Crossover with the Sentinel and SG1
Sorry this has taken so long, real life (rearrangement of shifts at work, new sleeping patterns ect.) and a case of writer's block have kept me from it for a while. In this AU Vin and Ezra have been sentinel and guide for a while. Maude is less money loving and a more Ezra loving Mother. In the Sentinel AU the story is set after TSBS. Blair is a cop and has gotten his PHD. With SG1, I played somewhat loosely with the time lines. To the best of my knowledge the facts are correct, just not in the order as they happened in the series.
A warm breeze blew softy across Vin's face, gently ruffling his hair as he sat contentedly on his horse. He gazed over the meadow they were about to cross as he waited for Chris to draw level with him. Vin leaned forward in the saddle and laid his hand on Peso's neck to quiet the horse, not wanting to startle the doe and her fawn that were deciding whether or not to come out of the brush and into the open grazing land. As the Texan watched he felt his friend, co-worker and boss ride up beside him. Chris Larabee and Vin Tanner had spent the morning out riding on the pretext of checking parts of the fence line that defined portions of Chris' land and fixing it where needed. It had been an easy, relaxed ride; just spending time with each other. They hadn't had a lot of opportunities to do that lately between their caseload as ATF agents and Vin learning to use and control his abilities as a sentinel. (A sentinel is a person who has the genetic advantage of having their sense of hearing, eyesight, touch, smell and taste enhanced above the norm.) As Chris came up beside Vin he noticed that his friend had stopped and wasn't moving. Afraid that the sentinel was zoning he was about to hit the younger man on arm to distract him from whatever he was zoning on when Vin spoke.
"If you hit me I'll knock you out of that saddle, I'm not zoning."
Chris dropped back as he shuddered at the memory of the first time Vin had become lost in a sensory overload while they were around each other. It was just after Chris had learned about Vin's heightened senses and Vin was showing off what he could do. Not only hadn't Chris caught on to what was happening to the young sentinel, he didn't known at the time what to do to bring Vin back. The experience had scared him badly. Chris hadn't trusted himself since then to keep Vin safe from zoning. There had been a time when the pair could practically read each other's minds, anticipating each other's moves. This time Chris' instincts told him that Vin hadn't been in a zone but he had a hard time trusting himself when it came to Vin's safety. Chris looked on him as a younger brother as well as a good friend.
Vin spoke softy "If you look toward the end of the pasture there's a doe and her fawn watching us. Even with your eyesight you should be able to see them."
Chris looked and sure enough there where a doe with her fawn. Apparently the doe saw no threat in the two men on horseback and came further out into the meadow. As Chris didn't allow hunting on his property most of the wildlife had no fear of men on horses. Chris wasn't about to have any of his livestock mistaken for whatever was in season. If there was a problem with a wild animal killing livestock, his neighbors knew Chris would take care of it... if the animal came on his property. With the exception of the six men on Chris' team there should never be anyone with guns riding on his ranch.
"Nice." Said Chris hoping Vin would let his behavior go unchallenged, no such luck.
"Chris we need to talk about this."
Chris kept looking at the deer.
"Chris you've got to go back to trusting yourself, I know you can tell the difference between a zone and me just being me."
Chris started to turn his horse around away from the deer family, but Vin pulled Peso around and blocked his way.
"We used to be able to read each other so well we didn't need words to communicate. I still trust you to be able to do that, hell even Ezra trusts you to keep me grounded and you know what a mother hen he has turned into. One more green veggie turns up in my refrigerator and I won't be responsible for my actions."
Chris smiled at that; Ezra Standish was Vin's guide. A guide helped a sentinel use his senses and gave the sentinel someone to ground himself on so as not to be overwhelmed by them. He was also the one person who could bring back his sentinel from a zone no matter how lost the sentinel became within his mind. The fact Ezra was something of a Southern dandy (as well as the best undercover agent in the ATF) compared to the scruffy Texan amused the team no end. He was also bound and determined to change Vin's eating habits, out of the fast-food gutter and into healthier, greener practices. A sentinel's health and well being were of the utmost importance to his guide.
Chris' mind flashed to thoughts of one Ezra Standish who was well educated, well traveled and very intelligent. He could think or talk his way out of just about any situation. It was no wonder Vin had turned to him for help when his hearing, eyesight, touch, smell and taste got enhanced. Chris would admit it, if only to himself, that Ezra had been the better choice as guide. He wouldn't have had any idea where to even begin to find answers for Vin.
"Ezra trusts me to take care of you?" Asked Chris. This was high praise from the Southerner who had made sure each member of Team Seven read and understood the material he had gotten from the guide and sentinel of Cascade Washington (Blair Sandburg and Jim Ellison), who were acting as the Denver pair's mentors. Vin had learned to use and control his abilities to the point he was not likely to fall into a zone in everyday activities. Ezra was concerned that something might happen to Vin while he was working undercover and wanted to sure that Vin had someone to act as a backup guide. There was always the unexpected that might pop up and the rest of the team was there to fill in for Ezra if he was absent.
Chris understood and accepted that a sentinel used his heightened senses best when his guide was by his side. There was something almost magical when the two of them where together working a case that wasn't there with anyone else. What Vin didn't think of Ezra did, they could came up with ways to find the smallest piece of evidence. That gave them a better chance of finding the criminal. He and the others might stand in for Standish but only Ezra was Vin's true guide. As the sentinel from Cascade put it for 'every sentinel there was only one true guide and vice versa.'
"Chris?" called Vin, bringing back the man from his mussing. "I was beginning to think you were zoning."
"No just thinking."
"Good that leaves one more topic to cover."
Chris growled to himself. Having a frank talked with his friend about personal stuff ranked somewhere in the same category as having a root canal.
"About the reason Ez is my guide and not you."
Chris' head jerked up, he had been careful not to let on about how he felt about that in the beginning. Damn he had forgotten about Standish. Ezra, being an empath, must have picked up on it.
"Gotta get this out in the open." Vin told his friend. "You're the brother of my spirit, my heart, my best friend, but you're not guide material. For one thing you don't say more than a dozen words a day if you can help it. You might have noticed that Ezra and Blair never seen to stop talking. For another you don't think outside the box as well as some..." Vin left the sentiment trail off as he raised one eyebrow and tried to look meaningfully at the other rider. "So stop feeling guilty, you've got enough to worry about."
"You know Tanner for someone who didn't used to use more than a dozen words a day yourself, you sure have gotten talkative after getting a guide." Chris leaned forward and crossed his arms across the saddle horn, trying to glare at his younger friend but finding it hard not to laugh instead. Clearing the air had lightened his load, getting rid of the guilt he felt at somehow having let his best friend down; the self-reproach he had felt of being relieved at not being tied down to the responsibilities that came with being that guide. He had enough of those heading the best ATF team in the organization, not to mention keeping the lot of them out of trouble. Here was Vin telling him it was all right.
"Hell, what can I say, Ez is a bad influence." Vin smiled back, relieved that Chris understood. Hopefully they could get back to being themselves again.
The pair were riding side by side heading in the general direction of the ranch house across the wide level pasture, no rocks or prairie dog holes to trip up a horse and rider. Vin got a devilish look in his eyes and Chris caught it. Scrutinizing the Texan warily, silently asking him, 'What are you thinking?'
Vin in turn nodded his head in a manner that seemed to indicate down the field at the same time asking... Want to race to the other end?
Chris Larabee laughed and shook his head no.
