Joan Z and Neichan
When they got to the abandoned army base, Spike told Jim to park off road behind a stand of trees. Jim got binoculars, two flak jackets, an assault rifle and a couple of Bowie knives from the locked toolbox in the back of his truck. Spike went to get a closer look at the buildings as Jim assembled the rifle and put on his jacket.
“You’re staying here, Chief,” Jim said.
“Oh come on, Jim, you may need me,” Blair moaned. “What if Xander's hurt, you may need a healer.”
“Jim’s right, Luv,” Spike said when he returned from his recon. “These guys won’t ‘esitate to use you against us. We’re safer with you ‘ere. Give me your word you’ll stay with the truck.”
Blair sighed. “Okay, Ill stay with the truck.”
“Good, then in you go.”
Blair got into the truck and before he knew what was happening Spike handcuffed him to the steering wheel.
“Hey! What are you doing?” Blair asked as he tugged at the cuffs.
“I told you, Luv, you can’t lie to me. Best you drive back to Cascade.”
“No way I’m leaving the two of you here by yourselves.”
Spike ignored Blair as he took the bulletproof vest from Jim and put it on.
Blair attempted an appeal to the head of the pack. “Jim?”
Jim looked at his guide and shook his head no. “Drive back to Cascade, Chief, and let Simon know where we are,” he said. The two sentinels strapped the knives onto their ankles and then they were gone.
Blair waited about two and a half minutes to make sure the sentinels were far enough away before reaching for the handcuff key he kept hidden under the passenger’s seat. He had hid it there shortly after bonding with Jim. Jim had threatened to cuff him to the truck if he didn’t stay put ‘this time’, after Blair had disobeyed him and left the truck during a convenience store robbery. Jim never made good on the threat, so he never knew the key was there. It wasn’t easy reaching it. He had to take off his belt, loop it, and pull the key within reach. The whole thing took a bit of time but in the end Blair was free. “Crazy sentinels,” he muttered under his breath. “Haven’t you ever heard of cell phones?” Blair took out his cell and called Simon for backup. By then Jim and Spike had taken out two of the three guards patrolling the area.
Sentinel General Henry Gideon had been hand chosen to oversee the operation. The promise of highly reliable hazard detection becoming part of a sentinel’s hyper-senses was too valuable a possibility to pass up. He had lost his guide during a black ops mission due to an undetected booby trap. Reliable hazard detection would have avoided his guide's untimely death. But he didn’t quite trust Ethan Rayne. Kidnapping a bonded guide, even one unfit to bond, was a major dereliction of Sentinel protocol. He justified his part in the operation by telling himself that having no guide was better than having an unfit guide and the sentinel, an ex high school English teacher, must be unfit himself to chase down an unfit guide.
The General believed the operation needed to be overseen by someone who could keep Rayne in line and understood both sentinel and guide’s needs. He knew of the accusations of abuse that Rayne had been charged with and he was determined that no such abuse would take place under his watch. He would allow Rayne to extract DNA from the boy (the general could not bring himself to call Xander a guide, or a man, due to his unfit status), but he would make sure the boy was well cared for.
Xander had been kept sedated for the ride to the base. Now he was strapped to an exam table and Rayne was giving him a shot to wake him up. The General had insisted on being present, Rayne was not happy about having ‘the tight assed bastard’, in the room but he figured if he didn’t argue in the beginning the General would lose interest soon enough and he would have the whelp to himself.
Xander struggled to wake up; he opened his eyes, looked into the face of Ethan Rayne. And laughed. “You are soooo dead,” he said.
Ethan slapped Xander hard across the face.
The General grabbed Ethan’s arm. “You will not strike the boy again,” he hissed.
“Yeah, that’ll work,” Xander said, with a roll of his eyes. “You’re a sentinel, I can feel it. What are you doing, helping him kidnap a bonded guide?”
“You may be bonded to a sentinel,” the General said with disgust, “but you’re no guide. You’re unfit and the school teacher that choose you is better off without you.”
“I’m not unfit!” Xander growled. “Ethan Rayne had me declared unfit so he could get away with using me, he’s manipulating you. When Spike gets here you are going to have one mega pissed-off sentinel to deal with.”
“Your sentinel won’t be coming,” the General said. “I know how to thwart a sentinel’s hyper-senses. You were in a specially designed compartment for transport here. A sentinel can’t track what he can’t sense.”
“He will come,” Xander said.
A sergeant came into the room and handed the General a note telling him what they had intercepted on their cell phone scanner. General Gideon’s face turned red with anger as he read what it had to say. “How did this happen?” he asked the Sergeant.
“General, Sir, I don’t know, Sir,” was the clipped reply.
“Stay with the boy, Sergeant, Rayne, you come with me.”
Rayne didn’t like taking orders, this was supposed to be his operation, now that Xander was in custody. “I’m not leaving until you tell me what’s going on.”
“They’re here,” Xander said. “That’s what’s going on. So put your head between your legs and kiss you ass goodbye, Rayne.”
Rayne advanced on Xander and lifted his arm to slap him again. The General grabbed Rayne and twisted his arm behind his back. “I told you not to strike the boy, he may be unfit but he is still a guide and you’re no sentinel.” The General shoved Rayne toward the door as he left orders for the sergeant. “Guard the boy, no one gets in here without me being present. That includes medical staff. Shoot to kill if you have too.”
The General shoved Rayne out the door and down the corridor while he screamed for his Lieutenant. “Take six of your men and find the intruders. Bring them back here for questioning. I want to know how the fuck they found us.”
