Summary: The boys check out of their accommodations.
Author's Note: The boys check out of their accommodations.
Ezra grew more miserable as the day passed. The link between him and his sentinel pulled at him, tempting him to open up. He couldn't though he longed for his friend's shielding as his was weakening. He didn't think he could stand the anger that he felt before or the rejection that he expected at any moment. Oh, how he wouldn't be able to accept the rejection! Not now that he felt love and protection for the first time that he could remember. The pull of the link grew stronger and stronger but he fought it with everything he had. He would not betray his Sentinel in this one request that he had asked him for. Even if it meant triple the pain and disgust he was feeling now. No, not even ten times the misery. Lord, how he wanted his friend's shield.
Ezra hurt. It was a pain not like a paper cut or a hit in the face or even a kind of a kick to the stomach. No this pain was a soul and heart throbbing twisting feeling. His link with his Sentinel was calling him, tugging at him to find his brother. The longing for contact with his friend was constantly running through his blood. But Vin was angry with him and somehow Ezra had shut the link between them cutting off the feedback that had flowed there. That doesn't mean it cut off the longing or the need to bond because it was still calling him. He just wanted to cry. The void that his Sentinel filled sought for the love and affection that he had briefly felt.
The light was fading from the setting sun as Ezra stood at the stove preparing diner for everyone including the prisoners. He had no appetite himself. As he finished, his master Paul came over to inspect the food. Ezra used every bit of strength he had left to control his trembling from the evil emanating from the man.
"Is the prisoner's food ready?" snarled the man as he pushed the boy away from the boiling pot of grits. "Only half cooked but that's good enough for them. They haven't been fed at all today so they'll probably eat anything. Mike, go get that box of Seconal out of the back room."
"What for, Pa?" asked his youngest Art.
"So they'll be practical asleep when the man get here," replied the father. "I don't want any friction when the Chief sees them. It will also make sure they don't get a chance to try to escape before we get to play with them," grinned Paul evilly.
Ezra felt a cold fear spread through his body. He knew that no matter how upset Vin was at him, he was going to have to open their link. He had to warn the others about the drugged food.
Chris was worried. He paced the cage he shared with Vin sporadically checking his friend. Mostly Vin lay in the corner close to Buck and JD's cage curled into a ball. Every once and awhile he would jerk or moan then JD would reach over to calm the Sentinel with soothing murmurs. Buck and Nathan were pacing right along with Chris. Josiah and JD would check on them soothing the agitation that would suddenly erupt from the pair. Most times it would coincide with Vin's anxiety. Chris finally stopped asking the Guides what was going on after the fifth time of being told that it was Ezra Ezra being hit or pushed, Ezra crying out in pain. At this rate, Chris knew he wouldn't be able to keep Vin or the others from killing every crook in the house. There was a power working here that had all seven tied together. Even though he wasn't mind linked to the boy yet, Chris felt his own anger growing as each hour passed. Somehow when Vin found his Guide, all of them had been fused together in someway.
Ezra was practically pushed down the stairs carrying the pot of doctored food. He was carefully not to show how glad he was to be near his Sentinel. He made sure that he didn't look at any of the others in their cells. The closer he got to his friend the stronger his shields became. His master roughly pushed him to the end of the cells where the black Sentinel, Nathan, and his Guide, Josiah was being held. Two of his sons had followed their father and were now holding guns on the two prisoners as Paul opened the cell door.
"Go ahead Rat and hurry up giving them their food. We don't have all day," growled the man. Grinning, he continued, "You boys have a treat in store for you tonight. You're going to have a visitor."
The prisoners didn't say a word. They just watched with hard cold eyes as Paul closed then locked the cell after Ezra had doled out food onto Nathan and Josiah's plates. The total silence and unnerving stares of the jailed men caused a nervousness to come over Paul as he shut and locked JD and Buck's cell after Ezra had provide them their food. Coming to the last cell, he froze as he saw the promise of death from the blue eyed young man. For one moment, his instinct was to turn and run from the danger that lurked in the room. Another minute passed before he shook off the fear. His sons were there with guns. These men wouldn't try anything while facing such an arsenal. Annoyed with himself, he jerked the last cell door opened, forcibly shoving Ezra inside.
