pulled back. He knew the other TA was a guide, and was frightened of hurting him. "Look, my office is more secure than yours. You know how paranoid Professor Kelso is. What if I lock it up for the night?"
The pain was now hitting Blair in waves, and he could feel his barriers starting to crumble. "Okay, Ronnie, lock it up safe." Rydal handed the parcel over to the other student.
"Is there any place you can sit down, sir?" //Ellison will have my head on plate if Sandburg takes a header down the stairs and hurts himself.//
"My office is this way." Blair slowly made his way down the hall, with Rydal in tow.
The police officer switched on the light, and then got his charge seated. For a moment he hesitated, and then asked, keeping his voice respectful, "Sir, can I ask how your barriers are?"
"High, but a little fried."
"I know you don't want to do this, sir, but please let me called Senior Sentinel Prime Ellison." He saw the smaller man was about to protest, then added, "Sir, he would have my guts if anything happened to you."
He saw the smile. "Okay, call Jim, but make sure he knows that there is nothing wrong, otherwise he's going to be coming here with lights and sirens. My barriers are up and strong, okay?"
"Yes, sir. I'll make the call from the car."
Jim was just about to get into his truck to return home. His guide would be waiting, and they would bond. Just then his head snapped up and he saw the Black Panther appear out of the wall in front of him, it was roaring. Then from the other wall, a smaller female Panther appeared. Jim looked from one to the other. He clawed out his cell phone, and speed dialed the loft. The phone just rang out. He jumped into the truck and started home, never seeing his Panther rubbing heads with the smaller one, the panther acknowledging its cub, and building up the bond between them.
Ronnie sat hunched over his computer again. Like a drug, he returned to the King Maker program, he was sure that he was onto something. Kelso had spoken at length about the Phoenix Force, and how no one had ever gotten close to knowing who they were or what they actually did. Even though he was taking state secrets here, he knew that the information he could get would put him in so deep with Kelso that the suits of Rainier would not be able to dislodge him. His name would be made.
Quickly, his fingers flew over the keys as he sent a email to Jack Kelso telling him what he had done.
Blair was seated in his office, and cursing all over protective sentinels, either bonded or not.
The door to his office opened, and he slowly raised his hands. The man behind the gun smiled. "Dr. Sandburg, I presume."
Then man crossed the distance between them and caught Blair's arm, pulling him to his feet. "Simple question, Dr. Sandburg. Where is the idol that Dr. Grant gave you?"
"Sorry, I don't know."
The man tapped the gun against his head. "Don't lie to me, kid. Your life isn't worth the pain." He gave a chuckle. "Besides, I don't think that El would like it if I had to muss up his play toy."
The man pressed the gun under his chin. "Stop the games. That cop is going to be coming back soon, and if you don't want the man's death on your conscience, you'll tell me now." Then he added, "No one has to die over this, kid."
For a moment Blair just looked at the man. He dropped his barriers slightly. The man was a pro, that he was sure, and he was surprised to feel a slight contact of guide in the man.
He was suddenly pushed away. He hit the wall of his office with a thud, and then he was caught hold of again. "Don't try any of those guide tricks with me, freak. Now where is the idol?"
"You'll take the idol and go."
"That is all I want." He let the smaller man go, but made sure the gun ran down his spine, pressing against the lower body. "A bullet here, kid, would put you in a chair for life, remember that."
Blair knew that the man wasn't going to allow anyone to live. How could he recognize him, and what the hell did he mean about El, Ellison, did he know Jim?
The guy was not a cop, and that meant that Jim must have known the guy in the services. That wasn't exactly a comforting thought since Jim had been in black ops.
"This way." Blair slowed, making more of his ribs. He opened the door and got halfway through it when he lashed out as Jim had taught him. The surprise move caught the man off balance. He had never expected a guide to try and escape. Blair hit the corner fast, when there was a soft plop, and the plaster near his shoulder splintered. All it did was act as a spur to make him move faster.
Outside the Hall, Zeta sat in the car and looked up at her sentinel. Even though they were both too young to bond, she thought of Tehya as her sentinel. Tehya stood by the side of the car holding the disk in her hand; this had all the information that Ronnie had been able to get on her father. Now the hardest thing was to actually read it.
She fingered the silver colored case in her hand, and took a deep breath. Then her head snapped around and she looked back toward the fire exit. Her head tilted to one side, as she heard the voice.