“We should get out of here,” Rayne said. “Take Harris and the medical staff and get out of Dodge.”
“I’m not running,” the General growled. “We have fifteen men here and counting myself, eight of them are sentinels. They are the best the Army has to offer. We’ll capture the intruders.”
“And then what?” Rayne asked. “One of those intruders is bonded to the brat and the other one is his pack leader. They’ll want him back.”
“If I can’t reason with them, I’ll keep them in custody. I need to know how they tracked us.”
Spike stiffened. “Bloody hell!” he whispered. “Blair’s loose and they know we’re here, they’re hunting us.”
“Do they have Blair?” Jim growled, not caring how Spike knew Blair was loose.
“Not yet,” Spike said. “He’s this way. Let’s go”
Blair found a flaw in his plan. He had made it across the open space and was at the group of buildings but he had no way of knowing which way Jim and Spike had gone. He decided to go right since that afforded him the most cover and he called out softly to Jim as he crept along; he knew only a sentinel would be able to hear him. Then he felt the sting in his neck, when for the second time that day, he was hit with a dart. He managed to knock on the building twice as he lost consciousness, he only hoped his sentinels would hear.
Blair awoke to find himself in a room with a sergeant, who Blair’s empathic sense told him was a guide, a high-ranking sentinel, and Ethan Rayne.
“Hello guide,” the general said. “I'm surprised that you caught up with us so soon.”
“You should be ashamed of yourself, Sentinel,” Blair said. “Ethan Rayne is despicable. He’s tortured Xander and had at least three people associated with the guide school murdered. He had Director Booker declare Xander unfit. He’s a psychotic murderer.”
“Those are harsh accusations, Guide. Why should I believe you? From my point of view Xander Harris is unfit. He’s been bonded to his sentinel for eight days and almost half that time has been spent in the Guide Hospital, surely a guide that needs that much healing in such a short time is far from fit for duty as a guide.”
“And why do you assume that Xander was the one being healed? Xander is a healer guide. Did it ever enter your mind he was the one doing the healing? I demand that you put Ethan Rayne under arrest for Guide abuse.”
“This is ridiculous,” Rayne said. “He's obviously lying to save himself, it won’t work this time, Sandburg. No one is going to listen to your lies.”
“Arrest Ethan Rayne and call this off, General,” Blair said using his guide command voice, “before more of your men are killed.”
The General dialed up his sense of smell and sniffed the air. The guide didn’t smell like he was lying and he could always sense when a guide was telling a lie. It had a subtle scent like milk, not gone sour, but no longer fresh either. One thing was for sure, he didn’t trust Rayne, the man set off his ‘red alert’ sirens. He decided he had better check on the sentinels that were patrolling his perimeter. He sent the Sergeant out to get a report and then turned back to Blair. The General dialed up all his senses and began to compare what he had read about the guide in his mission report to what he could sense coming from him. Blair was bonded to the pack leader in the Cascade Police Department. He was extremely intelligent and well trusted by his superiors. The General evaluated his sentinel input and decided that Blair was a highly superior guide.
He had kept his senses dialed low when he was in the room with the Harris boy. He simply didn’t want the sour taste that evaluating an unfit guide would leave behind. The General decided he would have to take a closer look at Xander Harris. If what Guide Blair was saying were true, and the General believed it was, Ethan Rayne would have to be removed from this operation. There were others that could extract the genetic component of hazard detection from the Harris boy.
But right now there was one other question that needed to be answered. “How did you find us so quickly?” the General asked.
“We tracked you,” Blair said.
“How? Using what sense?”
“Sorry I’m not answering anymore questions until Rayne is in custody and I can talk to Xander.”
The Sergeant came back into the room and whispered to the General. “There are five sentinels unaccounted for General.
The General looked at Blair, “I’ll bring Xander to this room. If what you say is true I’ll arrest Rayne and call off the mission.”
“It’s true,” Blair said.
“General, we have a once in a lifetime opportunity here,” Rayne said.
“Shut-up Rayne,” the General growled and then he turned to the Sergeant. “Hold them here. If Rayne tries to touch the guide or leave, shoot him.”
The General left the room and ordered his remaining men, mostly guides, to use delaying tactics on the two approaching sentinels. “These men are sentinel’s,” he said. “They will not willingly hurt a guide. I need as much time as you can give me to interrogate the detainee. Do whatever you have to, just get me the time I need.”
The General had been unable to dial his senses back down after evaluating Blair. He had been using the guides in his squad to keep him stable but that was a temporary measure and the need for a guide of his own had been steadily increasing. The stress of this operation had catapulted that need into a nagging demand. When the General got to Xander’s room he had one question to ask. “Is it true that Ethan Rayne tortured you while you were in Guide School?” he asked.
“Why should I answer you?” Xander said, “You won’t believe me.”
The General leaned down and sniffed Xander’s neck. He ran all the subtle smells through his mind, evaluating each. He prided himself on his ability to evaluate a guide. He judged his sentinels on the guides they chose. He knew now that Blair was telling the truth. Xander Harris was not unfit. He was, in fact, a highly superior guide.
The General stood up and looked at the sergeant that had been guarding Xander. “You can go to your sentinel now.” The sergeant nodded and left. The General turned back to Xander bent down and licked his guide spot.
The smell of fear flooded the small room. “It’s all right guide,” the General said. “I’m not going to hurt you.”