"What's the matter old man? Afraid, ya can't keep up?" Vin spoke up teasing his friend, with a raised eyebrow he added. "Of course Peso being the fine animal that he is, it's no wonder an old cowpoke like you wouldn't be able to keep up with us and wouldn't even want to try."
"That mule of yours is not a race horse, its more of an ass," answered Chris as he pressed his heels into the side of his mount spurring it to into a gallop and calling back over his shoulder. "Just like his rider."
With a loud cowboy whoop, Vin set his Peso after Chris intent on catching up.
They were running neck to neck when Vin abruptly reined in Peso, making the big horse come to a skidding halt, sitting down on it's rump. The mustang snorted as he got back on all fours, he looked back at his human wondering what had happened to end their run. Chris Larabee was wondering the same thing as he turned his mount around and rode back to Vin. Had the sentinel in Vin seen or heard something that needed attention?
Vin didn't answer him as he stood up in his stirrups and looked hard eastward as if he was in search of something. "Gotta get back." he said as he abruptly dropped back down, putting his heels to his steed's flanks, urging the black into a full gallop.
"VIN?" yelled Chris making the simple name into a curse. Sentinel senses or not, the fool was going to kill himself if he kept riding that way all the way back to the ranch house. While they were in an open area at the moment there weren't a lot of places on Chris's land that permitted a rider to go full out without the danger of breaking a leg or a fool's neck. This pasture was one of them but between here and the house there was a lot of rough ground. Chris started out after his friend but stopped. Pulling his cell out he phoned the ranch house first to find out if everything was alright.
"Buck who's hurt?.......No one..... damn. Vin's on his way back riding like a madman, stop him from leaving without me." Chris stuffed the phone back in his pocket and took off after his friend.
+ + + + + + +
Vin had ignored Chris, Chris hadn't heard the cougar scream or the cry of the red wolf. His guide was in trouble and Vin feared he was already too late. Using his sentinel skills he guided the sure-footed mustang over hurdles and through the rough ground; hunting for the quickest, though maybe not the safest way back to the ranch house and his jeep.
+ + + + + + +
Buck kept looking toward the west expecting to see Vin come riding in. Chris had hung up on him before he got to ask what the hell was going on. Buck wasn't sure how he was going to keep the Texan from leaving. Buck was an X-Navy Seal the same as Chris but he and Chris had been out of the military for a lot of years. They were good, they had kept in shape and knew every dirty trick in the book when it came to fighting but Vin was better. The first couple of years after getting out of the Army, Tanner had spent as a bounty hunter, the rest of the time was with the team. Vin's easy going manner hid a trained soldier, skilled in all the arts of war. If he didn't want to be stopped he wouldn't be.
Buck looked over at Vin's jeep, it now had a flat tire thanks to JD. It had been JD's idea to let the air out, figuring the time it took for Vin to change it would give Chris time to catch up. Still Buck was going to try to find out what was wrong when Vin got here. The sound of thundering hooves brought his attention back to the yard as Vin came riding in.
Vin came riding in at a full gallop barely slowing down to dismount the still moving horse. Once Peso was free of his rider the lathered animal headed for his stall. JD came out of the barn and grabbed his reins.
"JD, take care of Peso for me." Vin yelled to his friend. Vin was heading for his jeep. Buck stepped in front of him.
"Vin tell us what's going on." Buck made the mistake of putting his hand up to halt the moving man. Buck found himself flying through the air and was now seeing the barn from a new angle.
"Buck you alright?" asked JD from the safety of the barn doors. JD was no fool and knew when to stay out of the way. Never get in Chris Larabee's way when he was on the warpath and never try to stop an object in motion. Particularly if the object in motion was one of the seven determined to get their own way.
"Yeah, I'm alright." Buck called out from his position on the ground once he got some air back in his lungs. He was flat on his back looking up at the sky. It was nice here, Buck thought he'd stay awhile.
Vin walked over to his jeep and cursed the flat tire. His spare was flat too, he'd never got around to getting it fixed the last time a tire had gone flat. Looking over at the other vehicles in the yard he decided on Chris' black Ram. It had a flasher and most of the cops around Denver knew it by sight. They stayed out of his way, especially when he used the flasher. He patted his pocket; no keys, no problem, he'd hot-wire it. Vin wasn't going to take the time to go to the house for the keys and let Buck or JD try to slow him down any more than they already had.
Vin started for the truck when an angry looking wolverine came out from under it and stomped his feet glaring at Vin the whole time. Vin took a step backward before realizing it was a spirit animal and didn't think it could hurt him. He started forward, this time his own spirit animal was beside him, the cougar was there growling at the smaller beast. The wolverine wasn't budging, it glared at the big cat and showed him all of his thirty-eight very sharp teeth as if it was daring the big cat to try and make him move. The cougar backed off just a little but kept himself between Vin and the Devil Bear.
Vin tried to maneuver around the beast to get to the truck but the critter wasn't falling for it. The wolverine kept out-flanking him, keeping him from getting any closer to the Ram. Pound for pound a wolverine was the meanest and strongest animal in the forest. Vin had seen one back down a grizzly. Spirit animal or not Vin didn't want to take any chances with it, he didn't have time. Vin was still trying to get around the animal when the sound of hooves distracted him. Chris came into the yard pretty much the same way Vin had a little earlier. The blond did come to a complete stop before dismounting. Giving his reins to JD he walked over to Buck who was still on the ground.
"What are you doing?" he asked Buck, then added. "Are you alright?"
"Ran into a brick wall and no I didn't get hurt, just had the wind knocked out of me." Buck raised his arm and Chris took it and helped the lady's man to his feet. They both looked over at Vin who was doing some strange dance with something they couldn't see.
"He gone loco?" Buck asked.
"Not sure." Chris shot back, for in truth he wasn't sure what the hell was wrong with the Texan.
Vin wanted to hit something, he needed to get to his guide. Something was wrong with Ezra and he wasn't getting any closer to finding out what by trading glares with the damn wolverine.
"Vin?" asked Chris, wanting answers to his best friend's behavior.
Through gritted teeth Vin told them. "Ezra is in danger and I need to get to him. If it's not too much trouble would you give me your keys?"
"Fine but hurry." Now that Chris was here the wolverine had disappeared. Vin realized that the two (Chris and the beast) shared the same pig-headed glare. Vin shook his head as he climbed into the truck. The meanest, stubbornest, most hardheaded critter in the woods had to be Chris's spirit animal.
"What are you waiting for?" Vin demanded when he became aware that the truck wasn't moving.
"Have you tried calling them?" Chris held out his phone.
"I'll call if you start this damn truck." Vin grounded out each word as he grabbed the phone away from him.
Chris started the engine and pulled out, watching Vin from the corner of his eye as he drove.
Vin first called Ezra's cell, then Josiah's. Ezra and Josiah were entertaining Maude for the day. Ezra's Mother had finally seemed to accept what Ezra did for a living even if she didn't like it. Having Josiah fawning over the beautiful blond didn't hurt either. Not that she hadn't been supportive of Ezra over the years but she didn't like her darling baby boy being in danger. Her world of big business was just as cut throat as gun running but no one was holding a gun to your head threatening to shoot you if a deal fell through.
To Vin, Maude seemed to be a walking contradiction; one minute over protective and the next completely ignoring her son. Ezra said it went back to the time just after his father's death. Maude had been hard pressed to keep the business she, his father and his uncle had started from going under. Fighting to prove to the world that she could handle both the business and her son hadn't been easy. Nor had it given her time to grieve over the loss of her husband and her stepbrother who died at the same time. Instead she poured that energy into making the Harris & Standish Co. successful. She gave one hundred percent to whatever she was engaged in, alternating between her son and the business.