"Rydal, fire exit, gunman."
The next instant a young man came flying out of the doorway.
"Get the hell out of here." He grabbed her arm to try and pull her away.
Tehya nearly zoned, as an electric shock passed through her at his touch.
Then a male voice yelled. "Cascade PD, freeze." Rydal had come around the corner, and in the near dark, his sentinel eyesight had gone on-line and then off-line. All he saw was the silver object in her hand, pointed downward at Blair Sandburg.
"Lady, you have nowhere to go. Release Senior Guide Prime Sandburg, put the gun down, and step out into the light."
Then there was a loud noise, and the Guide Prime was thrown sideways as his leg gave out from under him. The stench of blood almost zoned Rydal.
He yelled again, but by then the girl had forced Blair into the car, and it was taking off. Rydal was about to fire at the vehicle, and then stopped. His eyesight was so bad that he could have hit Blair in the car. He focused on the license plate, and then his hands went to his head as the police siren nearly zoned him.
The gunman was already on his way back up the steps; he had only a short time to get what he had come for. The second office along the corridor was lit up, that must have been where Sandburg had been heading.
Ronnie looked up as the door opened, and then froze at the look on the man's face. He looked as if he had won the lottery.
Then he saw the gun, and that was all he could focus on. The man was tall, good looking with dark hair, and the breath caught in Ronnie's throat as he recognized him. Kelso had the guy on file, had used him in his latest book. He knew that face well enough, and it did not give him any comfort.
"Can I help you?"
"No need. I can see what I want." He scooped up the package, and then looked at the young academic. He did not really want to have to kill him, it was messy and would complicate things. He saw the cupboard and nodded towards it. "Hope you're not claustrophobic, kid."
He glanced at the screen, and then stopped in his tracks at the image displayed there. "Sorry, kid, but that's classified." His finger tightened on the trigger, the gun coughed again, and Ronnie slumped across the table. On the desk was a day planner. The kid was meticulous. Under 10:30 p.m. he saw the note, Tehya and Zeta, El.doc.
"Shit." He ejected the disk and pushed it into this pocket. He was out of the building before they had discovered the body.
Simon Banks was quizzing Rydal, and the younger sentinel was nervous. "I had come out to radio for the Senior Sentinel Prime, sir, when I heard the Senior Guide Prime calling out. I ran around the building to the fire escape. There were two women there, I challenged them.
"Senior Guide Prime Sandburg was being threatened."
"She just fired down into his leg. He must have made an attempt to escape." He paused. "He was dragged to a car, and they pulled out. I didn't fire at the car, I was worried about hitting the Guide Prime. My senses were cutting in and out."
Rydal took a mental deep breath as James Ellison arrived on the scene. He had heard him described as the Iceman, and the man had only been partly on-line. Now Ellison was heading straight towards him. He had been entrusted with his guide, and he had lost him.
Simon cut in. "We have APBs out on the vehicle. We will find him Jim."
Jim's next words showed that he had been listening in the minute that he had gotten out of his truck. "Why did they shoot him Simon? When I get those bitches, they will pay. "It was said with the full fury of a Sentinel in blood rage.
"Sir, I think they were a sentinel and guide. It was the way they were reacting," Rydal put in levelly.
For the first time, Ellison looked at him, and he could believe that all the stories were true. "The spirit guides told me that a new sentinel was in the city, Simon, and I want her."
Zeta pulled over once they had gotten away from the campus; they had been lucky so far, her hand was shaking. She leaned over the driver's seat to look in the back at their new passenger.
Tehya was frozen, her eyes fixed on the spreading stain of blood on his jeans. The young man was unconscious, his skin pale and clammy. He was going into shock.
"Fuck it, Tehya, we don't have time for this now," she reached across and laid her hands on her friend's arm, then pressed against her mind as she tried to reassure her and call her back. But, unbonded, she could feel her slipping away. She had zoned on the blood.
The man groaned as his eyes opened. It took a moment for him to become aware of what was going on. The slightly confused look in the light blue eyes faded, and Zeta saw something else flash in them.
He reached a trembling hand out. It brushed Tehya's hand, and Zeta swore as a surge of power ripped through both her and her sentinel. Tehya's eyes flew up, and she was wrenched from the zone out. The man's eyes rolled back in his head, and his hand dropped back down again.