Xander looked into the General’s eyes and saw the dark blue of a sentinel in a bonding thrall.
“Henry,” Xander said in his best commanding voice. “I am a claimed and bonded guide. Unless you want to find yourself on the losing side of a fight to the death you should stop this behavior, now.”
The General drew his dart gun and aimed it at Xander. “You deserve better then an ex-schoolteacher,” he said, and then he shot ‘his’ guide.
Spike and Jim were almost to the building where Blair and Xander were being held when they saw a group of men exit the building and take up defensive positions. They could smell that almost all of them were guides. A firefight broke out as the only sentinel in the group saw Spike and Jim’s attempt to out flank them.
The General un-strapped the unconscious Xander from the gurney and carried him down the hall to an exit away from the firefight. He took Xander outside and across an open area to a chopper where he strapped him into a rear seat and then took the pilot’s chair. He knew that his getaway depended on his men delaying the sentinels long enough for the choppers engines to get up to speed for takeoff. He went through the pre-flight checklist turning on each gauge but saving the engines for last. When everything was checked out he flipped a switch and the chopper’s engines whirled to life.
Spike and Jim both heard the engines turn on. Spike knew that Xander was on the chopper. He couldn’t wait any longer. “Cover me,” he ordered Jim, and then he ran in the direction of the sound. He came within sight of the chopper just as it was lifting off from the ground. Spike launched himself at the rising copter. He missed by a fraction of an inch. When he hit the ground again he gave a blood-curdling roar. Every guide and sentinel that heard it shivered as one word echoed through the deserted Army Base. “MINE!”
It wasn’t in a demons nature to feel sorry for himself, a demon much preferred to get even. Spike turned toward the building, he could sense that Blair was in there. If he couldn’t save one guide he would save the other.
When Spike entered the building he dialed up his sense of hearing. There were only three heartbeats in the building and one of them was Blair’s. He crept down the corridor, past the room he could smell Xander had been held in, to the room Blair was in and peeked through the small window in the door. He could see one guard with his rifle trained on Ethan Rayne. Spike charged through the door, knocked out the guard and had Rayne, out of his chair, by the throat before anyone in the room realized what had happened.
“Where’d they take ‘im?” Spike growled.
“I don’t know,” Ethan said. “If I had known they were going to leave I would have gone with them.”
“Spike,” Blair said. “Don’t kill him. He has answers we need.”
“I think he lost all ‘is answers when that chopper took off, Luv.” Spike threw Ethan back in his chair and started to search the guard. Ethan tried to make a run for the door but Spike caught him and slammed him down on the floor. “Ain’t got time for you right now,” he said, as he aimed the dart gun he had retrieved from the guard at Ethan and fired. “You stay here, Luv, tend to the guide.” he said to Blair. “I’m gonna' get Jim.”
Spike ran toward the firefight. When he got to the door he stepped out and took cover and shouted. “Cease fire, lay down your weapons, you’re surrounded.”
General Gideon’s troops knew that the battle was over. They'd all heard the chopper take off. They laid down their weapons and came out with their hands raised. Jim kept his rifle aimed at the troops and herded them into the building and then into one of the empty offices. Spike got the sergeant that had been guarding Ethan and put him in with the other soldiers and then he used the dart gun to put them all to sleep.
Then they went back to get Rayne. He was still out cold and Spike didn’t think enough of him to carry him so he dragged him down the corridor to the room Xander had been held in, and none too gently, picked him up, dropped him on the gurney and strapped him down. Spike and Jim sniffed the air and both gave a low growl.
“What is it?” Blair asked as the hair on the back of his neck stood up.
“Whoever was in here with Xander,” Jim said, “was aroused and most likely wanted to bond with Xan.”
“The General,” Blair whispered. “I think he lost his guide recently, I could sense grief coming from him and I know for sure he didn’t trust Rayne.”
Spike had found the drugs required to wake up Ethan and administered the shot to his neck and pulled out the bowie knife he had strapped to his ankle.
Ethan gave a small moan and then struggled against his restraints as he returned to consciousness. When he opened his eyes they were met with the fire yellow eyes of a very angry demon sentinel.
Spike looked at Jim, “Best get Blair ou’ta ‘ere. Doubt ‘e’s got the stomach for what I’m gonna do.”
“Aren’t you going to question him?” Blair asked.
“I’m hopin' ‘e won’t answer the questions, Luv.”
“We’ll be down the hall,” Jim said. “I’m going to give Simon a call, see how long before he gets here.”
When Jim and Blair left the room Spike turned to Rayne and showed him the knife. “It’s been a lifetime since I’ve done this. Used railroad spikes back then, that’s how I got my name. Ain’t got no railroad spikes so I guess a bowie knife will have to do.”
Rayne started to scream hoping that Jim or Blair would come back and stop the crazy yellow-eyed sentinel. “Please, stop don’t hurt me!”
Spike clamped his hand over Rayne’s mouth and held the Bowie knife to his throat. “You shut the fuck up, you worthless piece of shit, or I’ll cut off one of your balls and use it for a gag.” Spike removed his hand and Rayne lay quiet. “Now tell me, who’s funding this operation?”
“The U S government,” Rayne said.
“Who’s the man in charge?” Spike asked as he began to slice the buttons from Ethan’s shirt.
“General Henry Gideon.”
“What exactly did you plan on doing to Xander?” Spike asked as he opened Rayne’s shirt and drew the point of the knife down Rayne's torso leaving a shallow cut from collarbone to belt.