But she had taken care of Ezra, even when the demands of the job forced her to put him in a boarding school for the years she was trying to set up deals for the ever-growing business. She kept an eye on him even if it was long distant mothering. In the summer (if she couldn't keep him with her) there were relatives that were willing to let the child stay with them so Ezra could get to know his kinfolk. Some were good, some not so good and a few Ezra refused to stay with. All the while Maude was building the business she thought Ezra would one day help her run. Instead, much to her horror he had turned to law enforcement in college. It took years and a near death experience for Ezra before they came to an understanding. They had grown apart over those years to a point where they had stopped talking to each other. But now (with Josiah's help) they were trying to get closer again; to get back the closeness they had had when Ezra was growing up, before he joined the FBI.
Vin threw down the phone, "Nobody's picking up. This ain't good Chris, I can feel it's bad, can't you make this thing go faster and use the flasher?"
+ + + + + + +
They pulled up in front of Josiah's cottage home and parked next to Ezra's jag. Everything looked peaceful, maybe Vin's feelings were wrong. Chris hoped to hell he was. Guns in hands they went to investigate.
The front of the small house was in order, well as perfect order as Josiah kept it in. He was usually a neat housekeeper, but give him a new book to read or project to work on and he forgot some of the basics like washing dishes or the laundry. Since it was Maude who was coming for lunch the house looked better than customary. Josiah had a major crush on Ezra's Mother. Chris and Vin headed for the back of the house, where Josiah had planed an outside lunch in his well kept flower garden.
Everything in the garden was in order. The table on the patio was set for three and food was still covered waiting for the host to uncover the plates. The only thing out of place were the two bodies on the ground. Chris checked them out as Vin stood guard. Josiah and Maude were alive but unconscious, Chris pulled out his cell and called Nathan then Buck and JD. They would get there as soon as they could.
Vin's eyes were going over the grounds for any clue as to the whereabouts of his guide. Without his guide beside him Vin was careful when fully using his abilities, he picked up a fork from the table and squeezed his hand around the prongs, letting the pain distract him enough to keep from zoning as he hunted for any clues as to what had happened. There was nothing, whoever took him had left it all very neat, too clean. This had to have been well planned. They hadn't left anything behind. Vin put his gun away and went over to Chris, still at Maude's side.
"They seem alright, just sleeping." Chris looked at his friend's worried face. "Any sight of Ezra or who did this?" he asked.
Vin was brushing back Maude's hair at the base of her neck, running his fingers across the skin at the hairline. There it was, he pulled out a minuscule dart. The next time Maude dealt with her hair the tiny dart would have fallen out and disappeared. If you weren't looking for it you wouldn't have found it. Vin held up the dart in the palm of his hand for Chris to see. He'd bet that Josiah had one on him somewhere too.
"This was a professional job, either the government or someone with government connections." Vin shook his head "My company in the Rangers used something like this on a mission to kidnap someone the higher ups wanted to talk to."
Vin didn't give any details and Chris knew better than to ask. While Vin had never been in the black ops division of the Rangers, what his company had taken part in was not for public consumption. Some of Vin's military records were still classified top secret and Vin never talked of those years he spent in the Rangers. Chris understood, he and Buck both had parts of their records sealed on their time with the Navy Seals. They had been places and done things that they couldn't talk about even to this day. If Vin said this had a military connection Chris believed him and was scared by it. One of the things Ellison and Sandburg warned them about was the possibility that someone might want to use them against their will. But why grab the guide and not the sentinel?
+ + + + + + +
Vin couldn't stand still as he paced back and forth from the garden to the living room watching the shadows grow longer. He wanted to start the hunt, not to wait around for Josiah and Maude to wake up. He and Chris had moved the pair indoors when it had been determined that they were otherwise unhurt. Nathan, Buck and JD had arrived in the meantime and they were all waiting for Maude and Josiah to wake. Vin felt the need to get moving to follow the strange pull that meant his guide. Even when Ezra was undercover Vin kept taps on him, always knowing the condition and general location of his guide. He would get as close as he could without being seen and monitor Ezra. It gave Vin some peace of mind knowing how Ezra was when he was working a case without him.
He had never told anyone, not even his mentor and fellow sentinel Jim Ellison, that he could feel Ezra when they were separated. Not as in any given location, but as in the direction he needed to go to find him. Thinking of the Cascade sentinel made Vin pull out Chris' phone, wondering if he should call his mentor and ask for help. Before he could make up his mind Chris walked over and asked him.
"You want me to call for you?"
Vin nodded his thanks as he handed over the phone and went back to pacing. Chris made the call, he didn't get the sentinel but his boss
+ + + + + + +
Simon reached for the phone at the same time he yelled at Jim Ellison to stand down. The man hadn't stopped moving since running out of Major Crimes telling Simon that Blair was in danger and he needed to get to him. Jim's discovery of Blair's car abandoned in the parting lot of the police academy where the detective had been scheduled to teach a class had propelled the usually civilized man into what Blair would have called a primitive mood. It had taken all Simon's skill as a negotiator to talk the sentinel into coming back to the loft apartment. If there was a call it would come here, even though Jim said it wasn't revenge motive.
How did Jim know that? As soon as they got back to the loft Jim started making calls. Simon only knew two of the people Jim called: one was to Rainier University to talk to Kelso the ex-government agent who taught there as well as Blair's friend Daniel Jackson who knew some big shot military types. Simon didn't for sure what these people could or would do or what they knew about Blair's kidnapping but Jim and Blair trusted them. He hoped it wouldn't come back and bite them in the ass.
"It won't do Blair any good if you go off half cocked. Wait for Kelso and Jackson to get back to us. We need to have a plan before going anywhere."
Simon was worried. Not only had someone kidnapped one of his best detectives and friends, Blair was Jim Ellison's guide and a sentinel with his guide in trouble was unpredictable and very dangerous. He watched as Jim walked out on the balcony and stood ramrod straight as he gazed out on his city. Simon shook his head. They better get something soon or Ellison was going off on his own and someone was going to end up dead. As a cop Simon didn't want to have to arrest his friend for murder, no matter how justified the killing. Simon's greatest fear for his friends were that the people involved with the kidnapping might be working with government sanctions. Simon was musing this over when the phone rang.
"What!" yelled Simon as he pulled his attention back to the phone. "Sorry, Chris things are in a bit of an uproar here, Sandburg's been kidnapped." Simon listened to Chris, "Shit, that's too much of a coincidence not to be the same people."
Jim reentered the room and took the phone from Simon. "Chris, tell Vin to get ready to move out. He needs to bring his souvenirs of his travels with him. I'll contact him in two hours." With that Jim hung up the phone. Jim headed for the door.
"Jim were are you going?" demanded Simon.
"To get a few things I keep in storage..."
"But what about Kelso and Jackson?"
"If they call back fine, if not I'm starting the hunt without them."
+ + + + + + +
Chris shut his phone and looked at Vin. "You heard." It was more of a statement than a question that Vin had listened in on the conversation.
"Yeah, I need to get going." Vin said.
"He said in two hours Vin, there's time." Chris countered not wanting the younger man to go off without him. He wanted to hear if Josiah and Maude had anything to tell them about their attackers and if they were going to be alright before leaving.
"Not so fast young man." Came a soft voice from the couch. Maude was sitting up right pushing away Nathan's helping hand. She had been listening to Chris and Vin's conversation and decided it was time for her to speak.
