Author's notes: This story combines the universes of my TS/MacGyver series with the TS/Mag7:ATF story, 'Refuge'. It takes place about a year after 'Refuge' and 'Charming the Hawk' (March 2001). Since the relationships between Blair, MacGyver, and Sam are drawn in the first five stories 9'The Maze', 'Control', 'Coatlicue', 'Ares Bugle', and 'Heirs to a Nightmare'), I would recommend you may wish to read them first. The others since ('Hot Time in Chicago', 'In the Genes', 'Weardians and Witans', 'Haunting of Christmas Past', an 'Charming the Hawk') have also been referenced.
I'm sorry this one has taken so long to complete. I've been working on it since last June and had planned to have it done last fall. It's just been a long, dry writing spell.
For the TS fans unfamiliar with Mag 7:ATF, all of the guys and brief descriptions can be found in my story, 'Refuge', which I would recommend you read first. There is also a great 'Meet the Seven' page on Blackraptor's site that includes pictures, which can be found at: http://blackraptor.hispeed.com/m7fic/
In addition, a few events from episodes in Black Panther Production's Cascade Virtual Tales are mentioned. Evermore's 'In Absentia' from season six is the stepping stone for this story, but also included are Shallan's 'It's Not Just Academic', Emerald's 'Now He's a Cop' (both season 5), and my 'Brother Born for Adversity' (season 6). CVT can be found at: http://members.tripod.com/tsvirtualseason/index.htm
Also, Jack O'Neill and Daniel Jackson of Stargate SG-1 will put in an appearance. They were 'introduced' to the TS/MacGyver characters in my story 'Weardians and Witans', and some references to will be made to the story.
I would also like to thank several people. Sealie, for all her patience and beta'ing; Rona, for helping me bounce around ideas, beta'ing, and generally keeping me off the ceiling; Toni Rae, for our talks about switching stations and the country's power grid; Zadra, for keeping my characters in character; Malu and Kerensa, for all their support and encouragement; and Wolfpup for her beta'ing and posting this and all my TS stories.
Please send any comments to email@example.com
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.
Please do not reproduce, copy, or otherwise use any part of this story without permission from the author.
Rated PG-13, mostly for language. Trust me, these guys aren't saints.
March 21, 2001, County Airport, Montrose, CO
"I'm sorry, Sam. I'd really planned to be there by now."
Sean A. Malloy, otherwise known as Sam, could hear his brother's regret over the phone line. "But you and Jim are flying in this afternoon, right?"
"Yeah, now that Kincaid has been put away forever." The exhaustion in Blair Sandburg's voice spoke volumes as to just how rough the federal court case had been on him. Of course, having to stop the following terrorist attempt to free the newly convicted felon hadn't been easy, either. "Just that by the time everything was wrapped up, I missed the early flight. You going on ahead?"
"Yeah, I need some time to unload. Just as long as you make it later, Indy."
"Trust me, I am NOT missing Mac's birthday this year, especially after missing his 50th last year. All the lawyers and D.A.s can go to hell."
Sam laughed out loud, picturing his peace-loving brother putting his words into action. "Okay, I'll have a fire going in Harry's cabin by the time you get there."
A low mumble was barely audible over the connection. "Jim asked how are the roads?"
"The rental rep I just talked to said they're fine. It's been a couple of days since the last storm. Just remember to take the back way to avoid avalanches."
"Will do. So there wasn't any trouble with you getting the Jeep?"
"Nope. Though it's still on your credit card. I'll have to pay you back."
"Don't worry about it. Jim's got a rental reserved for us when we get there. We should be to the cabin by dark, which gives us lots of time to catch up. Mac's not due in until tomorrow, right?"
"He better show up tomorrow. Sounds like he's still working that bombing case in Denver."
A snicker sneaked across the lines. "He'll make it. He wants to hear about India and your latest go round with your editor."
"Not to mention your latest adventure with Kincaid."
"Oh yeah. I'm sure Mac would've loved to have punched him in the nose again, or at least his lawyer. Anyway, I'll tell you all about it when I see you. And if there is ANY sign of Murdoc--"
Sam barely prevented a shudder. "I'll make a mad dash towards civilization."
"You better. See you later, Olsen."
"Bye, Indy." Smiling, Sam hung up the phone and walked out of the terminal. It was going to be a great weekend.
Remote militia outpost, Uncompahgre National Forest, CO
A trim figure with chestnut hair and dressed in winter fatigues barely kept from flinching. Drawing on every layer of facade he had, the man currently known as Eric Stratton turned. "Sir, yes, sir!" He gave the large militiaman a sharp salute.
"Where have you been, Stratton?"
Knowing the real answer could get him killed, Stratton faked surprise at the question. "I was hooking up that radio like you asked, sir." His soft southern accent put special emphasis on the 'sir'. He knew the so-called Colonel Kelly liked the respect.
"Was that ALL you were doing?"
"Yes, sir." The man managed to look both puzzled and concerned at the same time. "Was there something else I should have been doing?"
"Well, Stratton, that's all WE asked of you."
Then another voice growled, "But you're not really working for US, are you Stratton?"
'Stratton' spotted another man step up behind the first. He had wondered if the newcomer would be trouble. Staying in character, he replied, "I'm sorry, sir. Who else would I be working for?"
"How about the ATF, Stratton? Or should I say, Agent Standish?"
Shit. "A. T. what, sir?" he asked, trying to look dumber than the rest of the mentally challenged crew. Behind his back, he pushed the button on the remote he held.
Then all hell broke loose. The communications building -- or 'ramshackle shed' in the agent's mind -- blew up. As fire and debris engulfed the clearing, ATF agent Ezra Standish ran for his life.
Federal building, Denver, CO
"...By vacuuming the powder off the tray, it can't set off the main explosive when you break into the case." MacGyver demonstrated using the suction tool he had carefully inserted into the caulking around the glass.
ATF agent Nathan Jackson nodded as his sharp brown eyes followed every move. Usually, it was his partner, Buck Wilmington, who handled the bombs. However, Buck was needed on their western slope case, so the task had fallen to him. It wasn't something Nathan liked to do. He hadn't had to defuse bombs since the army. Learning new tricks from someone who was obviously a master made him feel better, though. "Then you have to cut the wire leading to the screw attached to the trigger?"
"Right," Mac nodded as he demonstrated. He looked up at his pupil. "Think you want to give it a shot?"
Nathan sighed then nodded. "I want to make sure I can do this in case we come across any more of this maniac's handiwork. People's lives could be at stake."
MacGyver gave him a warm, understanding smile. "Then let's give it a go."
Agent Josiah Sanchez watched from the doorway. A life-long student of human nature, he noted the natural teaching style of the Phoenix expert. MacGyver led Nathan at just the right pace for his friend's comfort. The lanky man's intent, yet relaxed, pose indicated that he had extensive skill in the deadly field. Intelligence shone from the light brown eyes while the gray in his blond hair testified to his years of experience. Josiah was looking forward to sitting down with the man and swapping a few stories. It would be nice to talk with someone of his own vintage for a change.
A light tap on his shoulder brought his attention back to the hall. Their boss, Chris Larabee, stood behind him with a grim expression. "How's Nathan doing?"
"Appears to be doing pretty well." Josiah knew instinctively that Chris wasn't worried about Nathan. "What's wrong?"
If possible, the blond man dressed in black looked even grimmer. "The guys have lost contact with Standish."
Josiah pursed his lips, blue eyes growing concerned. "Do you think he's in trouble?"
"It's Ezra. Either he's wrapped all of Kelly's men in a big red bow for us, or he's neck deep in shit."
Josiah nodded, agreeing with the assessment. While all of their team had an affinity for trouble, Ezra did tend to go to extremes. "What do you plan to do?"
"I'm heading over. By the time I get there, Vin should have his initial recon done or JD may have found Ez's emergency tracker. Meanwhile, I want you and Nathan to keep working this bombing case. You're close, and I'd like to nail the bastard before he does any more damage."
Shifting on his feet, Josiah reluctantly agreed. "I'd rather be up there with the rest of you."
Chris nodded in understanding. "I'll keep you posted."
Pine Tree, CO
Sam quietly cursed to himself as he pulled into the tiny mountain town. "Candles. How in the heck did I forget candles?" With a sigh, he parked the navy blue Jeep Cherokee in front of a small general store. His brown eyes automatically scanned the quiet street as he slammed the door. The town was barely more than a handful of buildings. Apparently, Pine Tree wasn't included in the prosperity of 'white gold' that the ski resorts further south enjoyed.
Upon entering the store, Sam began searching for the candles. The walls and three small aisles were stuffed full of everything from milk to fishing gear. Making the task more difficult was the suspicious stare from the large man behind the counter. Sam's skin was crawling by the time he spotted a small packet of thin blue candles.
As he approached the counter, the man stated, "You're not from around here."
Sam forced himself to remain calm. "No, but my grandpa's cabin's near Ouray. I'm heading there." The glare didn't ease much. The young man was beginning to wish he had Blair's partner, Jim Ellison, with him. The former covert ops captain could have given the jerk a run for his money in a stare down competition.
Finally, the man rang up his purchase. "Dollar, fifty."
Sam counted out the change, deciding not to mention that the price on the packet was 99 cents. He only wanted to return to the jeep as fast as he could.
As the man slid his money off the counter, he leaned into Sam's personal space. "And a piece of advice: Stay down around Ouray." Sam stared into the man's eyes evenly for a moment before turning to the door.
Once outside, Sam's uneasiness grew as he noted the street was no longer quiet. Several men in white and gray fatigues now roamed the wooden sidewalk. They appeared to be searching for something. Deciding he really didn't want to know what was going on, Sam walked to the jeep. He ignored the hostile stares while noting he should call Sheriff Connor when he got to the next town. Opening the passenger's side door to the back seat, Sam came face-to-face with a man in similar fatigues who was scrunched down on the floorboard.
The man stared up at him calmly, though his face was white with tension. "I hate to impose," he whispered softly in a deep southern accent. "But I am an undercover federal agent for Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and I require discreet transportation. My life is in your hands."
Fighting back any reaction, Sam tucked the candles into his pack on the seat. He casually closed the door and walked back to the driver's side. He turned the engine and put the jeep into gear, totally ignoring the stranger hiding behind him as he drove. Once the town disappeared behind a curve in the rearview mirror, Sam softly called out, "We're clear."
Releasing a long-held breath, the other man pushed the pack out of the way and pulled himself into the front passenger's seat. "I am forever in your debt, Mr....?"
"Mr. Malloy, I am Agent Ezra Standish. I would most appreciate it if you could drop me off at the nearest sheriff's office."
Sam chuckled. "No problem. I was just thinking I should tell Sheriff Connor there was something strange going on in that town."