Rayne clenched his jaw and closed his eyes to keep from screaming. “W-we were j-just going to extract DNA.”
“Liar!” Spike growled and he slid the knife between skin and pants and cut through Ethan’s belt.
“No, no, I swear,” Ethan said, as beads of perspiration ran down his face.
Spike once more slid the knife down Ethan’s pants. The captive whimpered as he felt the cold steel slide down his thigh and the razor sharp edge run along his cock. “Please, uggg it hurts.”
Spike grabbed Ethan’s pants and ripped them off, “How many times did Xan tell you it hurts? How many times did he beg you to stop?”
“It wasn’t like that, I was only trying to make him a better guide,” Rayne said in desperation.
“You had him declared unfit!” Spike roared, and then he leaned over and whispered in his ear. “I don’t have a lot of time to play, got to go get my boy, so if you know anything that will save your life, tell me now.”
“I’ve got money, lots of money,” Rayne said in a breathless rush, “I’ll pay you, whatever you want.”
Spike tilted his head and looked at Rayne. “How much do you think your life is worth?”
“I’ll pay you a million dollars. Just let me go.”
Spike laughed. “Peanuts, you’re trying to buy your life with peanuts,”
“Five million,” Rayne said.
Spike held the knife to Rayne’s throat. “You think I don’t know how much you’re worth?”
Rayne swallowed hard. “I have twenty-five million in a bank on the Cayman Islands. I’ll give it all to you, just let me go.”
“You know what your problem is Rayne?” Spike asked. “You really believe I’d betray my guide, my Luv. I won’t, not for money, not for anything. It’s a pity I don’t have more time to teach you that.” Spike lifted the knife and plunged it into Ethan Rayne’s heart.
“Rayne’s dead,” Spike said when he returned to Jim and Blair.
“Simon’s on his way with a sentinel S.W.A.T. team and a Sentinel Prime. He should be here any minute.”
Spike tilted his head; “I think I hear the sirens now.”
“What will they do about Rayne?” Blair asked.
“Nothing, Luv,” Spike said. “You know the law. A sentinel has the right to use deadly force on anyone who tries to break a guide bond, kidnaps a guide, or intentionally injures a guide. We’ll have a ceremony. A Sentinel Prime will declare Rayne guilty and that will be the end of it.”
“Yes, but Rayne was strapped down on an gurney.”
“It doesn’t matter, Chief,” Jim said. “I doubt if the black ops team knew what they were doing. But Rayne knew and we have the evidence to prove it. His kind of behavior has to be discouraged.”
The sirens had gotten closer and Jim grabbed a flashlight and went out to signal the S.W.A.T. team to the correct building.
Jim met the S.W.A.T. team along with the rest of his pack members outside the building. The head of the team was a Sentinel Prime that Jim had worked with when he was in special ops. They went into the building and Jim introduced him to Spike. “Sentinel Prime Peter Wall this is my second Sentinel Detective William Spikeman.”
“I thought you were going to join my team when you left Lake View,” Peter said as he shook hands with Spike. “And what’s with the yellow eyes?”
“Things didn’t work out, Pete. As for my eyes, they’ll stay yellow until I get my guide back.”
“Well,” Peter said with a smile. “If I had to lose you to someone there’s some consolation that it was to Jim. Not much but some.” Peter sighed as he got down to business. “Simon filled me in on this Rayne guy. Is he still alive?”
“No,” was Spike’s only answer.
“Where’s the body,” Pete said.
Spike, Pete, Jim and Blair started down the hall when Spike turned to talk to Blair. “No, Luv, not you.” Spike said as he ran his fingers over Blair’s cheek and through his hair.
Peter watched the exchange and wondered why Jim allowed it. Spike should have told Jim to keep Blair away. And the touch was a bit too intimate, even for pack mates, along with the fact that Blair stepped back without even a glance at Jim. Peter knew there was a dynamic here that he didn’t understand and he did not like being in a situation he did not understand.
The three Sentinels walked into the room where Rayne’s body lay. Peter walked over to the naked body and looked at it. “I’m surprised he’s not more cut up.”
“Considered it,” Spike said.
“Okay, what’s going on?” Peter asked, determined to get an answer.
“You know what’s going on,” Jim said. “Rayne had Xander kidnapped and Spike killed him for it.”
“Yeah, that part I know.”
“That’s all you need to know,” Spike said.
“You’re Spikeman, every sentinel sense I have tells me you are. But you have yellow eyes and an English accent. And you just touched Jim’s guide in a way that would get my arm broken. Not to mention you ordered him to stay out of here. Blair didn’t so much as glance at Jim and Jim… Well good buddy, what the fuck is going on?”
“We’re cross bonded,” Jim said.
“What? Why?” Peter asked.
“It was necessary,” Jim said.
“All I can say, good buddy, is you must really love the guy, to let him claim Blair.”
“You got it backwards,” Jim said.
“Blair needed Spike to claim him, I gave my permission.”
“Jesus, Jim, your guide tells you he wants to be claimed by another sentinel and you not only don’t kill him…you take him for your second? Have I just dropped into Bizaaro World?”
“Spike was already my second. And what I do in my pack is pack business.”
“Okay, good buddy,” Peter said, he knew that Jim has cut him all the slack he was going to. “Let’s just get the ritual over with,” Peter said, and he turned to look at the body. “I Sentinel Prime Peter Wall find Ethan Rayne guilty of conspiracy in the kidnapping of Guide Alexander Harris.”