"We need to talk. As much as Ah want to go after the men who took ma baby boy, there are things we both need to discuss. Your friend said two hours before he'd have information for us so there is time. Besides ma company jet is at the airfield. It will take you anywhere in the world as soon as we have something to go on. Till then talk to me."
Vin hid his smile, Maude was like her son in a lot of ways. Too mule headed to take help when offered, wanting to prove they could do it on their own; willing to give help even when it wasn't in their own self-interest. The same eyes stared up at him demanding answers to questions she hadn't even asked yet. It was almost like looking into Ezra's eyes and knowing he wasn't going to be able to lie to her any more than he could Ez. He wanted nothing more than to turn around, leave to start the hunt. But Ezra was Maude's son as well as his guide she deserved to know what was going on and he had a gut feeling he needed to hear what she had to tell him.
"Please Vin, come over here. Ah'm sorry to say Ah didn't see or hear anything of the people who took ma son."
With a sigh he went and sat, observing that Josiah was waking up as well. Vin remembered that the drug acted quickly and wore off almost as quickly leaving the victim clear headed. The target was only out for a few hours, just long enough to get them to somewhere they could be questioned without any fuss. Didn't do any good if the kidnappee was too drugged to answer questions. Another dose needed to be given before the first dose wore off to keep the victim asleep. Josiah had been listening to the conversations going on around him as he woke and didn't have anything to add. He too hadn't seen or heard anything to tell them who took Ezra.
Vin sat on the couch beside Ezra's mother, hoping Chris wouldn't say anything. Chris didn't have a lot of patience with Maude, mainly because he had a hard time intimidating her. After losing his own son he had been appalled to learn that mother and son weren't on speaking terns with each other at the time Chris had offered Ezra the job with the team. Time and Josiah had changed all that. Still in the back of Chris' mind it was inexcusable the way Maude had treated her son for too many years.
Maude Standish did things her own way regardless of what anyone else thought. While Vin might not agree with what Maude had done over the years raising her son, (a boy should be raised with his Mother not at a fancy school or with relatives) she was Ez's mother and she loved him in her own way. She had done her best and what she had thought best for him. That alone meant she had Vin's respect.
Maude took Vin's hand in hers and turned it over when she felt the broken skin, gently she brushed her figures over his palm. "Ah knew it would happen someday, Ezra would find the other half of his soul." She looked into the blue eyes staring at her.
"You're like Paddy aren't you?" said Maude, it was a statement, not really a question.
"Ezra's daddy?" asked Vin.
Maude shook her head. "His Uncle Paddy, my stepbrother and Ezra's father's closest friend and partner." It suddenly seemed as if there was no one else in the room but Vin and Maude as she held his hand, everyone else ceased to exist for Maude as she spoke to Vin of a time and the two men who were the center of her world long ago. Her accent deepened as she reminisced telling of those men.
"Patrick Michael Harris was mah big brother. Mah mamma married Michael Ezra Harris when ah was five, Paddy had just turned seven. Michael Harris was a coal miner in a small town way back in the Virginia Mountains, he lost his wife to a sickness the year before. He was a good man and treated me no different than he did his son Paddy. He even gave me his name when he married Mamma. Paddy and Ah ran wild in the hills growing up with Paddy's best friend Patrick James Standish." Maude smiled, as she thought of those times. " The two Patricks were as different as night and day, Paddy was tall and blond and could see like an eagle, with ears like a bat. He always knew when it was going to rain and where to find the best berries. Mah Patrick was shorter, darker, with the most beautiful green eyes that our Ezra inherited. Mah Patrick could charm the birds out of the trees and got us out of all kinds of trouble growing up. Going hiking with him and Paddy was always an adventure but Ah always felt safe and our parents trusted Paddy to keep us out of trouble. Of course we didn't tell them everything we did or got in to." Maude said with a small laugh before she went on with her story.
"When they started high school Paddy and Patrick were separated into different classes for the first time. Until then all the miner's children had gone to a one-room schoolhouse run by the coal company. It was then Paddy started having spells where he would just seem to fade away from us. The Company's doctor said it was some kind of epilepsy, said there was no cure for epilepsy and since it didn't seem to harm him any to let it be. There wasn't money to take him to a big city to a fancy city doctor for another opinion. So Mama took him to the local healer and witch who asked more questions than the company's doctor had.
After hearing Momma's answers she said she knew what was wrong. She'd been told stories as a youngun about the Indians who long before the white man came had warriors with special abilities who acted as watchmen. They guarded the tribes against dangers, lead the hunt and could foretell changes in the weather. There were always two, one with heightened senses and a companion to watch his back and help the watchman with his duties. That Paddy was a watchman and Patrick was his companion. They were two old souls that needed to be kept together, the witch also told mamma to make the teachers put the two boys together in the same classes at school. Paddy never had a spell when he and Patrick were together. If Patrick couldn't be with him Paddy would keep a stone arrowhead in his pocket for when he tried to see far away or use his other senses to find something out. Paddy said holding it and letting the sharp edges press into his palm helped him from fading out." Maude turned over Vin's hand to show the red broken skin left by the forks prongs.
"Your senses are heightened aren't they Vin?" Maude asked.
"Didn't Ah just tell you Ah grew up with a sentinel."
In the silence that followed Josiah moved to the other side of Maude. Reaching around her he placed his huge hand over Maude's and Vin's. He asked the question that was on everybody mind.
"Did you tell Ezra stories about his Uncle and father's uniqueness?"
"No, it hurt too much to think of the two men I loved so and lost. Ah guess it was unfair to Ezra not to. He was only six when they died so he doesn't remember much about them. By the time Ezra started asking questions, there weren't a lot of our kinfolks left. Most of mah generation left the mountains for easier city jobs and lost contact with the ones who stayed behind. Even those left had moved further down the mountains into the bigger towns. They kept the old beliefs that any form of epilepsy was an ill-omen and shouldn't be spoken of for fear that it would bring bad luck down on the speaker. Even today they don't speak of what they called his problem. They just told Ezra stories about the two of them growing up. The mischief they got into and the like. Mainly that his Uncle Paddy and his Daddy had been good men that went out of their way to help others, they were quite the pair.
"How did you know about sentinels?" asked Chris
"After we were married, Patrick and Ah, the boys decided Ah was the one who needed to go to college. We all moved to Charlottesville so Ah could attend the University of Virginia. Ah majored in business, but Ah went through the libraries and any other source of information to find any mention of what was troubling ma brother. Ah dismissed mental illness out of hand. Ah was about to give up finding anything when Ah found information on tribal watchmen in an article by Richard Burton (the explorer not the actor) on sentinels. It gave Paddy peace of mind to know there was a name to what he was and he wasn't some kind of a freak."
"If you don't mind me asking how did three kids from the back hills of Virginia support themselves in the big city." Asked JD who got a swat to the back of his head for inquiring into personal matters from Buck.
Maude just laugh, "Very well actually, the boys had already set them selves up in business of making fine wooden furniture while still in high school and had put some money aside. We just moved everything to the city."
Buck brought Maude and Josiah some water and she thanked him. Sipping a little before continuing. "Paddy did most of the detailed work he had a eye for the smallest facet. Patrick found upscale stores who would sell them on commission and got a lot of consignment orders from interior decorators. That with the contacts they made doing volunteer work with the sheriff's office and the search and rescue groups we did quite well with the furniture business. The boys started a side business of obtaining the hard to find for people."
