Author's notes: Ares Bugle is a sequel to 'The Maze', 'Control', and 'Coatlicue' which are Sentinel/MacGyver crossovers. Since this story makes references to the previous ones, you may wish to read the others first.
For those of you who are familiar with my work, a couple caveats: When I first started, I decided to stick with adventure/suspense stories with only a few minor injuries to the main characters. However, this story blossomed into more. It is longer than the others, containing more angst, more revelations, more misery to Blair than normal, and hopefully more tension and adventure. There is a small casualty in this story, but I promise it is not permanent. (Just so no one panics at this point, I assure you no one dies, and Blair is not critically injured by any means. I will leave those stories to others who are much better at it than I.)
While the Bitterroots and Grangeville are real places, the characters and establishments I have set there are totally from my own imagination.
I do want to extend my thanks to: Marsha, whose suggestions led to the opening scene and choosing the villain; Sharon, for her pep talks and continuing support; Zadra, for humor, support, and helping me hammer out the details of a certain long-ago affair; Laura P., for great comments and suggestions; and to superbeta and editor Tonya, for without whom this series would be less readable and probably not even posted.
Please send any comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Enjoy the ride.
Disclaimer: Most of characters are not mine. I'm borrowing them out of deep reverence, affection and respect. I will accept only personal fulfillment, and no monetary gain. If you do sue, you will not get much, and I will send over my Black Lab mix, who will stare at you pathetically for hours, and probably con you out of all your food.
Rated PG-13, a little violence, but mostly for language.
C. L. Combs
Saturday, Near midnight, Rainier University Campus
"Oh, man, Blair. That was SO cool!"
Blair Sandburg smiled at Daryl Banks as the teen tried to make out the signatures on his program in the dim street light.
"Frog Jackson had just the sweetest moves tonight. I still can't believe you know him."
Blair chuckled, then swallowed against his increasingly sore throat. "Like I said, he's one of my best students. If he doesn't make the pros, he'll make a good anthropologist."
"He'll make the pros, especially with that jump shot," Daryl declared, dark eyes glowing. "And remember the move Anson Carter made on that skinny NWS guy for the winning point? He was BAD!"
Daryl's enthusiasm widened Blair's smile. Inviting the teen along when Jim and Simon were called into work had been a great idea. Not only had the basketball game between Rainier University and Northern Washington State been exciting, he had been able to introduce Daryl to the players afterwards. Rainier's star forward was very fond of his intro. teacher, paving their way into the locker room. Blair started to comment, then cleared his throat again.
Daryl suddenly looked up. "You aren't getting that flu, are you?" he asked.
Blair shrugged. "Considering that most of the student body and the police force has had it in the last few weeks, I guess it was just a matter of time."
For the first time since his father had told him he had to work that night, Daryl frowned. "We better get you home, man. That stuff knocked me out for nearly a week."
Blair sighed, remembering how miserable his roommate had been with it the week before. "Oh well, guess Jim gets payback now for being so grouchy while he had it."
Daryl chuckled. "I honestly can't see you getting that bad." His father had told him horror stories about how rude Jim got when he was sick.
"I can try." Blair spotted his Volvo a block ahead and pulled out his keys. At that moment, a man in dark clothing separated himself from the bushes and grabbed Blair's arm.
"Hey!" Daryl shouted as a man from the other side grabbed him.
"You will come with us," the one holding Blair growled. Blair tried to pull away as he and Daryl were herded towards a waiting van.
"Who are you?" Daryl's eyes frantically switched from one to the other.
"Quiet! You will learn to respect the Sun Rise Patriots!" He shoved Daryl in front of him.
At the name, Daryl gasped, and Blair reacted. Shoving his shoulder into his captor while tripping Daryl's, he shouted, "RUN!"
Daryl instantly turned and jumped over the fallen man. Using a spurt of fear-inspired adrenaline to drive his growing legs, he raced back towards the arena. Blair had taken two steps in Daryl's wake when something hit him hard from behind, driving him to the ground.
Sunday, 12:54 am Rainier University campus.
As he pulled his truck into the parking lot, Detective James Ellison could see the flashing lights and activity of a crime scene. A crime scene that involved his partner and his friend's son. Trying to ignore the icy fear plunging into his gut, Jim stepped out and walked over to where Captain Simon Banks was giving Daryl a bear hug.
"Honest, Dad, I thought he was right behind me. Right behind me!"
"Easy, son, easy," Simon murmured, trying to comfort him.
Jim gently laid a hand on Daryl's back. "Can you tell me what happened?"
Daryl pulled back from his father, wiping his wet eyes with the heel of his hand. Taking a deep, shaky breath, he quietly told his father and Jim about the attack. Jim was barely aware of Suzanne Tomacki, chief of campus police, slipping in quietly behind them to listen.
"... so, the coach and a couple players let me back in the stadium and called 911. Honest Jim, I thought Blair was right behind me."
Gently rubbing the teen's arm, Jim asked, "That's okay Daryl, he probably was." Jim fought to keep his imagination from filling in gruesome possibilities. "Do you have any idea who did this?"
Jim saw fear leap into Daryl's eyes. Simon wrapped his arm tighter around his son's shoulder's as he felt the young man start to shiver. "They, they said, that, that we needed to respect the Sun Rise Patriots."
"Damn," Simon whispered as he immediately pulled Daryl into another hug.
Jim turned and slammed a fist into the nearby emergency van. Suzanne jumped back, warily watching her friend. "Who are the Sun Rise Patriots?"
Eyes closed, Jim leaned his head against the van for a moment. By concentrating on his throbbing hand and taking a deep breath, he was able to push back the anger and fear he felt. He quietly turned back to Suzanne. "They are a militia movement we have dealt with before."
Suzanne's eyes grew more concerned. "Then is this a general hate crime or specifically targeted at you?"
Glancing at the scared teen next to them, Jim tilted his head towards the police line, indicating to Suzanne a need to talk privately. After a couple steps, Jim continued. "Probably targeted at us. Last time they took over Police headquarters. They killed six people and took hostages, including Daryl. Blair managed to evade their initial sweep, knocking out two of their men before he was caught. Simon and I were able to slip in through the sewer system and rescue the hostages. The leader, dragging Blair along, nearly escaped by helicopter." Jim sighed, remembering how close he had been to losing his guide so early in their partnership. "Thanks to Blair, we were able to get the copter back and arrested all of the members, including the leader Kincaid. Or least we thought we did."
"Meaning this group is probably holding a grudge against you and Banks," Suzanne added, trying to read through the worry on Jim's face.
"Sandburg, too, perhaps even more so. In spite of being everything Kincaid hates, Blair was able to put a real hole in his plans. Kincaid seemed especially vindictive towards him at the trial."
Suzanne tried to conceal a shudder. As a woman of Asian descent working in law enforcement, she too, had had to deal with bigotry and hatred. She could easily imagine how much a militia leader would hate a long-haired, grunge-looking Jewish man who had been able to get the best of him. No wonder Ellison looked so grim.
Ducking under the yellow tape, Jim spotted Blair's car.
"Probably staked it out and waited for them," Suzanne stated quietly.
Jim nodded. "Which means they must have been keeping track of Blair and/or Daryl for a while. I was suppose to go with Blair tonight, but we have been so short-handed at the station due to the flu, I had to go in." Jim felt another surge of anger, this time at himself. If he had been with Blair instead of Daryl, his partner wouldn't be missing.
Shoving aside his emotions, Jim quietly knelt down and scanned the area with his heightened senses. He noticed a tiny spec of blood on the sidewalk. Focusing on smell, Jim realized it was Blair's. How did it get there? Reviewing Daryl's story, Jim stood up. Ahead of him was the forensic team photographing the tire prints. Detective Rafe, who had been talking to one of the officers, noticed Jim and walked over. Jim slowly turned around, searching for any clues. A twinkle in the grass caught his eye. Kneeling down to investigate, Jim felt his control waver when he recognized it.
"Here," Rafe said quietly, handing Jim an evidence bag. "What is it?"
"Blair's keys," Jim stated, struggling to keep his voice neutral. Seeing the familiar ring of keys with the tiny lantern drove home that his guide had indeed been abducted, by a group who had no qualms in killing those in their way. Lightly, Jim traced a new crack down the side of the lantern.
Rafe daringly squeezed Jim's shoulder. Normally, he wouldn't even dream of comforting the tough senior detective. But Ellison must be worried sick over Sandburg, who was like a kid brother to him. Hell, Rafe was worried, too. He liked the energetic, intelligent grad student, and his effect over the department's supercop.
Jim stood and sealed the bag. He looked at Rafe. "I thought you were still out with the flu."
Rafe shrugged. "Doc wanted me to stay home another day, but when I heard about Sandburg..."
Jim gave him a weak smile in thanks, realizing Rafe still looked pale. Then he noticed Simon and Joel Taggart walking over. Guess all the troops were coming out.
"Jim, we got more bad news," Simon stated, then waved at Taggart to continue.
Joel took a deep breath and explained, "We just got word. Kincaid and a few of his men escaped from prison this morning."
"WHAT!" Jim roared. "Why weren't we informed!" With just a bit a warning, he would have made sure neither Blair nor Daryl were out alone.
Frustration shone from Taggart's brown eyes. "Apparently, the main people in the fed office are out with the flu. The temp didn't realize it was important." Joel's own memories of Sandburg lying to keep Kincaid from killing him were replaying in his mind. The kid wouldn't be able to bluff his way out of this one.
"Damn!" Jim turned and walked a few feet away. Staring into the dark, Jim fought to regain control. Yelling at his friends wouldn't do any good. Yet the thought of Blair at the mercy of that cold, home-grown terrorist terrified him.
His senses were just starting to fuzz out, when a strong hand gripped his shoulder. Joel's gruff voice pulled him back. "We'll find him, Jim."
"Blair could be dead by now," Jim stated, his voice barely in control.
Joel shook his head. "No, that doesn't feel right. If Kincaid just wanted him dead, they wouldn't have tried to abduct Daryl, too. For some reason, they want hostages."
Jim rubbed his eyes with his hand, trying to clear his thinking. "But why? To get back at me? At Simon?"
Joel shrugged. "I'm sure we will find out soon enough. Only instead of two hostages, they just have one. That alone should keep Blair alive long enough for us to find him."
Jim gave Joel's arm a light squeeze. They would find him. They had to.
Sunday, Predawn, near Sun Rise Patriot's base
A sudden turn slammed Blair into a corner, abruptly jerking him out of a doze. He shivered as he huddled between two crates and the metal truck side. Moving his numb fingers and scraped hands, duct taped behind his back, he again tried vainly to free himself. It seemed like he had been stuck in the dark for hours. Blair wasn't even sure if they were in Washington State anymore. Hell, he wasn't even sure if they were still in the country. From the way the truck was rocking, though, they certainly weren't on pavement. Blair briefly laid his head against one of the crates, trying to swallow against his raw throat. His head ached, but Blair wasn't sure if it was stress or flu. God, what an awful time to get sick.
The truck braked to a stop, sliding Blair into the other crate. The loud screech as the door opened warned him of company. Heavy footsteps walked back to where Blair sat, studying his knees and trying not to shiver. A long, wicked knife sliced the duct tape bonding his ankles. Blair looked up into the face of a huge man glaring disgustedly at him. The man grabbed his arm, forcefully hauling him to his feet. "Move it, Jewish scum."
A biting remark about Neanderthals tried to rise to his lips, but Blair's throat hurt too much to let it pass. Struggling to make his cold, numb legs walk, Blair was pushed to the end of the truck, then dragged off by two more large militia men. He was forced to walk between them, quietly memorizing his surroundings. They were in the mountains, surrounded by trees. The branches probably helped to hide the military-style compound surrounded by a high wire fence. Freedom laid outside that fence. Blair just had to find a way to get there.
Pushing and pulling their prisoner, the Sun Rise Patriots walked into one of the larger wooden buildings. Blair steeled himself for whatever horrors may await him. Still, he was shocked to discover who sat at the desk. "Kincaid?" he questioned hoarsely. "Aren't you suppose to be in prison?" Suddenly, he felt even colder than before.
The goon on his right tightened his hold on Blair's upper arm and shook him. "Shut up, Scum, and show some respect."
Kincaid stood up and walked leisurely around to face his prisoner. He paused, studying the man before him. Blair stared back defiantly, trying not to let his fear show.
Suddenly, Kincaid slammed a fist into Blair's stomach. Leaning forward and gasping in pain, Blair felt his knees buckle. Only his guards' tight grip on his arms kept him to his feet. A hand dug into his hair, and yanked his face up to meet Kincaid's. "That was for taking out two of my men," he stated coldly. Blair couldn't prevent a soft cry from escaping when the fist again punched his abdomen. "That was for lying to me." A third punch again slammed into him. "That was for helping young Mr. Banks to escape." The hand moved to grasp his shoulder and hauled him up from his bent position. "And this is for shoving me out the helicopter." Blair crumpled as the fist hit his cheekbone. Stunned, he barely heard Kincaid order, "Shove him in the closet over there. We have a couple more hours before calling Ellison."
The guards shifted their grip to under his arms, dragging Blair across the floor and shoving him roughly into a closet. Once the door was slammed shut and locked, Blair gently drew his knees to his body, trying to ease the throbbing in his gut. "God, Jim, what kind of a mess did I get us into this time?" he wondered silently.
As he floated into darkness, he faintly heard Kincaid's voice. "Has contact been made with that computer nerd, Dexter Fillmore..."