Zeta's eyes were fixed on the young man. "We have to get him to a hospital."
Tehya ran a hand over her face, still trying to understand what was going on. "We can't. They'll call the police. We have to have time to think this out."
Her guide was not so certain. "Well, that is something that we are running out of. You heard that cop, they're going to think that we did this. We have to get him somewhere safe, and then let him tell them the truth."
Tehya was still looking down at the man. "What the hell happened Zeta? One minute I was looking down at him and then…"
"You zoned, and I couldn't reach you. He did." She paused. "He's a guide, Tehya. He's going to need some help. Remember when I helped Laura? I'm going to get in the back. His barriers are going to hit rock bottom with the pain." The two girls switched places in the car.
Zeta reached for Blair and laid a hand on his shoulder, then pulled back. "He burned me." There was fear in her voice. "I can't believe it, he burned me."
"He what?" Tehya was worried at the panic in her guide's voice.
"He burned me, Tehya. Threw me out."
"He did." She came to a halt. "Tehya, the power that he's generating, I have never heard of that much power before."
"Maybe if I shield him. The doctors said that I am rated at least at 27."
Zeta caught her wrist. "Tehya, you're not on-line, and he is. He'll put you in a coma so deep I couldn't pull you out. His sentinel must be one hell..." she trailed off. "Oh, dear god, his sentinel has to be a Dark Sentinel. What did that cop call him?"
"Senior Guide Prime. Why?"
"Shit." Zeta slumped back and looked down at the younger man.
"When I heard we were coming home, I thought I best read up on Cascade. Dr. Weiss said that there were some pretty startling things going on in the city with the sentinel population. You know, he talked of coming over." She halted when she saw the slightly strained look on her sentinel's face. "Okay, to the point. They have a Senior Guide Prime. His sentinel is the Senior Sentinel Prime of Cascade, name of Ellis, or Ellison, he's one mean son-of-a-bitch. You might keep aloof from all this sentinel stuff, but I have not. Ellison took on and defeated a GDP Sentinel to become the Prime of Cascade. Then he took on three other Primes to become the Senior Sentinel Prime, and they moved to Cascade. And, Tehya, this isn't a ritual combat, this was down and dirty. George had said that he is holding the role of Prime in trust for you, until you come on-line, but this guy, he fought for this, and we have his guide. Believe me, if he can handle the amount of power this guy is putting out, we have a very serious problem, because he's coming looking for us."
Tehya floored the car. She needed to get this guide patched up and put somewhere safe. The last thing she needed was a blood feud Dark Sentinel hunting her down.
She watched Zeta in the mirror, leaning close, but not touching the guide.
Jim was walking back to his truck when he saw the figure detach itself from the gloom.
The newcomer was just an inch smaller than Jim's 6 feet 2; he grinned at the stern look on his friend's face.
"Come on, El, you knew one day I would come knocking at your door. We have a situation."
"I already took care of the Crossroad situation. I'm due some down time."
"Sure. I heard you had bonded, congratulations." He saw the expression and added, "I really mean that, Colonel."
"Quit the bull, and tell me what's wrong, Major Brackett."
"A serious breech of the Sanctuary Computer. A student by the name of Ronnie Clay hacked in, and he downloaded your file. I got the disk back, but there was a complication, they took a hostage. Blair Sandburg."
"Who are they." There was a chill his voice that even Brackett could not block out.
"Two women, they must have been his contact. The police have put an APB out on them."
Jim heard Brackett's heart rate go up. "And what aren't you telling me, Lee."
"Nothing, Jim. I was in the building on a routine pick up. It was too late, they had your guide before I could act."
Brackett congratulated himself. His lie would fit the facts, and now he had one of the world's best bloodhounds on their trail. He could have all this contained before the Sanctuary even knew there was a problem. Then he saw the look in Ellison's eyes, a cold fury that would turn in on itself until it found a target, then it would be released in deadly force.
"Oh, and Brackett, if you're lying to me about anything that would get Blair hurt, then start digging your grave, because I'll put you down, six feet under." Ellison was not threatening, it was making a promise.
Tehya pulled up outside of their motel, and between them they got Blair into the room and onto the bed. His eyes were closed, and the blood on his jeans was spreading. Zeta saw her sentinel color. "How do we ... you know." She waved vaguely at Blair's jeans.