Chris raised his head from the back of his chair where he had been sitting listening to the conversation to look over at Maude as if to study what Maude had been saying more closely. Maude caught him at it. Caught Nathan staring at her too.
"Oh don't look at me that way gentlemen. We never did anything illegal. We knew who wanted to clean out their barns and outbuildings. We did the work for them and in exchange we took off their hands what they considered trash and yes, they knew we were going to clean it up and sell it. We had their blessing. For the rest, it was doing the research for small businesses and finding suppliers for their needs or a wider market for their wares. It's the foundation of what H & S Co. still does today"
Vin was getting restless. It was all well and good to know about Ez's daddy and uncle but he needed to get moving. Maude sensed his restlessness and squeezed his hand. "Whatever you need Vin Tanner Ah will get for you. You're part of ma family now and Ah take care of ma family."
Vin stood and looked down on the blond woman who still had hold of his hand, not wanting to be rude by pulling it away. "Thanks Maude, but what I need is to get going."
"Just promise me you'll let us known where you're going. And the offer of the plane is still there, it will be quicker than driving. Maude looked at her watch. "You've still got an hour before your friend calls back. "What are you going to do till then?"
"There are a few things I need to pick up." Vin had regained his hand and was edging his way closer to the door only to find Chris already there. Chris dropped his hand on Vin's shoulder.
"I am going with you. Ezra made me promise to take care of you if he couldn't and the way the two of you get back at people who piss you off...well I don't want to take a chance on him coming back and finding you zoned and holding me responsible."
Knowing he wasn't going to get out of there alone Vin agreed to the company. "Alright but this time I drive."
+ + + + + + +
Surprisingly Vin obeyed all traffic laws and most of the speed limits in getting to his home; a two story, two unit duplex that he and Ezra had bought. They had fixed up the duplex with each man living in one half of the residence. From the outside it still looked like two individual dwellings. But inside doors had been cut into the walls allowing easy excess from one side to the other.
A sentinel and guide needed to be able to make contact with each other and staying in close proximity to each other was considered necessary. But not necessarily in each other's personal space, at least not 24-7. There were times each wanted time alone, like when they brought dates home. Close a few doors and the other knew to leave his friend alone. Not that the sentinel didn't know what his guide was doing and where he was at all times. Vin couldn't help monitoring Ezra when he was home. And Ezra as an empath always knew where Vin was in the house and what his emotional state was.
There was no real privacy but they had learned to tune it out so not to embarrass each other. It had all become a form of background noise. Comfortable and reassuring when it was there, they instantly paid special attention when it was missing. Vin had a hard time sleeping when Ezra was undercover and his heartbeat wasn't on the other side of his bedroom wall.
Vin pulled into the backyard of the duplex, he didn't want to go into the house not knowing where his guide was. The place would be too empty without his friend's heartbeat filling in the vacant spaces and Vin not knowing when Ezra would be back. As he got out of the Ram he subconsciously tried to find his guide in their home, reaching out with his senses to find his friend. Not realizing he was getting lost hunting for something that wasn't there, he fell into a zone.
Chris was half way to the house when he felt something was wrong, looking back at the truck he wondered why Vin had suddenly stopped walking. Damn it, Vin was zoning. Walking quickly back to the truck and the zoned sentinel, Chris shook Vin till he responded.
Vin blinked his eyes as he came out of it. Shaking his head before saying. "Thanks cowboy, got kinda lost there."
"Want to tell me about it?"
Again Vin shook his head, "Maybe later." He told his friend.
Vin walked over to the outside entrance to the house's basement, a pair of red cellar doors in a raised cement frame. Chris realized he had never entered the basement from the outside before. The storm doors didn't look all that secure but they did look like all the others on the block. Vin quickly undid the lock and stepped down the stairs. Instead of leading directly into the basement there was another door at the foot of the stairs. This one was a metal security door.
Chris almost smiled at seeing this door. The sentinel was careful with the security of his home. It took longer to unlock this entranceway and turn off the alarms. Once inside the basement Vin didn't waste any time, he headed for his side of the cellar. Each unit of the duplex had its own basement space that ran from under the front porch to the back wall. As with the upstairs units, doors had been cut into the walls to allow passageway from one side to the other.
While Ezra's side had the usual stuff one would expect to find in any basement if you didn't count the wine racks at the far end filled with some very good vintages. Vin's side had been turned into a gym for working out, with weight lifting equipment and mats on the floor the for martial arts exercises. Three of the four walls were covered with mirrors. The fourth under the front porch held a display of antique weapons as well as practice and training weaponry. Where and why Vin had picked up the Kendo wooden practice swords Chris wasn't sure he wanted to know. But it seemed to indicate that the metal swords mounted beside them weren't just for show. The one time Chris had asked Vin, his answer had been a little vague. Something about an instructor in the Army showing him how learning swordsmanship would help him with his balance and his fighting with knives as well.
Since Ezra and Vin had teamed as sentinel and guide Vin had been working with Ezra to improve his fighting skills. Like the rest of the team the Southerner had always been able to hold his own in a fight, though he depended on his ability to talk his way out of trouble more than his fists. Under the Texan's training Ezra was getting better, though nowhere close as good as Vin was. Vin was a lethal fighter with years of military training behind him. But under his tutoring Ezra would soon equal Chris and Buck's fighting skills.
Vin didn't pay any attention to Chris' musing as he went straight toward the wall hosting the weapons display. Picking up the mat on the floor in front of the wall, he tossed it aside and went to the Kendo swords. Removing one of the wooden blades from it's supports he set it aside. Using both hands he lifted upward on the empty mounts and then stepped back. Part of the display wall came back with him and Vin slid it to one side in front of the remaining partition. This created an entrance into a narrow room.
Chris took a look over Vin's shoulder at what was being stored there, shaking his head at what he saw. Metal lined the walls, even the section Vin had moved was backed in some kind of metal. But it was what was being store there that had him shaking his head. From the top to half way down the back wall were guns in various sizes and types. "Damn Vin, I ought to be arresting you for having this kind of hardware." When Chris didn't get any comment from the Texan he asked. "Is this what Ellison meant by souvenirs?"
"Yes." Was all Vin said as he went into the narrow space and opened one of the cabinets that ran along the wall under the mounted guns. Unlike the antique weapons and training tools on the false wall, these were state of the art military hardware, all neat, clean and ready to be used. If you were about to go to war that is. Everything from hand guns to sniper rifles.
"Leave your service weapons here. Pick out what you want. I've got ammunition for everything you see."
So saying Vin pulled out a long duffel bad and started to pack ammunition into pockets on the inside. Once done with that he placed the duffel on top of the cabinet and started to pack one of the sniper rifles.
Chris was having a hard time with what he was seeing. The team took down people who kept this kind of an arsenal. Of course it was in bigger amounts than this and he didn't really think Vin was selling them but still they were ATF agents for Pete sakes. "Vin?" Chris started to ask, hell he needed to know, how and why, Vin interrupted.
"Chris, I've got or can get papers for all of it." Vin indicated the guns. "Just because I'm out of the Army that doesn't mean I've forgotten what I did or things that I learned while in. One of which was always be prepared." Vin took off his service gun from the ATF and his backup piece along with his badge, putting them on top of the cabinet beside the duffel bag, then he took down two of the handguns, checking them before putting them in his empty holsters. Turning to Chris he said. "The last few missions my team was on before I got out was as backup for what most of us called rogue agents." Vin looked Chris in the eyes to be sure he understood what he was saying.
