Blair was re-packing his knapsack, taking only what would most likely be needed. He was waiting for Jim to start his' it's too dangerous for you to go' speech. His sentinel was still finding it hard to accept that he couldn't tell Blair to stay behind anymore. Blair was a cop now, fully trained as a police officer of Cascade, and Jim's partner. Where Jim went Blair'd be damned if he wasn't going to follow. Blair looked over at the other sentinel and guide and knew Vin was making an ass out of himself the same way Jim was about to.
"Ez, it's going to be a cold camp tonight and you know you hate to be cold. Why don't you go with Chris and help Frances get back to her parents?"
"You don't think Ah'm capable of keeping up with you and Detective Ellison, is that it Vin? Or is it you don't want me along for some other reason?"
"Of course not Ez." Vin looked mortified. "I just want ya to be safe."
"Ah'm a fully trained agent, Ah keep maself safe. Ah've had the best survival training Quantico offers. It doesn't matter, whatever it is you want, Ah have no intention of allowing those children to remain in that hellhole any longer than Ah can help it. Either with you or without you, Ah'm going." Vin wanted to stand firm and order his guide to stay behind. Every sentinel's instinct he had was demanding that the guide be kept safe. How did Jim do it? Blair didn't listen to reason any better than Ezra did. He turned around and walked away, needing to cool off. Vin decided to listen in on the Cascade's sentinel and pick up some pointers on handling hardheaded guides.
Jim walked over to Blair's side and sighed. "There's nothing I can say that will make you stay where it's safe is there?"
"No." Jim gave up the battle, he knew he wouldn't win against his determined guide. He turned to Vin and Ezra, "You two ready?"
"Yeah" Vin felt betrayed; Jim hadn't even tried. How was he going to keep Ezra safe if Jim didn't show him how to get around his stubborn guide?
Ezra had picked up on Vin's emotions; worry and fear for his guide's safety. Vin wasn't happy but that was just too bad thought Ezra, as he put on his pack and followed the other three men. His sentinel wasn't going out there on his own, not without his guide beside him.
Vin and Jim had talked it over the night before and decided not to back track Frances'trail but to cut across country and follow the map coordinates that JD had found on the weather station. If all else failed, they could follow their noses. Now that they knew about it, they could search for the faint odor of ammonia and follow it. After making sure Frances was all right and bidding Chris and Simon good-by they separated, one group heading down the mountain, the other up.
+ + + + + + +
They hiked for hours before Jim called a stop for lunch. For once, neither Blair nor Ezra had asked for any breaks. While Blair and Ezra were getting out the food, Vin and Jim made a quick search of the area and found nothing. Still they took no chances and made do with a cold lunch.
Ezra watched as the two sentinels looked over the map. They had marked where the coordinates said the weather station was located. He hadn't seen them use a compass or any other kind of direction finder as they walked, so how did they know which way to go. His curiosity made him ask.
"How do you known we're going in the right direction?"
"Which way is south?" asked Jim with a straight face as he looked at his guide. Blair groaned and didn't look back at his sentinel as he dealt with the trash. Get lost one time and they never let you forget.
Ezra didn't realize the question wasn't directed at him and answered. "Given time Ah'd worked it out from the position of the sun. But Ah presume you have a motive behind posing the question in response to ma inquiry."
"East, west, south and north," Vin pointed to each direction as he named them, not even looking up from the map.
Ezra raised an eyebrow giving both sentinels a hard look. "A sentinel talent?" he asked.
"A Ranger one. One of the skills you had to have is the ability to be dropped in the middle of nowhere and find your way back without any kind of aid." Jim told him. Vin silently agreed with that statement.
Blair had been looking over Jim's shoulder studying the map. "Frances is one hell of a kid to even cover that much ground in only two days on her own and in the physical condition she's in."
"She was motivated, knowing what was waiting for her back in camp if she didn't get away. Falling in the stream helped; it carried her down stream, faster than she could have walked it. With any luck, they'll think she drowned or was killed by the bears and won't still be looking for her."
Vin pointed to a spot on the map close to the station. Jim nodded in agreement.