Ezra studied his traveling companion intently. "You are acquainted with the county sheriff?"
"Friend of my Dad's. My great-grandpa's cabin's between here and Ouray, and my dad often goes fishing with Connor." Sam gave the agent a sideways look. "You really an agent?"
"Yes, but I fear I have no identification. A drawback to undercover work."
Sam sighed. He was going to have to go with his gut instincts, which told him the man was an agent in deep trouble. Besides, the name Standish sounded vaguely familiar. Sam couldn't place it, but he didn't think it was bad.
"So, are you a former resident of this locale?" Ezra pried.
"No. I grew up here and there, and my job keeps me moving. Right now, Dad lets me leave my stuff in his apartment in L.A."
Ezra nodded, absorbing the information the lanky young man had provided. "And what exactly is your employment, Mr. Malloy?"
"It's just Sam, and I'm a photojournalist."
Ezra closed his eyes a moment. "So the price of my liberation is a front page account of my bungled assignment?"
Sam flashed him a reassuring smile. "No. I do mostly international humanitarian stories." Noticing his new traveling companion did not look convinced, he added, "Besides, I couldn't be objective on a U.S. law enforcement story. My brother's a police detective, so I know how hard that line of work can be."
A small smile finally slipped across the agent's face. "So you would side with the enforcers?"
Sam's deep chuckle finished breaking the tension. "Much to the dismay of my editor." He covertly glanced at the agent, noting the tears in his white jacket. "Are you hurt?"
"Only my pride." Ezra sighed and shook his head. "I thought I had successfully infiltrated the suspect group until my identity was unexpectedly revealed this morning."
Sam frowned as he put the pieces together. "Militia?"
Ezra slowly nodded. "Are you familiar with militias?"
"Mostly stories from my brother. One abducted him a few years ago and conveniently cracked a couple of his ribs while he was sick with the flu." Sam's face darkened with memories. "It took Blair several months to get back up to speed after that."
"The reason for the abduction?" Ezra inquired softly.
"They were using Blair to get at his partner. Plus Blair had outwitted the leader a few times, so he wasn't exactly their favorite person."
"Ah," Ezra nodded. "Such a dastardly technique has been used against my teammates. Cowardly, but unfortunately effective."
"Yeah, that certainly describes the jerk. Still glad Dad broke that damn leader's nose when they captured him."
Ezra smiled as he checked the road behind them. "I suspect I would enjoy your father's company."
Sam chuckled. "Yeah, Dad most certainly has his moments." Then his eyes widened. "Oh, oh."
Ezra turned around to spot the two large trucks blocking the road well ahead of them. Men with shotguns stood in front of the vehicles. "It would appear our subterfuge has been exposed."
"That's one way of putting it." Sam searched their surroundings as he slowed the Jeep, praying they hadn't been spotted yet. Noting a snow and dirt covered track, he pulled a sharp right.
"Any idea as to where this road leads?" Ezra asked as he grabbed the seatbelt.
"Nope. But there's a topo map in the back seat."
Ezra leaned back to snatch the item as the Jeep rocked on the rugged trail. "I see you come prepared."
"Something I've learned the hard way."
Cascade International Airport, Cascade, WA
Captain Simon Banks watched as Jim Ellison approached, carrying his boarding pass and carry-on. His best detective team had had a difficult couple of weeks. There was a weariness in Jim's eyes, which was only a fraction of the exhaustion Simon had noticed in Blair Sandburg's. The attempts to discredit Blair's integrity by the defense had been hard on both men. Thus, the trip to Colorado to spend time with Blair's family was a perfect way for the partners to unwind. "Where's Sandburg?"
Jim glanced over his shoulder. "Still at the counter."
"Should have known." Simon glanced around, spotting Sandburg still chatting. "Well, I probably should head back."
"Thanks for giving us a lift." Jim patted his friend on the shoulder.
"Well, there is one thing I wanted to mention."
Jim lifted an eyebrow. "We're on vacation, Simon."
"I know," the captain growled. "Unfortunately, the militias are not."
It was easy to follow Simon's train of thought. Jim could feel his stomach clench. "Has there been threats?"
"No. But you and Sandburg, especially Sandburg, were key witnesses in Kincaid's trial. It's a good bet that the Sunrise Patriots and a few of their friends may hold a grudge." Simon then gave Jim a smirk. "Besides, you're going to have three MacGyvers under the same roof. You keep telling me how Malloy and Mac are just as good at attracting trouble as Sandburg."
"Like nails to a magnet," Jim admitted.
"Well, keep an eye out. I don't want to have to fly in and rescue you."
Jim smiled. "Sure? Would give you an excuse to see Colorado again."
"I prefer seeing it when the water's running and the fish are biting."
"What fish?" Blair piped up as he joined them.
"Just explaining why I'm staying here, Sandburg."
Blair gave him a wide smile. It was the first true, full-wattage Sandburg smile Simon had seen since Kincaid's pre-trial. "I thought that's because you're the captain."
Simon gave the younger man a growl. "Just wait until you get back, Sandburg. I'll save all the hard cases for you."
"Don't you do that anyway?" Blair ducked laughingly as Simon gave him a play swipe.
"On that note, I'm heading back to headquarters." As Simon turned, he caught Jim's eye. Jim gave his captain a reassuring nod before the tall, dark man headed for short-term parking.
Back road, Uncompahgre National Forest, CO
Glancing around the dirt track and identifying the jagged peak behind them, Sam nodded to himself. "We should be close to 550 now."
Raising his eyes from the map he was studying, Ezra lifted an eyebrow at his traveling companion. "You are familiar with the locale?"
"A little." Sam turned the Jeep onto another snow-packed road. "Plus I studied the map on the plane out here."
"Really? Do you always prepare so meticulously?"
"No, but I thought Blair would be with me."
"And your brother's presence would require memorizing the map?"
Sam couldn't help but laugh. "Oh, yeah. Blair's very good at many things, but map reading is NOT one of them. I've found that if I study the map first, I can let Blair think he's navigating and I can still get us there."
Ezra smirked. "Your family appears to be comprised of very unique and fascinating individuals."
"In more ways than one." Sam glanced over at the agent. "What about your family?"
"My only living familial relation is my mother." Ezra couldn't hold back a sigh. "A highly remarkable woman who never fails to make an impression. However, our paths rarely cross." The phrase 'Thank God' flashed across the agent's mind. Maude tended to leave his life in tatters after her whirlwind visits. "Often support is provided by my teammates."
Sam nodded. "Sounds like Blair and his partner. For that matter, Jim's like family to me, too." Pausing a moment, the photographer commented, "If Blair ran into trouble on an assignment, nothing would stop Jim from searching for him."
Ezra quickly caught on to Sam's train of thought. "My teammates would react in a similar fashion. They are most certainly searching for me now, since I have missed my check-in by hours."
"Any way we can contact them?"
"Unfortunately, no." Ezra absently rubbed his forehead. "I misplaced my cell phone during my impromptu flight from the militia encampment."
"I have mine," Sam offered. "It's in my pack."
Ezra swiftly picked up the pack and searched it. Withdrawing the phone, he flipped it open. "No signal."
"Figures. Any other ideas?"
"I have an emergency tracking signal, but I fear it is no longer in working condition."
"What's the prob..." At that moment, the back window shattered. As Sam ducked and hit the gas, he realized he had heard a sharp report from behind them.
Ezra ducked, too. Glancing over his shoulder, he commented lightly, "My pursuers have apparently found us."
"Noticed." Sam could see a huge Dodge truck in the side mirror, men with high power rifles standing in the bed aiming for the Jeep. Hastily cranking the steering wheel, Sam managed to weave, causing the next hail of bullets to miss their mark. He pushed harder on the gas pedal. Snow and dirt flew into the air behind them.
Ezra had yanked out his gun from under his jacket and turned to aim over the seat, only to realize his side arm didn't have the range. He watched in dread as the men in the truck lined up another shot. "GO!" he shouted to Sam.
However, Sam had just discovered he had more important problems. "HANG ON!" he shouted, working the wheel.
As Ezra spun around in his seat, his first impression was of pine tree tops. He instantly snapped his seatbelt into place as the Jeep whipped around the sharp turn. The agent's stomach found its way to his throat. Sam struggled to keep the vehicle upright and on the road, but couldn't prevent two 360 degree spins along the steep mountain road. The Jeep slid into the snow and dirt embankment of the downhill curve.
However, they were luckier than the truck behind them. Unable to stop, the truck sailed over the tree tops and down the mountain side. A soft 'boom' could be heard in the stillness of the forest.
A few moments later, Ezra still hadn't loosened his death grip on the dashboard. It wasn't until Sam moaned that Ezra's head finally moved from its fearful view of the steep drop-off. He realized it had been Sam's side of the vehicle which had hit the embankment. "Are you all right?"
Gingerly rubbing the spot where his head had hit the driver's side window, Sam replied, "Yeah, though I think I'm going to have a knot."
"At least you drive better than some of my colleagues. Otherwise, we most certainly would have joined our pursuers." His mind finally kicking into gear, Ezra glanced around. "Can you drive?"
Sam blinked at him a moment, then suddenly understood. "Do you think they radioed someone?"
"I'm sure they at least made an attempt. So the most prudent move on our parts would be to disappear before the rest of the pack arrives."
"Yeah." Sam rubbed his eyes a moment more, then gripped the steering wheel again. Pressing the gas, the tires only spun in place. Shifting into reverse, Sam tried again. The Jeep still didn't move.
Getting out, Ezra shook his head and yelled back, "You're in a deep ditch filled with snow. I fear it will go no further without assistance."
Sam closed his eyes a moment before shutting off the engine. He extracted himself from the driver's seat, climbing over the passenger's to exit from Ezra's opened door. He, too, looked over the Jeep. "Man, I am SO glad I took the insurance." He then turned to the agent. "We hike?"
"Yes." Ezra had walked over to the other side. The trees were so thick he couldn't see where the truck had landed. "While I doubt there were any survivors, we should still make a hasty retreat."
Sam sighed as he reached back into the Jeep to grab his backpack and camera case. "Then we'd better get started." He paused to latch onto the map, too. "Man, why does something always happen when I try to go to Harry's cabin?"
As Chris walked from the helicopter pad to the small inn, he hoped to find his trip over the mountains had been unnecessary. He held onto the thought as he jogged up to the room his agents had rented. However, the slim hope died when his youngest agent opened the door. If there had been any word from Ezra at all, JD Dunne's natural optimism would have bubbled to the surface. Instead, the grim expression spoke louder than words that their undercover agent was still missing.
"Hi, Chris," Buck Wilmington called softly, a touch of relief in his voice. The heavy weight of responsibility on his old partner's features lifted slightly with Chris' arrival. Buck had been in charge of the militia's illegal explosives operation on the western slope while Chris dealt with the higher profile bombing case back in Denver. Now Chris' long-time friend would be beating himself up, reviewing every decision he had made, searching for the one which put their teammate in danger. As he walked to the table, Chris squeezed Buck's shoulder reassuringly.