Chris shook his head yes. There had been times in the Seals when he had to work with or had gone up against groups that appeared to be working on their own, but to whom no one over his battalion would challenge. He handed over his own ATF revolver and his backup piece and waited for Vin to go on.
"I never wanted to get involved with the Black Ops side of the Rangers. I was a good soldier and was willing to follow orders, to defend my country against foreign governments, to fight for the American way of life. But in my last stretch in, my team started being sent on missions to do things that I had been sent to other countries to fight against and some of it was to our own people on American soil." Vin looked down at the guns Chris had given him and chose two guns off his wall and handed them to Chris along with holsters, ammunition and a knife as he continued packing the duffle bag.
"I joined the Army as soon as I could get my foster parents and case worker to sign the papers. I turned seventeen just before heading out to boot camp. I got my GED while in and even worked on getting my college degree, so I'd have a better chance at promotions. I had my life all planned out, I was going to be a career soldier, I had no family outside the one I made in the military and that's why I stayed in and kept reenlisting. But when they started asking me to do things... things I considered wrong... things I didn't want any part of... ... well when my reenlistment came up again, I didn't reenlist. You know the rest." Vin said the last with a small smile. He had found his family in Team Seven but now one of his brothers, his guide was missing and Vin was afraid for him. "These people are ruthless Chris, they'll do whatever they think will get the results they want even if it means torturing or killing Ezra and Blair."
"I understand Vin but I've got to ask you when did you start this..." Chris waved his hand at the guns. "...collection?"
"While I was still on active duty, been storing most of it in a secure warehouse for years. It wasn't until Ez and I bought this place that I had a place to keep them close at hand."
"That still doesn't tell me why?"
Vin wouldn't look at Chris as he zipped up the duffel bag, hoping that Chris would understand and read between the lines of what he was about to tell him.
"I kept my ears open and I heard things from friends that are still in. Gave them a sounding board when they need one, someone who will notice if they go missing... So if I ever tell you to head for the hills grab Mary and Billy and go. Don't ask questions just go, get as far away from civilization as you can." He picked up the bag and walked out of the room. It took Chris a moment but before he followed after the Texan he placed his badge next to Vin's. Together they replaced the sliding door sealing off the room, as well as replacing the mat back where it had been on the floor. Chris had a lot to think about and none of it was good.
+ + + + + + +
While Vin grabbed himself some clothes to take along, Chris carried the duffel bag with the guns Vin had packed to take with them out to the truck. Chris always kept a kit bag of his own in the truck for just in case with a few days worth of clothing and other necessaries for emergencies. It had came in handy more than a few times. He planned to put the gun bag along side of it hoping no one would suspect they were carrying enough hardware to start a small war. In the evening light he didn't at first realize that someone was sitting in the passenger side of the Ram. He placed the bag he was carrying down slowly and went for his gun, but stopped when he realized who it was. Josiah, when and how he had gotten there was anybody's guess.
"Josiah what the hell are you doing here?" demanded Chris as he pulled open the door to face the older man. Chris had ordered the profiler to stay behind and come up with some kind of a story to explain their disappearance.
Josiah held up his hands to show he meant no harm.
+ + + + + + +
Ezra Standish woke but showed no outward sign of it; it was a habit he'd worked on over the years for safety. Never sure where he might wake up while under cover he never let anyone who might be watching know he was awake till after he had some idea where he was. Gradually he opened his eyelashes a crack to look around him and get his bearings. From his position on the hard bunk he couldn't see much of his surroundings. The walls and ceiling were gray, bare of any decorations, not a hospital then. They went in for white even if the hardness of the beds were the same. Nor were any of his teammates around; that wasn't good. He took the chance, he lowered his mental shielding slightly, he needed to know if Vin was anywhere near.
As an empath Ezra could feel other people's emotional states. This had allowed him over the years to know when someone was lying to him or hiding something, a useful skill for a law enforcement officer. With his mentor's help he had leaned how to improve on this ability. Vin and Josiah had made him practice to a point where with some effort Ezra could pin point where people were in a building by their mental signature. Ezra had imprinted his sentinel's unique pattern to his conscious and subconscious mind. For some time now Ezra could just know where Vin was, especially if he was in the same building or nearby. Thankful that he couldn't feel Vin anywhere near, he put his shields back up.
Slowly he raised his head for a better look, not wanting to make any sudden movement to make his captors nervous. From where he was laying he could see the bars of a cell. The cell appeared to be in a large room, there weren't any windows that he could see from his position on the bed. Where was he? Were his Mother and Josiah all right? Thinking on his family back in Denver, his mind wasn't on his surroundings. So he wasn't expecting the voice coming from behind that asked him a question.
"Hay Ezra, you finished pretending to be asleep?"
Ezra let his head fall back on the bed, the voice belonged to Blair Sandburg, his friend and mentor, one of the few people who's emotions he couldn't read. "Tell me this isn't what I think it is and our friends aren't with us?" Ezra already knew Vin wasn't here but what about Jim Ellison, Blair's sentinel?
"No just us..., I think they sedated us more than once," said Blair rubbing his arm as he talked with his cellmate. "Ezra are you OK? You were out a lot longer than I was."
Blair had moved from his position on the other bunk in the room to sit on the side of Ezra's bunk. Ezra shook his head and let Blair help him sit up. The Southerner was surprised that his head didn't hurt.
"Ah have difficulty with certain sedatives, apparently Ah take longer to wake from them than most."
"Bet that scared the hell out of your team the first time you were hospitalized." Said Blair.
"Yes it did." Ezra smiled at the memory, "Ah was told later that they drove the staff crazy with questions till Ah woke up."
That more than anything else had gone a long way in proving to Ezra that the others really cared for his welfare. That and the fact he never woke up alone,(something that no one ever bothered to do while he was with the FBI). There was always someone from the team by his bedside when he was hospitalized. Right now he was glad that none of his friends were here. They were safe for the moment, at least he hoped they were. Looking at the guide from Cascade he wondered if the more experienced guide could tell if his sentinel was anywhere close by.
"Blair can you tell....?"
Blair stopped him from naming names. "Yeah I can, mine's not and I don't believe yours is either."
Thank god, Ezra thought to himself. If Jim and Vin were free then they were safe. It wouldn't be too long before their guides were also free. Whoever took them had made one big mistake. As his mentors had taught him, Vin and the rest of Team Seven; never endanger a guide and never, ever separate a sentinel from his guide. Even if this was a trap to capture the sentinels, their friends wouldn't allow the sentinels to come alone. The rest of Team Seven and the group from Major Crimes wouldn't let them leave without them. Ezra closed his eyes and tried to relax.
Blair could almost read Ezra's mind as he ran through the possibilities. Blair had done the same when he had awakened finding himself in the cell. He couldn't feel Jim anywhere close by and after so many years of being together as sentinel and guide Blair could always feel Jim's presence. When the drugs were completely out of his system he'd try meditating and reaching out to his sentinel. If that didn't work he'd do a spirit walk and make contact that way. Now he needed to help the younger guide get his mind off their situation.
"What's the last thing you remember?"
Ezra didn't get a chance to answer for the door to the room holding the cell opened and two men in white lab coats walked in.
+ + + + + + +
Chris shook his head at the profiler. "What the hell are you doing here?" he demanded of the big man who was slowly getting out of the Ram. "I thought I left you and Buck in charge of getting a cover story in place."