For a moment they both looked down at him. "It's okay, Tehya. I'll do it.
She began to undo his jeans, and ease them down to his knees, then slide his sneakers off. She was relieved to see the boxers. The way their luck was going, it could have been a lot worse. All they had needed was for the guy to be going commando.
The wound was high in the thigh, and looked like it had cut a bloody groove out of the skin, but didn't appear to have done more damage--straight in and out. But the bleeding had slowed, and it would be painful for him to move on.
She pressed the towel that Tehya gave her against the wound. "Look through his trousers for his wallet."
Tehya found it and opened it. There was a list of numbers. The top one on a small laminated list read, Jim Ellison.
"We bite the bullet, and we call the guy."
Jim Ellison was prowling up and down in the bullpen. His guide was out there, wounded and held hostage. His barriers would soon start to fall, and without help, or if the kidnappers were ignorant of his condition, he could overload and enter a coma.
Simon had called him back to the bullpen. Only his respect for his friend had prevented him from ignoring the order and go out to search himself, taking down anyone who got in the way. Simon had seen the signs. Ellison was going primal, and like this, with no Sandburg to calm the savage beast, it was better for him to be in the PD.
H waved the engineer away from the phone. Now that the tap was in place, he didn't want any civilians near the man. Jim could vent at any time, and then it could get messy. He leaned over to Rafe and hissed, "Why the hell couldn't they have just left Hairboy at the nearest hospital?"
Rafe nodded. "That's what's got me worried. They might have plans for him." He ground to a halt as the sentinel had stopped pacing, and had fixed him with an icy stare. Keeping his voice to a low whisper, he added , "Jim, Blair is going to be okay, we'll find him."
For the longest minute, Jim just looked at him and then seemed to accept it, and kept on pacing.
Tehya sat on the bed, picked up the phone and began to dial. The phone rang. "Ellison." The name was barked, and Tehya winced, cursing her sentinel hearing.
"Er, Mr. Ellison, I , er, we..."
"Yes." The tension in the word crackled.
"We have your guide." //Oh, God. I shouldn't have said it like that.//
"What do you want?"
"Please don't call the police, you will get him back. It's all ... well, all a misunderstanding."
"Blair... I need to talk to him."
Jim had Rafe running a trace on the phone call.
"Well, B-Blair, he isn't exactly able to talk at the moment."
"What did you do to him?" The anger was barely suppressed.
"Nothing. He's sleeping."
Jim could hear the beat of his guide's heart through the phone, too slow for him to be awake or conscious.
"How badly is he hurt?"
"I..." She trailed off, and handed the phone to Zeta.
"Your guide has a wound to his leg. The bullet went straight through it. We need to get him to a hospital, and get all this cleared up as soon as possible. It is a terrible mistake, Mister." Even as she spoke, she began to get the feeling that there was something about Ellison that she should know. It was then she saw the police observer ID card in the guide's wallet. She swore, putting the telephone down sharply.
Tehya looked puzzled. "Ellison is a cop."
"So we have his guide, and he thinks we shot him. Didn't you hear him? I only heard your part of the conversation, and that is what it sounded like." She took a deep breath. "My guess, if the police shows are correct, Ellison is going to be on his way real quickly because he would have been running a tap on his phone. We leave Mr. Sandburg here, he's not going anywhere, and then try and find your dad, Tehya."
Blair's eyes flickered and opened, and he lay still. He had to bite back a cry of pain, as the wound made itself known. His senses told him that he was near an unbonded sentinel. The Dark Guide curled around his mind ready to strike out if the unbonded attempted to lay claim to him. Gradually, he lowered his barriers. He could feel the fear that was pouring off them, two of them, a guide and sentinel, both unbonded.
In his memory, he vaguely remembered a girl in the car, zoned. Turning his head slightly, he could see the two of them. They looked scared to death, and if that was Jim they had been talking to, it was easy to understand why. He would be in BP overdrive, and he had no illusions of how dangerous he could be like that.
His voice was husky, his mouth dry, as he said, "You would be better talking to Jim than running. If you run, he's going to hunt you down, and believe me he has a whole hunting pack of sentinels that will do it. The only way is for you to speak to Jim, and explain. After all, neither of you shot me."
When he spoke, they jumped off the bed and away from him as quickly as they could.