Spike pulled out the knife he used to kill Ethan Rayne. “I, Sentinel Detective William Spikeman and Bond Mate to Guide Alexander Harris, exercise my right under sentinel law.” Spike lifted Ethan Rayne’s package and cut off one of his testicles and dropped it onto the floor. Then he handed the knife to Jim.
“I, Sentinel Detective James Ellison and Second Bond to Guide Alexander Harris, exercise my right under sentinel law.” Jim cut off Rayne’s remaining testicle and dropped it on the floor. Then he placed the knife on Rayne’s stomach and the three sentinels left the room.
Peter decided he wasn’t going to ask any more questions about pack business. Ellison had warned him to stay out of it. “And all this happened in eight days,” he whispered. “Must have been a week from hell.”
“It’s not over yet,” Spike whispered back.
“Didn’t mean to imply it was,” Peter said.
When the three Sentinels returned to the group Peter called everyone together for the remainder of the ceremony, including the Black ops team who had recently recovered from being drugged. “I am Sentinel Prime Peter Wall, Ethan Rayne was found guilty of conspiracy to kidnap the bonded Guide Xander Harris. Sentinel Detective William Spikeman, Bond Mate to Guide Xander Harris, has chosen to exercise his legal rights under sentinel law and is found not guilty of any possible wrong doing in the death or mutilation of Ethan Rayne or the death of any of Guide Harris’ kidnappers. In addition Sentinel Detective James Ellison, Second Bond to Guide Xander Harris, has chosen to exercise his legal rights under sentinel law and is found not guilty of any possible wrong doing in the death or mutilation of Ethan Rayne or the death of any of Guide Harris’ kidnappers. Are there any Sentinels or Guides present that are opposed to this finding?”
The room was silent.
“All those in favor of the finding please signify.”
“Aye,” the group shouted.
“I find this matter now closed.” Peter turned to Jim and Spike. “You may wash the blood from your hands Sentinels.”
Blair went to his sentinels as they washed their hands. “Mutilation, Jim?”
Jim didn’t look at Blair as he spoke, the two sentinels simply continued to scrub the blood from each other’s hands. “He showed total disregard and lack of respect for Sentinels and Guides in his life,” Jim said. “We showed total disregard and lack of respect for him in his death. Don’t ask me anymore, Chief, he deserved what he got, it’s the sentinel way.”
General Gideon landed the chopper at an Army Base outside of Portland Oregon. He had a car and driver waiting for him; he knew he needed to get Xander to a doctor. He had not yet woken up and the General was concerned that he had gotten an overdose of drugs.
Sentinel Dr. Rupert Giles, a specialist in guide care, met the General at the emergency door with a gurney and immediately took the pair into an exam room.
“He needs a stimulant,” the General said. “He’s received an overdose of tranquilizer.”
Dr. Giles ignored the General and continued his exam. When he was finished he glared at the General. “His breathing is shallow, his pulse rate slow, his blood pressure is low and his pupils are fixed and dilated. Are you responsible for this man being in this condition?”
“It was an accidental overdose, Doctor, now please administer a stimulant and I will be on my way.”
“No, his condition is far too delicate for me to chance a stimulant.”
“Administer the stimulant, Doctor. that’s an order.”
“I don’t take orders on medical matters,” Dr Giles said. “I am going to admit him, General, when he is stable I will have him transferred to a civilian guide hospital. There is an excellent one in Cascade. I need his name and guide number… please.”
“You don’t understand doctor, I'm on a classified mission. We cannot stay here.”
“Then leave the guide here, General and continue on your mission without him. He is not fit to travel.”
“I can’t do that doctor. I plan to bond with this guide as soon as possible.”
“This guide is already bonded,” Dr Giles said. “His guide gland is marked.”
“This guide is mine!” the General growled.
“He is medically unfit to attempt a bond, General. He will need a minimum of ten days of bed rest and I’m not even sure he will be ready then. Any attempt to break his current bond in favor of another, before he is fully recovered, will risk brain damage.”
“Yes,” Dr. Giles said. “His pupils are fixed and dilated. I believe the tranquilizer used has a memory eraser in it. Any attempt at bonding is likely to cause a brain cascade resulting in stroke, or worse, a brain embolism.”
“I was told the drugs were perfectly safe,” the General growled.
“Yes, they are in the correct dosage. But as you yourself said, this guide has been overdosed. He is in need of physical touch with his bonded sentinel and, if possible, a healing guide that has healed him in the past.”
“That sentinel is unfit. We’ll stay until he is stable,” the General said, “but I need complete secrecy.”
“I will have you assigned to a private room with my Bond Mate, Guide Nurse Calendar.”
Sentinel Dr. Giles felt very uneasy about having an un-named bonded guide in his hospital. He knew the possible consequences of helping a sentinel to steal another sentinel’s guide and had no intention of being killed for complicity in such a heinous act. He locked his office door, put on his sound deadening machine, and put in a call over a secure line to the Sentinel Prime.
“Sentinel Prime Peter Wall’s office, how may I help you?”
“This is Army Sentinel Dr. Giles, I need to speak with Sentinel Prime Wall on a very urgent matter.”
“I’m sorry, the Sentinel Prime is away at the moment. May I take a message and have him call when he returns.”
“No, it is imperative I talk to the Sentinel Prime. When do you expect him to return?”
“I’m sorry, I’m not allowed to give out that information. If this is an emergency I can connect you to another sentinel.”
“No this is Sentinel Prime business. Can you forward a message to him?”