Vin Tanner was busily making pencil marks on the topo map covering most of the wooden table's surface. Noting that the lean agent was still wearing his heavy jacket, Chris surmised that Vin had just arrived from his recon of the militia camp. Chris' green eyes captured the blue ones as they rose from the map. Chris instantly knew that Vin had information, but that it wasn't good. The blond man sat in the chair next to Buck and softly ordered, "Update me."
With a sigh, Buck quietly reported, "Still no word from Ezra, either by phone or his emergency signal. Hell, at this point I'd be happy for word by carrier pigeon."
"Are we sure he's in trouble?" Chris asked.
"Oh yeah." Vin had just pulled off his coat and tossed it onto the bed behind him. "That camp is more stirred up than a fallen wasp nest. The communication shed Ez was going to blow during our raid tomorrow is gone -- I'm guessing he had to blow it early to cover his escape."
"Any sign of Ezra?"
Vin shook his head. "That's the bad news. Though the good news is that the militiamen apparently don't know where he is, either. They're searching the entire forest all around here." Vin carefully penciled in a circle around the camp, making Xs where he had seen search parties.
Chris frowned. "Any suggestions as to where Ezra disappeared to?"
"Hard to say. Ez won't leave any clues as to where he ran, cuz he'd know the militia would spot 'em first. I'm guessing he'd try for the Million Dollar Highway." Vin traced the red line that represented highway 550, the main road through the area. "But considering how inexperienced Ez is out in the mountains, I'm not sure he'd know which direction to go." Guilty eyes rose to meet Chris' again. "I knew I should have gone under instead of him."
"No." Buck shook his head emphatically. "The same reasons we didn't send you still apply, Junior. There's a good chance you would have been recognized from your time in the Army or as a bounty hunter."
"Agree." Chris sent a stern, yet reassuring, glare at his friend. "Ezra had a better chance to pull this off. In fact, does anyone know what happened?"
Three heads shook in unison. "He did say a new player arrived yesterday," JD reported. "He wasn't sure who it was, but Ezra kinda indicated he had a bad vibe from the guy. Maybe he blew Ezra's cover?"
Chris sighed. "Guess we're going to have to retrieve him to know for certain. Any ideas?"
"Ezra was suppose to contact us for a pickup if something went wrong," Buck pointed out. "But that area is so rugged, I've been worried that he'd have trouble with his cell phone. That's why JD rigged the satellite signal for him."
"Only he hasn't triggered that, either," JD added.
"How come?" Chris asked, puzzled.
"Maybe he lost it?" Vin suggested.
"Or it might have broke."
Buck turned his head to stare at his roommate, since it was new information.
JD shrugged in return. "It's delicate equipment. If he landed hard on it, who knows?"
Buck rubbed his eyes. He had tried so hard to give Ezra the best backup he could. Apparently, Murphy was not on their side.
JD glanced back and forth between the two older agents. "So what do we do now?"
Chris stared at the map a moment, running his finger along the Million Dollar Highway. It was so named because old tailings from the surrounding gold mines had been used for fill. Surely such a road had to be lucky for their Jag-driving, Armani-wearing partner. "Vin, did you leave any gas in my truck?" Chris had insisted Vin take his Dodge Ram for the assignment. Vin's battered Jeep had picked up an annoying stutter lately, and Chris didn't trust it to cross the snowy passes.
Vin tilted his head. "Yeah."
"Okay, this is what we'll do. Team Four should be arriving within a few hours as backup. In the meantime, Vin and I are going to drive along 550, keeping our eyes peeled for Ezra, while you two wait for them. Once they arrive, I want JD to show them how to monitor the equipment for Ezra's signal, just in case he manages to trigger it. Then I want you to also drive along here. We'll keep this up in shifts with Team Four until we get some indication where Ezra's gone. Because without word from Ez, it's our best shot."
Back road, Uncompahgre National Forest, CO
A full ton Ford truck pulled up next to the stuck rental Jeep. Several men poured out, three to look over the edge and swear at the sight of smoke from their friend's truck at the bottom, two others to check the jeep.
"Well, well, well," one man whispered, reading the rental agreement he'd pulled out of the glove compartment. He was the man back at the camps that Ezra had not known.
"What is it, Decker?" his partner asked.
"Says here the Jeep was paid for by a Blair Sandburg."
The other man puzzled for a moment. "Wait a minute. Wasn't that the guy who's testimony put your cousin in a federal prison?"
"It certainly was." Decker Kincaid slapped the papers against the palm of his hand. "Looks like I'm going to have a chance to settle some old scores."
Nathan pushed his lunch around on his plate. The food at the popular Denver bar and grill was delicious, but Nate simply couldn't eat. While he should be concentrating on the bombing case, his mind kept wandering towards the western slope and his teammates. A sideways glance proved Josiah wasn't faring much better.
A fact that was not lost on MacGyver. Finally, he asked, "Can you tell me the problem?"
Nathan and Josiah exchanged glances. "One of our teammates is undercover and missed his check-in," Josiah softly explained.
Mac nodded in understanding. "I take it you're close?"
Nathan snorted. "He's a pain in the butt." Pausing a moment, he was forced to admit, "But he's our pain in the butt."
Josiah cracked a smile. "Our team is made up of highly eccentric and headstrong individuals. Yet since most of us are alone, we've become family."
"Which is good, since nobody else would put up with us," Nathan added.
"So all Nate and I can do is worry until Larabee lets us know the situation." Josiah put his fork down, his normally calm face showing his concern.
"Guess we'd better concentrate on the case to get your mind off it," Mac suggested.
Josiah leaned back in his chair. "Or you can tell us why you're in such a hurry to finish up by this weekend."
A soft smile teased the corner of MacGyver's mouth. "I'm meeting my sons and a friend up at my grandpa's cabin this weekend."
Nathan looked up from his plate. "Yeah? Sounds like you're really looking forward to that."
"I am. I don't get to see them much, so any time when all of us can be together is precious."
"Do they live in L.A.?" Josiah asked.
Mac leaned back in his chair. "My older son is a police detective up in Washington State. My younger son's stuff is at my place, but he's usually overseas on assignment. He's a photojournalist."
Josiah's ears perked up. "Europe? Asia?"
"Wherever the action is, which has given me a few gray hairs." Mac shook his head. "Just got back from India, as a matter of fact."
"Kashmir?" Josiah guessed, picking the disputed territory between India and Pakistan.
"No, he was on the earthquake. Sounds like it was rough."
Before Josiah could ask any more questions, a voice broke in, "Hey Gus!"
Mac didn't need to look. Only one person had the nerve to call him by any form of his given first name. He turned towards the voice anyway. "Hi, Jack." Nathan and Josiah gaped as a man identical to their bomb expert, except for the crew cut and the cast on his arm, walked up to their table.
"What are you doing in my part of the States?" Colonel Jack O'Neill asked, offering his good hand.
"Working a bombing case with ATF," Mac replied, shaking the hand warmly.
"Then I don't even have to ask which one." The bombings had been in all the local papers.
"I tried calling when I got into town, but couldn't reach you." Mac waved at the cast. "That part of the reason?"
"Bad assignment." Jack shrugged, indicating he considered it part of the job. "On medical leave right now."
Knowing the highly classified nature of his friend's work, Mac knew better than to inquire further. Instead, he asked, "You free this weekend?"
Jack nodded. "More or less. Daniel needs a break, so we were going up to my fishing cabin tonight."
"Well, Sam's bound and determined to give me a birthday party this year, so we're all meeting at my grandpa's cabin near Ouray. Like to come?"
Jack chuckled. "Getting old, eh? Sure, I've been wanting to meet Sam. Blair coming?"
"Yeah, both he and Jim need the break. They just got done testifying in a federal case and Jim said the defense was rough on Blair."
Jack's eyes darkened a moment. He rather liked the scrappy scientist turned detective and didn't like anyone giving him a hard time. "Then we'll have to make sure he has fun."
"Bring Daniel, too. Blair would love hearing about the unclassified parts of his research."
"Daniel will love it. Doesn't get to talk anthropology too much with just us military types." Jack glanced at his watch. "Damn, I need to get going. Call me with the directions?"
"Twin brother?" Nathan ventured as Mac waved good-bye.
"Oops, sorry. No, that was Colonel Jack O'Neill. As far as we can tell, Jack and I have a distant relative in common, but that's it. We met only a couple of years ago."
"Air Force?" Josiah guessed.
"Yep. He's based down at Cheyenne Mountain right now."
The sound of a beeper dropped Nathan's gaze to the small device. Slipping it off his belt, he swiftly read the message. "The lab's got some info for us."
"Then let's go." Josiah picked up the bill and led the other men through the restaurant.
Uncompahgre National Forest, CO
Ezra was growing rather fond of his new traveling companion. Most people dragged into a chase would have been hysterical or constantly complaining. However, Ezra had been doing most of the grumbling so far. Malloy had simply joined in with the laid-back ease the agent would expect from teammate Vin Tanner or perhaps Josiah Sanchez. Not bad for a civilian, especially one between his youngest teammates, Tanner and Dunne, in age. Malloy was also very useful, navigating the mountain terrain much better than Ezra could ever hope to do by himself. If the southerner had to be stuck out in the middle of a frozen mountain trying to find a way to a phone, he couldn't have chosen a better person to be stuck with.
However, like anything too lucky, the coincidence of finding such a skilled young man just when he needed him made Ezra slightly suspicious. Malloy hadn't done anything to indicate he was something other than what he had said he was. But Ezra really didn't know much about him, either.
Pausing a moment as he studied the ravine beside them, Sam softly asked, "You hungry? I've got granola and snickers bars."
"Granola?" Ezra asked as he quickly flipped open Sam's cell phone to check the display. He kept hoping they'd walk out of the dead zone, but still no luck.
Sam chuckled. "Blair gives me grief about junk food. He's almost as bad as Dad."
Ezra watched as the young man unzipped his backpack. "Is that a space blanket?"
"Yep." Sam caught something as it fell out and slid it into his pocket.
Ezra identified it. "Lighter? Do you indulge in the vice of smoking?"
"No. But cigarette lighters are more reliable than matches in bad weather."
Ezra lifted an eyebrow. "You seem overly prepared for a person visiting his grandfather's cabin."