Sunday, 7:05 am, Ellison's Loft
Taggart quietly opened the door for Simon. Looking around, Simon spotted Rafe stretched out on the couch asleep, blanket tucked around him. However, he didn't see the person he was searching for. Glancing to the bedroom above, he whispered, "Where's Ellison? Is he managing to get some sleep?"
Joel shook his head. "He is out on the balcony. I have tried several times to talk him in to coming inside, but he just stands there freezing his butt off. It's like he is standing vigil until Blair comes home."
"Damn," Simon muttered, rubbing his own tired eyes. "Guess it is my turn." He walked over to the glass doors and stepped outside.
Ellison was standing with his arms crossed, one hand holding a coffee mug. He was staring so hard over the city, Simon was afraid he had zoned out until a quiet voice asked, "Did you get Daryl settled at the safe house?"
So that is how we'll play it. "Yes, we grabbed some of his things, called his mother, and met Monroe and Evans there. He was trying to sleep when I left. He's still upset about Blair, though. Told me he felt that he should have stayed and helped him."
Still staring at the hint of color in the sky, Jim shook his head. "No, he would have been caught, too. Blair would have wanted at least one of them to escape."
Would have wanted Daryl to escape. Simon felt a tremendous amount of gratitude toward the young police observer who had sacrificed himself for his son. Yet it was Blair that Kincaid had the grudge against. Simon feared for the young man's life, especially after the new information his son had given him. "I have some more bad news." Jim glanced at Simon, steeling himself.
"Daryl said that Blair wasn't feeling well after the game. Thought he might be getting the flu."
Jim released a long breath, then raised a hand to rub his forehead. "Just Blair's luck, to avoid getting that crud up until he gets abducted." Jim closed his eyes as his worry increased. He himself had been sick in bed for several days with the latest strain. How would being sick affect his normally resourceful friend? If only Blair could be sick in his own bed in his own room. At this moment, Jim would be glad to make him all the teas and herbal remedies his roommate could consume. "God, Simon, we have got to get him out of this."
Simon gently squeezed his shoulder. "We will. As soon as we get something to work with."
At that moment, Jim's cell phone rang. Jim and Simon traded glances, then stepped back inside. Joel was signaling for the attempt to trace, while Rafe, rubbing sleep from his eyes, was stationed at the scanner ready to record. On the second ring, Jim nodded to his friends and answered, "Ellison."
"Detective Ellison. Nice to speak with you again."
Jim's jaw tightened as he recognized Kincaid's voice. "Where's Sandburg?"
"He is right here under my watchful eye. You can join him if you follow my instructions."
"I want to speak with him," Jim tersely stated. He could pick up several heartbeats, including one that could be his friend, but wanted to make sure.
A short pause followed, during which Jim could hear movement, then a soft grunt. A hoarse but well-known voice asked, "Jim?"
"How you doing, Chief?" Jim asked in a gentler tone. The others in the loft exchanged glances.
"A little banged up, but I'll live," Blair softly replied.
Jim could tell he was having trouble speaking. "Daryl said you had caught the flu."
"Yeah, Daryl's right." Damn.
Before Jim could ask another question, Kincaid's voice again spoke coldly, "Listen Ellison, I have heard about you helping Lee Brackett steal a top secret plane. With such skills, I have a job for you. Payment will be your scruffy Jewish partner's life."
In the background, Jim heard Blair say, "Don't do it, Jim!" and a fist connecting to flesh, probably his partner's.
"Meet my courier at the old Lewis Mill on Waverly at 10:00, alone and unarmed," Kincaid continued. "Your instructions will be there."
"You better be taking good care of Sandburg, Kincaid," Jim growled, fighting to control his anger. "I needed his help to get that plane for Brackett." On the word 'Brackett', both Simon's and Joel's faces turned gray, for different reasons.
"Oh really? I find that hard to believe. But if that is the case, you had better follow my instructions to the letter." The line clicked and fell silent.
Jim slowly closed his cell phone, as Rafe shut off the scanner and tape recorder. Simon glanced over to Joel, who pulled away from the phone he was on and shook his head. Jim saw Joel's negative response for the trace. He nearly threw his cell phone against the wall as anger and frustration swept over him.
Sunday, 9:58 am, Sun Rise Patriot's Base
Nervously, Blair's good eye scanned the basement through the metal wiring of his cage. No, no one was coming to investigate. In fact, Blair hadn't seen anyone after they had dumped him on the cold cement floor down here. They apparently didn't expect him to get out of the duct tape, nor unlock the padlock on the door of the cage. Probably because they hadn't discovered his Swiss army knife. Blair knelt down to slip the knife into his boot for safekeeping.
Standing up, he quickly grabbed the wiring as a wave of lightheadedness swept over him. A fierce headache he couldn't shake had taken up residence behind his swollen left eye. The flu had also continued it's devastating course, causing his entire body to ache along with his sore throat and throbbing bruises. But he couldn't give in to it. Blair refused to be Kincaid's pawn to make Jim steal something. If he could escape, then Jim would be in a better position to catch Kincaid. He closed his eyes a moment, forcing his discomfort from his mind.
Slowly, he opened the gate, then crept to the basement door, searching for anything that would betray him. The doorknob felt cold to his hand and was hard to turn. The clunk of the latch caused Blair to wince. Cautiously, Blair peeked around the door, finding a dark stairwell. He slipped up the steps as quickly and as silently as he could. Placing his ear next to the door, he strained to listen, wishing he had Jim's hearing. Voices drifted to him.
"You really think this Ellison can get us into the Ares Bugle facility?"
"Maybe. Heard he was once covert ops. If not, he will be the one to die..."
Blair's grip on the knob tightened. He wasn't going to let Jim risk his life for these jerks if he could help it. After the voices faded, he cautiously opened the door. The hallway was quiet and empty. Silently mouthing, 'eenie, meenie, mynie, moe', he turned right and slipped down the corridor.
Sunday, 10:00 am, Lewis Mill
Jim scanned the abandoned lumber mill. The dilapidated buildings around the loading bay looked like a good place for a trap. Cautiously, he extended his hearing. Rafe's heartbeat sounded from several rooftops away. His mission was to follow Kincaid's man and see if he could determine where they were hiding Blair. Tilting his head, he picked up one more heartbeat walking towards him. Jim brought his hearing back to normal and waited.
A rangy man with a military haircut and wearing an army jacket appeared. He stopped a couple feet from Jim. "Take off your jacket, Ellison, and turn around."
Jim did as he was told. "Isn't it a little cold for this?" he asked, his breath rising as steam in the freezing air.
"Just want to make sure you are following instructions," the man replied. He tossed a packet that landed at Jim's feet. "Wait until I am gone before picking that up."
Jim silently watched the man leave, hoping Rafe could keep up.
Sunday, 10:17 am, Sun Rise Patriot's Base
Blair shivered as an icy blast of air blew past him through the open door. Man, it was cold. Swiftly, he zipped up his jacket and slipped out the door. Several militia men were walking around the compound. Blair ducked behind some crates. Peering over the rough wood, he spotted a jeep a few hundred yards away. Surely he could reach it. Then he could run down the gate just ahead of it and be home free. He hoped.
Slipping up to the door and reaching for the handle, Blair nearly jumped when a gun clicked in his ear. "Stand up, Scum!" the man snapped. Raising his arms and slowly standing, Blair turned to face his captor. "Move it!" he was ordered, forced to march back to Kincaid's office.
Kincaid stood up when the guard shoved Blair in, arms still raised. "What the hell is going on, soldier?" he barked. Blair tried not to shiver as Kincaid's glare grew icier, hearing the story. Upon its completion, Kincaid again walked around the desk to confront his prisoner.
"You know what, Sandburg? You are offensive to me." Blair aimed his one good eye at the wall behind Kincaid, refusing to give this man even an ounce of respect or satisfaction. "You are a bastard of an unwed hippie. You are of a race who cheats, lies and steals. You flaunt your long hair and raggy clothes. You aid the enemy currently oppressing the people. You disrespect everything this country used to stand for. And if that isn't enough, you continue to disrespect me by trying to escape. What do you have to say for yourself?"
Continuing to stare at the wall, Blair replied, "Isn't it the duty of a prisoner of war to escape?"
Kincaid grabbed his shoulder shouting, "On your knees!" and shoved him to the floor. Blair fought not to tremble as Kincaid grabbed a huge handful of his hair and yanked his head back up. "Hand me your knife, Smith. At least I can take care of one offensive thing right now!"
Oh hell, he is going to cut my throat, and Jim won't even know it until it's too late. Blair closed his eyes and tried to lean away as Kincaid roughly yanked more of his hair into his grasp, knife tip flashing by his face. Suddenly, the knife slashed behind him, releasing the pull on his head. Blair barely caught himself from falling face first to the floor.
"Take him away, and make SURE that gate is chained and padlocked this time."
Blair was pulled unresistingly up to his feet, his hands duct taped again. "He chopped off my hair," he thought silently in shock. As Smith led him away, the words kept repeating themselves in his mind, "That SOB chopped off my hair..."
Sunday, 11:30 am, Cascade
Ellison and Banks studied the information in the packet as Joel drove, following Rafe's signal. Simon finally sat up and rubbed his tired eyes. "Can you believe this! That idiot wants you to bring an entire high tech arsenal!"
Jim sighed as he read down the list again. "That is probably why Daryl was a target, too. There is no way I could get this stuff without your help."
Simon shook his head, "I'm not even sure we can get it WITH my help. Someone is going to ask questions if we drag out this much hardware."
"Only problem is, I'm not sure if we have a choice."
Simon quietly glanced at Joel's back, then lowered his voice to barely a whisper. "Do you think Kincaid knows about your abilities?"
Jim shrugged worriedly. "Can't say at this moment. He knows about the attempt on the spy plane, but he didn't seem to realize that Blair was required to do it. I can't help but think if Brackett was spreading tales, he'd mention Blair's role as well. But I just don't know."
"Damn," Simon replied. Simon almost wished Kincaid did know and realized Blair's importance. Then he wouldn't have to be so worried about the kid's health.
"Hey guys," Joel called back. "Rafe says his man appears to be waiting at a warehouse now."
A few minutes later, Jim had joined Rafe on his rooftop perch. "Where is he?"
Rafe quietly pointed down to a loading dock. Then, peering through his binoculars, he whispered, "Here comes another guy."
Pretending to use the binoculars in his hands, Jim quickly spotted the new arrival. He seemed to be tall, though Jim couldn't tell his build with the long nylon coat he was wearing. Shaggy blond hair was sticking out of a heavy wool cap, and large, dark rimmed glasses hid the rest of his face. Careful not to zone out, Jim turned up his hearing to piggyback on his sight.
"Well, I don't know," a nasal voice whined. "I haven't worked for the government in a long time."
"They sure didn't leave you much for your loyalty. This is your chance to get back at them, plus make some money besides."
"Hmmm, okay. But I have to pick up some supplies." Jim tilted his head slightly. That voice seemed vaguely familiar, but he couldn't place it.
"No problem. Meet me back here at midnight."
Jim quietly turned back to Rafe. "You continue following Kincaid's man. I'll follow the new player and see if I can find out who he is." They both silently climbed off the roof and split up.
Jim, keeping his focus on his unsuspecting quarry, was startled when a gun was shoved into his neck.
A few minutes later, Jim was forced to kneel in a small office in an abandoned warehouse, his hands on his head. Simon and Joel were already there, glaring at the two men holding guns on them. Rafe was brought in right after Jim and shoved to the floor next to him.
"All right then, exactly who are you and what are you doing?" the oldest man of the group growled.
"WE," Simon stated forcefully, "are the Major Crimes Unit of the Cascade PD. Exactly WHO are YOU?"
The man ignored Banks' question. "This is a federal matter and out of your jurisdiction. You will leave here and forget about the men you were following."
"Like HELL we will!" Jim spat out to the man. His anger was boiling, threatening his control. This was their one chance to find Blair quickly, and it was getting screwed up because of some damn Fed.
"Ellison?" All heads turned to the lanky blond and a heavyset man in a pilot's jacket standing in the doorway.
Jim felt like a bucket of cold water had been dumped on him. Oh hell, that is why that voice sounded familiar. "MacGyver?"
"You can lower your weapons, Craig," MacGyver quietly told the lead man. As the rest of the group obeyed, Mac lent a hand to Taggart to help him off the floor.
As the rest of his co-workers brushed themselves off, Jim turned his focus to Mac. "Why are you on this? I thought you were out of the DXS."
Mac shrugged, noting worriedly that one particular member of the Major Crimes unit was missing. "An old alias of mine was contacted by a militia group. We are trying to figure out what is going on. Why are you guys after them?"
Jim carefully watched the man in front of him as he delivered the news. "They abducted Blair last night."
All the color drained from Mac's face. Jim thought silently, "So he at least cares for Blair. Does he know the rest?"
Craig switched his gaze from MacGyver to Ellison to MacGyver again. "Who is Blair?"
Jack Dalton, who had also been studying his friend, replied worriedly, "Blair Sandburg. A young protege of Mac's, and Ellison's partner."
Mac ran a tired hand over his face. "I think we need to compare notes."
Sunday, 12:30 p.m., DXS Cascade headquarters
It had started out as a simple fishing expedition for 'Dexter Fillmore'. When a dangerous outer fringe militia group began searching for MacGyver's nerd alias, he and the DXS had only wanted to find out what they were up to. Someone had neglected to inform him that the group had formerly taken over the Cascade police headquarters. Specifically, no one mentioned James Ellison's or Simon Banks' involvement. Either name would have sent a red flag through Mac's mind. Just the fact he was meeting the group's representative in Cascade, WA, should have warned him that Blair might be tied in somehow. Even then, Mac doubted he would have realized the depth of the situation. Listening to Taggart tell about Blair's actions during the hostage situation brought chills to his spine. Damn, that kid was even better at finding trouble than he was.