“If it is an emergency, yes.”
“I have an un-identified bonded guide in my hospital. He has received an overdose of drugs. I fear he has been kidnapped.”
“Where is your hospital located Dr. Giles?”
“I’m sorry I can not give you that information. I will call back in five minutes. I will talk to the Sentinel Prime only.” Dr. Giles hung up and waited for the five minutes to pass.
Four minutes later Dr. Giles’ phone range. “Dr. Giles’ office.”
“This is Sentinel Prime Peter Wall. Am I speaking with Dr. Rupert Giles?”
“Yes, this is he. You found me very quickly.”
“You gave your name Doctor. I have full access to Army records. You say you have an unidentified guide. Would he by any chance be accompanied by a General Henry Gideon?”
“Yes, he is.”
“The General is not to be allowed to bond with Guide Harris. The guide has a history of abuse and a forced bond could cause immeasurable emotional damage.”
“I have already told the General that I can not allow a bond for at least ten days. Guide Harris is in serious condition. The General claims that he is on a classified mission, that an overdose of drugs was accidental and that the Sentinel that is currently bonded to guide Harris is unfit. I have no authority to disregard those statements. All I can do is treat my patient. This matter is in your hands Sentinel Prime.”
“I understand doctor. I am assuming that since Guide Harris was unidentified to you he is unconscious. Is that a correct assumption?”
“That is correct.”
“Is Guide Harris’s life in danger?”
“An optimistic guess would be a fifty percent chance of full recovery. Those odds would increase to seventy-five percent with a healing guide that he has had contact with before the overdose and his bonded sentinel, if he is fit. Anyone new could cause brain damage.”
“Why is that doctor?”
“The brain has a plasticity to it. A guide’s brain more then most. The tranquilizer that was used had a memory eraser in it. That is the true overdose and it has affected his brain. A healer the guide already has a healing bond with will not have to lay down new pathways. I fear a brain cascade, resulting in stroke or an embolism, resulting in death, if I attempt a healing with an unknown healer.”
“I will have the Sentinel and a healing guide there as soon as the Army gives its permission. Thank you doctor.” Sentinel Wall hung up the phone and prepared himself to face his friends with the news.
“The good news is we know where Xander is. He’s on an Army base just outside of Portland Oregon. The General is with him.”
“The bad news?”
“The General tranquilized Xander with a drug that causes memory loss. We use it all the time in covert ops. But Guides are sensitive to the drug. Xander received an overdose.”
Spike began to pace, “I need to get to him.” Blair went to Spike and held him in his arms.
“How bad is it?” Jim asked.
“Bad enough to get the Army to let us on the base. They have to call off this mission now.”
Spike growled and moved out of Blair’s arms. “I need to get to ‘im now.”
“You can’t just charge onto an Army base,” Pete said. “You’ll be shot. By now the General has made sure the base is sealed off. We have to go through channels, there’s no other choice.”
Blair pulled Spike back into his arms. “Spike, we’ll get to him. Let Peter do his job. He’s Sentinel Prime.” Blair stroked Spike’s hair and tilted his head offering Spike his guide gland. Spike began to suckle.
Peter watched the exchange between Spike and Blair and then looked at Jim. “Jim are you okay?” he asked as Blair’s pheromones filled the room.
“No, Pete, I’m not okay, nothing about this is okay. My guide is missing and hurt.”
“I meant…” Peter glanced up at Spike and Blair.
Jim got up and wrapped his arms around his pack mates and then he looked over at Pete. “Just get the Army to call off the mission, Pete. Because if you don’t they’re not going to like the body count. I’ve seen what Spike can do and I know what I’m willing to do… We’ll kill them all.”
A chill went down Peter’s spine. He knew that they were capable of a very large body count. There were six well-trained black ops sentinels that lay dead in the makeshift morgue. It was the sheer number of troops on the base that would stop them, if they could be stopped, but they would make the Army pay for their arrogance before they were brought down.
He watched Jim with Spike and Blair. He had worked with Spike in Lake View, tracking a rogue sentinel. The sentinel detective was as good as they come. He invited Spike to join his team as soon as he got a guide, but he had always sensed that there was a part of Spike he never let anyone see. Peter knew he had seen it today, the yellow eyes, to look into those eyes made a man glad you could call him friend instead of enemy.
And then he thought about Jim saying ‘my guide is missing’ not his pack mate’s guide but his guide. He owed Jim. The sentinel had saved his life and pulled him through when his first guide was killed while on a mission. Pete came to a decision. “We can’t let the Army get away with this, Jim. If they don’t call off the mission I’ll stand with you, Good Buddy… I swear, sentinel-to-sentinel, if we have to, we’ll kill them all.”
“You know it won’t be a fair fight,” Jim said with his face buried in Blair’s hair and stroking Spike’s back.
Pete smiled at his friend. “I know, against the three of us, they’ll be hopelessly out numbered.”
Pete left the room and went to make the calls.
It was just over an hour later when Peter finished negotiations with the Army. He found his friends in an office, cuddled together in one of the portable, inflatable nests that sentinel troops take with them on missions. He could see right away that Blair was glowing and he could scent that both sentinels had taken comfort from their guide. He spoke softly to Jim, as he was head of his pack, and asked permission to enter the nest.
“Do we have authorization to go onto the Army Base?” Spike asked, as Peter settled himself in the nest.
“If you agree to the conditions,” Peter said.
“What conditions?” Spike growled.