"Hurry it up Rat, got to get back upstairs." Actually, he was being unnerved by the continuing stares of the prisoners. It was daunting that none of them showed any sign of fear or weakness. His sons were fidgeting as the tension grew in the room. They felt that if there was one wrong slip, these men wouldn't hesitate to take them out. Somewhere a line had been crossed and while this would not have normally worried Paul, he felt a growing threat surround him. He would be glad when these men were dead.
Slamming the last cell door and locking it, he grabbed his slave by the arm dragging him over to the small alcove that housed the washer and dryer. Shoving the boy to his knees, he ordered, "Get your chains boy and put them on."
Ezra quickly reached out and pulled a set of manacles from one of the shelves that lined the outside wall of the alcove. The chains were attached to the wall with an iron loop. He took one of the cuffs and put it around his left ankle while the other he clicked onto his left wrist. His master reached down and none to gentle checked to be sure that they were locked.
Turning towards the cells, Paul gave one last parting shot, "Eat up you dogs. Tomorrow is going to be a special day of pain for you." Laughing, he and his sons trooped back up the stairs, cutting off the lights as they went.
Darkness filled the room. A little bit of light from the moon outside filtered down into the basement but it wasn't enough to see by. Well, at least for four of the occupants. The other three, it was as bright as day to them.
Vin waited until the man and his sons went upstairs. As soon as the door was shut, he was at the bars stretching his arm as far as he could toward his Guide. "Ezra, please Ezra, listen to me. I'm not mad at you. Never was mad at you. My angry is toward the bastards who were hurting you. Please you got to believe me!"
Ezra peeped out from his corner, wearily. He searched for the face of his Sentinel but it was too dark to see. He was still unsure and his sentinel sensed this when the boy did not answer.
"Open the link and know Ezra. Please open the link. You'll know if I'm lying," pleaded Vin.
Cautiously the new guide opened the link. Love, worry, fear flooded his mind. Love for him, worry for him and fear? Fear that he would reject their bond. He also felt the pain and weariness of his Sentinel. Ezra scramble toward his brother but the chain brought him up short with a jerk. Cursing his short sightedness, he scurried back to his hiding place as he whispered, "Wait."
Vin had slumped against the bars in relief after he felt their connection reestablish. He would wait forever for his friend now that he could feel him. Nothing matter except that the link was active. In one corner of his mind, Vin knew he had a big debt to repay Buck and JD for their help. Right now all his attention was on his guide who was muttering in his hole. Vin heard metal scrap on metal then a click and chains falling. His eyes locked on Ezra as the boy suddenly appeared and reached through the bars trying to touch his Sentinel searching for him. Vin moved closer to let his friend touch him as he run his senses over his Guide. Ezra placed his hand on Vin's chest while the Sentinel bowed his head to breath in the scent of his bond mate's hand. There connection flared brighter to encompass the rest of the team releasing a wave of relief and contentment. A moment swept by, then another. It was not enough for the young empathy who had not known love or security for a long time.
Vin growled as Ezra removed his hand. "Just a moment, just a moment," soothed Ezra as he hurried back to his spot near the wall. He scrounged around for a moment before instinctively saying, "Watch your eyes, I going to light a candle." Ezra waited a few seconds before the sound of a match being struck then light flaring in the dark room. The young guide then hurried back to the cell door.
Vin watched as his Guide brought out a thin metal pick and attacked the lock. In less than a minute the boy had the door opened then he rushed through. Ezra reached his Sentinel to be enveloped in his arms and brought close to his heart. He sighed. He was safe. As he felt his Sentinel's shields surrounding him, he whispered "Don't eat the food. It's drug."
The others heard the barely spoken words as they looked at each other.
"Don't worry kid, knew it smelled kind of funny," assured Buck as Nathan nodded in agreement.
Chris asked, "What kind of drug?"
"I don't know. It's something they have stored upstairs. It's what they put in the other's food to make them drowsy almost knocked out. It keeps you compliant as they please you have to go! You have to leave before they do what they did to the others, before they kill you," Ezra whispered harshly as he tried to burrow closer to his Sentinel.
Chris stepped forward, "Since you helped the last man out, we are relying on you as our escape plan. But before we go, we have to know who their boss is. Who is running this show? When we know that we can leave. All of us which includes you."
Ezra blinked in the direction of the blond leader's voice. Tears started to fall at the realization that this was going to happen. He was going to escape. The warmth that sang along the link between him and Vin confirmed Chris' words. "They are going to be suspicious when you aren't asleep."