"Gentlemen, if you'd be so considerate and verbalize your discussion for the rest of us." Ezra was beginning to believe that the military taught nonverbal communication to their personnel. Vin had been in the Army and Chris in the Navy, they didn't seem to need to express themselves verbally to make the other understand. He wondered if he and Vin would get to that stage with their bond.
"Vin pointed to the map. "If we make camp here tonight we could be at the weather station early tomorrow morning."
"That sounds like a plan, let's go."
+ + + + + + +
The dawn came early for the two guides, their sentinels were already up and out reconnoitering the weather station that claimed to be a summer camp. The only thing different from Frances'story was that the helicopter was in residence. That meant at least one more person, other than the five guards and the Hell Queen, that would have to be dealt with. They hadn't chanced using their senses without their guides, but they did become familiar with the layout. The lab (a cement block one-story building) was in the center with tents on two sides (outhouses in the back). The guard's tent, the mess tent and the tent where the kids were housed were on the east side of the building and the Hell Queen tent on the west. They still needed to determine if anyone other than the pilot had come in on the chopper. After a cold breakfast, they hid their backpacks and headed out.
+ + + + + + +
Jim and Vin fell back into their Ranger training as they moved silently through the forest. Their guides weren't as quiet, but were picking it up as they watched their sentinels, mimicking their movements as they followed. The hand signals taught to Rangers allowed the sentinels to communicate as they circled their prey. The steady hands on their back or arm kept them from zoning.
Each pair took one side and circled the encampment, getting closer to pinpoint where the children were being held, meeting up to compare notes when they were done. Not talking till they were downwind they discussed what they had seen. Noise travels as well as smells. The sentinels weren't taking any chances that someone at the camp would hear a human voice that they couldn't account for.
"There's three guards on the outer perimeter. Vin and I will deal with them." Looking at the guides, Jim gave them his best don't argue with me glare and told them "Wait till we're done and we'll go in together. There are still two guards in the camp and two women. They all look to be heavily armed so don't take chances."
"And what do Blair and Ah do while you're undertaking the removal of the sentries?"
"Stay in one place and don't make any noise." Jim told him. Vin kept his mouth shut hoping Ezra wouldn't argue, his guide could get loud if motivated. Ezra acted as if he was going to disagree when Blair laid his hand on Ezra's arm and shook his head.
"Later" he whispered "Right now we need to think only about getting the kids out safely." He made sure he had their attention before he addressed them. "Jim I'm not worried about you zoning, you know how to keep that from happening. Vin's senses haven't been online long; he needs to hear Ezra's voice. I want Ezra to keep whispering so Vin can ground himself on the sound." He smiled at the expression on the two sentinel's faces. "Don't worry, think of it as a way to keep track of us."
Ezra smirked, "Any requests gentlemen? Ah once read an entire encyclopedia, shall I start with the letter A?"
"Just stay out of sight and watch out for dead animals." Vin told them. "Someone in that camp likes shooting the wildlife. We came across one dead dear and several squirrels this morning on our first reconnoiter. So keep an eye out for scavengers. They will get loud if they think you're challenging them for their dinner. And they'll bite."
Blair nodded his head in understanding. "We'll go to the top of that embankment over there and stay out of sight. If we see anything, we'll let you know." Vin and Jim left with Ezra reciting the encyclopedia, sentinel soft. With a curse thrown in ever so often when he tripped over tree-roots. That brought a smile, for Ezra knew some colorful language, but he never once raised his voice above a sentinel's hearing.
The first guard was easily found, taken down and disarmed. They used his shoelaces to tie him up, leaving him under a dead tree, with his socks stuffed in his mouth. Not wanting him accidentally found, they covered his body with leaves and brush, before heading out to find the other two.
Ezra was up to adze: "A adze is a tool with a curved blade set at right angles to the handle, that is used in shaping wood," he stopped and whispered. "Gentlemen one of your sentries is heading this way. . . He has just been joined by the other one." Blair and Ezra ducked down and waited for the guard to pass without them noticing them. It wasn't going to happen. The soft ground under their feet gave way under their combined weight; Ezra and Blair found themselves tumbling down the embankment. By the time they came to a stop the guards were standing over them, their guns drawn. Ezra thought quickly.