"Easy. I'm not going to hurt you." Blair tried to push himself up, but the pain made him catch his breath and he sank back down again. He had caught a look at himself. "I thought it was a little cold here." He managed a smile to defuse the situation as he waved a hand at his boxers.
"S-sorry, we had to see to your injury." The guide colored, embarrassed.
"Have you got a blanket? It's a bit chilly here."
Zeta quickly handed him the cover. Tehya looked a bit more comfortable once the young man was covered up.
Blair became all business. The girls had done nothing wrong. If anything, they had saved his life getting him away from the guy with the gun. "Jim isn't going to hurt you. He's going to be running on a major BP at the moment, which means he can get a little aggressive, but nothing that I can't handle."
Zeta still held the wallet, and glanced down at the name. "Look, Mr. Sandburg, we would rather not see him do his King Kong routine, if you don't mind. We best be going. We'll call an ambulance before we leave, make sure you get picked up. But we're on kind of dicey ground here, and would rather not meet the GDP, okay?"
"I can so understand that. Look, if you can hand me my jeans, and give me a bit of help, I can start to calm things down." Blair added, "I always work better dressed."
"You're smooth talking, Sandburg. I bet you tell all the girls that." Even as Zeta had reached for the jeans, the door lock had been burst open, and Brackett had walked in.
Brackett gestured with the gun, and moved his prisoners all together on the bed as he back-healed the door closed behind him.
"Now, ladies, I want the disk the kid gave you. I don't see a laptop, so I take it you haven't had a chance to read it yet, which could mean you get to walk away from here."
Tehya nodded. "It's in my coat pocket."
"Then get it." Brackett was all too aware that the police would be screaming around the corner any minute, and the last thing he wanted was to meet Jim Ellison. Holding his guide at gunpoint was a way of getting killed really fast. He had managed to use the Sanctuary resources to get an in on the tap the PD had put on Ellison's phone, and he figured that he had about a five minute head start on the cop. His equipment had spiked the PD search program, slowed it down enough for him to get here first.
Blair swung the lamp around, and threw it. Brackett only saw the move from the corner of his eye, and was too late to block it. The impact knocked him back. Tehya caught Blair's arm, and pulled him to his feet. Zeta hit the emergency release bar on the fire door, and they were out in the car park, Tehya half dragging Blair along. The wound tore open, and fresh blood was running down his leg, but they had to keep going.
Brackett was on them. "Freeze, or you're dead."
Blair turned slowly, pulling the girls behind him. His leg was pounding, spikes of pain seemed to set fire to his whole body. The edges of his mind were beginning to grey out. The squeal of tires announced the arrival of one irate sentinel.
Jim was out of the truck, his gun at the ready, sighting on the women. He looked again and did a double take. Any other time his mouth would have just dropped open at the sight of Blair in his boxers in the middle of a car park with two attractive women. But then his eyesight narrowed onto the thick streaks of blood running down his leg. The smell of his guide's blood was assaulting his senses. Hhe shook his head, he could not afford to zone now. And then, with a growl, he saw Brackett and yelled, "Back off, Major, and you might just live to walk away."
Brackett had taken the opportunity to close the distance between Sandburg and the girls. He was partly hidden by them, and he knew that Ellison would not risk a shot that might hurt his precious guide.
"They have a disk I need. They give it to me, and we forget this happened. If they refuse..." Brackett left the threat hanging in the air.
"Chief, what's this about a disk?" Jim ignored the girls as unimportant at the moment, and just focused on his guide. He needed to hear his voice, to make a connection with him.
"No idea, Jim, but this guy, he was the one that was at the campus. He was after the idol."
Brackett swore, and caught Blair by the hair, pulling him back, grinding the gun into his back. "You have to talk, don't you, Professor?" He twisted the hair. "Same deal, Ellison. They give me the disk, and I walk."
"You killed a civilian, Brackett. Your bosses aren't going to like that."
"Then I have nothing to lose by killing another one."
Tehya reached into her pocket, and pulled out the disk. "You want this." She stepped back, all the time looking at the gunman holding the guide. Through her mind was running one thought older than time itself--protect the guide.
Jim looked across the car park, and breathed a sigh of relief as he saw Sentinel Prime Edwards arrive. The SWAT officer had taken the call, and his Clan brother had come running. "Once he's clear of Blair, take him out Edwards. The guy is a killer, and he's not going to hesitate to kill if he has to."