"Don't worry kid, we got that all worked out," said Buck. "See we're going to be playing opossum for them. Of course they won't know that."
"Once we know who this connection is, then we are going to leave tonight. Escape and head back home," confirmed Chris.
Josiah said, "We need a place to put this slop so they will think we have eaten it. Do you have an idea about where to store this?"
Ezra thought a moment before he nodded. Getting out of his friend's lap and grabbing his hand, he led Vin and Chris over to the small alcove. Rummaging around, he soon produced a bucket. "We can put it in here and hide it in the basket under the clothes. They don't do the laundry so they won't find it."
"Good plan," grunted Chris as he took the pail. Moving down the cells, he gathered the drugged food. As he headed back, he noticed that Vin and Ezra had removed the clothes from the basket. It was just a matter of dropping the bucket in and placing the clothes over it. After this was done, they retreated to their cell closing the door but not locking it.
"How did the others get out of here?" asked Chris as Vin sat down and gathered his guide into his lap. Contentment and happiness flowed through the room as the two connected almost going into a deep bond. But Vin held the urge for a moment as there were questions that needed to be answered.
Dreamily Ezra leaned against his sentinel with his ear over Vin's heart testing their link. He took a moment before he replied, "There's a hidden passage down here. It's a tunnel that runs under the house and comes out about a mile north in the woods. I followed it out one night after I found it in my search for an escape. I would have left then except that I didn't have any supplies. Are we going to bond now Vin?"
Vin looked down gently into his bond mate's green eyes which gazed up into his trustingly. "In just a moment Ez, I need to know how long we will have before they come back down to check on us or if they will."
"Umm the last time they waited for an hour before they came back down. That won't give us too long will it?"
"Just enough for a light bond before you have to go back to your place. I know I promised a deeper bond but we will have to wait until we know that we will have a longer period of un-interruptions."
Chris said, "They said that a man was coming tonight. Is he the leader?"
Ezra shrived as he answered, "Yes. I don't like him. He feels really twisted and evil."
Chris nodded, "I don't doubt that. Will they bring him down tonight?"
"Yes," confirmed the young guide as he tried to burrow into his guardian. "He will want to see you before they hurt you tomorrow. They wanted answers from the others."
Vin interrupted, "Chris were going to bond now. He needs this as much as I do. Nathan, will you and Buck keep watch? Let us know when you think their coming so I can wake him and get him back to his corner." He then lifted Ezra up and took them over to the blanket he used. Laying his brother on his back on the folded cloth, he stretched out beside him and laid his head on Ezra's chest over the heart. Ezra brought his arms up to lay his left hand on his sentinel's head while his right hand rubbed Vin's left shoulder. They both signed simultaneously as they went into the bond. The atmosphere around them spun a feeling of peace.
Chris moved away from the pair and closer to Buck and JD in their cell. He said, "We are going to be leaving soon, so I suggest that we rest while we wait."
"No problem. Nathan and I have a sensor net out so we can relax." Everyone sat down and got as comfortable as possible.
"When they come down, will feint being drugged, find out who the leader is. When they leave us alone again for the night, we will escape getting our supplies and heading back to headquarters. Report to Travis on the inside man and see what he wants to be done," outlined Chris.
"Let's hope that someone else can break up the ring, gather the informants and clean it up giving us some time on the ranch. Those two are going to need some serious alone bonding time especially since the boy has no training," said Nathan.
Chris looked at the others as he said, "Travis might expect us to finish the job first."
Buck nodded in agreement but replied, "Even so Chris, you might want to persuade him otherwise."
"The first weeks of newly bonded pairs are critical to the pair and the people around them. Sentinels have been known to go into a blessed protector mode at the drop of a hat. They are sensitive that even the slightest perceived insult detected from the Guide or the Sentinel can set them off," informed Josiah as he moved closer to his bond mate.
"I'll try boys. Don't worry. I want them settled as much as you do," assured Chris.
*Don't call me cowboy Tex.*
It was more like an hour and a half before there was any sign of the Chief or leader showing up. Nathan was the first to notice. "Car coming in. Better get ready."
Vin hearing Nathan's comments came out of the light bond with Ezra. The boy murmured his protest as he opened his eyes. Vin chuckled as he said, "Time to get ready."