"Thank God you found us, we haven't seen another human being in what seems like days." Ezra turned to check on Blair and winked at him. "We're saved." Blair sat up but didn't try to stand, the goons were pointing their gums at them and he didn't want to tempt fate. "Yep we been wandering around for what seems like days trying to find our way back to our camp. It sure was lucky for us you were hunting out here or we'd still be wandering around lost."
"Yes indeed, we can't thank you gentlemen enough for finding us. You can get us back to the main gate can't you?" Ezra added for good measure, hoping to sound like an inexperienced camper who had gotten lost in the woods and didn't have a clue to what was going on.
"What the hell are you two doing out here on your own?" asked one of the guards.
Good, they were falling for his story. Now if only Blair played along, thought Ezra. Before Ezra could add to the story Blair spoke.
"It was a bear, a big bear. It came into camp and attacked us." Blair's eyes were wide and he trembled as he spoke as if remembering still frightened him.
Ezra was amazed; the ex- anthropologist turned police detective was a gifted obfuscateer, no wonder he sensed a kinship with him. He allowed none of his thoughts to show as he went along with the story Blair was creating.
"A huge and dangerous bear; we of course ran for our lives." Ezra told the men with the guns.
"No," the guard scowled at them, "I meant what are the likes of you doing away from the marked trails? Where's your guide?" Ezra and Blair looked at each other; the guard's use of the word guide was ironic. Ezra started brushing at his clothes, trying to remove bits of the forests'floor before answering. He made himself sound annoyed at the guard's question as if he had answered that same question before.
"Sir we are not children. Both of us are knowledgeable in the use of a compass and are capable of interpreting a map. There was no reason for us to employ a guide for a simple excursion into the wilderness. The bear's appearance in our camp was a fluke."
"A fluke huh? Well that can happen out here, bears are dangerous critters." The guard was noticing the expensive looking clothes Ezra was wearing, all of it new. "You say ya didn't hire a guide so no one knows where you guys are?"
"We filed some kind of paperwork with the park rangers when we paid for our permit to camp." Ezra looked down his nose at the man, not an easy task since the man was a good five inches taller than the Southerner. "If its any of your business, we did hire someone to take us up into the high country by four wheel drive to save ourselves the time it would have taken us to walk all the way up here." All the while Ezra was talking he had been moving away from Blair, putting space between them, so that the guards had to turn to face them with their backs to the direction he'd last seen Vin and Jim.
The guard talking to Ezra had been admiring Ezra's jacket. "Take off your jacket." Ezra looked indignant, "Why would Ah do that? "Cause I'm telling you to, that's why." With that, the guard slammed the butt of the rifle into Ezra's stomach. Ezra fell to his knees in pain, gasping for breath. Before he could get it back, the guard slumped down next to him unconscious. The other guard was in a similar state beside Blair. Looking larger than usual Vin and Jim stood over the men sitting on the ground. Jim stepped back and let Vin get to his guide. He hadn't allowed Vin to take out the guard who hit Ezra, knowing the newly bonded sentinel would more than likely have killed the man who hurt his guide. Jim knew how he would have been tempted if it had been Blair. Ezra had to give in to Vin's need to check him for injuries before they could get back to business. Only the fact that Blair had to let Jim do the same thing kept Ezra from complaining. Not until the sentinels were sure that their guides were all right did they take care of the guards. They quickly tied up the bodies and hid them.
Three down four to go.
+ + + + + + +
Quietly they slipped into camp. While they knew the locations of the children and the three remaining adults, they didn't plan on taking any chances. Each pair took a tent and checked it out. Vin and Ezra found the children's tent, double deck bunk beds crammed into one large tent. Ezra fought not to choke on the foul smells and the emotions of despair and fear that filled the canvas shelter. It was empty except for two teens. A young boy about sixteen was trying to get a girl the same age to eat something from the plate he was holding. "Come on Sally, you've got to eat." The girl lay on her bed and stared up at the bunk over her. "If you don't eat you'll die and the Hell Queen wins." The girl didn't respond to his pleas. The boy laid the plate beside her and said. "I've got to get back, I can't stay any longer or they'll come looking for me." The boy started to get up but froze when he saw Vin and Ezra.