What was even more disconcerting was the cool looks Ellison kept sending his way. Mac could have sworn they had become friends. Maybe Ellison was just worried about Blair. Mac was certainly catching up fast in that department. Hearing Banks recount the abduction, Daryl's escape, and the later phone call had definitely raised his blood pressure to an all time high.
"So, why would they go to all this trouble to get you, Ellison?" Craig asked.
Jim sighed. "A couple years ago, a CIA rogue stole a canister of Ebola virus. He threatened to use it on the city if Blair and I didn't help him steal a stealth plane from an agency skunk works. Apparently, Kincaid heard about it."
"But why you?" Craig asked again.
"Ellison was in covert ops. Brackett wanted his expertise," Banks quickly explained.
However, the worried, trapped look Jim sent Mac's way told a whole different story. MacGyver took a deep breath. Sounded like he needed a chance to talk privately with Ellison to get the real scoop.
"In addition, they want several tech items from our arsenal. We suspect that is why they also went after my son, hoping to force me to help Jim get the equipment," Simon continued.
"If you will show me the list, maybe we can get it for you and add some surprises for the so-called Patriots," Craig offered.
"We'd appreciate that," Simon accepted.
Noting Jim rubbing his tired eyes, Mac asked, "Hey, Ellison, we have coffee in the back. Would you like some?"
Jim cracked a faint smile and stood up. "Sounds good. May I come with you?"
"Be my guest."
Once the door was closed to the small kitchen, Mac quietly asked, "Did Brackett know?"
Jim sighed, knowing exactly what MacGyver was asking. "Yes."
"I don't know. Kincaid doesn't seem to connect Blair into it, so I'm leaning towards no."
Mac shot a worried look at Jim. "How did Blair sound?"
"Sick," Ellison replied, studying Mac's reaction. "This flu going around is a bad one. He also mentioned being 'banged up', which isn't surprising considering how much Kincaid hates him."
"Damn," Mac muttered softly. Noticing Ellison giving him another cool look, Mac asked, "What?"
Blue eyes turned frosty as Jim replied, "Just wondering why all the sudden concern after 28 years." Jim watched Mac's face go still. Years of detective work told him that Mac knew exactly what he was talking about.
"I didn't know Blair until last winter," Mac softly replied, feeling the trap closing in on him.
Jim lowered his voice in both decibels and temperature. "You ARE his father, aren't you?"
Mac sighed and ran a hand behind his head. "I honestly don't know. I didn't connect Blair with Naomi until I did the background check on him for Phoenix. Around the time I was helping you guys with Harding, I realized the timing was about right. Other than that, I don't know."
Ellison continued to stare at him.
"How can you be so sure?" Mac asked in exasperation. It seemed that Ellison was dead certain about an issue Mac had struggled with for months.
Jim shrugged. "Took me a while to realize it, but yours and Sam's scents are very close to Blair's, like it is with other people who are blood-related. So after your last visit, I did a background check on you. Not only do I now know what the 'A' in your name stands for, I also know that Sam is your only close relative. Without siblings or cousins, that pretty much narrows down the field. And I think I can safely rule out Sam."
Mac closed his eyes and released a long breath. Hell, who needs blood tests when you have a Sentinel around? Opening his eyes to meet Ellison's icy stare, Mac asked, "Does Blair know?"
Ellison's eyes shifted slightly, barely indicating his unease. "No, not yet." The gaze steadied on his emphasis of the word 'yet' and grew even colder.
Continuing to meet Jim's eyes, Mac offered, "I honestly did not know anything about Blair until last winter." Ellison only raised his eyebrows a fraction. "It is a very LONG story," Mac added.
"I bet," Ellison replied coldly.
"A long story I will tell you after we get Blair back home. Truce?"
Jim pondered for a moment, then replied, "Truce, until we can discuss this further."
Mac sighed, remembering just who had Blair. "You still want some coffee?"
Jim nodded, then asked, "Do you know what the Patriots have planned?"
Mac frowned as he handed Jim a cup. "Several years ago, I worked on a few top-secret projects using my 'Dexter Fillmore' alias." He gave Jim a faint smile as he picked up his own cup. "I use Dexter whenever I need a very nerdy, unthreatening computer expert cover. I suspect Kincaid must be targeting one of them, but I haven't a clue which one."
Jim shrugged, "Probably whichever one would have a state-of-the-art high security system I would need to get past and disable."
Mac smiled ruefully. "That about covers all of them."
The kitchen door opened and Rafe poked his head in, "You about ready to go?"
As Mac watched the Major Crimes van drive off, Jack Dalton quietly walked up next to him. "You're pretty worried about the Sandburg kid, aren't you?"
"Yeah," Mac sighed. "I'm afraid this Kincaid isn't going to leave much left unless we can reach him soon."
Jack paused for a moment, then continued, "You know, I have known you for quite a long time."
"Ja-ack," Mac warned.
"Since grade school, in fact. And in all that time, I have only once before seen that particular expression on your face like when Ellison told you Blair was abducted."
"Jack!" Mac warned again. He knew he wouldn't like where his friend was heading.
"That was when they told you Sam's Political Science class at the University was being held hostage by that psycho teacher."
Mac didn't respond. Yes, this did feel similar. Only Blair's chances this time felt even lower than Sam's had in that instance. Back then, the teacher didn't have a special grudge against Sam. Or at least not until Sam managed to help half the class escape.
"So I got to thinking. I'm guessing Blair is, what, 27, 28?"
"28," Mac responded with a sigh.
"So I considered all the various girls we knew around that time. Suddenly, I was reminded of that flower child you fell so hard for during that break we spent down by the Gulf of Mexico. You know, the pretty red-head that broke your heart when she discovered how much of a square you were. What was her name... Nadia? Nadine?"
"Naomi," Mac answered.
"And Blair's mother's name is...?"
"Drop it, Jack."
Jack hid a smile. "O-kay, just wanted to make sure I was on the right page."
Sunday, 4:30 p.m., Sun Rise Patriot's Base
Blair laid his head against the cool bar. He felt so cold, tired, and miserable. His throat was raw, his body ached and throbbed, and now he was beginning to cough. However, every time he felt the cool draft around his neck, his anger would re-ignite. That damn bastard had the nerve to cut his hair! He used the spurt of energy to finish unlocking the padlock again. By now, it should be dark outside, which should hopefully cover his escape. It was his best chance, and if he didn't take it now, he may be too sick later.
Cautiously, he slipped back up the steps and out the door. This time turning left, he had only traveled a few yards when he heard steps. He quickly ducked into a closet.
"...We should let the scum starve."
"Yeah, but he may be needed to help Ellison..."
Damn! Blair realized his escape would soon be detected. He felt a string touch his cheek. His hand found and yanked it. A light clicked on, revealing a circuit box. A small smile crossed Blair's face.
"These are the people I want assassinated."
The man quietly took the list, and studied it. "So, the governor of Washington State is visiting the mayor of Cascade. That should be a photogenic moment."
"By killing them, the US government will be forced to deal with us, plus I can have some revenge," Kincaid stated.
"Revenge is always a worthwhile cause," the assassin replied. "Now, you are sure that you can completely severe communications in the entire city?"
Kincaid smiled grimly. "The plan is already in motion. It should be a fairly smooth oper.." Suddenly, the lights died. "Damn it! What now?"
"Have you been found out?" the smooth voice of the assassin asked calmly.
"No, that damn POW probably got out again," Kincaid replied, turning on a small battery lamp on his desk. "That slippery white trash is more trouble than he is worth."
Blair quietly slipped down the dark hall, hand touching the wall. If he remembered right, the door to the outside should be around here somewhere. He paused to cough, trying to keep it as quiet as possible. Walking again, his fingers felt a metal door frame. Groping in the dark, his hand finally wrapped around the doorknob. Again, a cough forced him to pause.
Before he could turn the knob, Blair was suddenly pinned by three flashlights. "That's it, scum," a voice growled from the darkness, "You're coming with us."
With a burst of desperate speed, Blair plowed into the lights, trying to knock down the militiamen and escape. A fist came out of the dark, striking him in the jaw. Blair was suddenly on the floor, head spinning. Before he could move he was kicked in the ribs. Gasping for air, Blair fought against both his cough and the waves of pain. Unmercifully, he was hauled to his feet and forced to walk back to Kincaid's office.
For the third time that day, Kincaid walked around his desk to face his uncooperative prisoner. "You are a slow learner, aren't you Sandburg?" he asked.
Holding his ribs and trying not to cough, Blair again stared defiantly at Kincaid.
Someone entered the room from the door behind Blair. "Report, soldier!" Kincaid barked.
"All of the fuses were removed from the box and crushed, sir. Haskins went to the supply building to get replacements."
Kincaid crossed his arms while he studied the bruised but still defiant man in front of him. "You continue to disrespect me. But I want to know how you keep getting out." No reaction except a cough came from Sandburg. Kincaid transferred his gaze to his men. "Strip search him."
From the dark corner, the assassin watched as Kincaid's men began pulling off the clothes of the struggling, curly-haired young man. It seemed outrageous that this slim, sick, injured kid could be aggravating the militiamen to such an extent. Yet he had spirit. In fact, he seemed familiar, reminiscent of someone.
As one of the men yanked off his boot, something fell to the floor with a metallic rattle. Kincaid leaned over and picked up the object. "A Swiss army knife," he stated in disbelief. "You did all this with a Swiss army knife?"
MacGyver. This kid somehow reminded him of MacGyver. The assassin studied him more thoroughly. No, he didn't look like MacGyver, not like the other one. But could there be a connection?
Sandburg, shivering in his boxers and T-shirt, continued to stare at Kincaid with his one good eye.
"Well, since you like closets so much, you will spend more time in one." Kincaid looked at his men, and ordered, "Lock him in the utility closet in the basement."
The assassin watched as the young man was forced to walk bare-foot out the door. The militia leader had earlier struck him as efficiently brutal. Now he wonder if Kincaid realized just what kind of trouble the young man represented. However, if someone had tried to warn him how much trouble a gun-hating cab driver would cause him, he wouldn't have believed it. This situation would bear watching.
Sunday, 7:00 p.m., Cascade PD headquarters
Ellison was quickly running down the list again, trying not to think of his partner. He had six hours before he was to meet with the Sun Rise Patriot representative. It was an hour later than Mac's meet time. Or should he say Dexter Fillmore? Better get use to the Fillmore alias, since he wouldn't want to blow Mac's cover. Mac was his ace-in-the-hole, a variable Kincaid couldn't possibly have considered.
He lifted his head to stare at the picture of Blair and himself on his desk. It had been taken by Sam at Sam's cabin. If what he suspected about Mac and Blair was true, that would make Sam Blair's half brother. A faint smile stretched across his face. He had taken an instant liking to the laid-back photo-journalist and knew Blair had, too. How would Sam react to all this?
Hell, how was Blair going to react? Two weeks ago, Jim had tried to bring up the subject but had been interrupted by the phone. Even now, Jim didn't have a clue how to tell him. His friend looked up to MacGyver. The pair could talk on a scientific level on a variety of subjects, most especially the Sentinel/Guide business. There weren't too many people Blair could discuss the last topic with, and Jim had only recently realized how much Blair might need that. He hated to do anything to jeopardize his guide's well-being. Yet he knew Blair missed not having a father. MacGyver seemed like a great candidate, much better than Timothy Leary. Damn it, what was he going to do?
Jim sighed. Nothing he could do about it right now, except try to get his partner back in one piece. At least he knew MacGyver had the same goal now.
"Hey Jim," a soft voice called.
Jim looked up to see Detective Henri Brown walk in. "Hey Brown, I thought you were still out with bronchitis." Jim could still hear Brown's restricted breathing.
Brown gave him a grim smile. "Those jerks have our Hair Boy. Do you honestly think I could sit at home and not do anything?"
Jim's eyes filled with appreciation. It meant a lot that Brown would come in even sick. "Okay, just try not to overdo it. I'd rather not have you go into the hospital for pneumonia."
"Hey you two," Simon called. "Let's go over the plan." Jim and Brown walked over to Simon's office.
Sunday, 11:55 p.m., warehouse in Cascade
"We never planned for you to go this far, MacGyver. Are you sure you want to do this?"
Mac looked straight into Craig's eyes. "That kid's life may depend upon it. Ellison's, too. Sandburg has way too much potential and Ellison's too good a cop to let the Sun Rise Patriots get them."
Craig quietly nodded. He had suspected as much, especially after checking Ellison's record. He just hoped that giving the bastards MacGyver as well didn't make Kincaid even more dangerous.
Jack glanced at his friend from where he double checked the tracking device. Yep, that same determined look Mac had worn when he rescued Sam from the psycho teacher was back. Damn, he hoped the kid was alright. Mac had lost a lot of people close to him. After their friend Mike had died, Mac buried himself so deep in grief Jack had feared he'd never resurface. He didn't even want to think about what losing Sam, or now Blair, would do to him. He glanced at the clock. "It's showtime."
Mac pulled on his dark-rimmed glasses. "Wish me luck, fellas," he stated in Dexter's nasal whine. He slipped out of the van and climbed into the beat up Ford Escort registered under Fillmore.
Jim and Simon watched from a rooftop as the Escort pulled up to meet Kincaid's man. "Is that MacGyver?" Simon asked in disbelief.
Taking in the long nylon coat, ruffled hair, and dark glasses, Jim smiled. "Yeah, that's Mac. He looks like Blair on a bad study day." Using his hearing, Jim listened to Mac's greeting and the militia man's reply. They both got into the jeep. "Looks like he's in."