The boy sighed as he left his bond mate's side. Quickly, Ezra closed the holding cell door locking it back taking the light with him. He crawled back into his small space and then locked the shackles back on before he blew out the candle. It took all of Vin's control not to growl as he heard the click of the manacles. He fought his instinct to get his tribe out of the basement right now and kill every one of the bastards upstairs. Only his sense of responsibility to his bond-mate and his team stayed his hand. They positioned themselves and waited.
Barely opening their eyes, most of the GST team watched the stairs. Two unknown men and two of Paul's sons were coming down the stairs. Paul's sons stopped halfway down while the strangers paused at the bottom of the steps checking over the layout of the basement. They were big burly men with suspicious looking bulges around their shoulders. Goons or bodyguards muscle men to be exact. They then quickly went over to the cages and proceeded to check the doors by jerking on them. Satisfied that the doors were locked, one of the strangers turned and called up, "Clear. Everything is secure."
Paul's boys hastily moved the rest of the way down the staircase and over to the alcove hissing a warning at Ezra. Surprisingly they did not have their guns anywhere to be seen. Footsteps on the stairs tread announced more visitors were coming. Soon a man familiar to at least the leader of the GST came into view and walked over to the first cage. The man was dressed in an expensive suit and looked like a politician vying for office. Hair was brown and eyes were grey. Though he was an older gentleman, he was in fit condition walking with a straight back and a long stride.
*Son of a Bitch* came Chris' thought to all of his team linked to him. Before the others could question him the man spoke in a cultured voice.
"Well, well, well. The new great magnificent team of justice and hope for the country lies behind these bars. Tsk, tsk, tsk. If only Orrin could see you now. He would be so disappointed. How easily the mighty have fallen. I didn't expect them to be taken so easily," commented the boss man as he surveyed the prisoners.
Paul said, "They put up some struggle, Chief. But one of the Sentinels zoned causing the others to try to protect him and their Guides which made it easy for us to overcome them."
Ignoring the man's comments, the Chief continued, "My colleague had such great faith in you. Now he will always wonder what happened."
"You want us to finish them now?" inquired one of the goons.
"No. We have to find out how much they know and how far up go their suspicions. It wouldn't do to kill them before we got all the information we need. How long will they be out?" asked the refined man.
"Late morning with all the drugs we gave them. Of course not knowing how the drugs will affect the sentinels, they could be up earlier."
"What did you give them?"
"How much?" queried the Chief as he moved from one cell to another checking out the prisoners more closely.
"A box," replied Paul.
The Chief stopped and turned on the man. Scowling, he said, "You idiot! That's way too much! You better hope that you haven't killed them!" Turning back around the leader scanned first one body then the next until he was satisfied. "Their still breathing and that makes you one lucky man," purred the boss man. "I suggest we go back upstairs and have a little discussion about the plans for tomorrow. I want to make sure that you don't kill them before I get my information." Turning to his own men he said, "I don't think we will have to post a guard tonight. We'll be lucky if they wake up before noon."
Paul had gone white when the man had turned on him. Shakily he rubbed his palms on his pants legs to erase the sweat. He had fearfully watched as his boss had scanned each body. Relief flooded him at the man's words that the prisoners were still alive. Later he would grumble (out the chief's hearing) about the man. They trooped back upstairs with the last to leave being Paul's two sons.
Ten minutes passed before the three sentinels gave the all clear. Ezra quickly unchained himself, relit the candle and opened the cell doors. He quickly returned to his bond mate's side as the others gathered around outside of the cubicles.
Chris halted everyone and ordered, "Vin, Nathan check out where everyone is and what they are saying. We need a good sense of how long we have before they come looking for us."
Each sentinel reached out to sense the surrounding area as their guides stood by their sides grounding them. Buck remarked, "You know who that man is, don't you Chris." It was more of a statement than a question.
"Yes," Chris replied tersely as he looked around. "I'll tell you once we get out of here."
"I count ten heart beats in the house," furnished Vin. "Sounds like there may be six more walking the grounds."
"Same here," agreed Nathan. "They're discussing their plans for tomorrow. They really aren't expecting us to be awake until much later."
"Planning on getting Ezra around seven to fix breakfast then having some fun with us," added Vin as he drew his guide closer to him. The boy watched closely as he stood by his sentinel who cocked his head to the side listening. The sentinel suddenly sniffed. "New man ordered that no one disturb us until then. There's a dog pen near by. Four hounds by my count."
Chris looked at his watch. "It's 8:30 now. That would give us about ten hours to get out of here, pick up our supplies and get as far away as we can."