Ezra held his figure across his lips signaling the boy to stay silent. Vin went to the front of the tent and kept watch. Ezra went to the teens. Wide-eyed, the young boy whispered "You going to get us out of here?" tears welledl up in his eyes.
The tears started to run down the kid's face. "For real?" Ezra wanted to pull the boy to him and hug him, but remembering Frances'reaction to being touched kept him from giving in to the impulse. Instead he cupped the boy's face and rubbed away the tears with his thumbs and said softly "We are, but you have to help us with information on where the rest of the children are. Can you do that?"
The boy nodded his head.
+ + + + + + +
Jim and Blair entered the guard's tent. Jim used his sense of smell to track down guns by the gun oil used on the weapons. When they departed, none of the guns inside the tent were functional. Jim tilted his head and leaned toward Blair and spoke softly to his guide.
"Vin and Ezra took out one of the guards." Jim listened, than wolfishly grinned. "It was the one that tried to hurt Frances, they aren't being too gentle with him."
"Good" Blair whispered back, "Where are they now?" Jim replied, "In the last tent. . . the mess tent, the one where the children are."
"Let's join them."
+ + + + + + +
They had started their ascent that morning, but it was now going on mid-day. Most of the children were eating their noonday meal inside the tent. They wouldn't get another meal till late that evening, so the children were gathered inside to get what they could of the food allowed to them. They wouldn't be missed for another thirty minutes. Roger had been the only one keeping watch over them. Thomas was with the Hell Queen and her partner. The other three guards were supposed to be walking the grounds making sure Frances hadn't given anyone ideas about running. The teenager that Ezra met in the first tent explained it all to him, as they waited for Jim and Blair to join them.
Blair found it eerie that so many teenagers could be so quiet. They watched with blank expressions on their faces; waiting and watching the strangers, not wanting to get their hopes up. They had been hopeless too long, most turned their attention back to their food.
Jim went to the front of the tent. "All right everyone, look at me." Faces slowly turned away from their plates to look at the big man. "I'm Detective Ellison," pointing to Blair he said. "This is my partner Detective Sandburg and the two men over there." Pointing to Vin and Ezra. "Are Federal Agents Tanner and Standish. We are here to help you." That got more of a reaction from the group. "What we need for you to do is get somewhere safe while we take out the last three people with guns. Anyone here got any ideas?" No one said any thing at first, till a girl about thirteen raised her hand. "What about behind the graveyard in amongst the big rocks back there?"
"Sounds good if there's room for everybody" Ezra said, he didn't want to think about who was buried there, not yet. Frances mentioned the two girls who were killed by bears. A graveyard made it sound as if there were more than two bodies out there.
"Yeah, there's room." One of the boys spoke up. "Whoever built this place was excavating for another building. There are stacks of cement blocks and piles of rocks and other rubble to hide behind as well as the trees. We can hide there if you promise that you'll take down the Hell Queen." Jim and Vin said it at the same time. "She's going down." It was a sentinel's promise.
Vin and Jim kept watch and used their senses to locate the other adults in the camp. The two women were in the tent on the other side of the lab. The last guard, the one the kids called Thomas was with them. . . no he was telling them he was going to check the grounds; it was time to move. Ezra and Blair had got the kids organized. It was disquieting that so many of the children had to be lead, in most cases it was the younger ones leading the older teens to the safety beyond the graveyard. There were too many empty eyes on blank faces, the expressions of hopelessness that didn't belong on children of any age.
As soon as the children were safe the guardians moved out.
+ + + + + + +
Geri Beauvoir and Anne Webster were in Geri's lavish tent, enjoying a gourmet meal that Anne flew in for her partner. Profits were up and Anne was ready to take another shipment of crystal meth out with her. Her only question was to leave now or tomorrow. Spending the night here with Geri and one of her playtoys would be nice too.
Both women were half drunk on champagne and fine foods, spread out on the four poster bed that Anne had flown in for Geri just for her comfort and amusement. The leather straps hanging off the posts hinted as to what kind of amusement she enjoyed. Neither of them expected to be seized and roughly flipped over face down on the bed. The leather straps were taken off the posts and used to tie their wrists and arms together. They were then turned over to see their captors.