Sam sighed as he offered Ezra his choice of bars, hearing the hint of suspicion. After Ezra picked a granola, Sam explained, "About three years ago, Blair and I were heading for Harry's cabin and were intercepted by a hit man with a long-time grudge against our Dad." Serious brown eyes met the agent's. "We basically found ourselves being chased on foot, in the dead of winter, more-or-less lost, no phone or radio, with only what we had in our backpacks and my camera case. Blair was also pretty sick at the time and I ended up breaking my arm in one of the hit man's traps. If Jim hadn't found us when he did, I don't know how much longer either of us could have held out, especially Blair." Sam bowed his head back over his pack, zipping it up. "I swore never to get caught out like that again. So I prepare."
Ezra nodded thoughtfully, absorbing the story. "Why was the hit man after your father?"
Sam smirked as he stood up. "Dad's former DXS. He's the only one to ever stop one of Murdoc's assassination attempts, so Murdoc holds Dad responsible for ruining his reputation."
"Then I stand by my previous observation. You are from a family of unique and fascinating individuals."
Sam chuckled. Before he could comment, a shot rang out as the snow by their feet spurted into the air. "Run!" Sam and Ezra yelled together as they swiftly clambered down the path.
Pine Tree, CO
After Chris parked his Dodge Ram in front of the store, he turned to his partner. Vin was studying the area, a slight frown on his face. "Vin?"
The younger man continued his search. "Something don't feel right."
Chris glanced around. There did seem to be a strange tension hanging over the area. He pointed his chin at two men standing by a run-down garage. "Aren't those the same fatigues Ezra had?"
"Yep. Snow's been churned up too, like there's been a lot of foot traffic recently. Strange for a place this small."
Blue eyes met green. Both were thinking that if Ezra had made it this far, he wouldn't have found any help in this town. Chris raised an eyebrow in question. "You still want that junk food?"
"Yeah, I'm starving." Chris' eyes transmitted the need to stay alert, which Vin silently agreed to with a nod. As one, they popped open the doors and walked into the store.
Chris' nerves grew tighter once inside. While nothing was suspicious, the air seemed to crackle with unease. Increasing the feeling was the man at the counter, who was glaring at Vin's long hair and leather jacket as the lean man sorted through the chips. It was probably a good thing Buck had rejected Vin's request to join the militia -- Vin was protective of his hair.
After grabbing two Cokes from the small refrigerated selection in the rear, Chris met Vin at the counter. The man studied them hard. "Where are you boys going?" he asked Chris suspiciously, ignoring Vin.
While his first thought was to ignore the question, Vin's glance reminded him that perhaps they could get some information. "We're heading towards Ouray," Chris replied, picking the next good-sized town on the other side of Ridgway. He pushed the Cokes and Vin's Fritos closer to the cash register in a silent signal to ring them up.
The owner ignored it. "You going to your grandpa's cabin like that other boy who was in here?" he questioned snidely.
Vin felt a tingle on the back of his neck. Somehow, he knew this was important. "Could be one of my cousins. What did he look like?"
Still directing his answers to Chris, the man shrugged. "Short brown hair, brown eyes, leather jacket like his, almost six foot."
Nodding, Vin tried not to become angry at getting ignored. "Sounds like one of them."
"You ain't driving a rental like him," the man drawled, sparing a glare at Vin's hair again.
"We're from the Front Range," Chris replied, backing Vin's play, "while our cousin's coming in from out-of-state."
"What he rent?" Vin asked casually. "Cuz isn't real smart sometimes."
"Did pretty good," the man grudgingly admitted as he finally began to ring them up. "Blue Cherokee."
"At least it wasn't like last time," Vin chuckled dryly, meeting Chris' eyes.
"Well, I hope you aren't all having a big party and traipsing through my store." He glanced at Vin again, then back to Chris. Vin had a feeling that if Chris had not been there, with his clean-cut looks and bad-ass attitude, the man would have given him a harder time.
Chris held the man's glare for a moment, silently letting him know that he would do what he damn well pleased. Then he paid for the items and followed Vin out of the store.
Once they were in the truck, Chris glanced at Vin. Seeing the thoughtful look on his friend's face as he tore open the bag of Fritos, he asked, "What?"
Vin paused a moment as he looked around. "This burg isn't all that far from the militia camp."
Chris nodded. "Hell, the guy in there's probably a member."
"What if Ezra got this far and saw a rental jeep sitting in front of the store?"
Chris thought a moment. "You don't think he'd..."
Vin shrugged. "Ez's a gambler. Considering the locals, he may have felt it worth the risk."
"In any case, the driver may have seen something." Chris put the truck in gear. "Get a hold of Buck. Maybe JD can track him down."
MacGyver took a deep breath as he sat in the van. The paper trail on one of the chemicals had led him and the ATF agents to a small town on the plains east of Denver. The rundown house didn't appear to be livable and certainly not occupied. However, appearances could be deceiving. Experience had taught him that.
The consultant from Phoenix felt his muscles tighten as the agents around him checked their weapons and Kevlar vests. He hated guns, but could understand their necessity given the situation. The sound of a jet engine reminded Mac just how close they were to the Denver International Airport and what could possibly be at stake.
Nathan also had heard the plane. "Man, talk about an ideal location for a terrorist wannabe. I pray to God we don't have to search DIA for one of this maniac's bombs."
"Amen, Brother." Josiah turned to Mac. "You'll be able to hear everything on the headphones. If we find another bomb, we'll call you."
Mac nodded. "Just be careful."
Josiah moved two fingers near his forehead at Mac before following his partner out the door. Mac reflected that the gesture looked like Josiah had been tipping an imaginary hat.
Holding his breath, Mac listened as Jackson and Sanchez coordinated with Teams 3 and 5. When there was no answer to Nathan's knock, the sound of the door breaking signaled the start of the raid. Calm, intense voices crackled through the radio. Soon, it became apparent their suspect was not home. Sounds of opening drawers and moving furniture intermixed with the agents' chatter.
Then Nathan's voice came across loud and strong. "MacGyver, you better get in here and see this."
"Bomb?" MacGyver asked more calmly than he felt.
"No, but you won't believe this workshop..."
"Buck, what was the description of that rental Jeep Vin mentioned?" JD was listening intently, pressing the earpiece of his headset closer to his ear.
Buck looked up from the map. "Blue Cherokee."
"Bingo!" As Buck stood up and walked over, JD listened a few moments more. Thus the older man easily noticed when the worried look crossed his friend's face. "Damn!"
"What?" Buck asked.
"The Sheriff's department has found a Jeep matching that description with the back window shot out."
"Damn," Buck echoed JD's swearing.
"Also asking for a coroner." Buck's face turned white before JD continued, "But that sounds like it's for another wreck in the same area."
"Guess that's something." Worry still lined the older agent's face. "Where's it at?" JD scribbled down the information as he continued to listen. Buck read it over his shoulder and nodded. "Okay, that's east, northeast of us."
JD turned worried eyes to his friend. "What do you think happened?"
"Militia must have found Ezra and his friend with the Jeep. Hopefully, they managed to escape." Buck slapped JD on the shoulder. "I'll get the news to Chris and Junior, then we'll go check it out."
County Airport, Montrose, CO
"Sandburg, you are shameless." Jim shook his head as he lifted his suitcase off the belt.
Blair was grinning as he smoothed the large sticker on the side of his luggage. "Hey, I'll have you know that's an Aztec symbol for..."
"I know what it's a symbol for -- that's obvious."
The two partners continued to tease each other as they walked towards the car rental desk. Then Jim blinked. "Isn't that Sheriff Connor?"
"Yeah, it is." Blair walked over, greeting, "Hi, Sheriff."
Connor's eyes bugged out. "Blair? Where'd you come from?"
"Cascade," Blair chuckled.
"Our plane just landed," Jim explained, following his partner.
The sheriff glanced between the two men. "Then how come there's a Jeep Cherokee rented out to Blair this morning?"
Blair felt his good mood drain to his feet. "I missed my flight this morning, so Sam picked it up." Swallowing, he asked, "What's wrong?"
"We're not quite sure..." Connor hedged.
"Not sure about what?" Jim asked quietly. He did not like the implications.
"Well, one of my officers found the Jeep in a snow embankment with the back window shot out."
"WHAT!" Blair exclaimed, his eyes wide.
Jim's face grew grim. "Any sign of Sam?"
"No. There was also a truck over the side. Four dead."
"Damn," Blair whispered, mind racing.
The Sheriff again glanced between the two men. "Any ideas who might be after Sam?"
Both shook their heads. "Sam just got back from India, and Dad hasn't warned us about anybody recently," Blair explained. He looked up into the Sheriff's face. "Can you take us there?"
"Sheriff," Jim softly growled. If Sam was in trouble, the sentinel wanted to start tracking him as soon as possible. Memories of Murdoc terrorizing Sam and Blair in the area were still fresh after three years.
"I'll get Deputy Kelsey to lead you to the spot. If you think of anything..."
"We'll let you know," Jim assured him. He gently nudged his stunned partner towards the counter, wanting to get the rental and on the road as soon as possible.
Uncompahgre National Forest, CO
Sam barely stopped before sliding over a rock and into the ravine below. As Ezra managed to avoid running into him, Sam glanced down and shook his head. "Too steep."
Ezra shuddered at the drop, all too easily imagining their bodies broken on the rocks below. There was no way they could navigate the ice coated rock. Breathing hard, the agent asked, "Any way around it?"
Sam swiftly surveyed the area. "Maybe on the other side of those rocks?" He pointed at a ridge of reddish brown rocks jutting out of the snow.
"In addition, it would provide us with higher ground." Ezra checked the clip in his gun, fearing they may end up trapped in a shootout.
Before Ezra could take a step towards the ridge, Sam's arm stopped him. "Just a minute." With a couple of well-placed kicks, Sam sent a stone on the edge crashing into the ravine. Noticing Ezra's lifted eyebrow, he explained, "Decoy."
Nodding in understanding, Ezra, too, kicked another large rock to follow the first. "Excellent idea, Mr. Malloy."
"Sam," his companion absently corrected, studying the terrain to their goal.
"Sam." Ezra leaned down to yank his back-up piece from his ankle holster. "Do you know how to shoot?"
Nodding seriously, Sam took the offered weapon. "Took a course, and Jim's helped me some. Just don't tell my Dad if you ever meet him." Before Ezra could ask why, they could hear noises in the trees. "Follow me."
Ezra carefully picked his way after Sam, stepping on stone wherever possible. They scrambled up the rocky mound until they could see over it. After a few more yards, Sam pointed ahead. "There's a foot bridge. We must be close to a trail."
"Then let us traverse this ravine and increase our distance from our pursuers."
Sam held back a chuckle as he led the way. If he could write the way the agent talked, perhaps his editor wouldn't be so upset with him. However, he suspected the southern accent added to the flow. The photojournalist was just stepping onto the bridge when a shot hit the rock next to him.