Josiah kept his hands in plain sight as he got out of the truck knowing Vin was somewhere near and he was not sure of the mental state of the sentinel whilst his guide was missing. Vin would never forgive himself if he hurt a friend while stressing about his missing guide. One of the things Simon Banks had emphasized was never get between a sentinel and his guide if the guide was hurt or in danger. Banks played the same role as Chris did in the sentinel/guide relationship. Boss, leader, trial chief, what ever you called them, friend was what they were. Keeping the duo out of trouble on the job and off was probably the biggest headache in either's lives, but then they wouldn't have it any other way. Before he could answer Chris, Vin seen to materialize beside them.
"What's Siah doing here?" asked Vin as he walked up to them. His backpack in one hand, a gun in his other, on guard in case something was wrong. Both eyed the profiler waiting for him to explain.
"If you're both through, I'll tell you." said Josiah with a shake of his head. If it wasn't for the age difference Josiah could have easily believed these two were twins separated at birth. They thought too damn much alike. It was annoying as hell at times.
"We've got it all sorted out. You..." pointing at Chris, "hurt your back fixing fences this morning and Vin is staying at the ranch till you're better. Rain has been out to check on you with Nathan and has reported back to Travis that you need to stay flat on your back for a few days. Fortunately Mary is out of town, so there's no worry about her showing up to take care of you. I suggested to Orin that it would be a good time for us to catch up on our back log of paperwork. He agreed though I think he senses something's up but he trusts us to explain later. Tomorrow we will let it out that Ezra is following a lead on the Tomandus case and will be out of the office for a few days." Josiah held up a set of keys. "I got a rental pickup for you parked on the next street. If you're laid up it wouldn't do for you to be seen driving your Ram around Denver."
Chris nodded in agreement to the scheme as he took the keys. "Good plan, try to get the boys to actually do some damage to that backlog of reports..."
A cell phone ringer went off, Vin pulled his phone out and answered it. "Ellison?" he asked, trying to hear over the noise of a plane in the background. Vin tuned out the sound as he and Ezra had practiced till only Jim's voice came through clear and undistorted.
+ + + + + + +
High above the mountains on a private jet Jim Ellison talked on one end of the planes's phone trying to calm down one frustrated and impatient sentinel.
"Vin, I need you to meet me in Colorado Springs..." Jim listened to the younger sentinel on the other end of the line protest. "Yes, I know it's in the wrong direction but it will give us intel on those who took our guides..." Jim had to pause again as the younger man broke in before going on. "Vin we need to talk to these people....they can help us ...help keep us from walking into a trap..." Jim played his trump card. " If the need arises they're the kind up backup that will take no prisoners."
That got the Denver's sentinel attention as Jim knew it would. Whoever had taken their guides weren't coming out of this alive if Vin had any say in the matter and Jim fully agreed with him . The kid had already figured out that the kidnappers were some form of government faction. Jim hadn't said it out loud but he knew to Vin it sounded like these people he wanted them to talk to were some kind of military unit. Playing one side off against the other would be dangerous but if that's what it took to get Blair and Ezra back then they would do it. Finally agreeing to meet up with Jim at the Colorado Springs address, Vin hung up.
Jim shut off his phone and put it back down. Taking a deep breath he let it out slowly trying to relax the way Blair had taught him to so many years ago. It wasn't working, he was just as agitated as Vin Tanner was, only he had more information on what was going on. It wasn't good. The NID had too many loose cannons in their ranks running around unsupervised for everyone's safety. Simon interrupted his dark thoughts.
"It must be nice having a brother who's a CEO with a private jet at his disposal." Simon sat in the next seat over. The large comfortable chair accommodated his big frame easily.
Jim grunted in agreement. Steven's offer had been a godsend. It would have taken too long for them to get to Colorado by public means, even if there had been a flight open. Driving there even with both him and Simon taking turns at the wheel would had taken too long and would've left him too tired for what Jim knew was coming.
This was another favor he owed Steven. It had been Steven and Dr. Eli Stoddard who had got the ball rolling (along with a few of the best lawyers in Cascade) to get Blair back his reputation and make Rainer reinstate him in good standing within the college and the academic world after the dissertation mess. Lawsuits had a way of making bureaucrats take you seriously.
Simon nudged Jim's arm, fearful that his friend was zoning. Blair would kill him if anything happened to his sentinel while under Simon's watch.
"Jim?" louder this time to get his attention.
"Simon, I'm fine. Just lost in thought."
"Well don't get too lost. I don't want to have to explain to the kid why you're...lost."
Jim chuckled, "That kid is in his thirties and he doesn't take kindly at being call a kid any more."
"Hummph... I've known him since he was a college student and seeing now I'm his boss that gives me certain rights to call him whatever I want to."
"If you say so Simon, I'm going to try and get some rest so don't panic."
"I'll try to restrain myself."
+ + + + + + +
Two men dressed in white coats walked into the room. The taller of the pair held a clipboard, the smaller man carried brightly colored orange bundles. The taller one looked up from his clipboard and addressed them.
"Subject one and subject two you're both awake...good, I see the sedatives have worn off." The tall man made a movement to the smaller man who walked up to the bars of the cell and tossed in the bundles he had been carrying. They unraveled as they hit the floor. The bundles appeared to be two jumpsuits much like the ones worn by inmates in prison or a mental institution.
Clipboard man, as Ezra decided to call him, was waiting for something, neither Blair or he moved. Ezra had a bad feeling where this mind game was going and he wasn't going to play. He was pretty sure that Blair wasn't either. Both guides were far too intelligent to fall for what the mad scientist was trying to pull.
"Come now Subject One." said the clipboard man pointing at Blair. "I want you and Subject Two to get dressed in those clothes and give my assistant what you are wearing." Clipboard man demanded it impatiently.
Ezra and Blair looked at each other and burst out laughing.
"Doctor Sandburg, Ah believe the man is endeavoring to dehumanize us." Said Ezra to Blair.
"I agree Special Agent Standish. A common procedure amongst terrorists, serial killers and wardens of prisoner of war camps. By not addressing us by name we become less than human and if your victims aren't human then it is alright to torture or kill them. Next they'll try to made us feel dependent on them for our welfare so we will be submissive to their orders."
"Yes Doctor Sandburg, Ah recall that from ma classes at Quantico and ma classes in psychology at college. Ah also believe you teach a class in understanding the basics of human behavior at the police academy as well don't you?"
"Why yes Special Agent Standish, I do along with the fundamental understanding of anthropology and profiling. Young police officers today need to be knowledgeable in the study of their fellow human beings, since our jobs can deal with people on the most basic level. Trying to understand what makes them do what they do is essential."
"Very wise and well articulated Doctor Sandburg. It's no wonder other departments in the Cascade Police Department turn to you when they need a expert on human behavior."
Ezra and Blair were laying it on a bit thick but with those two it seemed exaggeration was necessary to get their attention. The two scientists seemed surprised that their orders were being questioned. Both guides stared at the pair in white coats who seem confused at the conversation. It was Blair who spoke first since both men outside the bars were just gawking at them.
"If you want either Special Agent Standish or myself to cooperate with you then you will treat us with respect. And if you did any research at all on us you already know were both well versed in these matters as law enforcement agents. We're better at understanding these kinds of mind games than either of you two will ever be."
The two men in white coats looked at each other, not liking the turn of events. Their subjects weren't supposed to understand what was happening to them. They were supposed to be frightened and be looking to them for help, the Stockholm syndrome and all that. The taller of the two shook his head and they both left. Twenty minutes later two large and mean looking guards came into the room. Their demeanor screamed military but neither wore a uniform nor was there any kind of insignia on their plain white shirts or slacks.