"Now let's get you ready. Are you sure this is going to work?"
"It has to work. This may be Blair's only shot."
Monday, 2:04 a.m., Sun Rise Patriot's Base
~cough, cough, cough~
Damn, that hurt. Each cough sent a wave of pain through his bruised ribs. It seemed that between the flu and the beatings almost everything hurt, especially as he shivered. Blair suspected that he must be running a fever now, as cold as he felt. He had piled two blankets and a quilt on top of Jim when he had been sick. Now, Blair didn't even have much clothing to keep him warm as he sat curled up in the tiny closet. Blair again shifted against the hard walls and the cold floor, trying to find a more comfortable position.
In spite of the pounding headache, Blair heard footsteps just outside the closet. He briefly considered trying to tackle the person if someone opened the door. Another shift in position aggravated the throbbing ribs, forcing him to gasp. Trying to make his stiff, sore muscles do anything didn't seem to be an option.
The door opened, causing Blair to blink in the light. A plastic bottle was placed in Blair's hands, handcuffed in front of him. "You sound like you need some water," a smooth British voice stated.
Blair looked up. It was the man that had been in Kincaid's office the last time. "Thank you," Blair softly croaked, then winced as another cough added pain to his abused ribs.
"Just don't tell anyone where you got that." Blair faintly smiled in agreement.
The door was again shut and locked. Blair carefully twisted off the top and drank a couple mouthfuls of the precious liquid. It hurt his sore throat, but still tasted good. If only it could have been Jim there to save him.
Monday, 8 a.m., Sun Rise Patriot's Base
MacGyver quietly followed his escort from the room where he had left his backpack. He had watched and listened for any signs of Blair, but had come up empty. Hopefully, Ellison with his sensory gifts would find something.
As Mac entered a small office, a man stood up from his desk. He wasn't a very tall man. Yet everything from his short-cropped hair, cold blue eyes, and superior airs marked him as the leader. Must be Kincaid.
"Hello, Mr. Fillmore. Welcome to Camp Freedom."
Mac shook his hand cordially, forcing from his mind that this man had ordered Blair's abduction. He had to be Dexter Fillmore, not angry father candidate. "Hello, sir," he wheezed.
The man smiled, "I am Colonel Garrett Kincaid. Thank you for coming."
Mac could feel the bad vibes radiate from the man, in spite of his polite southern charm. If he had really been Dexter, he would be getting rather scared right about now. "Your offer was very generous, Colonel Kincaid. I hope I can help you."
Kincaid offered him a chair at a nearby table. Dexter sat down, laying his coat on the chair next to him. Sitting down across from Dexter, Kincaid came straight to the point. "My interest is in the Ares Bugle facility. Do you remember it?"
MacGyver remembered it well. It was a top secret project, set up to aid communications between government leaders and various military and police units during a time of war on home soil. What's Kincaid's interest in it? "Yes, I do, but it was a long time ago."
"I understand that the facility's programming can also be used to totally shut down communications of a given area."
Oh hell. Mac quickly hid his reaction. "I think it might be possible. It's been a long time, I don't know for sure." What area does Kincaid want shut down? D.C.? New York City? Los Angeles? Complete shutdown of all radio, phone, and electronic communication could cripple any large city, causing chaos.
"Well, my plan is to break in to the facility and use it to force the United States Government to listen to my demands."
Oh man, the security system. It was one of the most complex systems Mac had ever seen designed. That must be why they want Ellison.
"Once we have control of Ares Bugle and demonstrate our power, I will be able to free the state of Washington from Federal control. You do a good job and there will be a place for you in my organization."
Oh, man, this guy is really out to lunch.
"I'd like you to..." A knock at the door interrupted him. "Enter!"
One of his men stepped inside. "Sir, Mr. Ellison has arrived."
Keeping his face a mask of polite interest, Mac turned to see Jim enter, surrounded by three guards. He was in time to see Jim's nose twitch, then in an instant his expression changed from puzzlement to almost horror. Mac watched as Jim focused his attention to something near Kincaid's desk, pure anger flashing across his eyes. What on earth had Jim discovered?"
"Well, Detective Ellison. Thank you for coming."
Jim turned his icy glare to Kincaid. "Where is Sandburg? What have you done to him?" The questions and Jim's tone sent cold chills through Mac.
"Your little friend seems bent on causing trouble, but we currently have him contained. So you will have to forgive me for just leaving him where he is for now." Kincaid turned to his men. "I want you to check the equipment he brought. Put Ellison in his friend's old cage for now until you are done." Ellison shot Kincaid another icy glare before being prodded out of the room.
"Sorry for the interruption," Kincaid apologized as he walked back to Mac.
"That's all right," 'Dexter' replied. "Who was that?"
"Our entry man. He just needed a little extra persuasion."
"Oh," Dexter responded. Just how many bruises on Blair did 'extra persuasion' translate into?
"Now, what I would like to discuss with you is..." Another knock sounded through the room.
"Enter!" Kincaid barked.
"Sorry, sir, but you wanted to know when the supplies arrived."
"Thank you, soldier." Kincaid turned back to Fillmore. "Why don't you have breakfast while I take care of this matter?" At Dexter's nod, Kincaid continued, "Dixon, please escort Mr. Fillmore here to the mess hall."
Mac stood up, picked up his coat, and followed his new escort down several halls. They were approaching a door when suddenly a fist slammed into the man's head. Mac immediately leaned over to help Jim hide him.
"What did you find in Kincaid's office?" Mac whispered as he placed a gag in the man's mouth.
"Kincaid's wastebasket was full of Blair's hair," Jim stated, tightening the rope he found on his guards around the man's wrists. Mac could hear the anger boiling behind the reply. "The SOB must have cut it off."
Mac closed his eyes a moment. "Must have been trying to break him."
Jim shook his head. "It would have only made Blair madder and that much more determined to escape. Though it doesn't sound like he was successful."
Both men stood up. "Do you have any idea where to start looking?" Mac asked.
"I thought I smelled Blair's scent by a door down here."
Blair again lifted his head at the sound of footsteps. He was about to dismiss them when he heard the door unlock. If only he could summon up some energy to fight, he would make these bastards leave him alone. Another coughing jag wracked his throbbing ribs.
Jim could hear the coughing as he opened the door. The sight of his partner shivering at the bottom of the closet tore at him. "Blair!" He quickly knelt to pull Blair out.
"Jim?" The attempt to speak sent Blair into another hard coughing fit. He grasped Jim's dark sweatshirt with both cuffed hands, tears leaking from his tightly closed eyes due to the pain.
Jim gently wrapped his arms around his friend in a light hug, trying to warm him. "Easy Chief, we're here now. Everything's going to be all right." Jim could feel the chills from the flu through the light T-shirt, the deep cough shaking the slim body, and the moisture of Blair's tears. He traded worried looks with MacGyver. Mac had slipped off his huge coat and reached over to help Jim wrap it around Blair.
Blair, suddenly realizing someone else was there, started to jerk away. "Easy Chief, easy. It's MacGyver," Jim soothed.
"Mac?" Blair hoarsely asked.
"That's right, Blair, it's okay," Mac confirmed. "Here, lean back against me. It will help your breathing." Jim loosened Blair's fingers from his sweatshirt, then he and Mac carefully shifted Blair so that he was reclining against Mac's chest. The dazed, fevered eyes increased Jim's concern. Immediately he started checking for injuries, lightly touching the bruises on Blair's face, then shifting down to the bruises on his arms.
Mac pulled back Blair's newly shorn locks to look at the swollen eye. Without the extra weight, curls were rioting in all directions. Icy fingers of anger began growing inside Mac as he examined the bruises. Noting the cuffs, Mac pulled out his Swiss army knife and quickly picked the locks.
Mac was just finishing when Jim touched Blair's bruised ribs. Blair gasped softly in pain. Mac gently took Blair's hand, trying to offer comfort. "Does it hurt to breath?" Jim whispered as he lightly felt the ribs. Blair shook his head no as his grip tightened on Mac's hand. "Does it hurt to cough?" Jim inquired. Blair briefly nodded his head. Glancing over Blair's head to Mac's worried eyes, Jim mouthed, 'cracked rib'.
Mac again forced back the icy, unfamiliar anger inside him. He had to keep his head in order to get Blair to safety. He laid his other hand across Blair's forehead, feeling the fever trying to break through. "Let's get your arms in this coat and get you out of here."
Blair tried to smile. "Sounds good to me," he said faintly. Mac gingerly helped Blair further into the coat.
"Okay, Chief, put your arm around my neck, " Jim softly ordered, reaching for the arm in question.
"I can walk," Blair insisted hoarsely.
"Sandburg, you're not wearing any shoes," Jim pointed out.
With Mac's help and a gasp from Blair, Jim managed to settle the young man into his arms. Damn, the kid was heavier than he looked. Yet with Blair's coughing and cracked rib, Jim didn't dare use a fireman's carry.
Mac quietly mentioned, "I saw a jeep in the compound out front."
"Me, too," Jim replied. "It should get us to where we can meet up with Banks and Dalton."
As quickly and as silently as they could, Jim and Mac slipped through the building. Jim paused a moment when he heard steps behind him. "We've got company," he whispered. Quickly, Mac opened a door and they stepped outside. Jim had no time to give a warning when the clicking of several guns surrounded them.
"Just where in the hell do you think you're going, Mr. Ellison?" Kincaid demanded, stepping out of the shadows. "And Mr. Fillmore. Why would you throw away such an opportunity to help scum? I don't think you understand how our army handles treason." The guards around them aimed their guns. Jim tensed in preparation for the feel of bullets, while Blair shook in his arms with more than cold.
MacGyver stepped in front of Jim and Blair and stared at Kincaid. "What I understand is that you can not operate the Ares Bugle facility without me. What you don't understand is that my cooperation is directly proportional to that young man's health, and both are currently pretty low."
Kincaid reexamined the man in front of him. The mild-mannered, easily manipulated computer nerd was gone. In his place stood a man much smarter, tougher, and a lot less malleable. "Are you really Dexter Fillmore?"
"What do you want?"
"I want Sandburg in a hospital."
"Then I want warm blankets, food, medicine, and clothing for him."
"And a First Aid kit," Jim inserted.
"And a First Aid kit," Mac repeated.
Kincaid and MacGyver stared at each other for several moments. Finally, Kincaid replied, "We can negotiate."
From the shadows, another man slipped away. The questions the assassin had were now answered. If the young man was not MacGyver's son, then he was a close second. Should he warn Kincaid that his computer expert Fillmore was really an ex-DXS agent named MacGyver? Pondering a moment, he finally shook his head. No, he could care less what happened to the Sun Rise Patriots since he already had a hefty advance. However, a second young man may enhance his future plans of revenge on his long-time nemesis. He would go to Cascade to wait for the moment of his grand assassinations. However, he doubted he'd actually have the opportunity to complete them. MacGyver was more than a match for Kincaid.
Monday, 9:45 am, National forest in Washington State.
Simon had been pacing back and forth next to the van for what seemed like forever. He didn't know if not hearing from Ellison for this long was good or bad. How long did it take to rescue an anthropologist? Though if the anthropologist in question was Sandburg...
"Damn," a voice swore from the back of the van.
Simon instantly jumped back in, with Taggart and Rafe right behind him. "What's up?" he asked Dalton. Craig from the front seat turned to await the answer as well.
Jack rubbed his hand over his eyes before answering. "The tracking device just started."
"The tracking device?" Rafe questioned.
"The one Mac planned to activate if they ran into trouble."
Simon closed his eyes. No. He could not lose his best team just like that.
"Damn," Taggart repeated Jack's earlier response. "Now what do we do?"
"Plan B," Jack replied.
Simon gave Jack a fierce glare. "Plan B? You guys came up with a Plan B?"
"We didn't discuss a Plan B," Craig stated in confusion.
Jack gave them a grim smile. "Mac almost always has a Plan B. For that matter, he usually thinks up Plans C and D on the fly."
"So let's hear it!" Taggart eagerly demanded. He wasn't going to let Kincaid get three of his friends if he could help it.
Monday, 10:00 a.m., Sun Rise Patriot's Base
Jim gently tucked the blanket around a restless Blair. Kincaid had locked them in the room he had originally given to Fillmore. They had placed Blair in the lower bunk, slipping the two pillows under his head and shoulders. None of the other supplies Mac had requested had appeared yet. Blair's fever was shooting higher and the cough was becoming more pronounced. Jim felt unusually helpless. His guide needed medicine and rest, and he wasn't in control of either. He knew the only reason any of them were alive was due to Mac's usefulness and demands.
"Fire, ~cough, cough~ Fire People," Blair began to hoarsely call out.
Oh hell. Jim sat on the side of the bed and laid a hand on Blair's shoulder. "Settle down, Chief. You're safe, there are no Fire People here." Mac handed him a washcloth soaked in cool water. He wiped it over Blair's increasingly hot face.
"No, Jim, ~cough~ you can't see them, ~cough, cough~, I gotta ~cough, cough~ be ~cough~, your eyes, man. ~cough, cough~"
Mac glanced in puzzlement at the stricken Jim, who gently moved his hand to Blair's head. "It's okay, Blair."
"No, ~cough, cough~, Golden Fire People, ~cough~, they're burnt, ~cough, cough~, but still get you." Blair continued to cough deeply. Jim could hear the same restriction beginning in Blair's lungs that had been in Brown's while he was sick with bronchitis. His hand returned to Blair's shoulder when the young man attempted to sit up.