"I have a bead on him." The voice was coldly professional.
Tehya held the disk. She was puzzled why the man wanted it, but if it would save the lives of the guides she would hand it over--protect the guides--that was the only thought going through her mind.
Brackett's hold went lax. He was in this situation because some stupid little bitch wanted to find out who her father was. Tehya saw the burst of electricity in Blair's body as he threw himself sideways. He reached out to drag her down; she caught Zeta, and the three went down hard. As the bullets hit Brackett, they jerked him like a puppet.
Tehya rolled to cover the two guides, flinching as she heard the gunfire and the bullets hitting flesh, then smelled the stench of blood.
She was pulled off none too gently, and thrown to one side as Jim reached for his own guide. It was at that moment that she saw the Panther on the edge of the car park. With it was the Wombat, and stalking in front of it, the larger male Panther and the Wolf, with them, a Cougar and a Labrador. The last two were very close together, the Cougar protecting the Labrador. It was then she saw the man coming towards her, at his back his guide, a young blond-haired man. She saw the gun at his side. //A guide, and he was armed. What the hell was happening in Cascade?// Tehya was jerked from her thoughts as she was pulled to her feet and handcuffed. Looking down, she saw that Mr. Sandburg wasn't moving. The man supporting him, the big dangerous looking cop, looked up at her, and she stumbled backward as the laser sharp blue eyes tore through her. Then she stared again. //My God, it can't be.// "Dad."
"Tehya, no." Zeta put in quickly, knowing that now was not the time nor the place. Ellison was in Blessed Protector overdrive, and walking the edge. She could feel his emotions slicing through her barriers like a hot knife through butter. Luckily, Ellison was too caught up with his guide to have heard or understood her.
Blair was pleading, he hated the hospital and did not want to stay in it a minute longer than was needed. "Come on, man. You heard the doctor, it was more messy than serious and, okay it hurts like a son of a bitch, but I'm okay to go home."
He gave a soft sigh. Jim was pacing up and down, typical sentinel in Blessed Protector mode. He could feel all five senses wrapping around him, like a warm, gentle caress.
"You know I'm all right, big guy," he chuckled. "As well as I can be with a hole in my leg, but I'm going to be okay, so go with the flow, all right, and hand me my pants."
Jim hesitated, and then handed them over. He waited a beat, watching as Blair became more frustrated by the second. "You need a hand there, Chief?
"Stop gloating and help, all right?" Blair hesitated before asking, "Can we stop off at the PD before we go home? I would like to talk to the girls."
"No." One word, and it sounded final.
"Jim..." He knew that he was pleading, but he could tell that something was going on, and that Jim was at the very center of it.
Call it Dark Guide mojo, but he just knew. "Please, I need to talk to them, get closure, and with you by my side there is no way they are going to be a threat. They're innocents."
"You do what I say, when I say."
"Of course." Blair put his hands up to show he was surrendering. He rested them against his sentinel's chest, and then a knowing look flitted across Blair's face.
Jim's need to bond was vibrating through the sentinel, and Blair could feel it like shock waves. They had been about to bond when Jim had been called out, and on top of that he had been shot, and in Jim's eyes kidnapped. He needed to re-establish his ownership of his guide. Glorious throwback that he was, Jim needed this, needed his scent to be on his guide, to proclaim that very same ownership from the roof tops.
"Then take what you need, Sentinel. My will is yours, and only yours."
The words were a corrupted form of the GDP terms, but when said by the Dark Guide to his Sentinel, it had a whole different meaning.
Jim's hand moved over his face, as if reading it like Braille. Then stooping slightly, he swept Blair off his feet, and carried him to the bonding suite, all the time nuzzling at his throat, ignoring the looks of the GDP nurses that moved out of the way. The doctor only had time to open the door to the bonding suite, as he suddenly realized that the sentinel was about to kick it in. The growled, "Close it," was barely human, but if the doctor had expected to see fear in the guide's face, all he saw was contentment, and something else, satisfaction and need.
Now alone, Blair was laid down as if he were made of glass. The Primal might be near the surface, but with his guide hurt, the sentinel layers peeled back to leave the man, Jim Ellison. He removed blankets from the small walk-in closet, and made a comfortable nest for his guide, careful to support his injured leg. Only then did he remove his coat and gun, his eyes never leaving those of his guide. He lowered himself down. "My guide, to serve him and protect him." Then he wrapped himself around Blair, and sank into the bond, their minds meeting. Blair soothed away and acknowledged the fear that had eaten away at Jim, that he would lose him. Blair opened up his own mind, thoughts flashing between them quicker than words, until they both were in synch again. Their minds merged and blended, and they sank deeper into the bond.