The two guards didn't hesitate as they walked up to the bars and unlocked the door entering the cell. Neither thought the two smaller men would be a problem. They had at least forty pounds and a good five inch high advantage between them over the two smaller males sitting on the bunks. Their orders were to get the two subjects to change into the jumpsuits and teach them a few manners. Rough them up a bit, no lasting damage but make sure they understood who was in charge. The guards entered and reached for the two men without thinking.
That was their mistake and Ezra and Blair took advantage of it. Both had been trained in hand to hand combat by their sentinels and what they had picked up over the years on their own made the encounter short and sweet. Almost like a coordinated dance team the pair moved sideways away from each other and under the reaching hands, getting behind their attackers. A hard kick to the back of the guard's kneecaps had the two men descending to the floor. Two fisted punches to the kidneys followed by blows to the necks had their guards out for the count.
Ezra quickly followed Blair to the door of their prison. Not hearing anything outside they cautiously opened the door, each wishing for their sentinel's heightened senses to tell if there was anyone on the other side. Ezra lowered his shields slightly but couldn't feel a mental presence on the other side of the door. Slowly they made their way out into a long corridor. There were two other doors each with keypad locking systems, hopefully no one was working behind them. That left the elevator and a door at the end of the corridor, that one got their attention, it was marked as a fire-exit and stairwell. No keypad, it looked to be their best shot at getting out. Thankfully no alarms sounded as they opened the door and made their way up the stairs. They climbed up two flights before coming to a locked door. Ezra made short work of the lock and they entered another stairwell. This one had more stairs going up, but more importantly it also had a door-marked 'lobby'.
Before taking the chance on the lobby door they first checked as best they could through the small glass window in the door for guards. Ezra again lowered his shields to try a pick up any hostile emotions from the other side of the door, there was one mental signature but it wasn't anywhere close to the door. Just as they were about to open the door, Ezra suddenly jerked his head up and turned back to the stairs leading down.
"Ezra?" questioned Blair as he put his hand on the agent's arm to keep the man from going back down the stairs.
"Pain, loss, fear, ma god they've got a sentinel trapped here and they're torturing him. Ah can feel it!" Ezra had left his shields down hoping it would give them an edge in escaping their captors and picked up the emotions of another prisoner. He had started to turn around but Blair stopped him.
"We'll do him more good if we can get out of here and bring back help." Blair whispered at him as he pulled Ezra to the door leading into the lobby. "We need back up, there's no telling where we are or how many of them we'd be facing. Put your shields back up at full strength and keep them there." he ordered.
Ezra reluctantly agreed, the pain had cut through his defenses and hurt. His sentinel wasn't there to shield him or help him reinforce his shields. He was fighting off a headache now and he needed to have his mind completely on getting out. The pair went through the doorway keeping low, staying behind the chairs and potted plants. The area had a feel of a waiting room of a hospital or large institution. Keeping the furniture between them and the receptionist's desk they headed for the exit.
They made it to within a few feet of the doors leading out of the building. There didn't appear to be any sentries guarding the entryway, if there were sensor devices anywhere they were well hidden. The only person they'd saw was a bored looking receptionist reading a magazine sitting at a desk in front of the elevators. If this was a military operation it was damn sloppy. Who was running this outfit? Who had ordered their kidnapping? Answers would have to wait as alarms started to sound within the building. They gave up trying not to be seen and hit the doors running.
+ + + + + + +
In a room one fight up from where the guides had been imprisoned, Dr. Lamarr was checking his notes before sighing and placing the chipboard down on a worktable outside the single cell in the room. Walking over to the cubicle he looked down on the withered man who appeared to be asleep on the other side of the bars, curled up in a tight ball in the center of the bunk, the only piece of furniture in the bleak cell. The sentinel subject had stopped responding to the doctor or any of his staff weeks ago. Nothing they did got a reaction from him, not even the guards rough treatment as they fed him and kept him clean. They had to resort to force feeding him to keep him alive.
Dr Lamarr addressed the silent man. "Well I brought them sentinel, maybe they can get through to you where I've failed." Before he could say anything else the alarms went off causing him to curse and run out of the room, thus missing the slight easing of the shoulder or the small movement of muscles on the man's face.
+ + + + + + +
It wasn't that far from Denver to Colorado Springs, only a little over an hour's drive. Chris kept glancing over at Vin sitting in the passenger seat of the truck. He hadn't said a word since getting the call from Ellison. Chris didn't understand how Vin knew that going to Colorado Springs was the wrong way to go looking for Ezra. Only the trust in his mentor (the Cascade sentinel) kept the Denver sentinel from heading out on his own. As they headed south on I-25 the usually calm and quiet man was growing even more still. It worried Chris. In his talks with Simon Banks he had covered the sentinel's need to protect his guide and how dangerously focused Ellison could become when protecting Sandburg. What was going through Vin's head?
Pulling off the highway into a suburban area of Colorado Springs, Chris took stock of his surroundings. It was a pleasant neighborhood with the houses far enough apart on lots large enough that the neighbors wouldn't instantly be aware of each other's business. The heavily wooded area further screened the houses from casual scrutiny. Chris found the address Jim had given them and pulled into a driveway that already had cars parked on it. He pulled his rental next to them and stopped.
Vin was already out the door and moving toward the back of the house. Sighing, Chris followed after locking the doors. The smell of food being cooked on a grill reminded Chris that they hadn't stopped to eat since breakfast. In the growing darkness Chris could just make out Vin and Jim Ellison standing side by side on the end of a short dock by a large pond.
"Over here Chris." called out Simon.
To his right was a wooden deck where Simon Banks and another man were sitting by the grill eating hotdogs. Chris' stomach growled letting him know it had been too long since he put anything in it.
The man setting next to Simon pointed to a picnic table with food on it and said. "Help yourself, there's beer and sodas in the cooler."
"Thanks" Chris fixed himself a plate and started to set down next to Simon. As he did so a younger man came out from inside the house and sat down beside the elder .
Simon made the introductions pointing with his beer bottle at the older of the two men. "Chris Larabee meet Jack O'Neill." Then indicated the younger man. "Daniel Jackson."
Jackson rose from his wooden deckchair and shook hands with Chris, saying. "Hi." before sitting back down.
Chris eyed the man with the graying hair sitting next to Simon Banks. Other than nodding his head when introduced he hadn't said a word. As Chris sat down he quickly came to a few conclusions. One, this was a man used to being in charge . Two, gray hair or not Jack O'Neill wasn't old. Three, Chris would bet that he was in top physical shape. Four, this was a career military man. After the warnings the Cascade team had given them of groups that might want to use the Denver team against their will (including the U.S. government) he was surprised and suspicious of this meeting with a government representative.
Nor did he dismiss the younger man. Jackson gave off the same kinds of vibes as Blair Sandburg and Josiah did. There was something more than a scholar behind the passive looking man. It was in his eyes; he had seen too much to go back to the academic world. Chris would keep watch and wait; whatever it took to get Ezra back. He'd let the others make the first move.
Chris held up his hotdog and said, "Thanks" never taking his eyes off O'Neill as he ate.
Jack hid his smile behind his beer bottle. Larabee was his kind of commanding officer. When in unknown territory, always be on guard and distrustful of any one who might be a threat to your men. The General wasn't going to like it but it was obvious there was no way to get the Denver team on board (even if only part time) without full disclosure to their leader. Oh yeah, Hammond wasn't going to be happy about letting yet another person in on the secret.