"GO!" Ezra shouted. He turned and shot towards the three men above them, forcing them to find cover in the rocks. Then Ezra, too, crossed the swaying construction of rope and wood as fast as he dared. Shots from his backup piece rang in his ears as Sam covered him. Once across, Ezra turned and fired three well-placed shots, severing the main connecting ropes. The bridge fell, effectively cutting them off from the other side and their pursuers.
As Ezra and Sam scrambled to get out of bullet range, a voice shouted, "Blair Sandburg!" Shocked at the familiar name, Sam turned to the voice. "Yeah, you! We know how you and Ellison participated in that injustice against one of our brothers! How Dexter Fillmore rejected our cause! Revenge for Garrett Kincaid WILL be ours!"
Ezra grabbed Sam's arm and yanked him down into a gully of brush. The agent forced the civilian ahead of him until they were at least half a mile from the ravine. After pulling him to the side, Ezra turned Sam's still stunned face to his while the agent struggled to control his breathing. "Your brother Blair... Detective Blair Sandburg... partner James Ellison... from Cascade, Washington?"
Eyes widening, Sam nodded. "Yeah. How do you..." Then a light turned on in Sam's mind. "Wait a minute! About a year ago, Blair emailed me that they helped an old army buddy of Jim's who's an ATF agent."
"Vin Tanner, one of my partners. Your brother helped me put the pieces of the case together. Who's Fillmore?"
"Haven't a clue," Sam replied with a shake of his head. "Maybe one of Jim's informants?"
"Who's Garrett Kincaid?"
Sam's face turned grim. "Remember I mentioned the guy who hurt Blair and Dad busted his nose?" At Ezra's nod, Sam continued, "That's Kincaid. Blair and Jim testified against him in a federal case this week."
"So his comrades would hold a grudge?"
"Oh yeah. In fact, they tried to kill Blair after the trial while attempting to break Kincaid out. And Blair and Jim's plane should have landed in Montrose..." Sam glanced at his watch. "An hour ago."
Ezra was now frowning, too. He had enjoyed working with the brilliant Sandburg and what he suspected about the young detective's press conference made him an admirer. The fact the handy young man beside him was Sandburg's brother only increased his protective feeling towards Malloy. "Then there is even more incentive to communicate with the outside world." Ezra again flipped open Sam's cell phone to read, 'No signal'.
Larabee's truck, Uncompahgre National Forest, CO
Chris glanced from the road to his partner. "What?"
Vin had a topo map spread across his lap. "If Ezra and his mystery friend left the rental Jeep on foot, and considering the terrain, they'd hit the next county road before 550."
Chris slowed the truck to a stop. "So if we take that road, we might intercept them?"
"It's a long shot." Vin looked up into Chris' green gaze. For a moment, the doubts, desperation, and fears of each shot across the air.
Then they nodded together. Chris took his foot off the brake and began to pick up speed. "Where's the turnoff?"
Uncompahgre National Forest, CO
Ezra and Sam nearly tumbled into the road in front of them. As Sam yanked out the rolled up topo maps from his pack, Ezra again checked the phone. For a moment, he couldn't believe his eyes. "Finally!"
Sam glanced up as Ezra frantically punched buttons, then turned his attention back to the maps. When Buck's number announced it was unavailable, Ezra dialed up another familiar one. It was a relief to hear the drawling 'hello'. "Vin!"
"Ezra!" Ezra's soul warmed as he heard the relief and excitement in the normally laid-back voice. "Where are you? Are you okay?"
"I am winded, famished, and fatigued, but unharmed. We are..." Ezra lifted an eyebrow at Sam, who quickly gave him the location. "On County Road 12... near Cedar Creek."
"We? You mean the guy in the rental Jeep?"
Ezra could hear the rustling of maps. "I'm impressed. A Mr. Malloy is traveling with me."
"Okay, found it. Chris and I are practically on top of you."
Ezra felt his gut tightened. "Mr. Larabee is with you?" Sam's eyes narrowed, picking up on Ezra's subtle apprehension.
Vin's chuckle was very audible in Ezra's ear. "You missed your check-in by hours, Ez. Of course he's here." A grumble was heard in the background. "Chris says you owe him for having to fly over the mountains on short notice."
Ezra paused, not sure whether his boss was worried about him or angry with him. Though knowing Larabee, it was probably both. Chris was like a mother grizzly with his men.
Suddenly, the dirt by his feet flew as a bullet plowed into the road. "Hurry, Vin!" Ezra gave Sam's back a push and together they ran towards the brush-covered ditch. The two men ducked into the slight protection as Ezra fired back.
"How close?" Sam asked, checking the bullets in the backup piece. There was only one left. He aimed at a pine branch heavily laden with snow right above their pursuers.
"The cavalry? I don't know." As Sam fired on the branch, snow dumped on the two shadows below. "I see your accuracy is as good as your brother's."
Suddenly, a black Dodge Ram roared to a stop in front of them. The doors on their side sprang open, a man whipping up to shoot over the cab.
Sam barely registered the sound of gunfire from the other side as Ezra yanked him out of the ditch. Practically throwing the taller Sam through back door, Ezra jumped in after him. Before Sam could lift his head, the truck was moving.
"How many, Ez?" a concerned voice in the front seat asked.
"I believe three, though we didn't get a good look at this group."
"This group?" a rougher voice asked. "How many damn militia men do you have after you, Standish?"
"More than enough, Mr. Larabee," Ezra replied.
Sam glanced at the blond hair of the driver. So this was the Larabee that had made Standish tense up. He couldn't see the face, but the voice certainly sounded mean enough.
"Well," inserted the first voice, a man slightly older than Sam with long, light brown hair, "they certainly went to ground fast enough."
"The whole lot is comprised of cowards," Ezra confirmed.
Sudden realization hit Sam. He turned to Standish. "Phone."
Before Ezra could hand it to him, Larabee demanded, "Just a minute! Who in the hell are you?"
Damn, where is Jim when you need him to intimidate someone? "Sam Malloy and I need to warn my brother."
"What makes you think your brother's so special?" Larabee growled ferociously as he continued to drive.
Sam wasn't backing down with Blair's life at stake. "Because those idiots hold a grudge against him and now they know he's in the area."
"His brother is Blair Sandburg from Cascade," Ezra smoothly interjected. Sam noticed how the other guy in the front seat immediately turned to face him.
Larabee spared a glance at the civilian through the rearview mirror. "You don't look like Sandburg."
"We're half-brothers; Blair looks like his mom's family while I'm more like our Dad."
A soft drawl slid through the growing tension. "Then he probably told you about his first solo arrest."
Sam met the blue eyes from the front seat, realizing it was a test. "No, Jim told me because Blair was too embarrassed."
"Embarrassed?" Ezra repeated, surprised.
The other agent smirked. "Hell, it ain't every day you catch the Whipped Cream Bandit."
"The who?" Larabee asked, sure he hadn't heard that right.
"A dumb crook who covered his face with whip cream, then stood in line at the bank intending to rob it, because it was too rude to cut ahead of everyone," Sam explained, fighting back his own smile.
"With a bubble-gum pink water pistol in his pocket," the other man added, his grin growing wider.
"Who finally had to cut to the head of the line because he'd miss his bus otherwise," Sam continued, no longer able to hide his own smirk.
"Bus? The miscreant intended to escape by bus?" Ezra couldn't believe what he was hearing. Larabee also had a disbelieving look on his face.
However, the agent in the front seat tossed Sam his phone. "Ellison told me about it, too. He was my C.O. in the Army."
Sam shot him a grin as he closed his hand around the cell phone. He immediately started to dial as Ezra asked again, "A city bus, Vin?"
"Hell, Ez, why ya think Blair don't want to talk about it?"
Back road, Uncompahgre National Forest, CO
Buck frowned as he surveyed the area. Between the various county vehicles and employees, it would be hard to check for prints. Then he glanced over the side. Damn, Ezra must have been shaking in his boots when they crashed. Especially if those guys were pursuing them. Buck was just grateful none of the bodies in the truck were his friend's.
Of course, the questions now were, where did he go, did he have company, and did they leave under their own power? Buck sighed, thinking he was going to have to contact Chris and Vin again. Vin was the best on their team for tracking.
Then he heard JD's shout of surprise. "Buck! You'll never guess who rented this Jeep!"
In three long strides, Buck joined his partner who was leaning into the vehicle. "Who?"
"Remember Blair Sandburg?"
"Sandburg?" Buck replied, startled. He easily remembered the young detective who, along with Jim Ellison, had helped Vin when he had been targeted nearly a year ago. "But he lives up in Washington state. What he'd be doing around here?"
JD was practically bouncing. "He mentioned something to me about his great-grandpa's cabin being in Colorado. Maybe he's visiting and Ezra recognized him."
Reluctant to dash his friend's hopes, Buck slowly shook his head. "But the description Vin gave me was someone with short hair, brown eyes and just under six foot. Sandburg's your size, has long hair and blue eyes." The older agent gently cuffed his partner's head, easily remembering Sandburg's calm blue eyes as he confronted Chris. Buck had never seen anyone handle one of Chris' rampages so well and he had been dealing with them for years. Though after meeting Ellison, he suspected Sandburg had nearly as much practice in dealing with hot-tempered, ornery partners as he did.
"Maybe the description's wrong," JD suggested.
Buck lifted his head when he heard a commotion nearby. "Or maybe we can ask him in person."
As he followed the blonde deputy's SUV around a mountain curve, Jim spotted several people surrounding a Cherokee that had slammed into the embankment sideways. Hearing his partner's sharp intake of breath, he knew Blair had seen it, too. Jim silently prayed that Sam hadn't been hurt as he parked the rental. Blair didn't even wait for Jim to shut off the engine before he practically leaped out of the Explorer.
Blair was rushing towards the Jeep when a deputy stepped in his path. "Stop! This is a Federal crime scene."
"Federal?" Jim asked behind Blair. When did Sam's disappearance become a federal case?
Blair didn't even hear Jim. "I don't care. I'm going to see that Jeep!"
The deputy puffed himself importantly. "You can not go past this point."
Jim lifted an eyebrow, recognizing the deputy. "I believe you should remember me, deputy. Detective James Ellison?" The deputy suddenly paled, remembering the man who had lifted him off his feet to threaten him without breaking into a sweat. "I don't think you want to get me angry again."
The deputy immediately stepped to the side. Blair sent Jim a strange look, but decided to ask later. As he turned around, they both heard a voice shout, "Sandburg! Ellison!"
"Wilmington?" Surprised, Jim walked forward to shake Buck's outstretched hand, then JD Dunne's who stood behind him. "What are you doing here?"
"Yeah, I thought your home office was in Denver," Blair added, also shaking their hands.
Buck tipped his head towards the Jeep. "We think this might be related to a case. Though we were surprised to find out you paid for it, Blair."
Blair's face turned grim. "I was delayed getting out of Cascade this morning, so my brother picked it up."
