Blair was getting impatient.  Pete had the blessing and financial backing of the Pentagon and the CIA, and Jesse had managed to trace the phone number to a cell phone owned by Millennium Research's San Francisco facility.  Jess had gotten into the computer system there briefly before the security breach was discovered but found no records indicating Jim was there.  He admitted, though, that he had not had enough time to go through everything.  San Francisco was their best bet still.  But all that had taken nearly a week to accomplish, and Blair had been plagued with nightmares about the trapped jaguar every night. 


At any rate, Pete had sent Jess and Kit to San Francisco to check out the research facility.  They were supposed to assess the security system and watch for Rose or Baker. 


Meanwhile, Blair was going slowly insane.  Actually, he had gotten quite good with a gun.  He found that imagining Rose's face on the target made it very easy indeed to pull the trigger.  He had joked about picturing Pete's face on the target, but it was just that, a joke.  He liked the man, and Pete was doing all he could to get Jim back safely.  Not to mention all he had done for Blair.  Orenda was right; Pete was slick, but he had a good heart down deep.  Way down deep sometimes, especially when money was concerned, but it seemed that Pete surrounded himself with others that would bring him back from the edge when he went too far.  Pete's joke about hiring himself another conscience might not have been a joke after all.  Still, Pete's determination to keep Blair safely tucked away and out of the loop was frustrating.  He meant well, much like Jim when he told Blair to stay in the truck, but Blair was getting very tired of all the well-meaning idiots in his life trying to shelter him from harm. 


Pete was gone again, and he was left to watch Alex moved serenely around the kitchen making dinner.  How could he be so calm?  "How can you be so calm?" he finally asked aloud.


"Anxiety is a waste of energy.  It won't make things move faster, and it's not good for the body or the mind.  You should try your meditation."


"No thanks.  Don't like what I've been finding there lately."


"Maybe you shouldn't think of it as seeing Ellison trapped, but as seeing him alive."


Blair was stunned for a second.  "Yeah.  You're right.  It does mean he's still alive, doesn't it?"  He was almost happy for a moment before something occurred to him.  "What if I don't see him alive?  That's always a possibility."


"I don't know what to tell you there.  All I can say is that I'd rather know for sure than have to wonder, and you have a way to know for sure."




"After dinner though.  It's almost done."  Alex turned and grabbed a paper plate. He shoved it into Blair's hands. 


Blair flipped the plate over and over, mulling over Alex's words.  Maybe he could even communicate with Jim through the vision, let him know that they were not going to leave him there.  He would try.



"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Jesse asked again as they reached the outer perimeter fence surrounding the Millennium Research Center. 


Kit threw down the rope he was carrying.  "Well, it's either go in there or go back practically empty-handed.  We could be here days, even weeks, before we get any clue about what's going on in there.  Pete said to go in if I had to, just not to take anybody on.  I'm going in, and I'm coming out.  They'll never know I was there.  Don't worry, this is what I do, remember?  Just get this damn electric fence turned off and those laser sensors confused for me for a few minutes, and I'll find something to let us know if we are barking up the right tree."


"And if you don't?" Jesse set up his laptop and his cell phone on the ground.


"Then we're screwed.  Truthfully, I think he's in there.  It makes sense.  This is the closest facility to Cascade and the phone call came from here.  What we really want to know is if Baker is here and how hard this place will be to take." Kit pulled his gloves on.  "Ready?"




"Good.  Let me know."






"'Violets' isn't working this time.  Think they figured out how I was getting in."


"Damn it!"


"Hold on, got an idea."




"Well, 'violets' is a very strange choice for a password, don't you think?  Unless it has a meaning.  Like part of something.  What's the good doc's name?"


"Rose.  Roses, violets.  Roses are red, violets are blue?  So, what?"


"I'm trying other words in the rhyme.  Blue, nope.  Roses, bingo!  Holy shit.  I got Rose's personal files here!"


"Try to download 'em, but get me in there first."


"I can do both.  Got it.  Go!"


Kit quickly started up the fence, trusting his friend when he said the electricity was off.  He was crawling over the top when he heard Jesse swear.




That was all Jess was able to say before a current of electricity coursed through Kit's body causing him to let go and topple over the fence.  He tried to land straight up, but he was off balance and stunned.  He felt his ankle give way, heard the bones break.  His head impacted with the ground seconds later.  He was only partially aware of the alarms going off as his body tripped the laser sensors.  He could hear Jesse yelling at him, but he sounded miles away.  Kit managed to turn his head at look at his frantic partner.  "Go."  He had meant to yell, but it did not come out that way.  But apparently Jess had heard him anyway.


"No way.  I'm not leaving you.  I can get back in and you can climb back over before somebody comes.  I'm almost there."  Jesse's fingers were flying over his keyboard.


"No.  You need to go.  I can't climb over, Jess.  I broke something.  Get out of here.  Get Pete."


"I'm not leaving you!"


"You have to!"  That came out louder.  "Go!  Damn it, Jess!  Please!"


Jesse looked beyond him, and Kit knew that someone was coming.




"Jesse, please."


"I'm sorry."


Then Jesse was gone, and Kit let darkness take him.



"Alex!  They got Kit!  Oh man!  They got Kit!"


Alex grabbed Blair as the younger man came rushing out of the bedroom.  "Wait.  Slow down.  Rose caught Kit?  Nobody catches Kit.  You saw this?"


Blair nodded.  "He's hurt.  I saw him as the mountain lion and his foot was caught in a trap.  What are we going to do?"


The front door of the cabin flew open and Pete stormed in.  "We have problems!"