"Easy, Blair. Easy," Mac soothingly offered. He gently pushed back the damp curls from Blair's face. "Jim and I are here, we won't let the Fire People get you." Who are the Fire People? Some myth from a culture Blair had studied?
"Mac?" Blair turned fever-dazed eyes to his other friend. "~cough, cough~, You gotta protect Jim, ~cough~, he can't see, ~cough, cough~, he can't see them."
"I will, Blair," Mac solemnly reassured him. "I won't let anyone hurt you or Jim."
"Promise?" Blair's hand closed around Mac's arm.
"Promise." Man, I hope I can keep that promise.
With a little more coaxing, Blair drifted into an uneasy sleep. Mac gently removed Blair's relaxed hand and slipped it under the covers. He glanced at Jim. "Fire People?"
Jim tiredly rubbed his eyes. "Long story."
"Sounds like you and I have a lot of long stories to trade after this," Mac quietly remarked, studying Blair's face. He quietly memorized the pale and bruised features, so similar to Naomi's. When did this enthusiastic young friend get such a tight hold on my heart? Since the moment you began suspecting he might be your son, stupid.
Jim tilted his head when he heard footsteps approach. Noticing the action, MacGyver's attention turned to the door as well. Two guards entered. "Kincaid wants to see you," they demanded to Fillmore.
Mac and Jim traded looks. "Not until we get some medicine for Sandburg," Fillmore replied.
A third man entered, carrying an extra blanket and several bottles. Mac and Jim again traded looks. With a final glance at Blair, Mac turned and walked out with the Patriots.
As he was escorted down the halls, MacGyver quietly steeled himself for meeting Kincaid. There was no doubt that it would not be nearly as pleasant as the first one. He just hoped that Jack was able to pick up the signal from the device he had activated and dropped outside earlier. However, Mac wasn't sure how long it might take them to reach this remote base, or whether they would be able to get through all the militia men outside. He and Ellison certainly hadn't had much luck. Though with most of their attention on Blair, it wasn't too surprising.
The lead guard knocked on Kincaid's door, then ushered Mac inside. Kincaid was standing in front of his desk, waiting. For a long moment, he and Mac traded stares. Mac concentrated on the upcoming battle of wills to prevent his anger over Blair's condition from resurfacing.
Kincaid broke the silence. "Are you still willing to work for me?"
Like I have a choice? "Yes, if you guarantee that you will let Sandburg and Ellison go free afterwards."
Kincaid paused for a moment. "Why are you so concerned about them?"
Might as well give him part of the truth. "They saved my son's life."
"A debt to be repaid?"
"In a manner of speaking."
"Where is this son?"
Oh, this could get tricky. "He is currently working in Central America." Just don't ask for his name, because I have no intention of giving it to you.
Kincaid studied MacGyver for another moment. "All right, I will release Sandburg and Ellison afterwards. However, you have to reprogram and run the Ares Bugle facility until I have what I want."
MacGyver nodded, though he had no intention of giving Kincaid that kind of power. As long as all three of them were alive, there was hope that either they would be rescued, or one of them would find a way out of this mess. Mac just had to stay alert to all the options.
As he was roughly pushed back into the room, MacGyver immediately checked for Blair. He quickly spotted him sleeping peacefully in the bunk. Ellison was sitting up in the chair next to the bunk, rubbing his tired eyes. Mac quietly walked over, softly asking, "How's he doing?"
Jim tilted his head slightly, using his senses to double-check his friend. "The fever is lower and he is sleeping deeper. Probably due to all the medicine I forced down him. His lungs are sounding a little worse, though."
Mac frowned. "Pneumonia?"
Jim shook his head. "Not yet. Sounds more like bronchitis."
Amazing what things Jim could determine using his heightened senses. Mac studied the sleeping form. "At least he isn't coughing so much."
"Not at the moment, anyway," Jim replied wearily. He looked up to meet Mac's eyes. "How'd your meeting go?"
Mac shrugged. "I bought us some time." Jim was about to ask another question, but paused trying to stifle a yawn. "Why don't you grab the top bunk and get some sleep?"
Jim flashed a worried look at Blair. "I'm all right."
"You haven't had any sleep since this whole thing started, have you?" Mac softly stated. Jim shrugged. "Ellison, you won't be doing anyone any good if you don't get some sleep soon. I'll keep an eye on Blair and wake you if he gets worse."
Jim sighed and relented, "Okay, but wake me up in a few hours."
"Deal," Mac agreed, thinking that a 'few hours' could easily be stretched to several.
Jim stood up slowly, trying to work out some of the kinks in his long form. With another yawn, he climbed into the bunk and slipped under the blanket. He was soon asleep, using his arm to rest his head on.
Mac quietly sat in the chair Jim had just vacated, watching Blair sleep. He looked so battered, so pale, almost fragile. The unfamiliar anger was back, an icy beast Mac was not use to combating. He forced it down again. He needed a clear head to figure out their next move. He couldn't let anything more happen to his son.
Monday, 1:47 p.m., Cascade Police Headquarters
The first thing Steven Ellison noticed when he pushed open the door to Major Crimes was how quiet it was. During other visits, the place had been crawling with loud activity. This time the room was nearly empty, filled with a quiet tension so tight, Steven was afraid a whisper would break it. He spotted Henri Brown inside Banks' office, door slightly ajar. That was weird. Where was Simon? For that matter, he didn't see Jim, Blair, or even Rafe around. Was it due to the flu, or was the rumor true?
At the soft knock on the door, Henri lifted his head from his daze, coughing. Oh hell, it was Jim's brother. Now what was he going to do? "Uh, hi Steven."
"Hi Henri," Steven greeted, looking around the office. "Have you seen my brother?"
Henri took a quick breath and stuck to the bare truth. "No, I haven't seen him in a while."
Steven drilled him with blue eyes that were so like Jim's. "You know where he is?"
"Ah, no, not exactly," Brown nearly stuttered, then coughed again. Oh, that was good, Henri. Let's just make a huge red sign saying something big is going down.
A sign Steven quickly read. He continued to stare at the uncomfortable detective. "Jim was supposed to meet me for dinner yesterday."
Great. Jim probably forgot with everything else going on.
"Now, for Jim to miss dinner isn't all that big a deal. I know his work is unpredictable at times. What is unusual is that he normally calls." Henri sank lower in his chair as Steven continued. "So I tried to reach him. He isn't at the loft, he isn't at work, he isn't even answering his cell phone. That felt rather wrong to me. So I tried to reach Blair at the University this morning. Finally had an enlightening conversation with the department secretary. Apparently, no one has seen Blair either. The rumor, which she didn't really believe, is that he was abducted off campus this weekend."
Henri closed his eyes against the growing glare of the blue ones above him. He could have been nicely tucked in bed, reading that book by Charlie Spring he never seemed to finish. But no, he insists on trying to help Sandburg, and ends up facing the younger Ellison. Who at the moment looked almost as dangerous as the elder one.
The expression on Henri's face said it all. Steven could feel the heavy fear, in his gut since hearing the rumor, grow colder. Oh God, Blair was in trouble and very deep trouble from the looks of it. Which of course meant that Jim was up to his eyeballs in it as well. Steven ran a hand over his dark blond hair. He was only just getting back on the right foot with Jim. Plus, he had quickly grown to like the quirky young man who played mediator between the two brothers. It scared him to think of something happening to either of them. And if it scared him, what was it doing to Jim?
Steven reached for a chair, flipped it around, and sat down backwards to face Henri. Draping his long arms over the back, he stared his 'no nonsense' stare he had perfected during his business dealings. "All right, Henri. Tell me exactly what is going on."
Brown opened his mouth and began catching Steven up.
Monday, 2:57 p.m., Sun Rise Patriot's Base
Mac watched as Blair's head briefly shifted on the pillow, then settled back down. The cough was coming back, but not enough to wake the young man yet. However, it had apparently registered on sensitive sentinel ears, as evident by the shift in the bunk above.
Jim quietly focused his hearing. Blair wasn't sleeping as deeply and the bronchitis was still progressing. Damn. While the medicine was helping to ease the symptoms, Blair really needed antibiotics at this point. Hell, what he really needed was to be in his own bed back at the loft.
Jim leaned over the edge and caught Mac's eye. "How'd you sleep?" the older man asked.
"Like a log," Jim admitted. He quietly climbed down, reflecting he felt like he could have slept longer. "What time is it?"
"Almost three," Mac replied.
Jim noticed that Mac also looked tired. He glanced back at his guide, then at Mac. "Maybe you should get some sleep, too."
Mac shrugged. "I'm not sure how much time we'll have here." At Jim's questioning glance, Mac continued, "The Ares Bugle facility is in Idaho. Kincaid will have to transport us there."
Jim pulled up a chair closer to the bunks. "Tell me about this Ares Bugle."
Mac quickly explained the purpose of the facility and what Kincaid wanted to use it for.
"So this is the facility I'm suppose to break into," Jim commented thoughtfully.
"It won't be easy," Mac sighed. "It uses a combination of ancient and modern booby traps with both electronic and mechanical triggers."
"Jim, ~cough~, you can't go alone, ouch."
The older men quickly turned to Blair, trying to sit up and not jostle his injured ribs. Mac quickly helped to ease him into a half sitting, half reclining position, while Jim grabbed the extra blanket, slipping it behind him. The large blue eyes gazed steadily at his partner. Jim was thankful that they looked less feverish and more alert. "I mean it, Jim. ~cough, cough~ Remember what happened with Brackett."
Jim frowned as he reached over to squeeze Blair's shoulder reassuringly. He had zoned right in the middle of a mine-laden walk that time. If it hadn't been for Blair pulling him out, he would have stepped or fallen on a live mine.
"Jim!" Blair hoarsely insisted, starting another coughing fit. Jim continued to rub the shoulder until he finished, feeling the cough robbing Blair of his strength. Then gently he made Blair lean back onto the pillows.
Mac handed a bottle of water and a couple pills to Blair. "Take these and drink."
Blair frowned at the small objects in his hand. "I hate taking drugs, man."
"Well, I don't think Kincaid will let us tromp through the woods for your herbal remedies, Chief," Jim countered. "Take them."
With a sigh of defeat, Blair tossed the pills into his mouth and drank a few swallows of water. He glared back at Jim. "I still mean it about you handling booby traps and triggers by yourself."
Jim sighed. "I know, Chief. We'll cross that bridge when we get there." With that cough, Jim didn't want his friend anywhere near any kind of triggering device.
Before Blair could respond, Jim's head popped up. Mac and Blair traded puzzled looks, then turned as the door was unlocked. Two guards, with two more behind them with guns, carried in a tray of food and a pile of clothes. Blair immediately recognized his boots on top. Leaving the items on the desk between the door and bunks, one straightened up and glared at the three men. "Kincaid has set our departure time at sixteen hundred hours. You will be ready at that time." They turned and departed, locking the door behind them.
"That leaves us just under an hour," Mac commented.
Jim stood up and carefully poured soup from a thermos into a mug. "Doesn't leave us much time," he commented, walking back to hand the mug to Blair. He hated the idea of forcing Blair to travel in this cold with a fever and that cough.
"Vegetable soup," Blair muttered, then coughed. "Don't those guys know that ~cough~ chicken soup has natural..."
"Probably," Jim cut in. You'd think the kid would learn that talking brought on more coughing. "They might not care if you get better or not."
"Great," Blair mummered glumly. He took a drink of soup.
Jim turned to Mac. "Any ideas?"
MacGyver didn't have to ask about what. "I'm hoping the calvary appears soon. Barring that, I do have a few ideas for when we get to the facility. "
While Blair's eyes turned puzzled over the mug, Jim simply nodded his head. "Okay, fill me in."
Monday, 4:03 p.m., Two miles from Sun Rise Patriot's Base
"That's got to be it, Simon," Taggart stated quietly, his binoculars trained at the other side of the steep valley. "I can just barely make it out, and it looks like there is activity."
Simon also trained his binoculars on the site. He just wished Jim was on this side of the rescue. His special skills helped a lot in these situations.
"That is where the signal is coming from," Jack added, studying the equipment in his hands. Suddenly, he lifted his head. "Oh, oh."
"Oh, oh what?" Simon asked, not sure if he really wanted to know. Anything that gave Dalton concern usually scared the hell out of him. What could go wrong with them so close?
"I hear a couple copters. We'd better make sure the vehicles are under cover."
As Jack and Joel turned, Simon continued to focus his binoculars on the compound. The large transport helicopters landed in the small clearing. Equipment was loaded, then Simon spotted three people escorted from the building and forced to climb in. Damn, the tall one looked like Ellison. The other man was blond, probably MacGyver. The shortest, middle figure was wrapped in a blanket. Probably Blair, who by this point must be deep into his bout of flu. Helplessly, Simon watched as the helicopters lifted off, carrying his friends.
Monday, 4:30 p.m., Sun Rise Patriot helicopter
Blair shifted slightly against Jim, then sank deeper into sleep. Jim adjusted the blanket again, hoping to keep out most of the chill. He had given his sick friend his sweatshirt, while Mac had let him keep the heavy nylon coat. To add more warmth, Blair was nestled between Jim and Mac as they sat in the cold helicopter going to who knows where. Well, maybe Mac did. He, too, had drifted off to sleep.
Jim wanted to stay alert. He scanned the pilot and the five guards around them. Even if he could find a way to overpower Kincaid's men, there was no one to fly the copter. Mac's plan still seemed the best. He just didn't know if Mac's plan would work. What worried him was that it required Jim getting them all past the security system. Blair had made a valid point earlier. Jim feared he would zone if he had to concentrate too hard to get through, yet his guide was in no shape to help him navigate it. What he needed was a healthy guide. On that thought, his gaze landed on Mac. Jim was sure the older man was a latent guide. Could Mac figure it out quick enough to help Jim through? Did Jim trust Mac enough? Trust was a hard thing for Jim to give, yet Blair had it in full. Jim suspected it was why their sentinel/guide relationship worked. Before the question of Blair's paternity, Ellison's trust for Mac had been growing. Was it still there? Would any of this work with a guide who was not HIS guide?