“General Henry Gideon is a Medal of Honor winner. He lost his guide three months ago while on a mission. The Army doesn’t want to lose him. They recognize his need for healing, a new guide and psychiatric counseling, but feel that he was vulnerable due to his grief and deliberately misled. He was not acting out of any selfish drive to steal another sentinel’s guide. We have permission to go onto the base only if you and Jim agree not to exercise your rights under sentinel law, as it applies to General Gideon.”
“I’ll only agree to that if he agrees to give up Xander without a fight,” Spike said.
“I have a plan,” Peter said. “The four of us will go to Xander together, Jim and I will remove the General. He will be transferred, immediately, to a secure sentinel facility in Boston Massachusetts. He will receive healing and will not be released until he bonds with a new guide.” Peter took a deep breath. “It’s a good deal, Spike, I had to press hard for the agreement that he remain in hospital lock-up until he bonds. In addition, a Sentinel Prime will have access to the General for questioning. The Army may want to sweep this whole thing under the rug but the Sentinel Guild won’t allow it. Someone in the government recruited the General for this mission and the SG wants to know who that person is. That’s where the real culprit lies.”
“And if the General puts up a fight?” Jim asked.
“You and Spike have to give your word. I don’t. I want the General to live so he can be questioned. The Army knows that. So I’ll give you my word. If the only way to get to Guide Xander Harris is to kill General Gideon, I will kill him myself.”
“In that case you have my word,” Spike said.
“And mine,” Jim said.
Peter looked at his watch. “The chopper will be here in about five minutes. I’ll be bringing my guide and some of my troops on the chopper with us just in case they are needed, but there is no plan for them to be involved with extracting the General from Xander’s room. We will meet with a Sentinel Dr. Rupert Giles when we get to the base. He’s been treating Xander and is one of the best guide doctors in the country. I’ll meet you in back of the building in five minutes.”
The flight to the Army base had been terribly long, from Spike’s point of view, and now being forced to meet with Dr. Giles, when Xander was in the building, was nearly intolerable. If it weren’t for the bond with Blair he doubted he would be able to control himself.
“I need to get to Xander,” Spike said, interrupting the conversation.
“Were you able to follow anything we have said?” Dr. Giles asked.
Spike stood up and growled at the doctor.
Dr. Giles looked startled for a moment and then he understood. “Oh, I apologize Sentinel. I simply meant that all your focus is at getting to your guide. It’s understandable, under these circumstances, that you may…”
“Apology accepted,” Spike interrupted. “Let’s go,” he said to Blair.
Blair and Spike entered an office two doors down and waited.
Dr. Giles called General Gideon. “General Gideon,” he said. “I have the results of Guide Xander’s blood tests, please come to my office so that we can discuss them.”
“We can discuss them on the phone,” the General said.
“No, General, we can’t,” the doctor said. “Even though Xander is in a coma he can still hear our conversation. I will not take the chance of any negative impact on my patient. Please come to my office, Guide Nurse Calendar will remain in the room. I assure you that she will notify me immediately if there is any change in Xander’s condition.”
“How long is this going to take, doctor?” the General asked.
“I don’t anticipate a conversation longer then fifteen minutes, General.”
“Fine, I will be right down.” The General hung up the phone and walked to the elevator. He was worried about what Dr. Giles had found, if the doctor felt discussing it in Xander’s room could have a negative impact then it couldn’t be good.
Jim and Peter moved to a back corner of the doctor’s office where they would not be in the General’s line of sight when he entered. Nurse Calendar had helped the General dial down all his senses in an effort to keep from zoning out and to help lessen his drive to attempt a bond with Xander. When he entered the doctor’s office, he was not smiling. The doctor invited him to sit down and it wasn’t until he saw movement out of the corner of his eye, as Jim took up a guard position at the door, that he noticed anyone else in the room. All his senses immediately went to full alert and he glared at the doctor.
“I told you my mission was classified, doctor. I’ll have you court-martialed for this.”
“Thank you doctor,” Peter said. “You may leave now.” Dr. Giles got up from his desk. Jim moved aside to let him leave the office and then closed the door and took up the guard position again. The General glared at the two men and a low growl rumbled from his chest.
“I am Sentinel Prime Peter Wall,” Peter said, ignoring the growl and its implied challenge. “We need to talk General.” Peter walked around the doctor’s desk and sat down. “Please, General, sit.”
“I don’t have time for this,” the General said, “I need to get back to my guide.”
“General!” Peter’s voice held a tone of command that made the General turn around. “Sit down.”
“I don’t take orders from you,” The General said, and turned back toward the door.
“I have new orders for you, from the Army, General. They order you to stand down!”
The General turned once again and watched as the Sentinel Prime pulled an official looking packet of orders from his dispatch pouch. The General walked over and grabbed the orders from Peter Wall’s hand. He read them and then looked up at Peter. “Where did you get these?” he asked.
“I’ve been in touch with the Army, General. You’ve been lied to. The sentinel guarding the door is Sentinel Detective James Ellison of the Cascade Police. He is Sentinel Liaison Officer, Pack Leader and second bond to Guide Xander Harris.”
The Generals eyes got big and then he flopped into the nearby chair as thoughts raced through his head. Guide Harris had already bonded with a new sentinel, he couldn’t have him, Xander wasn’t his, could never be his. He had unknowingly kidnapped another sentinel’s guide. No, that wasn’t true. He had known Xander was a bonded guide. He had knowingly kidnapped and put a guide in danger. In a moment of clarity, the ramifications of his act hit him hard. His thoughts continued to swirl in a cyclone of horror and guilt for what he had done and Sentinel General Henry Gideon zoned out.