"Kit's hurt and Rose has got him," Alex announced.


"How did you know that?"


Alex pointed at Blair.


"You're going weird on me like Kit, right?" Pete asked.


"I saw it," Blair told him.


"Whatever.  Alex, I want the place leveled."


"We'll still have to work with the law on this, Pete."


"I know, I know.  I don't like it, but I know.  Chad's working on getting us some help out there.  He's going to try to come himself too."


"Okay.  I'll need more information and a few days."


"Jess is sending us the info and how many is a few?"


"I'll know when I get the information.  I'd say at least three or four."


"Make it three."


"Pete, calm down."  Alex knew he was wasting his breath but he had to try.


"Alex, George Baker has Kit.  George 'all mud people must die' Baker has Kit.  He could be dead already."  Pete slumped down on the couch.


"He's alive," Blair spoke up.


"Even if I bought into this vision stuff and believed that, things can change pretty damn quick."


"Maybe Ellison can help him," Alex offered.


Pete laughed bitterly.  "They hate each other, Alex."


"Jim would still help, if he could.  But he's not in the best position himself."  Blair's voice trailed off as he reached the end of his sentence.


"Let's just get moving here, okay?"  Pete was up again and pacing.


"Where is Jess?" Alex asked.


"On his way to his folks' in L.A.  He'll be safe until we get there."


"Good.  Blair, help me get some things out of the basement?"




"Peter."  Alex waited for a response.  "Peter!"  Pete turned to look at him that time.  "Pull yourself together."


Pete nodded, and Alex led Blair out of the room.  He would need the explosives he had stored at the back of the property, but that would have to wait until morning.  In the meantime, he could get started on the timers.  That equipment was in the basement.  He wondered briefly how Blair would react to the crash course he was about to get on explosives construction but dismissed the vague worry.  If Blair were going to stay, he would have to be trained on it eventually anyway.  And right now, it would be something to occupy both their minds. 



"Looks like you got a new roomie, Ellison."  Jim squinted at the bright light pouring in from his open door of his prison.  A dark figure filled the doorway and tossed something on the floor.  Jim sat up and fumbled for the light switch.  He found it just in time before the door slammed shut again.  It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the light, and he spent that moment hoping that he would not see Blair on the floor when he could see properly.  Finally, he could open and focus his eyes without pain, and he turned.  It was not Blair.  He was shocked by who it was, though.  "Chase," he whispered.  He knelt by the younger man and felt for a pulse.  He was relieved to find one.  There was blood in the long black hair, and Jim had no trouble finding the source.  He had either hit his head or been hit in the head very hard.  Jim gently picked him up from the floor and put him in the lower bunk.  He moved then to the sink and wet a cloth to clean the wound. 


A few minutes later, Jim had cleaned him up as well as he could and put a makeshift bandage on the wound.  He then moved on to look for other problems.  He grimaced as he found that the left ankle was broken.  He looked around for something to make a split.  There was nothing short of taking apart their beds, and he had no tools to do that anyway.  He sighed and sat down on the floor beside the bunk. 


"Of all people, it had to be you," he grumbled.


The door opened then, and Jim jumped to his feet.  He recognized the man that entered with Rose from his picture on his website.  George Baker had finally made his entrance.


"Well, well, well, if it isn't my good buddy, Kit Chase.  Take him out and kill him."


"You can't!"  Jim protested quickly.  He might not like the guy, but he could not just let them kill him either.  Besides, they wanted a sentinel, and now they had one if Jim's suspicions were correct.


"And why can't I?" Baker grinned at him.


"Rose, he's a sentinel."


"What?"  Rose was interested, but Baker simply scoffed.


"Why do you think he was so focused on Blair?  He needed a guide.  Think about it."


"Would explain how they found the explosives I put in their room.  And perhaps his reactions to both Sandburg and Barnes.  You're sure about this?"


"Pretty sure."


"Doesn't matter." Baker stepped forward.  "He's a filthy Indian.  I don't need a sentinel that bad.  I want him dead."


"George!  Think this through.  If nothing else, we could use his DNA to try and isolate the gene for enhanced senses."


"You can do that from blood and tissue samples.  Or so you told me."


"Please, George, let's discuss this.  He is of more use to us alive.  I need a live sentinel!"


"You have Ellison!"


Rose looked at Jim then back at Baker.  Here it was.  Rose was about to tell the truth he had been hiding, and Jim wondered if he had ended his own life in his attempt save someone else's.


"Ellison has been having some difficulty with his senses without Sandburg."


"Well, where's his guide?" Baker pointed at Chase.


"If Ellison is correct, he was either functioning without a guide until he met Sandburg, or our other imposter could have been his guide.  Somehow I doubt that, however.  I think he didn't have a guide until he met Sandburg."


"So we would still need the Jew.  Why is it just not possible to get away from that little kike?  I cannot ask the ranks of my organization to continue to accept this mixing of the races.  Not even for a good cause.  And if he's not working, why do we need him?" Baker pointed at Jim.


"Ellison has been a functioning sentinel the longest period of time.  If for no other reason, genetically, we can still use him."


Jim listened to all this with a sense of horror like he had never felt before.  Genetically, they could use him.  Chase was probably condemned to being a human guinea pig and Jim would be a stud.  But they would be alive, he supposed.  Pete would come for Chase, for both of them actually.  Peter Devereaux had done some bad things in his life, but the man had changed, and he would never leave Jim in Rose's hands.  That was why Chase was here now.  He simply had to hope that Pete would come soon.

Part 7