Quietly staring out the window, Jim continued the internal debate.
Monday, 5 p.m., Cascade Police Headquarters
Steven had been waiting so long for Simon's phone to ring, he nearly jumped out of the chair when it did. He glanced at Brown, starting to stir on the couch. No, he'd answer it. On the second ring he picked it up, "Captain Simon Banks' office."
"Who is this?" Steven immediately recognized Simon's rather pissed off sounding voice. He straightened in the chair and replied firmly, "Steven Ellison."
"Steven? What are you doing there?"
"My brother and Sandburg are in trouble. Where do you expect me to be?"
Simon sighed audibly as Henri picked up the connecting line. "Captain? How's it going?"
"Not well." Steven steeled himself for bad news as Simon paused. "Kincaid and his people have left their base with Ellison, Sandburg and MacGyver. We suspect they have been taken to the installation Jim is suppose to break into, but we are not sure which one. The good news is that they took some of the equipment the DXS planted a satellite tracking signal in. They've been tracked to somewhere in the Bitterroot National Forest, but that is a rather large, remote place to search for a top secret base. We are about to fly into the area, but we're unsure what course of action to take once we are there."
While Brown laid his head on the table in defeat, Steven perked up. "Did you say the Bitterroots? As in Idaho?"
"Unless they have moved them recently, yes." Simon's patience was at an all time low.
"Where are you landing? Missoula?"
"No, Grangeville," Simon replied, puzzled. Steven Ellison sounded rather upbeat for someone who's brother was being held against his will.
For the first time that day, Steven smiled. "Even better. When you get there, go to a bar called Longbeard's and say you are looking for someone who knows Doc Ben."
"Doc Ben? Longbeard's Bar?" Simon's voice increased in puzzled volume, "Have I suddenly been dropped into a Bonanza episode?"
"Trust me, Simon. There should be a guide waiting for you there. If you have trouble, just say you know me."
Simon nearly jumped at the guide reference. Tightening his hold on his emotions, he griped, "You have been spending too much time with Sandburg. You are beginning to sound like him."
"Trust me, Simon. And if you don't trust me, just do it for Jim and Blair."
"Okay, okay, but this better work."
Steven quietly hung up the phone, wishing he could be there to help Jim.
Monday, 6:35 p.m., Entrance of Ares Bugle Facility
Jim walked protectively next to his guide along the rugged mountain trail, scanning the gunmen around them and listening to Blair's deepening cough. The half mile hike in the cold air only seemed to worsen it. Jim winced as one racking cough stopped Blair in his tracks, holding his bruised ribs. The kid couldn't take much more of this.
MacGyver, walking on the other side, lightly laid a hand on Blair's shoulder. He gave it a reassuring squeeze when the cough finally eased. "We're almost there, Blair. Just hang on," he whispered.
Blue eyes, filled with misery, looked up into brown ones. Shivering, Blair nodded. Mac gave the thin shoulder another squeeze through the coat, wishing with all his heart that he could trade places.
Jim froze the man with an icy glare, then gently laid an arm across Blair's shoulders, guiding him forward and offering support. Again, Jim scanned the snow-covered mountainside for a means of escape, but came up empty.
A few feet later, Kincaid brought the group to a halt in front of a snow-covered slope. He pulled out a funny-looking key and slipped it into a door hidden behind shrubs in the hillside. With a loud screech, it swung inward. "Inside!" Kincaid barked.
The dark room revealed a reception desk, several dusty upholstered lounge chairs, and a huge iron gate. Jim and Mac led Blair to one of the blue padded chairs, easing the sick man to a half-reclining, half-sitting position. Mac shook out the blanket he had been carrying and tucked it around the shivering form.
Jim glanced at his watch, then pulled a bottle of cough medicine from his pocket. Unscrewing the top, he handed it to his guide. "Take a swig."
Blair was about to protest until another coughing fit shook him, sending waves of pain through his abused ribs. Suddenly, Blair no longer cared about unnatural chemicals. He only wanted the pain and coughing to stop. Taking a small swallow from the bottle, he then returned it to his friend. He closed his eyes and leaned back, feeling the liquid warmingly soothe his throat.
Jim laid a comforting hand on his guide's shoulder as he studied the room. His ears could detect a faint electronic buzz, probably belonging to the cameras he could pinpoint around the ceiling. In front of them was the gate, which blocked the trap-filled way in. Kincaid and his men were attempting to open the lock. Slightly tightening his hold on his guide, Jim focused his sight down the dusty hall beyond. It was cut out of the rock, forming a square opening. The light dimmed, then was blocked when the tunnel bent away. Another cough shook the slim frame under his hand, bringing Jim back into the room.
Jim glanced back down at Blair. It was just about time for Jim's part of this outrageous scheme. Only, could Jim do it alone? Blair was in no shape to even get back on his feet, but if Jim took Mac with him, it would leave Blair defenseless. Neither option was very good, yet Jim didn't know which was better.
MacGyver was studying the two younger men and guessed what Jim was thinking. Blair could not go, yet judging from Blair's earlier reactions, it was very dangerous for Jim to go it alone. Could he help Jim? Would Jim let him? And how could they protect Blair while they were gone?
A loud snap alerted them to the gate. As it swung free, Kincaid turned to his prisoners. "All right, it is time for Ellison and Sandburg to take care of the security."
Jim's hand continued to stay on his partner's shoulder. "Sandburg is too sick to go anywhere, Kincaid."
Kincaid pulled out his gun. "That wasn't an option."
Mac stepped between Kincaid and Ellison. "I'll go with him. Sandburg can be your insurance that we will let you in once we get there."
Both men stared at him. "I will not lose my hacker before we even get to the command center!" Kincaid forcefully stated.
"I won't do you much good if Ellison doesn't make it." Mac coolly pointed out. "In addition, I remember some of the system and can help him."
After a few minutes, Kincaid sharply nodded his agreement. Ellison turned back to him. "You and your men better not touch Sandburg while we are gone, Kincaid."
As Kincaid glared at him, Mac added, "We will be able to tell how he's doing when we get through," pointing to the cameras.
Kincaid slowly replied, "He will be left alone, as long as he doesn't pull any more tricks."
Jim glanced at the miserable blue eyes staring up at him. Did Kincaid honestly think Blair was in any condition to do anything? Jim again stared at Kincaid. "Agreed."
As Kincaid turned back to his men, Mac gently laid his hand on Blair's forehead. Noting the increasing heat, Mac softly ordered, "Stay put, Blair."
Blair forced his eyes open, smiling faintly. "They took my knife, man. I'm not going anywhere." After another cough, his face turned serious. "Just keep an eye on Jim."
"I will," Mac promised as he again tucked the blanket around him.
Jim gave his shoulder a final squeeze. "I'll be back for you, Chief."
Blair switched his eyes to his sentinel. "I know," he stated in complete confidence. He quietly watched as his two friends walked past Kincaid and his men, then through the gate. It wasn't until Blair lost sight of their flashlights that he allowed his eyes to drift shut again.
Monday, 6:47 p.m., Longbeard's Bar, Grangeville, ID
Simon paused a moment while his eyes adjusted to the dim light. Loud country music wailed from the jukebox, while a gathering of rough-looking customers enjoyed the drinks and food. Steven Ellison, the well-groomed Vice President of a major corporation, sent him here? Simon could no more picture the younger Ellison in this establishment than he could the elder one attending an elegant ball, unless they were under duress. Glancing around, Simon vowed to check into Steven's activities during the 15 years he and his brother had been estranged.
He walked through the dirt and sawdust to the bar, a wide-eyed Rafe behind him. Sitting on a stool, Simon waited until the huge man with a long, red beard finished drawing a couple beers for a waitress in tight jeans and a revealing top. The man, presumably Longbeard, turned to him. "What can I get you?"
Simon answered, trying to talk over the music, "I am looking for someone who knows a 'Doc Ben'."
Red beard laughed, "That covers at least half the people in this room. Doc Ben is well known and well liked." The man studied them as he drew another beer. "Is Ben in trouble?"
"No," Simon replied, realizing the man must have him and Rafe pegged as policemen. Sandburg always did say they stuck out. "A friend of ours, Steven Ellison, told us to come here."
"Stevie? How's the kid doing?"
"Stevie?" Simon repeated silently to himself. He couldn't picture anyone besides maybe Jim calling Steven that, and even then it seemed like a long shot.
Before Simon could answer the man, a native American stepped beside him. "It's okay, Jerry. Sky eyes called my nephew and said these city men would be coming."
"Okay, Ernie. Just let me know if you or Ben need help."
Ernie turned to them, "I have a booth in the corner. It is a little more quiet."
Simon and Rafe followed the man across room. Ernie was about 5'10, lean and fit, with his straight brown hair tied back in a ponytail. Simon estimated his age to be about Mac's and Dalton's.
As they slid into the booth, Ernie inquired, "From Steve's description, you must be Captain Banks. I am Deputy Ernie Horse. I lead the Sheriff Department's Search and Rescue."
Shaking hands over the table, Simon quickly introduced Rafe, then continued, "Did Steven say why we were coming?"
"Yes," Ernie replied. "Steve has been good friends with Ben since they roomed together at the University. We were happy to hear that he and his brother were finally together again." Ernie sighed softly. "Sky eyes has always been willing to help our tribe. Now, I am very willing to help you find his brother and his friends."
"Steven said you could guide us in the Bitterroots?" Simon asked.
Ernie smiled. "I may be able to do even more. I aided in the development of a few installations in my day. I may know which one they have been taken to, if you can give me the general area."
Wide smiles stretched across Simon's and Rafe's faces.
Monday, 6:55 p.m., Ares Bugle Facility
Jim listened as Blair drifted into sleep. There was nothing so far to indicate that Kincaid and his men were giving him trouble. The steady heartbeat and deepening rhythm of his guide's breathing relaxed the tired sentinel's mind, lulling his senses. Suddenly, someone shook him.
"Jim!" Mac hissed. He hadn't realized Ellison was entering a zone out until he had suddenly stopped walking. Damn, he should have been paying more attention. When Jim didn't respond to his voice, Mac grabbed both shoulders and shook. Gasping, Jim blinked several times before focusing on MacGyver's face. As Mac watched awareness enter the eyes, a sudden thought struck him with dread. "Is Blair all right?" he asked urgently.
Jim nodded and rubbed his forehead. "Blair's sleeping." And nearly took the exhausted sentinel with him. "Guess I'm more tired than I thought."
"We are both tired," Mac quietly stated. "But if we don't get our minds on what is ahead of us, we won't survive the next couple hours. If we don't make it, Blair won't either. Which is just not acceptable."
Blue eyes studied brown ones. "It isn't to me either, I need Blair. I care about him. Do you really care?"
Mac sighed. He really didn't want to get into this now, but he also had to have Jim's full cooperation if any of this was going to work. Returning Jim's gaze, Mac replied. "Yes, I do. That is part of the reason I haven't pursued the paternity thing." As Jim's eyebrows lifted in disbelief, Mac continued. "For the past five years, I have been worried that someone from my past will target Sam to get back at me. Just last July, Sam was showing me pictures he had taken in Brussels. I spotted Murdoc in several of the shots. I don't want to put Blair in the same danger."
Jim quietly remembered Mac telling him about Murdoc last fall. No wonder Mac had been so tense when Sam had nearly been abducted. Having Blair be Sam's rescuer probably hadn't helped matters any.
"Besides, Blair is doing all right. Sam was still a teenager when I found him, a loner with no family. Blair has his mother, his career, friends, and a protective sentinel to look out for him. He doesn't need a father to barge in and disrupt things."
"That is still up for debate," Jim sighed, "but for another time. Did you mean it about knowing this system?"
Taking the change in topic as a sign that the truce was back in place, Mac replied, "I saw the plans, but that was over ten years ago. I've been trying to remember it since Kincaid told me his objective."
Jim glanced ahead, studying the dark and rocky hall. "Do you remember the first obstacle?"
"Some very sharp blades that drop from the ceiling or swing from the wall if you set off a trigger."
"Sounds rather medieval. What kind of trigger?"
"Some infrared lasers; some just a trip wire."
"Great. With luck, I should be able to see the trip wires. However, my sight doesn't go into the infrared."
MacGyver smiled as he pulled out a stick from his pack. "That is why I have these."
Jim's eyebrows raised. "You always plan on needing a smoke screen?"
Monday, 7:00 p.m., airfield, Grangeville, ID
Inside a cold hanger, Dalton unrolled a map of the area on a dusty table. "The signal is coming from about there."
Banks and Craig watched with interest as Ernie studied the map. "Oh yes, there are two possibilities in that area."
Simon frowned. He had been hoping they wouldn't have to guess. Simon didn't want to do any backtracking, especially since the remote trails would be rough traveling this time of year. He refused to think of them as impossible. He was NOT going to be stopped with his men's lives on the line.
Jack's eyes suddenly brightened with an idea. "Hey, Ernie, on any of these projects, did you ever meet a man by the name of Dexter Fillmore?"
"Dalton!" Craig reprimanded. He didn't want any more information about this operation given out. Too many knew about it already. Jack ignored him.
Ernie looked at him with interest. "Yes, I met Dexter. Do you know him?"
Jack smiled. "I grew up with Mac."