"What the hell is going on, who are you?" Demanded Geri outraged at her treatment.
"We're the police and we're placing you two under arrest." Tanner told her, glaring at the women who thought so little of the young lives she was destroying.
Jim didn't say a word he didn't trust himself with this kind of lowlife. He'd leave them in the hands of the guides.
Ezra and Blair were as mad as their friends, but were less likely to act on it than their sentinels. "You want to give them their Miranda rights or shall Ah." Ezra asked Blair.
"You do it." Blair told Ezra as he turned to speak to Jim only to find him and Vin gone.
+ + + + + + +
Thomas had felt uneasy and left the women on their own to check on the compound. He felt like someone was watching him. He spent enough time in the Army and as a mercenary to know better than to dismiss the feeling. Geri's luck must have run out. If he couldn't get them in the helicopter and out of here, his was too. Of course, he could just take off cross- country and live off the land till things cooled down. But he had gotten used to the finer things in life and didn't want to go back to nature if he could help it. But than he didn't want to go to jail either.
Thomas took off toward Geri's tent on the far side of the lab. It was time they got out of there. As he went around the corner of the building a gun was stuck in his face. Holding the gun was a slim man with long sandy colored hair, Thomas thought he could take him, but before he could make his move another gun was pushed against his head from behind. Hell, how many were there? Taking a look at the tent he had been heading for he saw Geri and Anne with their hands behind them being escorted by two more men with guns. He might be able to take one of them at a time, but not two at once. He would wait for his chance to escape.
+ + + + + + +
Insult on top of injures, thought Thomas as he was forced to help bring his men from where the two cops had stashed them. The three imbeciles who were supposed to have been watching the terrain around the camp were tied up with their own bootlaces. Their boots flapped as they walked back to the center of the compound, where the two shorter cops were guarding Geri and Anne. Four men, four trips, the two bigger cops were not taking any chances with them as they had him tie each man's hands and feet, then tied them together side by side. No chance for them to work on each other's ropes that way. One of the two smaller cops had found some ropes in the back of the guard's tents and had him use that on the prisoners. He had to find a way to escape. He needed a distraction and it looked like that idiot Jomax was about to give it to him.
Roger was waking up, he had a king size headache and his stomach hurt. He didn't remember getting shit faced, but he sure did hurt like he did. Roger tried to sit up and found himself tied hand and foot. He begin to struggle against the ropes, Thomas stepped away from the man attempting to free himself even as the cops moved forward to halt Jomax's actions. It gave Thomas his chance to run.
Damn it, thought Blair as he shook his hand trying to get it to stop hurting. He knew better than to hit a jaw with his bare hand. Vin and Ezra were rechecking the ropes, Jim was making sure the troublesome guard was secure. Where was the other one?
"Jim we're missing Thomas," Blair looked across the compound in time to see the guard head off into the woods. Vin and Jim were hot on his heels.
"It would appear that you and Ah have been left with the duty of keeping vigilance on these villains" said Ezra as he checked the restraints again, not really happy with the type of rope they were using. "Ah would prefer using some type of manacles in place of these twisted fibers."
"We don't have enough handcuffs for every one." It hadn't surprised Blair to discover that each man had brought his service pistol and handcuffs with them camping. He thought that the men from Denver must have the same kind of luck he and Jim had when they went camping. At least fifty percent of the time, their camping trips ended up with them arresting someone. "I'll go see if there's something better in the Hell Queen's tent." Blair did find four pairs of handcuffs in a box by the bed. The rest of what he found there made him blush. Even with the upbringing his free spirited mother had given him, the contents embarrassed him. He took the cuffs and headed back to Ezra.
Blair was walking back to where he left Ezra and the prisoners. As he rounded the building he saw that the women were struggling with Ezra. Somehow they got loose of their leather ties. The one called Anne hit Ezra from behind and he went down. The women ran and Blair took out after them only stopping long enough to check on Ezra who was already sitting up with his gun on the prisoners.