"We should just take them out," growled Vin. He was feeling definitely vengeful. "Don't like having this crowd at our backs. Besides, if they don't find us they will clear out before we can come back with reinforcements."
"Vin, our mission is to find out who is the leak, their leader and return to Judge Travis for finally instructions. Now I know you want take care of these bastards for what they did, but we need to get what information we have to the Judge."
Vin gritted his teeth before saying, "It's not just what they did. They are a threat to my guide as long as they are alive."
Sucking in his breath, Chris pondered what Vin said. He knew that sentinels did not like their guides to be in danger or threatened. He remembered Buck telling him that no sentinel would find it acceptable for their bond mate to be vulnerable. "Vin we don't have the advantage of coming from the basement after them. They have the weapons upstairs with them. If we attack now, someone could get hurt. We have to wait until we have the field advantage. We can only do that by getting out and back to the Judge. Vin I promise that we will get them. No matter how long it takes."
Vin looked into his leader eyes finding the promise there and vowed, "No matter what."
Buck said, "Vin, we get our guides out of the line of fire before we take care of business. Beside, when we get back we can call on the clan and no one will get away with what they have done."
Vin grinned an evil smile, "I like that thought Buck. A clan hunting party just might be the best way. Let them know how it feels to be run to ground."
Chris grimly nodded in concurrence before turning to Ezra, "Is there anything you need to get before we leave?"
The boy shook his head. "There is nothing here that I require or want to take with me."
"Good. Ready to leave here boys?" queried Chris. With affirmatives all around him Larabee addressed the boy again. "Lead us out of here Ezra. Time to go."
Ezra hesitated but a moment before he went back to the shelves pulling out more candles. Passing them out and handing his to Vin, he softly said, "Don't light the others until after we are in the tunnel." The boy walked toward the right wall outside of the small alcove and into the corner. He seemed to be counting the bricks before stopping on one and pushing it in. Part of the wall shifted outlining what now appeared to be a door. Ezra's fingertips grabbed the door's edge and gently pulled it outward. A slight scraping noise accompanied the swinging out of the door then the young guide gestured for the others to enter the passageway.
Chris exchanged candles with Vin for the lighted one before stepping forward. The tunnel had a musty earthy smell and he noticed the cobwebs fluttering slightly from a waft of air. Since the webs were swaying toward him, he guessed it was from the outer entrance. Chris moved about ten feet forward and turned to wait for the others. One by one the others followed their leader.
Vin waited with Ezra until their friends were in the passageway before stepping in him self. He turned sideways at the entrance way waiting for his bond mate to cross the threshold. Ezra backed into the tunnel to close the door. He reached up above the door grabbing a hook and gave the door a good tug. A click sounded indicating that the door was not concealed again. The boy whispered, "Now light the candles."
Buck who was standing in front of Larabee, lit his candle from Chris' then turned to light JDs. From JD to Nathan then Josiah then Vin and finally Ezra lit his. Ezra said, "Just go forward. There is but this one channel."
Chris ordered, "No talking from now on until I speak first."
The passageway only let them travel one abreast. After a few minutes, the floor seemed to decline gradually as they went on. Twenty minutes later Chris noticed that there was a grey patch before him. He stopped. *Buck is that the entrance up ahead?*
*Yep,* confirmed the mustached sentinel.
*Okay, everyone extinguish you light. I don't know how far out their sentries are but lets not give away our position. Buck you take the lead and remember, some of us can't see as well.*
Vin turned to Ezra and thought *Put out you light*. The boy obeyed and moved closer to his sentinel. Vin took Ezra's hand, turned, and placed it on his right shoulder. *Keep close to Me.* The guide nodded to his bond mate.
Buck took the lead and moved forward with JD right behind him. He came to the entrance and stopped. *Chris, ask Vin and Nathan if they hear anything.*
A full minute passed before, *Nope.*
Cautiously proceeding forward, Buck led the others outside. A half moon gave a little light to those without sentinel sight. The tunnel entrance was at the bottom of a sloping hill surrounded by shrubs and tall trees. The decline they had sensed inside the passageway placed the house out of their sight. Chris indicated that they move forward. *But no talking until we get at least a few more miles away.*
Ninety minutes later, they stopped for a breather and Chris decided the silence could end. "How is everyone doing?"
"We really need some food and water Chris," said Nathan.