"Damn," JD sympathized.
"Any evidence that he..." Blair paused, trying to keep his voice from cracking.
"No," Buck told the younger man firmly. He led the way to the Jeep. "What's your brother look like?"
"Straight brown hair and light brown eyes," Jim reported. "Lanky, shade under six foot." He pulled out a picture from his wallet.
"Wears a leather jacket?" Buck asked as he took the picture. It was of Blair in front of a cabin with two taller men, one an older blond with a touch of gray at the temples, the other a younger, brown-haired man with similar features. He passed the photo on to JD.
"Yeah, he has one," Blair confirmed.
"How'd you know?" Jim inquired, his suspicions aroused.
Buck and JD exchanged looks. "We had a report on the driver of the Jeep," Buck explained slowly. "You guys remember Ezra Standish?" Jim and Blair both nodded. "Well, he was undercover and something happened this morning that made him run. We believe his cover must have been blown. Anyway, Vin suspects Ez may have caught a ride from a Jeep matching this description, and the driver matches your description of your brother."
"Like nails to a magnet," Jim muttered to himself, shaking his head as he stopped by the Jeep. He and Blair swiftly surveyed the vehicle's interior. Out loud, Jim noted, "That's Sam's duffel, but no backpack or camera case." Silently, Jim also noticed the muddy prints on the passenger's side and through the center. Sam did have company and they climbed from the back seat.
"Camera case?" JD asked.
Blair forced a smile. "Sam never goes anywhere without his camera. He's a photojournalist."
"What's his name?" Buck asked worriedly. He could relate all too well to the fear lurking in Sandburg's eyes. He felt the same way for Ezra right now.
"Sean Malloy," Blair quietly replied as he stared at the smashed back window. "But he prefers Sam."
JD's face wrinkled a moment in concentration. "Wait a minute. Those pictures I saw of the Indian earthquake last week. They were by a S. A. Malloy."
Blair couldn't stop the proud smile he shot towards the young agent. "That's him."
"Cool," JD commented, impressed. "That was a fantastic report."
Jim had been scanning the road where it curved above them. Blair had almost subconsciously drawn closer to him, lending support as the sentinel filtered out the more recent tracks. "Damn it, Chief, we're going to have to work on Sam's mountain driving."
"What?" Blair asked, turning to his partner. "How come?"
"Sam did two doughnuts down this slope before hitting the embankment."
As both Buck and JD's jaws dropped, Blair peered up the narrow road. "How'd he manage that?"
"There's a lot of sliding, so he probably was going at a high rate of speed. I'm guessing they were being chased."
"Damn," Blair softly mumbled, gut twisting as he pictured the ride.
"If it makes you feel better, I believe their pursuer's truck didn't make the curve," Buck assured them.
"Wow," JD interjected. "You can see all that from here? Your eyesight must be as good as Vin's."
Blair slowly turned towards JD. "Vin has good eyesight?"
JD nodded. "He's always seeing stuff before the rest of us. Plus he's the best sniper in the ATF. He's won just about every competition he's been in."
Seeing the speculative gleam competing with the worry in Blair's eyes, Jim could easily read the battle within his partner's mind. Before Jim could give him a cuff to the head, Blair's interest in sentinel matters was overwhelmed by his concern about his brother. "Considering Sam took his stuff with him, it's a good bet they weren't captured here."
Buck nodded thoughtfully, studying Ellison. "I don't suppose you learned to track in the Army like Vin did?"
A slight smirk lifted a corner of Jim's mouth. "Who do you think taught him?"
"Hallelujah!" Buck enthusiastically whapped Jim on the back. "Just let me call Chris and we'll see if we can find our lost boys."
"No answer?" Vin asked sympathetically as Sam slowly closed the phone.
Sam shook his head. "Both Blair's and Jim's are 'out of range'."
"Not too surprising," Chris commented.
"By what route are they traveling to your paternal ancestor's dwelling in Ouray?" Ezra inquired.
Before Vin could translate the 'Ezra speak', Sam replied, "Not sure. Jim was going to take the back routes to avoid some of the worst avalanche zones."
"Does Detective Ellison share your misgivings about your brother's map reading skills?"
A reluctant smile broke across Sam's worried face. "Worse. Jim doesn't trust Blair to know which way's north."
"So that's what that was about," Vin commented.
At Sam's puzzled look, Ezra explained, "Before he aided my teammates and I in gathering perpetrators, Detective Ellison made a point of indicating the direction of 'North' to your brother."
Sam snickered. "Sounds about right."
At the squawk of the radio, Vin grabbed the receiver. Once he identified himself, he smiled when he recognized Buck's voice come across the air waves. "Hey partner, we've got some news."
"Yeah, we got some news, too. We've picked up our Ace." Vin figured Buck would understand.
"Hallelujah!" Buck cheered. "By the way, we've run into an old C.O. of yours, Junior."
Ezra and Sam traded looks with Vin. Vin shook his head in amazement. "The way things are going, Bucklin, I can't say I'm surprised."
"Have him tell Indy that you have Olsen, and Indy needs to watch his six," Sam quietly suggested.
As Chris gave Sam another look via the mirror, Vin asked, "Hey, Buck, could you tell Indy that we got Olsen, and Indy needs to watch his six?"
"Let me check."
As they waited for Buck's reply, Ezra lifted an eyebrow at Sam. With a faint blush, Sam explained, "Blair calls me Olsen, short for 'Jimmy Olsen'."
"As in Superman's sidekick?" Chris asked, finally understanding. "And Indy?"
Sam chuckled. "Blair's master's is in Anthropology. He's always telling these big tales about his trips to other countries, so I started calling him 'Indy', short for 'Indiana Jones'.
Buck's excited voice broke in. "Tell Olsen that Indy and his partner will catch up with him later."
Sam breathed a huge sigh of relief.
MacGyver stretched back away from the table. After several hours of cataloging the colorful, tangled piles of wires, detonators, switches, tools, and other bomb-making paraphernalia, it felt like his neck had a permanent crick in it.
Nathan, too, pulled away from the table. "There's a lot of stuff here," he commented.
"Yeah, but there's a lot missing, too." Mac turned his head as far as he could to the right in an attempt to work the muscles back into place. "Most of these are the leftovers or broken pieces."
"You think he made another bomb?" Nathan's eyes grew wide at the implications. "He's already planted three others."
Mac twisted his head the other way. "There's more than just four bombs' worth missing."
"Meaning this guy isn't done with bombing yet."
"But WHY?" Nathan threw up his hands. "I just don't get it. What does a police station, a truck of apple cider, and a guy named Morris have to do with each other? It's got to be random."
"No, there's a connection. We just haven't figured it out yet." Done with the stretches, Mac picked up his pencil and flipped to a clean sheet in his notebook. Concentrating on the bombs, he hadn't worked the cases from the victim's side. "The police station has too many enemies. We need to look at the other two victims."
Nathan leaned back in his seat. "Well, the truck was from an Oregon firm named Freshness Trucking."
"Anything on the driver?"
"Just a devoted husband with two kids. Does mission work for his church. Your basic nice guy. I'm glad he didn't go up with his truck."
"The trucking firm?"
"They've checked out okay, too. Hell, one of the owner's cousin's is a well-known prosecutor."
Mac tapped his pencil against the pad. He would have to look at all their evidence later. "What about the other victim?"
"The Morris guy was the exact opposite. He was new to town and didn't have any friends as far as we can tell. His reading material seemed a bit extreme, but no evidence he belonged to any group in the area."
"Oh, the old, 'the government is the root of all evil', 'the cops are dopes working for the government, not the people', that sort of thing. Not hardcore white supremacy, but definitely anti-government. Hell, Ezra said that if he hadn't been the bombing victim, he would have made a good suspect."
"Hmm," Mac thought a moment. "Could it be a falling out with an old group?"
"We thought of that." Having walked in unnoticed, Josiah shrugged. "We've been digging and just found out he came from a place called 'Oak Dale' near the Canadian border."
A twinge nicked MacGyver's mind. The town was close to Cascade. "There are a few militias operating in that area. The Sun Rise Patriots and the Washington Freedom Fighters, to name a couple."
"I don't think we've checked those two." Josiah tapped his chin thoughtfully.
Nathan eyed their consultant. "How do you know them?"
"My son's in Cascade which is near Oak Dale. Unfortunately, we've had a few run-ins with the local militia."
"We?" Josiah softly questioned.
MacGyver gave him a smirk. "Let's just say I don't take too kindly to anyone who abducts my son."
Josiah nodded, noting the strength and determination boiling behind the normally calm eyes. He decided that messing with MacGyver's sons would be a bad idea.
"Have you found out anything upstairs?" Nathan asked his partner.
Josiah sighed. "Not much. It would appear that our bomber left town a few days ago."
"Good for Denver. Not good for anyone else," Nathan observed.
"We did finally find a couple of names. Which one's his true name is hard to tell at this point, but it gives us something to work on."
Nathan tilted his head. "What are the names?"
"Dean Kane; Kade Eckers; Decker Kincaid--"
MacGyver shot upright in his chair. "Kincaid?" Josiah nodded. Mac jumped up and started to pace.
Nathan exchanged a look with Josiah. "I'm guessing that name means something?"
Mac rubbed his neck. "Garrett Kincaid was the leader of the Sun Rise Patriots. He's the one my son Blair and his partner testified against this week."
"The case that was rough on your son?" Josiah remembered.
"Yeah." Mac continued to pace.
"Did they win?" Nathan asked.
Nathan softly swore under his breath. "So the Sun Rise Patriots would be rather upset with the government, your son, and the world in general."
"Enough to try something?" Josiah suggested.
"They tried something right after the verdict. Blair hasn't given me details yet. Just said that he and Jim suspected something, so the feds and the Cascade PD were ready. However, no one knows just how many friends they might have."
"Wait a minute." Nathan gazed at MacGyver in puzzlement. "Cascade detectives. Blair. Jim. We aren't talking about Blair Sandburg and Jim Ellison, are we?"
Mac stopped pacing and stared at Nathan. "You know Blair and Jim?"
"Blair Sandburg is your son?" Josiah asked, trying to keep his jaw from dropping. He still had a lot of questions about Blair Sandburg. The thought that he was MacGyver's son shocked him.
Mac nodded. "Sandburg is his mother's last name."
Nathan shook his head. "Small world. Ellison's an army buddy of one of our partners. They rescued him from some militiamen last year."
"Vin?" Mac smiled. "I remember Blair telling me about him and his team. Wait, Larabee." Mac started to chuckle. "Blair mentioned Vin's boss being another tough guy like Jim. He said it was a good thing the two decided to like each other, or it would have been World War III."
Nathan started laughing, too. "I haven't met Ellison; Josiah and I were in Denver while the others were in Cascade. But that certainly sounds like Chris."