"Go!" he waved Blair on "Stop them." As Blair ran after the fleeing felons, he called out to the sentinels to let them know what was going on. "The women are getting away. Ezra's Ok, watching the prisoners!" He kept after Geri and her partner who were running for the helicopter.
With Ezra standing guard over the prisoners, Vin and Jim were too far away to help, it was up to Blair to stop the two criminals from escaping. He ran after them, he got to the landing area just as the copter started to rise off the ground. He couldn't let them get away. The traumatized children needed to see the ones responsible for all their pain punished. He had to stop them. He raised his gun to take aim, than realized that his handgun would do little damage to the chopper unless he got real lucky. He lowered his arm. He was a shaman, he had other resources to call upon.
Blair stopped and dropped to the ground. Placing himself into a slight meditation state, he began to chant, asking for help from Mother Earth and the forces of nature to stop these two she- demons from hell. The wind rose even as the copter gained altitude, building in strength it butted the sides of the flying machine. The wind howled, the copter screamed as it was hit from all sides. Anne Webster fought for control to keep her helicopter in the air as it lost altitude. The tail boom hit a tall pine tree snapping off it's top and damaging the tail rotor. She couldn't keep the rotorcraft in the air after that.
Spinning out of control the chopper landed hard against the mountain, it's large flat blades snapping off. The force of the impact sent the whirly-bird sliding till it came to an abrupt stop amongst the trees.
+ + + + + + +
Vin and Jim had heard Blair's shout. Vin knew Jim needed to get back to Blair. He would have liked to go back and check on Ezra but one of them had to keep after the escaping criminal. Blair had yelled that Ez was Ok, it took only seconds for Vin to decide that Jim should be the one to go.
"Go, I'll take down this scum. Blair needs you." Jim didn't argue. Without breaking stride he turned and headed back.
Vin kept on the missing guard's trail. He was just a little ways in front of him now. He tracked the man with his hearing; he was getting close. The man stopped, what was he up to? Vin ducked as the sound of moving air warned him moments before a tree branch cut through the space that his head had been in. Rolling forward he made it to his feet just as the guard barreled into him. Vin let himself fall, taking the guard with him. At the same time, he lifted his feet and placed them on the man's stomach lifting him up and over. Vin's sent him flying into the brush behind them.
They were both on their feet in seconds. Vin reached for his gun only to realize that he had dropped it. He didn't have time to look for it, as he was charged once more. Vin danced out of the way. He hadn't broken a sweat yet while the guy was puffing and sweating like a pig. The man might have been ex-military or a mercenary, but he was out of shape.
"Guess pushing around little kids didn't give ya much of a work out." Taunted Vin.
Thomas glared at the cop standing across from him. The cop looked young but had obviously spent some time in the military. His moves were too good for a civilian. Under that shaggy hair was a soldier who had been well trained. Thomas might be older and carrying a few extra pounds but he could still take this brat. There was no way he was going to jail. He made his move.
Vin found himself on the ground and rolling to keep out from under the guard's feet. He should have never underestimated the old guy. Out of shape didn't mean he wasn't still dangerous. Vin managed to regain his feet; now they were both up and dancing around each other. Each had gotten in a few good blows as they hunted for the other's weakness. He spotted his gun under the leaves behind the guard. He faked a swing, the guard didn't buy it and got another good punch to Vin's side. He went down and rolled behind his attacker.
Thomas was about to drop down on the kid and finish him off when he found himself looking at the cop's handgun pointed directly at him. It was over. . . for now.
"On your knees." Ordered Vin. He quickly handcuffed the guard and pulled him to his feet. Vin wanted to get back to the camp and his guide.
+ + + + + + +
Jim had hurried to be by his guide's side when he heard Blair start to chant. He got there in time to see the helicopter slammed into the ground by the winds. After checking on his guide and finding him tired, but not too tired, he sent his hearing out to the brush to learn if the women had survived, then winced as he hastily pulled it back. They were alive all right and had just started cussing up a storm, at the top of their lungs. You didn't have to be a sentinel to hear them either.
"Jim, you alright?" Blair had caught the wince. He could hear the women shouting, but couldn't make out the words. "What are they yelling?"