As soon as General Gideon passed by, Spike and Blair left the office they were hiding in. Unwilling to wait for the elevator, Spike headed for the stairs. Blair tried to keep up, but Spike’s preternatural speed was too much for Blair and he fell behind. As soon as Spike got to the room he began to strip. He ordered the nurse out and then ignored her, as all his focus went to Xander. He climbed into the bed and took his guide, his love, his soul mate into his arms. “Xan, I’m here, Pet. Sorry it took so long. Come back to me, Xan, please. You have to come back to me.”
Blair came into the room as Spike continued calling to Xander. He undressed as he spoke quietly to the nurse and she stared at the strange sentinel with yellow eyes. “It’s okay,” Blair said. “That’s Xander’s Bond Mate and I’m a healer guide. I’m going to take off my pants now so unless you're into voyeurism you should leave.”
The nurse left the room as Blair’s pants hit the floor. Then he climbed into the bed, pressed his naked body against Xander’s back and wrapped his arms around his pack mates. He searched carefully for himself in Xander’s mind. He knew he had to avoid laying down any new pathways. What he found shocked him. The overdose of memory eraser had wiped out almost everything since Xander’s bonding with Jim. What were left were only fragments, disjointed words, absent of feeling. Xander couldn’t find his way back because there were no clear pathways back. Blair knew new pathways had to be built and with Xander’s condition it would be a long, slow healing, if they could heal him at all.
When Jim arrived in the room, Blair got out of the bed to tell him what he had found in Xander’s mind.
“He remembers the cross bonding?” Jim asked.
“Yes, after that things start to fade. By the time he gets kidnapped most everything is gone.”
“Can we get him back Blair? I don’t want to lose him, the only thing worse would be losing you.”
“I think we can but it has to be done very slowly and gently.”
“How slowly?” Jim asked.
“Twenty-four hours to bring him out of the coma and then he’ll need weeks of healing after that to get him out of danger of a brain cascade.”
“Can I help? The doctor said only healers he had before the overdose and his bonded sentinel. If he remembers me…I want to help.”
“Yes,” Blair said. “We can switch off. I need to keep my strength up, so while I rest you can be with him.”
Twenty-four hours later Xander came out of his coma.
“What happened?” Xander asked, when he woke up and found Spike and Blair pressed against him in the same bed.
“What’s the last thing you remember?” Spike asked.
“We were all in the bullpen and then I was in a room with just the guides and then I was strapped down and Ethan Rayne hit me. But that can’t be right. It doesn’t make any sense.”
“You were kidnapped,” Spike said, “and given an overdose of a memory erasing drug.”
Just then Jim came into the room carrying a tray full of food. “Xanman,” he said with a big smile on his face, “You’re awake.”
“Yeah, big guy. A little the worse for wear, but awake. I’m starving. Is any of that for me?”
“Sure, Pet,” Spike said, as he took a plate from Jim.
Jim put the tray on the bedside table. “I’ll go arrange for transport home,” he said, and left the room.
“Transport home?” Xander asked, “Aren’t we in the guide hospital?”
“We’ll tell you all about it on the way home,” Spike said. “Right now you need to get some food in your stomach.” He offered Xander a forkful of mashed potato.
“You know you’re overwhelming me,” Xander said, as he reached for the fork.
A blue-eyed Spike smiled at his guide and pulled the fork away before Xander could get a hold of it. “Nice try guide,” he said, and then offered the food to him again. “Now eat.”
Blaire chuckled and got out of bed. Things are back to normal, he thought, as he got dressed.
The healer Guides at the army base tried to bring General Gideon out of his zone, but he just kept slipping deeper in. The same day that Xander came out of his coma, the Sentinel Prime made a decision to send the General on to the Sentinel Hospital in Boston, as they had planned to do. The General was strapped onto a gurney and secured on an Army transport plane. Three and a half hours into the flight a stealth fighter was sent out from a secret base in the mid-west. Without warning an anti-aircraft missile was fired at the plane carrying the General, everyone on board was killed instantly as the plane exploded into a giant fireball. The burning debris fell into Lake Huron leaving dark gray streams of smoke to mar the cloudless blue summer sky. Families boating on the lake called the Coast Guard to report a possible plane accident.
That evening Spike sat on the sofa watching the news, while Xander lay curled up asleep, his head resting in the crook of Spike’s neck. Xander’s even breath brushed along Spike’s naked chest, giving him comfort as he watched the TV, turned low, so as not to disturbed his love’s rest.
It was a news report of a meteor shower over the great lakes, which stabbed at his psyche. A family, boating on Lake Huron, had sold their video of the event to the network. Spike watched with sentinel sight as fire fell through the sky, not round balls of a meteor shower, but angular shapes. He saw a wing, a fuselage and other pieces too small to recognize. And he knew.
Spike whispered to Jim who sat nearby watching the same news report. “Call the hospital in Boston. Find out if the General arrived. That was no meteor shower.”
When Jim returned to the living room his eyes were filled with pain as he looked at Spike. “Boston said that the General never got there, he was sent to Bethesda instead. Bethesda said the General was never scheduled to be transferred there.”
Blair looked at the two sentinels; he had been in the kitchen when Jim made the calls. “Don’t tell Xander, not yet,” he whispered. “He needs to do some more healing before he deals with this.”
The two sentinels nodded their agreement.
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