Josiah mentally shook the cobwebs from his head and returned to the matter at hand. "Do you think your son and his partner could give us some information on Kincaid?"
"Gladly." MacGyver reached for his phone, then paused. "Nathan, what was the name of the prosecutor connected to the trucking firm?"
"William Sikes. He's a federal--"
"Prosecutor who was in charge of the Kincaid trial," Mac finished for him. He grabbed the phone and punched in numbers.
Ellison's Explorer, western slope
As Jim followed Wilmington's truck, he quietly commented, "Now there's a classic truck. A 1957 GMC pickup."
"At least it looks better than your so-called 'classic'," Blair absently commented.
Jim glanced at his partner, realizing his heart wasn't in the banter. "Do I want to know what's going on in that head of yours, Chief?"
Blair gave him a sly smile. "Just debating on the odds of Vin being a sentinel."
"He's not," Jim stated firmly.
"Jiiiim," Blair practically whined. "How do you know?"
"Because I've known Slick for years, and I don't 'feel' him like Alex or Marston."
Jim gave his partner another glance. That was too easy. Somehow, he had a feeling this discussion wasn't over yet.
Which Blair soon confirmed with his next sentence. "Still, JD was pretty impressed with his sight, and sentinel vision would be a definite plus for a sharpshooter."
"Not all sharpshooters are sentinels," Jim pointed out.
"No, but it sounds like Vin's the cream of the crop. What if he's like your brother, and just has one or two heightened senses?"
Jim shrugged. "I guess he could."
Blair nodded to himself. "That would make him a carrier. Maybe that's why the two of you were drawn to each other in the Army as mentor and student."
"He was assigned to me."
"Yeah, but were you, an officer, just as close to all your other non-coms?"
Jim clenched his jaw a moment. "Not really."
Jim rolled his eyes. "Slick's my friend, Sandburg, and has always been a good kid. Not everything is related to my sentinel abilities."
Blair sighed. He knew he had to abandon the idea for the moment. After a minute of silence, he quietly asked, "Why do you think Sam warned me to stay alert? He's the one being chased."
Jim stared out the windshield a moment. "I don't know. Obviously, he's mixed up in Standish's case, so maybe he's run into one of our old perps."
"But why would any of them connect Sam with me? We don't look alike and have different last names."
Jim shrugged. "We'll have to ask him." He nodded at Wilmington's truck, which was turning into a park.
Buck gratefully gave Ezra a bear hug, totally surprising the younger, smaller man. JD bounced in place next to them, waiting to shake the undercover agent's hand. Buck pulled back and shook his head. "Man, you really had me going, Ez. What the hell happened?"
As Ezra launched into his story, Vin watched Blair burst out of the Explorer. The Cascade detective greeted his taller brother with as big a hug as Buck had given Ezra, except Sam returned the gesture with ease.
Jim returned Vin's nod as he walked over to join his partner. "You okay, Sam?" he asked, studying the younger man.
"Yeah, I'm fine."
"But weren't you--" Jim began.
"What's this?" Blair interrupted as he stepped back and shoved his hand into Sam's jacket pocket. He frowned at his brother as he yanked out a gun.
Sam shrugged nonchalantly. "Standish's backup piece."
"What?" Blair sniffed the end. "You fired this!"
Sam rolled his eyes. "They were firing at me first, Indy."
"Yeah, but have you ever fired a gun before?" Blair asked, eyes stern.
"Yes," Sam answered shortly.
The argument caught the ATF agents' attention. "Your brother is actually an outstanding shot," Ezra commented.
"His range scores are as high as yours, Chief," Jim added, feeling a bit sorry for the youngest MacGyver.
Blair blinked, then turned to his partner. "Range? When did you take him to a firing range?"
"While you and Dad were busy going over Dad's dig notes last fall." Sam met his brother's glare evenly as Blair turned back to him.
"He'd already purchased the gun; I was just making sure he knew how to handle it," Jim pointed out.
Eyes wide, Blair's head bounced back and forth between his partner and his brother. "Since when does Sam own a gun?"
"Hey, I'm not the one with the phobia. Nor were you on my assignment down South six months ago." Sam took a deep breath, trying to hold his temper.
Blair's gaze turned worried. He had suspected his brother hadn't told him or Mac everything about that particular trip. "You don't need a gun; you need a new editor."
Sam shrugged. "That, too."
Turning back to his partner, Blair asked snidely, "And WHY am I only hearing about this now?"
"Oh, I don't know," Jim replied sarcastically. "Because we thought you might overreact?"
Blair sighed as he heard the chuckles from the listening ATF team, silently admitting they had been right. "Does Dad know about this?"
"Are you insane? Mr. Phobia would kill me." Sam gently rubbed his forehead. "Dad still tenses up every time he remembers you're packing. I'm not adding to it."
"Sam, why did you tell Blair to watch his back?" Jim asked, deciding it was time to change the subject.
"Oh, those militia guys somehow have me mistaken for Blair." Sam met Blair's eyes worriedly. "They were ranting about how you and Jim 'participated in that injustice against our brother'. I'm guessing they meant the Kincaid trial."
Worriedly, both Jim and Blair nodded. "Damn it, aren't we ever going to be rid of that jerk, Jim?"
"Not yet, apparently."
Sam looked at the older men questioningly. "They said you and some guy named Dexter Fillmore were going to pay. Who's Fillmore?"
Blair's brow wrinkled. "Don't know, but the name sounds familiar."
Jim dropped his head and slowly shook it. "It ought to sound familiar. Though considering how sick you were, I'm not surprised you don't remember." With both brothers staring at him, Jim quietly explained, "'Dexter Fillmore' was the alias Mac used to help me get you out of Kincaid's compound."
Sam's eyes grew wide. "Oh, man!"
"Just when I thought this couldn't get any worse," Blair moaned.
"Now just a minute," Chris finally interrupted, tired of being out of the loop. "Who the hell is 'Mac'?"
"Our father, MacGyver," Blair explained bleakly.
"MacGyver?" Chris and Buck exclaimed together. Then Chris continued, "Not the same MacGyver who's the bomb expert from the Phoenix Foundation?"
The brothers and Jim nodded together. Then a light dawned in Sam's mind. "You mean, you're the guys Dad's working with in Denver?"
"That's right," Chris replied, his mind racing while trying to sort out the situation.
"WHAT?" Buck stared at his boss and long-time friend. "You mean, Nate's working with THE MacGyver?"
"The MacGyver?" Chris repeated, confused. From the wounded puppy dog look, Chris would have thought Buck had been left out of a meeting with John Elway, Denver's Hall of Fame quarterback.
"Hell, Chris, he's a legend." Buck waved his arms. "I can't believe I missed the chance to work with MacGyver."
"Legend?" Blair asked, trading stunned looks with Sam. "I knew Mac was good, but..."
Jim chuckled. "From what the Colonel's colleagues have told me, your Dad's pretty famous for his patched-together bombs and rescuing Americans stranded behind the Iron Curtain."
"Really?" Blair's eyes were wide as he absorbed the new information. He was learning all sorts of fun facts about his family on this trip.
"Well, until we figure this all out, we should go back to our base," Chris recommended.
Jim nodded. If the militias were mixing up Sam and Blair, the situation had the potential of getting worse.
Retrieving the gun from Blair, Sam walked back to Ezra. "Thanks for the loan."
"Thank you for covering my backside," Ezra replied warmly.
"Yeah," JD added. "There's not a lot of people out there who would just jump in and help federal agents."
Behind them, Vin had walked over to shake Jim's hand. "Good to see you both in one piece. Sandburg's brother was worried."
"We were worried, too." Jim shook his friend's hand warmly. "Thanks for rescuing him. Sam's a good kid."
Before Vin could reply, gunfire echoed off the mountains.
"Damn!" Blair exclaimed, ducking behind the Explorer. Jim and Vin joined him.
"Can anyone tell where it's coming from?" Chris shouted from his position behind his Ram.
"One group to the east," Vin shouted back.
"Another to the west behind that round rock," Jim added, realizing they were in a cross-fire.
"Let's get out of here!" Chris ordered.
Sam, who was pinned down between Ezra and JD, gauged the distance between Larabee's truck and their dubious shelter behind the trash cans. JD took off at Chris' signal. He stayed low to the ground, zigzagging around a picnic table's slight protection before crawling into the Ram. Ezra then indicated for Sam to follow him. Taking a deep breath, Sam dashed out as fast as he could while bent over. He copied JD's movements, flinching when a bullet pinged against the metal table. Once inside the truck, he watched through the open door as Ezra fired a few shots, then worked his own way to the truck.
On the other side of the clearing, Vin crawled into the Explorer with Blair and Jim. "Anyone see Buck?" the agent asked worriedly.
"He'd went to use the radio, I think," Blair reported.
Jim poked his head above the steering wheel. "He's pinned down by those rocks near his truck."
Blair risked a glance, then winced in sympathy. "His classic's taking a beating."
"Damn." Vin cautiously glanced back at the Dodge. He caught a flash of Ezra's white jacket before it disappeared into the truck. Three more heads were barely visible inside. The gunfire was especially thick between the two vehicles, with Buck's 'Lady' in between. Vin winced as he watched Chris' radio antenna snap from a bullet. "Chris won't be able to reach him."
"We can." Jim swiftly started the engine. "Hang on and get ready to grab him."
Blair immediately braced himself against the door frame. Vin, caught unaware, fell across the back seat as the Explorer shot forward into a sharp turn. However, by the time Jim raced the SUV past the red truck, Vin was ready. He whipped the door open, grabbed Buck's outstretched arm, and yanked his friend inside.
"Thank you," Buck gasped, shivering.
Blair poked his head between the seats, noticing the blood on the agent's leg. "You okay?"
"Yeah, just a graze. Those bullets are thicker than mosquitoes in a swamp."
"Now what?" Blair asked his partner.
"We're getting out of here," Jim declared. He could see a beat-up truck bouncing out of cover behind them, men with rifles and shotguns aimed at them.
"What about the others?" Buck asked.
"They're all in Chris' truck." Vin popped his head up long enough to catch sight of the Dodge. "Looks like Chris is heading out the other way."
"We can't follow," Jim replied as he turned onto a 4X4 trail. "We're cut off."
Blair glanced back, worried about Sam. "Damn."
Buck sighed. "We'll have to catch up with them later." Then all of them winced as another hail of bullets pinged behind them.
Barely restraining himself from slamming the phone down, MacGyver silently rubbed his eyes.
"Still no answer?" Nathan asked sympathetically.
Mac shook his head. "Not from any of the phones. I keep reminding myself that the microwave signal's weak from the cabin, but the satellite phone I keep there ought to work."
"Maybe they're all outdoors?"