"Yes, I'm alright," Jim answered the first question, as for the other "Let's just say they aren't ladies and leave it at that." Jim and Blair made it down to the wrecked helicopter. Looking at the broken chopper he smiled. "Incacha would be proud of ya chief. You stopped them as a shaman."
"I had a lot of help from Mother Earth and her winds." Blair replied as they started moving through the wreck to check on the women trapped inside. "I got the feeling the spirits didn't like what these two where doing anymore than we did, and were glad to help."
Jim pulled off the door of the cockpit, just as a gun was thrust upward. In one quick move he disarmed Geri and handcuffed the offending arm to a piece of bent metal. Other than minor cuts and bruises, she appeared to be all right. Being trapped under the helicopter's twisted frame didn't make her happy though. Her arm, the one now cuffed to the frame, had been the only part of her that had been free to move around. Anne Webster was yelling to them that her leg was broken. She too was trapped under the twisted metal that had once been the cockpit of the helicopter. Neither woman was going anywhere without help.
Jim and Blair worked their way around to where they could get to Anne's leg. She screamed when Jim set the break. Blair had to tape the sprint around her leg with duct tape. It was all he could find when he had went looking for a first aid kit in the wreck. Once finished he recited the Miranda from memory to both of them. With that done he used his handcuffs to cuff Anne to the frame of the chopper.
Jim found the fire extinguisher. He washed down the gas tank and the surrounding ground to eliminate the chance of fire. "That should keep them till the cavalry gets here tomorrow."
"Wait a minute, you can't leave us here." Anne yelled at them.
Geri pulled at the cuffs holding her. Even if she could get them off, she wasn't sure about getting out from under the misshapen metal pinning her in the co-pilot seat. "What about the wild animals out here. . . bears and wolfs and. . . bears."
"Bears won't come near the smell of this much gas and machine oil." Blair told her, "And wolfs have better taste than to eat human. Besides, it might do you more harm trying to get you out of this without cutting equipment. So sit tight and tomorrow when help arrives they can cut you out of here and transport you safely to jail."
Jim and Blair walked away from the wreck and tried not to listen to the cussing the two women were doing.
+ + + + + + +
It was all over, Vin came out of the woods pushing Thomas in front of him. The pair were bloody, but Vin was obviously the winner. Thomas was forced to sit with the other guards who had their hands tied behind their backs and their feet tied together. The ex-guards of 'Get Strong Camp'made up one long line of tied individuals. Ezra might have used too many ropes but then he really didn't care if they were uncomfortable as he tightened the knots on the last guard.
Than to make sure that they couldn't escape he joined their ankles together as well with the additional cuffs that Blair had dropped when he stopped to check on him. These five men weren't going anywhere till Chris and the others got here.
Vin shook his head. His guide was overdoing it, but he understood where Ezra was coming from. What had been going on here was just pure evil and he hoped they were all sent away for a long time. It made Vin wonder about this feeling he had, the one that wanted to get rid of this kind of danger permanently. Jim did mention something about the primitive sentinel needing to destroy any threat to the guide and tribe. But he wasn't an animal or primeval human who killed first and asked questions later, though he had run across that type in the Army. He'd let the law take care of this scum and hoped he never crossed paths with them again. He was just glad that his guide was okay and it was all but over.
After Ezra finished with the guards, he got his first good look at his sentinel. "Vin what the hell. . . ?" Vin was covered in dirt, leaves and blood.
"It's nothing, just a few bruises and minor cuts." Vin tried to reassure his friend.
Ezra studied Vin's face and his emotional state and decided Vin was telling him the truth. "All right then, what about our comrades in arms?"
Vin tilted his head and concentrated, Ezra placed his hand on Vin's arm to ground him. "Jim and Blair are fine, that crash we heard was the chopper going down. The two women were in it but they're mostly ok. . . ." Suddenly, Vin laughed. "They're trapped inside and can't get out by themselves. Jim and Blair are leaving them there, handcuffed to the wreck. They aren't happy about it and using words. . ." Vin paused, "their mouths should be washed out with soap for that kind of language. Blair and Jim are on their way back."
"Good, if you can watch the miscreants, Ah'm going to see about the children." Ezra didn't wait for Vin to respond as he headed for where the kids were hiding, leaving Vin to watch over the guards.