The first thing that Blair noticed as soon as they got off the elevator for Major Crime, was the number of sentinels in the area. He could feel their senses running over him, each checking out their Senior Guide Prime. Blair took a steadying breath, the Blessed Protector mode was getting a real workout today.
When they entered Major Crime, Edwards was standing, talking to Simon Banks. Jim approached them, with Blair tucked against him, helping him. It had taken a force of will on Blair's part to stop him from carrying him. Blair's hand never stopped moving on Jim's arm and shoulder, reassuring him, calming him.
"The girls are in Interrogation Room 5 with H and Rafe." He added quickly, "Ellison, you're to keep away from them. The GDP have been notified because of the situation. You will get a copy of their statement. Brackett has been taken to the hospital. He took two bullets in the vest, and one to the head. He's alive, and in intensive care. I have officers on the doors. Mr. Brackett isn't going anywhere fast." Simon pushed the door to his office open. "Blair, I need to take your statement if you feel up to it."
"No problem. Let's get it over and done with." Blair looked towards the door of Major Crime. "First, I'm going to need a pit stop."
He tried to push away from Jim, only to be collected back against him. "Okay, big guy, you don't want to let me go, but unless you plan on doing a Siamese twin impersonation in the john, you better let me go."
He leaned on his stick, and hobbled off. Once he was around the corner and out of sight, he headed straight toward Interrogation Room 5.
He did not have to be a sentinel to know what Jim's reaction to that was going to be when he found out, but he had a very good imagination. Someone had to do something. All this pussyfooting around was going to do nothing. He needed to speak to the girls, and do it directly.
When H saw him come in, he tried to block him. "H, I need to talk to them. Please let me, it's important."
H and Rafe exchanged a look, and then H moved back so that Blair could enter. Carefully using the table as a support, he eased himself into the chair.
On the table in front of them was a disk in an evidence bag.
Blair picked it up. "So this is what all the fuss was about. Mind telling me, because I'm kinda lost here. Brackett was after the idol, and then he saw something that made him go after this disk, when he could have gotten away free and easy."
Tehya and Zeta exchanged a look.
"Now, one of you start talking." When he did not get a reply, he brought his hand down hard with a thump.
"Stop screwing around. Jim is in the mood to vent, and believe me, he can do a lot of damage. You need to tell me the truth."
Tehya shrugged. "They're all going to know the minute they look at it. Ronnie was doing a search for my father. I never knew him, he was an internet friend of Zeta's. He said that he had located my father, and that all the information was on the disk. Only I recognized him earlier from an old photograph. It's Sentinel Ellison."
H whistled, adding quickly, "Sorry," when he was pinned by a look from Blair.
"Jim's a father?" Now that he was looking at her closely, Blair could see something around the eyes and mouth. She was an Ellison all right.
Suddenly, Tehya pulled Zeta even closer, as she could hear--hell, Blair was not a sentinel, and he could hear--Jim Ellison on the war path. He was hunting his missing guide.
"Don't worry. He sounds really fierce, but he's a pussycat, really. Rafe, do you think you could block Jim for a moment, I just need to finish talking to the girls."
"Sandburg, I'm too young to commit suicide."
"Come off it, Rafe. You know Jim wouldn't do anything. Please, man, it's important."
"Sure, you're the guide," Rafe hissed as he and H went out to run interference on one very pissed off sentinel.
Jim was venting. He had his fists wrapped in Rafe's shirt, and had the GQ cop on his toes pressed against the wall.
Blair opened the door, and closed it behind him. "Thanks H, Rafe." Then, in a tone that was guaranteed to make a sentinel toe the line, especially a former black ops Ranger, "Put him down, Jim. We are going to talk to the girls, and you are going to play nice."
"Blair..." There was a warning in Jim's voice that made criminals tremble in their boots, but Blair just ignored him.
"James, we will talk, and you will listen." He caught his arm and tugged him into the interrogation room. When Blair used his full name with just that tone, it got his immediate attention.