"How far do you reckon we are from our supplies Vin?"
Vin looked around studying the landscape. Closing his eyes, he studied the map in his head.
Buck commented, "Good thing we scouted around the house and all before we let them catch us."
Vin's eyes opened and he pointed, "About a mile maybe two that way."
"Let's get going. The sooner we get there the sooner we get home."
Half and hour later they reached the stashed supplies. Vin led Ezra to a place in the small clearing and made sure he sat down. It didn't take much as the boy was about out on his feet not having had any food or little water for that day. Wearily he hung his head as the others moved around him pulling out backpacks, canteens and weapons. Vin grabbed his stuff and sat down beside his soul brother. The rest followed suit until they were in a close gathering each within touching distance of the others. Opening his canteen, Vin handed it to Ezra. "Drink but not too fast or too much. Don't want you to get sick."
Ezra nodded as he lifted the water and took a sip and then another. He closed his eyes and enjoyed the refreshing swallows as he handed it back to Vin. Vin took a couple of sips before handing it back to his guide. "Have some more while I get our food."
Chris looked around at this team. They were all tired but still relatively unhurt. "We'll rest here for an hour then we got to move on. We've got about a three hour hike to our van which should make it about dawn when we arrive. I want to be in our vehicle and across the border into United Communities before those thugs find our trail."
*I don't know if Ez can do that. He's almost at the end of his rope now.* thought Vin as he looked at his exhausted guide and handed him some jerky and a food bar. Both men watched as the boy slowly ate his meal trembling.
Chris nodded as he thought to everyone. *Vin, we'll go as far as we can then carry the boy.*
Everyone agreed mental as they sat back eating their meal, checking the weapons and gathering their strength. When the allotted time was up, they bury the trash and proceeded onward.
An hour later, Ezra stumbled for the third time. He was so tired and traveling on automatic pilot. Chris called a halt for a break and he just melted to the ground right where he had stopped. Vin quickly dropped down beside him running a scan. Looking up he said, "He can't go no further, Chris."
Protesting weakly, "I'm fine. I'll be alright." Ezra tried to sit up. Grabbing his canteen, the sentinel opened it and helped his guide drink. Then Vin pushed him back down and ordered, "Just rest."
Chris thought a minute, "Josiah, you think you can piggy back Ezra?"
Over the boy's protesting, Josiah replied, "Yes."
"Good. Empty your pack and distribute it around. We can carry the extra weight."
"I can make it. You don't have to do this," pleaded Ezra to his sentinel as they shared out Josiah's backpack. The others ignored him as they got ready.
"Ez listen to me. I know you don't want to be a burden but you are my guide now. I won't leave you behind and we have to move fast. You are going to have to trust us on this. Can you do that?"
Ezra looked around at all the others as they pulled things together. Trust? When had anyone besides his first owners trusted him much lest asked him to trust? Never that he could remember. He had always just obeyed. He noticed that Vin was still waiting for his answer and the big man Josiah was standing beside them. With all his courage Ezra nodded his head. Vin help the boy stand as Josiah turned his back to them. With Chris' help, they lifted the tired guide up until he was settled on Josiah's back. Hoisting the boy into a more comfortable position, the big man chuckled, "Thanks, Ezra."
"For what Mr. Sanchez are you thanking me?"
"For making this leg of the trip easier for me, looks like I got the better end of the deal," replied the big guide as they started off.
"How you figure that Josiah?" asked JD as he came along side the pair.
Winking at the others he chuckled, "Because my pack weighs more than Ezra does and I will be able to move faster. The rest of you are going to have a hard time keeping up with us."
Feeling the happiness of the others Ezra laid his head down on Josiah's back and said, "Then you are welcome and I thank you for the assistance."
"You are welcome too little brother."
Josiah thought to his sentinel, *this boy is way to light Nathan. He hardly weighs anything.*
*After we get back and Vin finishes bonding, I'll see if he will let us do a physical on the child.* responded the black sentinel.
Two silent hours later, six tired runners, and one asleep boy arrived at a little dirt road. The sentinels checked the area before moving across the road into a small bushy area. Everyone except Josiah stripped of their packs and started moving the bushes away from a hidden van. Storing backpacks, Vin then went to the big man and gently woke is guide up. "Come on Ez, time to get on the road and head home."