+ + + + + + +
Jim, as the oldest, was elected by the other three to make the call to Chris and Simon and explain why they hadn't waited for backup. It didn't take that long for Team Seven and others to show up after that; once it was known that the children were safe and the bad guys were under arrest. The small army of law enforcement agents Travis had gathered wasted no time as they swooped in by chopper and vehicles. With Chris in charge, the parts Jim, Blair, Ezra and Vin played were pushed into the background, and they were able to keep a low profile. It was all over quickly, as the children were flown out on choppers to the nearest hospital, and their parents contacted.
Geri Beauvoir, Anne Webster and the guards were also being flown out, but were going to the closest federal holding area to face an assortment of charges. They were already falling over each other to place blame on someone other than themselves. Each wanted to cut a deal by ratting out on one of the others. The trial would be more of a formality to give sentencing than to prove guilt. The evidence was overwhelming, and there was no one to blame but each other.
While this would keep the children from the trauma of having to testify against the guards, Geri and Anne, it would be years, even with psychological counseling and treatment, before the surviving children got over their summer at 'Get Strong Camp'for teens. Before allowing the parents to have custody of their children back from being under federal protection, the Federal Judge in charge of the case ordered them all to go through family counseling. He threatened child endangerment charges for any parent that refused.
The news media centered on Frances'daring escape and the help she managed to find. The news departments around the country billed her as a heroine, and justly so, said the ATF agent in charge, Chris Larabee. If it weren't for Frances, the children would probably not have survived. The rest of the stories centered on the men and women who went in and collected the evidence that put a stop to Geri Beauvoir's drug operations.
No one noticed the four men that kept in the background, who waited just long enough to be sure the children were safe before disappearing into the surrounding forest; not to be seen again till they reported back to work at the beginning of the following week.
Almost no one. . .
+ + + + + + +
On a hillside miles way sat an observer who had been watching the events of the last few days, safely hidden with in a hunter's blind. He was using a high powered telescope and other spy equipment to enable him to track the actions of his prey. While it was usual for a science observer to get as close as possible to his subject, it was impossible in this case. The subject would know he was being studied and disappear, so the observer hid. Most would have trouble finding his hiding place, even if they walked within a few feet of him. His quarry was not like most and great care was taken not to frighten the subject off. The high power spyglass was the only tactic open to the observer as he watched the activities below.
The observer turned on a white noise generator before he began his daily report. Picking up his recorder he started.
"The subject has been successful in liberating the children and shutting down the drug operation. As I reported before, the subject has met up with another individual with the same abilities as himself. While there were signs of hostility at first, the pair have worked together to free the victims of the drug manufacturers. Both appeared to have control over their senses and were able to utilize them more than the subject we have in the monitored environment of the laboratory. Nor has the subject in the wild exhibited the same blackouts or mental instability that the lab subject has suffered."
"The main difference between the lab subject and the subjects in the wild has been the guide. While our own research has found little information on the role that the guide plays, it is obvious from observing them in action that the guide contributes to the subject's control of his senses. I have come to the conclusion that the guide is the missing factor in our research."
"Note: While the two subjects in the wild have put aside the hostilities of the first meeting and now appear friendly to each other, neither has allowed the other to touch or come close to their guide. Is this a territorial matter between the subjects? Do they bond somehow with only one guide and see the other subject as a possible threat to that bond or to the guide? More research must be made into the guide's importance if we are to make any headway into the Sentinel project. End of report."
Authors Note: I always thought Vin would make a good sentinel, in the series he was the sharpshooter, the scout and a protector. Out of the other six, the only character who had all the skills needed to be the guide was Ezra. The Southerner is quick-witted, patient, vocal, world-wise and compassionate. While I enjoyed the series, The Sentinel, I always wondered why they didn't give Blair's shaman abilities any airtime, especially when there were so many possible plots in it. Other than making him a shaman, they didn't do anything with the story line. Also thanks to GSister for the term shadow people
So what do you think of this crossover story? Please let me know, even if you hated it. All comments are welcome, even criticism; if it is constructive. Write me at: Nsscbs1978@aol.com