Ernie began smiling, too. "Yes, MacGyver did tell me his real name. A very good man. Is he involved with this?"
Jack's smile disappeared. "He is the third man Kincaid has hostage." In the background, Craig threw up his hands in defeat.
Ernie's face grew serious, too. "That means they have gone to the Ares Bugle facility. Right here," as he pointed it out on the map. "MacGyver knows it well. Can Kincaid force him to use his knowledge?"
Jack cringed inward, knowing Kincaid had the best weapon in the world, if he realized it. "Mac has been mentoring Blair Sandburg."
Ernie looked from Jack to Simon. "So this criminal can use the young man to force both Steve's brother and MacGyver to do his will?" They both nodded. "And you believe the young man to be sick?" They nodded again. Ernie's face turned grim. "Then we'd better hurry. It will take us at least three to four hours to reach the facility."
Monday, 7:25 p.m., Ares Bugle Facility
"Here's another one. You have to lift your foot at least two feet off the ground." Jim pointed at the wire, covering his nose and mouth to filter out the smoke.
"We will also have to duck," Mac added. His finger outlined the beam drifting in and out of view.
Jim carefully ducked and stepped, watering eyes still searching for another wire. For the past half hour, he and Mac had been winding their way through a wire and beam-filled hall. Mac's smoke had helped them find the beams but irritated Jim's sensitive eyes. In spite of the cold air, Jim was sweating from his effort. He paused for a moment, trying to calm his heart rate to a normal level. He again searched ahead but saw nothing. "Hey Mac," he asked, turning to the older man, "What comes ne..."
At that moment, Jim saw the tile Mac had stepped on begin to sink as a soft rumble started above him. "Watch out!" Jim grabbed Mac's arm and roughly pulled both of them next to the other wall. The soft rumble turned into a thundering roar. Once the noise had stopped, Jim turned his flashlight to reveal a pile of rocks on the spot where Mac had stepped. "Are you okay?" Jim asked faintly, coughing from the dust.
"Yeah," Mac replied, still staring at the spot where he could have died. "This must be the section where the floor is riddled with pressure spots that trigger rock falls."
"You mean, there are MORE of these?"
"Great." Jim trained his flashlight ahead, viewing the hall floor made up of small octagonal shapes. "Just like the bridge Brackett made Blair and I cross."
Mac brushed the dust off his heavy flannel shirt. "How'd you get across?"
"I listened for the sound of the active mines."
"Can you hear anything now?"
Jim quietly concentrated on the floor. "Yes, I can hear the electronic buzz, but it is faint."
Mac quietly studied the sentinel. The exhaustion was growing on his face, but they didn't have much of a choice. "Wait a minute. Didn't Blair say something about you zoning out with Brackett?"
"Yep. Right in the middle of that bridge."
Guess Jim wasn't the only one who was going to have to stay alert. "You think you can handle it?"
Jim turned serious eyes to meet Mac's gaze. "Will have to, since we don't have much of a choice. Blair is counting on us."
"How do you two operate in this situation?"
"Walk behind me and step where I step. If I pause, then freeze, I'm zoning."
Mac stood behind Jim, and lightly grasped his shoulder. "Okay, I am ready when you are."
Monday, 7:58 p.m., Green Creek Clinic, ID
Steven entered the clinic with a burst of speed, leaving the doors swinging behind him. He knew there hadn't been time for them to reach Jim and Blair, but hoped Ben would have at least heard something. He was never good at just waiting.
A young doctor witnessed his friend's entrance. Handing the clipboard to the duty nurse, he walked over. Brown eyes danced as he called, "Hey Steve, never knew you to be so eager for my services before."
Ben's merriment ended when he saw the depth of concern in Steven's eyes. "Have you heard anything?" his friend demanded.
A lighter voice answered, "Just that Uncle Ernie has met them and they are on their way now." Steven and Ben turned as Ben's wife Violet approached, followed by Ben's grandfather. She gave Steven a big hug. "Don't worry, Sky Eyes. If anyone can find them, Uncle Ernie can."
Steven gave her a weak smile in appreciation. "Thanks, Vi, I know. That is why I called Uncle Ernie as soon as I knew where they were heading."
Ben gently pushed Steven to a waiting area chair, then sat down across from him. "They will be fine. Your brother sounds like he can handle almost anything."
Steven sighed. "Normally, yes, but Blair is like a kid brother to him. Hell, Blair has been more of a brother to him the last couple years than I have. If he's in bad shape, I don't know how clearly Jim's going to be thinking."
Violet handed Steven a cup of coffee. "Why don't you tell us what is going on." Comforted by the presence of his friends, Steven slowly began to open up.
Sitting close, Grandfather listened to the young people talk. All of this was connected to his dream last night, that much he was certain. A large, protective black cat had stood over a fallen Shaman, hissing until the people could arrive to help. Somehow, their survival would be important to his people's future. But just how a large cat and a shaman were connected to their Sky Eyes, he did not know. He just had to watch and wait.
Monday, 8:15 p.m., Ares Bugle Facility
Jim sat with his back against the wall, head on his arms resting across his legs. He was exhausted, his head ached, his vision blurred. After nearly zoning four times in the past hour, he wasn't sure he could take much more. Yet he had to. Blair was counting on him.
A cold bottle was placed in his hand. Jim looked up into Mac's tired and worried face. "When did you have this flu bug?" Mac quietly asked, dropping a couple ibuprofen into his other hand.
"Last week," Jim replied, then popped the pills into his mouth. He took a long drink of water and wiped his mouth. "I'm over it."
"Yeah, but it probably lowered your normal energy reserve," Mac stated thoughtfully as he handed Jim an Power bar.
"Have you had it?"
Mac smiled as he sat back down across from Jim. "I am hoping my flu shot covers it."
"Hopefully," Jim returned, matching Mac's smile with a meager one of his own. He quietly chewed as he leaned his head back against the wall. After a couple minutes, he asked, "What is next?"
Mac sighed. "A couple miles of twisting maze. We will have to be careful, because in some spots there are spears."
"Spears? As in 'shoot out of the wall' spears?"
"Yep. They are on a thermal detector."
Jim stared at him in disbelief. "Just how are we getting past those?"
Mac smiled. "That is why I brought the thermal blankets."
Jim blinked. "Will those be good enough to shield our body heat?"
"Should be. They're old technology and not that great a detector to begin with."
Jim simply shook his head. Looking back at Mac, he asked, "Just how in the hell do we get Blair and the Patriots back through all this?"
Mac shrugged. "We don't. Once in the central control center, we can open a shorter, clean passage back to the entry. You just can't open it from the entry without a special card, and I'm guessing Kincaid wasn't able to get one of those."
Jim took a deep breath. It had been over an hour since they had left Blair. He prayed the kid was all right. With thoughts of his sick guide, Jim reluctantly pushed away from the wall and stood up. "Where are those blankets?"
Monday, 8:43 p.m., The Bitterroots, ID
Simon hung on tight as the 4X4 tilted and dipped. He was almost glad it was night, so that he couldn't see the steep drop he knew was beside them. He had never been on such a rough and icy mountain road before. Even Dalton, who was driving, looked serious. Man, Jack hadn't even looked that serious flying a wreck of a plane through a thunderstorm. Simon spared a quick glance to the back seat. Rafe was the whitest he'd ever seen him. Hell, even Taggart looked pale. Ahead, the tail lights of Ernie's jeep disappeared from view again. Simon braced himself. It didn't matter how many bruises their collective tailbones received. They just had to reach their friends in time.
Ernie Horse hung on tight as his young partner hit another pothole. Pete was going a little fast, but Ernie had told him to. He was worried and wanted to get there as quick as possible. He remembered well the soft-spoken but incredibly intelligent man who had worked as a computer nerd for weeks, yet secretly checked for security breaches. He trusted that MacGyver would not do anything to truly jeopardize the facility, yet there had been something in Mr. Dalton's eyes. Just how important was this young man to MacGyver? Ernie glanced back. Dalton was keeping up with Pete, though the DXS people were lagging behind.
There was no question how important the brother was to Steve, which made him important to Ernie as well. Freshman year had been tough on his shy nephew, uneasy in a large city far from the mountains of his birth. Without a supportive roommate, Ernie doubted Ben would have made it through the first semester. Later, as Steve's relations with his father deteriorated, Ben's family had taken him in. The serious young man visibly loosened up when visiting, playing with the children and even accepting his nickname, 'Sky Eyes', with grace. Ever since, Steve had freely given money or his time to help Ben's people. Steve Ellison was a true friend.
Ernie wondered what Steve's brother was like. Judging from his friends, probably a strong, capable man. At first glance, Ernie had pegged Captain Banks as one of those fancy city policemen who was more politician than cop. That had quickly changed. This was a man who could take control, get things done, and cared very much for his people. Ernie was impressed that Banks and his men were willing to cross state lines and risk remote mountain roads to help Steve's brother. Apparently Steve wasn't the only Ellison to make strong friendships.
Monday, 9:37 p.m., Ares Bugle facility
"You have to be Blair's father. You both follow too close."
Unsure how to take that remark, Mac pulled back after running into Jim again, who had just ran into another wall. "Maybe because we have to stay close to make sure you don't zone out."
A soft, tired chuckle flowed from somewhere ahead of him. "That is what Blair always says, too. Except he usually has the advantage of being able to see me."
Mac cautiously pulled back the thermal blanket from his face. They had been navigating half blind through the maze, shielding their bodies and lights from possible detection. Jim had taken the brunt of it, hitting walls and dead ends, only to be hit from behind by the even blinder MacGyver. At least it sounded like Jim still had his sense of humor.
Jim ran a cold hand over an even colder wall. "This one feels different."
Stepping around him, Mac aimed his flashlight at the wall. "You are right. This is the door into the facility."
"What do we have to do now?" Jim inquired wearily but with resignation. "Whistle a tune? Climb a wall while dodging darts?"
Mac smiled as he searched the wall with his hand. "No, something much simpler. Find the handle." Feeling the bar, Mac turned it counter-clockwise. The wall slid inward, revealing the command center. The large room contained computer workstations, tables, radios, lounge and dining areas, and floor to ceiling monitors. Activated by the wall's movement, the lights and computers spun up to full power.
"Wow," Jim whispered as he followed Mac inside. "All this just for communications?"
"Yep," Mac replied, finding the bank of monitors he needed. He flipped a switch. Jim watched as the various security cameras came on line, until one lit up the entry. Both men relaxed when they spotted Blair, sleeping in the chair they had left him in. Kincaid stood by the gate with several of his men.
Mac studied Jim a moment. He still looked tired. "Are you ready for our plan?"
Jim returned Mac's gaze. "Yes. Are you sure you can still work these computers?"
A smile stretched across Mac's face. "In some ways, the Dexter alias isn't that far removed. I can handle it. Just make sure Blair gets to safety."
"Just make sure you get yourself out," Jim replied. "I'm not letting you off the hook that easy."
Mac didn't even have to ask which hook. "No, I want that mystery solved, too. So let's get the ball rolling." Mac flipped a couple more switches, then tapped the mic. "Kincaid, we are through."
On the camera, they could see the men react to the sudden voice. Even Blair stirred in his sleep, coughing. Kincaid walked over to Blair and yanked the young man to his feet. Blair nearly fell, but managed to stay standing. He wobbled as he gazed around him in confusion.
"Go easy on him, Kincaid!" Jim ordered forcefully.
"Open the door!" Kincaid ordered.
Mac triggered the command to open the secret door. Jim watched the monitors as the Patriots and Blair made their way down the tunnel, leaving two behind as guards. Ten minutes later, Jim walked over to greet them at the door.
"Here," Kincaid snarled, shoving the sick and dazed man at his partner.
Jim quickly caught Blair as his knees buckled. Heat poured off his friend as the coughing shook him. Jim helped him to a small sofa in a lounge area, then gently eased him onto it. "You still with me, Chief?" he asked softly. The curly head barely nodded. "Okay, just take it easy. Mac and I will handle it from here."
Kincaid had marched over to where Mac was swiftly tapping a keyboard. Noticing the worried glance his computer nerd sent over to the other hostages, Kincaid ordered, "Don't worry about them. I want control of this facility, and I want it now."
Mac stopped working and glared at the militia leader. "It will take some time for me to switch the program around, and having you yell at me or them won't help." The battle of wills lasted a moment, then Mac went back to work.
Monday, 10:04 p.m., Outside the Ares Bugle Facility
"There it is," Ernie pointed.
Simon and Craig trained their binoculars on the site. The DXS team Craig had called in had already secured the two Sun Rise Patriot helicopters and was preparing an area for more helicopters to land. Now, they just needed to find a way in.
"I see three guards," Craig whispered.
"There's a fourth in the rocks above the door," Simon quietly commented. He turned to Ernie. "Is there any other way in or out?"
"No, just the one entrance."
"Then let's take this one step at a time."
Monday, 10:15 p.m., Ares Bugle Central Command Center
The large area was quiet except for the steady tapping of MacGyver's keyboard. Jim fought to stay alert, scanning the movements of their enemy. His and Blair's main guard was sitting on the arm of a chair, keeping his gun ready to aim at them. Kincaid paced a few feet away from the workstation where Mac sat. Three others were working on the radio, preparing to open a line to the outside world.
Jim laid a cool hand on his partner's forehead, watching a grimace of pain briefly cross his features as he coughed. Blair's lungs were sounding worse, his fever much too high for Jim's comfort. "Just a little longer, Chief", he thought silently. "Just a little longer."
Jim raised his eyes and caught Mac's worried gaze. When a slight smile flitted across Mac's face, Jim realized it was showtime. He quickly turned down his hearing and waited.