Green eyes blinked open as Ezra slipped from Josiah's back. Yawning, the boy let his sentinel led him inside the vehicle. Taking the back seat, Vin pulled the sleep guide onto his lap wrapping his arms around him as Ezra laid his head on his shoulder. Chris took the seat next to him while Nate got into the driver's seat with Josiah in the front passenger spot. Buck and JD took the middle seats. Leaving the lights off, Nathan pulled the van onto the small road and headed for the border. In a couple of hours, they would be safe enough to stop and everyone get some rest. Josiah kept a whisper running commentary to keep his sentinel awake. Two hours later they crossed the border. Three hours after that, late morning, Nathan pulled over into an abandoned truck stop driving the van into the deserted mechanic's bay. Josiah got out and shut the bay doors hiding the van and its passengers. Pulling out three air mattresses, everyone settled down to get some much needed rest. Guides and Sentinels paired off with Chris sharing the larger one with Buck and JD.
Chris said, "We need to be up and out before dark so set up your sensor nets. We'll eat than get back on the road to the city."
Exhausted everyone slept until around 4:00 PM when Nathan started moving around and woke up Josiah. Slowly the others started getting up and stretching. Soon dinner was cooked, water passed around, mattresses deflated and van packed.
"I know there is a slight chance, but we need to check the gas pumps for fuel. I don't know if we have enough to get us all the way back," commented Nathan as he and Josiah used the last of the fuel in the gas cans they had brought with them.
Chris gave a nod to Nathan and Vin, "You two go secure the perimeter while we check out the station. Keep you ears open and report back when I call. Josiah, Buck and I will open the doors and you drive to the pump. JD, you and Ezra go and see if the power is still working. If there is gas, we may have to manual pump it out."
Nodding, JD said, "Come on Ez. Let's go see if there is any juice for the go juice."
Following the other guide, Ezra asked, "What is this go juice you are talking about?"
"Well it's " the others heard JD start before his voice faded as the two youngest left the area leaving Chris, Buck and Josiah.
They were in luck that someone had not stripped this truck stop yet and using the manual pump they filled their tank. Noting the spot in case they had to return to this area, they soon were back on the road. Several hours later they were well inside the borders and decided to stop for the night. Unpacking the van again, they had an encampment set up with a campfire going and food cooking. The sky was clear with big shinning stars so they were not worried about rain. Besides Vin said that the weather was going to hold until tomorrow about mid day.
"JD, after supper see if you can get a call through to the Judge to let him know we will probably be back in the city late tomorrow to report," ordered Chris.
"Ezra, you have to eat more then that," urged Vin as he watched his bond mate.
"But don't we have to conserve the food? Will we have enough to get back?"
"Lordy Ezra, we'll have more than enough. Beside we can buy more from the local towns we pass through. You go ahead and eat all you want," said Nathan.
"Don't you be worrying about the food, Ez. I can always find game to feed us," confirmed Vin as he touched his friend's forehead with his own. *You need to eat and get stronger. As long as I'm around, you don't have to worry about stuff like that anymore.*
Tentatively, Ezra started eating the rest of his meal. When Vin filled up his plate again, he relaxed as he realized that this time he wasn't going to bed hungry. He connected with his sentinel and felt the happiness that radiated along their link. He checked the others around and realized that the horrible ugly feelings he had before these men came was gone. He felt confidence, peace and worry??? Quietly he searched until he found out that it was the blond leader that was worried. *Vin? Mr. Larabee seems concerned.*
Looking at his soul brother for a moment, Vin then turned his eyes to Chris. After a moment, he spoke, "Chris, what's got you brewing over there?"
"What? What makes you think anything is wrong?"
"Well besides the worry lines, Ez senses that you're worried," replied Vin.
"You forgot that you have three guides that can sense others feelings," stated Josiah as he looked at their leader. "You want to share with the rest of us what has got you so anxious?"
Chris looked down into his coffee as he pondered if he should tell them or not. Buck took it out of his hands when he question, "Does it have anything to do with who that boss man is? You did recognize him, didn't you?"
Sighing, Chris answered, "Yeah, I know who he is. Judge Travis is not going to be too happy when I tell him. In fact this is going to shock the community. I don't even know if we'll be believed."
"Who is he?" asked Nathan.
Chris leaned forward a little as he replied, "John Anderson."
"You don't mean JUDGE Anderson?" queried a shocked Nathan.
"Yeah," said Chris. "One of the only three federal judges left."