Once in the room, Blair found himself pulled behind his sentinel. Off balance, he put too much weight on his injured leg and could not bite back on his cry of pain. Immediately, he was manhandled back into one of the chairs. Zeta started to get up to help, when Tehya caught her wrist and tugged her back. She had caught the look on the big sentinel's face, and heard the sub-vocal growl. This was something that the teachers in England had never told her about.
She watched as Blair Sandburg, caught tight in the hold of his sentinel, leaned into him. Her father's hands moved freely over the smaller man. Only when he seemed satisfied that he had suffered no further injuries did he straighten up. Blair caught his wrist and soothed him through the link.
"Tell him what you told me."
"My mother was Ellen Brooks. You know her, Sentinel."
Zeta cut across her sentinel. "Senior Sentinel Prime Ellison," she supplied.
"Er, yes, sorry, Senior Sentinel Prime Ellison."
Blair felt the confusion through the link. Whatever he had expected, that was not it.
"Yes, I knew her." He glanced down at Blair, and then back at the girls. "What has this to do with your kidnapping my guide?"
"Everything, sir." Tehya took a deep breath. "We didn't kidnap him. My Uncle Élan recalled me back to the States. He said that it was my destiny. My mother had died when I was ten years old. They sent me out of the country to avoid the GDP. I still have three more years before I finish my training. Zeta is my guide, my equal." She waited for him to scoff, after all he was GDP trained wasn't he?
"Blair has always been my equal," Jim challenged. "I never knew she had you, otherwise..." He let the sentence hang. How could he make her understand that he had not deserted her, and he was not just paying lip service.
"We only went to pick up the disk that Ronnie had downloaded. He had managed to get your service record. I only had an old picture of you and mum, and no name. He did the rest for me. Then I heard a noise, and Mr. Sandburg came running out. He was shot, and all I could think of was to get him to safety."
"See, Jim, protect the guide. You would have done the same, big guy. They rescued me, they didn't kidnap me."
"You're my daughter?" Jim pulled free of Blair, and then began to pace. "Why the hell didn't she tell me?" Jim turned to Tehya. "I had a right to know."
"Mum said that she had written a letter, but that she never posted it. The GDP had her file marked, and would have taken me away from her." Tehya could see the pain on her father's face. She had only just met him, in the worst possible way, but she felt a connection between them. "She said that she knew you would have come, moved heaven and earth to come to her, but she could not let you do that. It would have been too dangerous for you. She waited nearly eighteen years before telling me."
She squeezed Zeta's hand. "Dad, we would never have hurt your guide." She had to make him understand. "I didn't want you to meet me like this."
Tehya waited for him to tell her off, for daring say that word, but what she saw was the smile that he must have given her mother. "Tehya, that means a lot."
Blair got carefully to his feet, and then reached out for Zeta. "Come, let me buy you a Coke. This is going to be okay now." He closed the door behind them, allowing Jim and Tehya some privacy.
Simon Banks was in the corridor. "Well, Sandburg?"
"It's going to be all right Simon. Jim is talking to his daughter now." He added with a grin, "Guppy fish at feeding time," as he saw the look of shock on the Captain's face. "If you can spare a coffee, we can talk."
Just then, Taggart hurried up. "Simon, the prisoner, Brackett, has escaped."
"How? He couldn't move."
"Two feds came in with paperwork for him, and took him off in an ambulance. Then a second set arrived, the first were fakes."
In the interrogation room, Jim turned back to his daughter. He had followed the conversation. The sentinel had made it clear to the Sanctuary that they could pick Brackett up, but no violence in his city. His former colleague was lucky to be alive, but if he ever came back to Cascade, he'd leave it next time in a body bag.
Now he would make it right for his daughter. With a small smile, he added, "Do you feel like meeting the rest of the family?" He waited for her to either reject him, or welcome the contact with his family.
As if reading his thoughts, she reached out and took his hand. Their eyes met, and he knew that everything was going to be all right. He also knew that she would have to leave Cascade, her presence here would put her at risk. The GDP would move heaven and earth to keep her here, the daughter of a Dark Sentinel. He knew, but didn't know how, that she was not of the Dark. Still, it would be safer for her to return to England.
Tehya looked at her father, and it was as if she was reading his mind. "Now that I've found you, Dad, I'm not letting you go that easy." It was then she found herself pulled into a hug that threatened to crack her ribs. She hugged him back, she had a father now.