A siren suddenly shattered the quiet. Clear plastic partitions fell from the ceiling, closing the room off in sections. Jim immediately kicked the gun out of his startled guard's hands, then knocked him out. Scanning the room, Jim realized that the other three were trapped by the radio. However, Kincaid had managed to slide into the area where MacGyver was. Jim frantically scanned the room, trying to find a way to reach Mac, until their eyes met. Mac mouthed the word 'GO' and hit the keyboard. The metal door to the entry opened next to Jim. Jim slung the guard's gun over his shoulder, then ran to the sofa to scoop up his sick friend. Sparing one more glance towards Mac, Jim raced out the door.
MacGyver watched Ellison carry Blair out, then turned his attention to Kincaid. The militia leader was charging at him, his face full of betrayed rage. Mac kicked the gun out of his hands, then swung out of the path of his charge. Kincaid spun around and flew at MacGyver, tackling him to the ground.
Monday, 10:22 p.m., Entrance of Ares Bugle Facility
"Looks like it requires a key," Taggart stated thoughtfully, studying the hidden door. With the four guards taken care of, Ernie and Taggart were trying to open it.
"I believe it does," Ernie replied. "I do not know how they managed to get in without it."
Taggart suddenly placed his ear next to the door. "Do you hear something?"
Before Ernie could answer, the door suddenly swung in on its own. Startled, Taggart and Ernie jumped back. Rafe, Simon, and Dalton immediately aimed their guns at the opening, wincing at the loud siren. An unconscious militia man was tossed out the door.
"Jim!" Joel had never seen Ellison look so exhausted.
"What's going on?" Simon asked, running to his friend.
"Help me with Blair," Jim wearily requested, turning inside. As the others followed, he continued, "Mac set the lock down system, so the Patriots would be trapped and Blair and I could get out."
Joel knelt down next to the coughing Blair, laying a hand on his head. "He is burning up, Jim."
"That cough sounds worse than Brown's," Simon commented, frowning as he noted the much shorter hair length.
Jim briefly nodded, "He has some bruised and cracked ribs, too. Just get him to safety and to a doctor. I'm heading back. Mac got locked down with Kincaid."
Before Simon could stop him, Jim turned on his heels and ran back down the entry way. Dalton, Simon, and Ernie ran after him.
Monday, 10:25 p.m., Ares Bugle Central Command
Mac finally managed to shove Kincaid away and put the workstation between them. Wiping a bleeding cut above his eye, Mac fought to catch his breath while he and Kincaid circled the room. Earlier, Mac had managed to kick the gun into a floor vent, preventing Kincaid from retrieving it. Mac knew that with a couple taps on the keyboard, the partitions would open so he could get out. However, that would also free Kincaid to chase after Jim and his son. The cold anger over Blair's mistreatment at this man's orders was back. Mac would not let him get anywhere near his son again.
"I don't get it, Fillmore," Kincaid declared, focusing on the computer nerd who did not act like a computer nerd. "I gave you a good offer. Money, power, a chance to get back at the US government. Why did you betray me?" Unseen by either of the combatants, Jim had reentered the room.
"I don't believe in your fanaticism, Kincaid," Mac replied, searching for an opening. "And you should have never taken Blair."
"Sandburg?" Kincaid stated in disbelief. "Why should you care about some skinny, nobody scum like that?"
The ice in Mac's voice could have frozen an erupting volcano. "Because that brave, intelligent young man is my son."
Kincaid paused in surprise. Mac immediately launched himself over a table and tackled him. Before Kincaid could react, Mac slammed a fist into his face. Kincaid was out cold.
Trying not to shiver from reaction and exhaustion, Mac slowly stood up. Cradling his throbbing hand against his chest, he walked over to the workstation and typed a couple commands with his left hand. It was not until he lifted his head to see the partition move that he noticed his friends on the other side.
Monday, 11:00 p.m., Green Creek Clinic, ID
Grandfather felt the strong spirit of a shaman before Ben rushed out of his office. "They are here," he announced to his pacing friend.
Both turned as a stretcher rolled through the emergency entrance. Steve raced over, sharing a worried look with a huge black man following the stretcher. "Blair, can you hear me?" he asked as Ben started examining the slim man. Grandfather could hear the deep cough even from where he stood.
"Stev-en," a soft voice croaked.
"It's okay, kid, the doc here is a friend of mine," Steven reassured him, squeezing his hand. "He'll take good care of you." Steven and the black man stopped at the door as Ben pushed him into an examining room.
"How bad, Joel?" Steven softly asked, still staring at the door.
"He's bruised up, especially around the ribs. Mostly, he is just very sick."
Grandfather nodded. Yes, the young shaman was sick, but his spirit was strong. There was still much he had to do in this life. He would make it through.
Steven swallowed, almost afraid to ask his next question. Joel answered it before he could ask. "Jim's right behind us in the other helicopter. He's okay, just cold and exhausted."
Steven relaxed slightly, then lightly touched the door. "Let's hope Ben can give us some good news before he gets here." He turned, leading his friend over to Violet's coffee pot.
Ten minutes later, another rush of people entered. For an instance, Grandfather saw the big black cat leap into the room. Then vision cleared, revealing a strong white warrior whose eyes matched his grandson's friend. Eyes that were searching frantically around the room, then centered on the door where the shaman had gone.
"Jim!" Steven called out, trotting over to his brother. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah," Jim briefly gave his brother a hug. "Any word on Blair?"
Steven, noting the exhaustion in Jim's eyes, guided him to a chair. "Not yet, but Ben is with him. As soon as he's through, Ben will let us know what's going on."
"What happened to MacGyver?" Joel asked with concern as Ernie and Violet led Mac to an examining room.
"Had it out with Kincaid," Jim replied with a weary smile. "Hurt his hand breaking Kincaid's nose."
A huge grin broke out on Joel's face. "Good."
Steven wrapped a blanket around his brother's shoulders. "Violet's a nurse practitioner. She'll take good care of him."
Jim suddenly grabbed Steven's arm. Startled, Steven looked down into his brother's eyes, wondering what he had done wrong. The warm, grateful look surprised him. "Thanks for sending Ernie."
Steven relaxed and smiled, "Hey, I just got you back into my life again, with Hairboy as a free bonus. I don't intend to lose either of you."
Ben walked out of the examining room. Glancing around, he spotted Steve and walked over. The rest of the rescue party gathered as Jim stood up. Ben offered him his hand, "You must be Jim. I can see the family resemblance."
Jim shook his hand, studying the young doctor with concern. "How is Blair?"
"Definitely has had a hard time of it. Highlights are he has several bruised ribs, with a crack in one. Especially painful with that wicked bark, but that is starting to ease up with the medicine I have given him. I also gave him an antibiotic since he has developed bronchitis. His temperature was over 103 degrees when he was brought in, but it is also responding to treatment. Right now he is resting comfortably. With warmth, rest, and a less active lifestyle, he should be able to go home in a day or so."
The group relaxed and immediately began talking. Grandfather smiled. He had known his grandson's friend was special. Now he was beginning to understand why. A warrior and his shaman would be good to know if some day the tribe required their services.
Wednesday, 11 am, Ellison's Loft
Jim paused as he pulled up Blair's blanket, realizing his friend was already asleep. That wasn't too surprising, considering the long trip home, the pile of medicines, and the illness Blair was still fighting. While the flu was nearly gone, the ribs would take six weeks to heal and the bronchitis still had a tight grip on his lungs. Jim finished tucking in the blanket, studying his friend. His face would be black and blue for a while and it would take even longer for the hair to grow out again. The hair cut would probably be the hardest for Blair to get over. He always took such pride in his long locks. Still, it could have been worse. Jim was just glad to have his guide finally home safe in his own bed. Oh well, at least Blair could get in the last laugh. According to Joel, nearly half the Sun Rise Patriots were coming down with the flu, including Kincaid.
Jim stood up, considering the one last battle waiting for him on the balcony. It was just as important for Blair's well-being as the one against Kincaid. Yet it was a battle of words and emotions, areas Blair was much better at than Jim. However, Blair could not fight this one, at least not yet. After spending long hours thinking at the hospital, Jim knew what he had to do. He just hoped it was the right thing.
MacGyver stood on the balcony, staring out at the city of Cascade. His emotions were a tangled mess and Mac was not certain how to unravel them. It seemed incredible that there could be a second son he had not known about, yet in his heart he knew it was true. If only his mind could accept it as easily.
A door behind him opened and Ellison stepped out. Without turning around, Mac asked, "How's he doing?"
"Sound asleep." Jim stood next to Mac. "I just hope he has a chance to recover before his next little adventure. He just seems to attract trouble."
"I think it is genetic." Jim glanced at Mac in surprise. "Throughout my entire adult life, whether it is due to work, a friend, or simply out of the clear blue, trouble always finds me. It can be rather annoying. Then one day, while I am trying not to get killed in a warehouse by two Chinese nationals, a kid on a bike rescues me. Guess what, this kid is my son. Over the next five years, I discover Sam has the same attraction for trouble that I do. Not just with his work, but simply inheriting statues or going to poly sci class gets him into trouble. What was an annoyance before suddenly scares the hell out of me when it's my kid." Mac sighed, then glanced over his shoulder. "Now I find out I might have another son, who shows the very same attraction for trouble as Sam and I. It has got to be in the genes."
Jim shrugged. "Sounds like as good an explanation as any." He paused a moment, collecting his thoughts. "Have you decided what you are going to do?"
Mac sighed. "I don't know. I hate to tell Blair something I am not 100% positive is true, and I'd hate disrupting his life. He is well past the age of needing a father."
"I disagree," Jim softly stated. As Mac turned to him, he continued, "They traveled so much, and Naomi went through boyfriends so fast, I don't think Blair ever really had a stable male figure in his life. Not that Naomi didn't do a good job, but there is a core of uncertainty in Blair that I don't think would be there if he had had a father. He never even had a story to cling to. All Naomi told him was that there was a list of candidates." Mac shifted his feet uncomfortably. Jim asked, "What did happen?"
"We were young, and stupid, and the sixties were a very weird time." Jim continued to stare at him, puzzled. "It was school break. Jack and I decided we needed a road trip. Or I should say Jack wanted a road trip, and talked me into it because I was the only one who could keep his junker running. We took off and ended up along the Gulf Coast. The first night there, I met this girl with beautiful long red hair. We both fell hard and were inseparable. I thought I'd found my soul mate. The first two days were paradise."
"What happened on the third?"
"Timothy Leary and Viet Nam," Mac said darkly. "I met Naomi's fellow Leary followers that morning. It didn't take long for me to realize this guy was out to lunch. Naomi, however, thought he was the greatest and was insulted that I didn't share her opinion. She also discovered that when it came to certain activities, I was about as square as they came. I left when the pot started making its rounds." Mac ran a hand through his hair, still remembering how out of place he had felt. "That evening, Naomi came to me with the wild idea that I should drop out of school and join her in protesting the war. I tried to explain that while I was against the war, I couldn't drop out of school. It was too important to me. Plus if I did, I'd get drafted. Naomi then declared that she would run away to Canada with me." Mac sighed. "I tried to explain that while I hated guns, hated war, hated the whole thing, I couldn't just run away. Many of my friends were going or were already there, and I felt like I'd be letting them down if I left. Plus, they would only send someone else and I'd always wonder if that poor guy got killed in my place."
Remembering what Blair had said about his mother's protesting days, Jim quietly commented, "Naomi didn't understand, did she?"
"Nope. I was just giving in, selling out, choosing to be a baby killer. I left with Jack the next morning, feeling like I'd been ripped in two."
"That was the last time you saw her?"
"No," Mac stated bitterly. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "A few years later, I was on base catching my flight to Viet Nam. I was thinking about my mother, about my last letter from Kate in Brazil, anything except where I was going. The next thing I knew, war protesters had gotten past the guards. They were storming us, throwing water balloons and yelling obscenities. Then this woman spits in my face and screams 'baby-killer'. I look down, and there was Naomi." Jim winced in sympathy. "Not exactly the best send-off I ever had."
"I imagine not," Jim replied. He sometimes forgot how lucky he was not to have served during that tumultuous period.
Mac sighed again. "That is why it is going to be so hard."
"What is going to be hard?"
"Confronting Naomi. I can't just declare to Blair that I think I am his father without asking Naomi if it is possible."
Jim paused a moment, thinking. "Okay, I'll give you six weeks."
"I'll give you six weeks to find Naomi and to do whatever else you need to do to feel comfortable with the fact you are Blair's father. Then you will tell Blair. He should be well enough to hear it by then. Otherwise, I will tell him."
Mac studied the sentinel. "Why?"
"Because he needs to know and he needs you in his life. Sure, he is 28 years old, but he still needs someone to talk to. A someone who understands the academic world, yet still can relate to the world outside the ivory tower. A someone who knows that using his mind can be just as important as using force in a tight situation. A someone who knows what it is like to hate guns, yet have to deal with bullets flying around him. Naomi never taught him that and I can't always reach him. He needs you."
Mac stared into space. He had never thought of it that way. Yet thinking over the various discussions he and Blair had had, he realized Ellison was right. He turned to Jim, the decision made. "Okay, in six weeks, I will tell Blair. No matter what."
Author's note, 1/9/98: No natural disasters while writing this time (unless you want to count having two loaded 9 gig drives at work die on me), and yes, there will be a sequel. Just don't expect it to go smoothly during Jim's designated six weeks - after all, we are talking about the MacGyvers here. Naomi will also have a chance to tell her side of the story. With luck and the absence of disasters, 'Heirs to a Nightmare' should be done sometime in March 1998.
PS. The hair will grow back.
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