"Well, it still might be nice. Can see a lot of stars up there."
"Nah, Blair gets cold. Sam gets hungry. Jim would be tired after the trip. By now, at least one of them would be inside."
"Doesn't necessarily means there's anything wrong," Josiah softly injected.
Mac managed to give him a smirk. "Yeah, but you don't know my sons. If there's trouble, they're in the middle of it."
"Sounds like a few boys I know," Josiah chuckled, glancing at Nathan. "But just because we can't find this Kincaid guy, doesn't mean..."
Team 3's leader poked his head through the door. "Sanchez!" Josiah walked over to the door to talk to the fellow agent.
Nathan quietly watched MacGyver sink into a chair. The agent could almost see the wheels spinning under the gray and blond hair, in spite of the worried face. Then both men looked up when they heard Josiah swear.
"What's up?" Nathan asked.
Josiah rubbed his face, not having a clue where to start. "Well, the good news is that Chris and Vin found Ezra."
"Which of course means there's bad news," Nathan commented worriedly.
"Well, there might be more good news." Josiah turned to MacGyver. "Seems Ezra was helped by a young man by the name of Sam Malloy?"
Mac chuckled as he nodded. "Yep, that's my son."
"And?" Nathan prodded.
"Seems Ellison and Sandburg were tracking down Malloy when they ran into Buck and JD. They all went to meet up with Larabee and his group."
Mac nodded. It only made sense if Sam was involved, Jim and Blair would be drawn in sooner or later.
"So what's the bad news?" Nathan asked, reading his friend's face.
"That was two hours ago. No one's heard from any of them since."
"Damn," Nathan muttered, looking lost.
However, MacGyver only straightened up. "Guess we'd better go find them." He was out the door before either of the agents could blink.
Larabee's Ram truck, western slope
Chris slowed down to a stop behind an outcropping of rock and snow. He hadn't seen the truck following them for a while. The senior agent was praying they had lost them. Glancing around, he caught the eyes of his men. "Everyone okay?"
JD and Ezra both gave their leader a sharp nod. JD sighed as he glanced through the back window. "I hope Buck and Vin are okay. Buck was in the middle when all those bullets started flying."
Chris felt his shoulders tighten another notch. He was worried about his oldest friend, too. Buck had been a brother to him long before there was a Team Seven. He didn't need to be reminded that the big man had been a wide-open target. It didn't help that he'd also lost contact with Vin.
In the front passenger's seat, Ezra watched his boss carefully. "So what should be our next course of action?"
"Try to contact them. Are we able to get anything on the radio?"
Ezra again picked up the receiver and started to turn the dials.
Chris turned to look at JD. "Did Ellison and Sandburg have a radio?"
JD shook his head. "It was an airport rental. I'd be surprised if they even have their guns with them."
"They most certainly should have cell phones," Ezra pointed out, half an ear on the conversation.
A quiet voice piped up, "But we're currently in another dead zone."
All three agents turned to Malloy. Chris had almost forgotten they had him.
Realizing he had their attention, Sam waved his own phone. "I've been checking, and all I'm getting is 'no signal'."
Ezra gave the younger man a reassuring smile, hoping he could see it in the dim light. He knew Malloy had to be just as worried about his brother as Chris was about Vin and Buck.
"So what do we do now?" JD asked.
"Head back to base. That's where Buck and Vin will head when they can." Chris sighed as he put the truck into gear. Then he paused. "Anyone know where in the hell we are?"
There was total silence in the truck cab.
Finally, Sam suggested, "Well, we were on the east side of 550. Maybe we just need to go west?"
"Which way's west?" JD asked.
Chris fought the urge to pound his head into the steering wheel. "Will someone find the damn map?"
Ellison's Explorer, western slope
Blair hit his head against the roof of the Explorer. "Hey! Watch it!"
"Do you want me to watch it or lose the idiots behind us?" Jim forced through gritted teeth. He dodged another pothole, driving as fast as he dared with only parking lights illuminating the rugged snow and mud-covered road. Unfortunately, he could easily spot the bright headlights behind them, though they were further back.
"Lose the idiots," Vin answered instead. He drew out a long flannel coat from a duffel bag. "Here we go."
Buck sighed as Vin draped the warm garment around him. "Thanks. And thanks for the loan, Ellison."
"Not a problem." Jim spared a glance at the agent. Sentinel sight could easily see the pale face. Wilmington's clothes had gotten soaked from lying in the snow to avoid bullets. Even with the heater going and a change into Jim's sweats, the agent was chilled and hurting.
Blair twisted to look between the seats. "How's the leg?"
"Stopped bleeding." Vin held on a moment as the vehicle rocked forcefully over a bump.
"I'll be okay, Sandburg," Buck assured him. "I've had worse injuries tripping over JD's skates at our place."
Blair sighed. Vin had said it was a bullet graze, but it had left a deep groove in the agent's leg. He was sure the hard bouncing had to be hurting him. Thankfully, Jim always brought along a first aid kit.
Vin glanced up ahead. Even he could barely see with so little light. He was really hoping what he suspected about Ellison was true. Super human sight might be their only chance.
Just then, Jim smiled. "Hang on, everybody. I've got an idea."
Blair instantly braced. Vin, having learned his lesson, grabbed the back of the seat with one hand as he clicked Buck's seatbelt into place with the other. Buck shot his teammate a puzzled look, but before he could ask, the Explorer dipped down sharply, then slid to the right. With a swift shove into reverse, Jim backed up and immediately killed the lights.
Glancing around, Vin realized that Jim had parked them into a rocky enclave by the side of the road at the bottom of an incline. Everyone held their breath as the Ford pickup and the small Jeep rolled by their position, the drivers too busy concentrating on the road to notice their prey had given them the slip.
After a few moments, Buck softly asked, "Is that it?"
"No," Jim replied just as softly. Vin noticed a familiar tilt to his former commander's head. "There's one more."
Sure enough, another truck roared over the hill and bounced past their hiding place. Vin could barely contain his smirk. If Ellison wasn't one of those sentinels, he was the president's grandma. A quick glance confirmed that Buck was too tired and hurting to realize anything unusual was happening. Not that Vin would have a problem telling Buck; the older man knew how to keep his mouth shut when it was important and wouldn't take the Captain's abilities the wrong way like Chris might. However, it wasn't Vin's secret to tell, and he respected Ellison too much to spread tales about him.
Soon, Jim was driving back in the other direction with the parking lights. Blair gave him a gentle pat on the back. "Now what?"
"I take it we don't have a radio?" Vin commented.
"Nope, and the cell is giving us a 'no signal'," Blair added. "I'm beginning to think I need to invest in one of those satellite phones like Dad has."
"Well," Buck drawled, "I imagine Chris would head back to Ridgway."
"Good idea," Jim agreed. "Anyone know where we are? Except you, Sandburg."
Blair rolled his eyes as Vin and Buck both replied negatively. "I left the topo map in Chris' truck," Vin added.
"I've got a map in my carry-on." Jim stopped the Explorer at a crossing while Vin dug for the map. Taking a deep breath, the sentinel extended his hearing in all directions. As his partner covertly laid a hand on his arm to ground him, Jim noted that their pursuers were still going in the wrong direction. He could also hear another set of three vehicles to their left. Suspecting that Larabee would be on his own, he decided they were either militias or unknowns. At the moment, Jim wasn't willing to chance an unknown person. With the way their luck was running, it would probably be an axe murderer.
"Vin," Buck asked seriously. "How much ammo do you have left?" He knew Vin would have checked by now.
"I've got about a third of a clip in my SIG, with another spare clip that's full. Plus my backup piece in my ankle hostler has a full load. You?"
"About six rounds. I don't suppose either of you are packing?"
"Nope," Blair replied as he noticed his partner had withdrawn his hearing to normal. "We're suppose to be on vacation."
"We need to take up hunting," Jim commented lightly as he turned the truck right.
"Oh, that'll go over good with Mac," Blair replied.
"I thought it was your ma who didn't like guns?" Vin asked as he pulled out a flashlight from Jim's bag. He handed it to Buck.
"Neither of my parents do, just that Naomi's more vocal about it. Mac's never told me not to carry a gun because he understands I need to for my job. But just like Sam said, he's got a phobia about them, so I know he isn't happy about it." Blair frowned as he looked out the window. "Man, I hope Sam's all right."
Vin found the map and pulled it out of the bag. "He'll be okay. Chris'll keep him out of the action as much as possible, and Ezra's keeping an eye on him."
Buck turned the flashlight on so that it would shine on the map. "Yeah, I noticed that Ezra seems to like the kid, and he doesn't warm up that quickly to most people."
Vin chuckled as he studied the map. "Probably because Sam understands all of Ezra's big words. Didn't even blink at 'em."
"That's the MacGyver genes," Jim explained, giving his partner a smirk. "They're always much smarter than they look."
Blair gave him a playful glare. "Smart enough to know an insult when I hear one."
"By the way," Buck asked casually. "How come you and your brother don't have your Dad's last name?"
"Those are two very long stories," Blair replied lightly.
Encouraged by the tone and curious about anything related to the legend, Buck returned, "Well, we've got time."
Blair chuckled. "Well, mine starts with my mother Naomi..."
Interstate-70, Vail Pass, CO
I'm doing it again. I am rushing into a situation I know very little about because my sons may be in danger. I can almost hear Nikki in my ear, pointing out that Sam and Blair are adults and can take care of themselves. Certainly, they both grew up into fine young men without any protection or guidance from me. Nor are either of their jobs considered 'safe', both having been led into fields where their welfare is often weighed against the greater good. Just like the kind of job their old man works.
Yet they are entwined so firmly around my soul, I can't bear the thought of losing them. Sam and Blair have filled my life in places I didn't even know were empty. While I know Jim will do his best, even a sentinel can't stop bullets or prevent a bomb from exploding. Besides, bombs are MY specialty. The thought of a bomber related to Kincaid within the same vicinity as Blair scares me to death. I have to be there, both to protect him and keep this maniac from hurting others. I guess it's my family's destiny to protect people from the evil in this world. I just don't want to lose any more of my family to that evil.
MacGyver turned to Josiah. He appreciated the agent driving his suburban over a mountain pass at night simply because he was worried about his missing sons. Nathan sat behind them, lightly snoring. "Yeah. Just wish we were already there."
"Understand, brother." Josiah concentrated on his driving for a moment. "Your boys are important to you."
"Yeah." Mac rubbed his eyes a moment. "I haven't had them in my life for very long, so I guess I get overprotective."
"That why they have different last names?"
"Yeah. Blair's mom and I broke up over Viet Nam and college. She wanted me to drop out of school to protest the war. I refused, so she never told me about Blair. I didn't meet him until a few years ago when I was helping Jim with a bomber." With a sigh, Mac stared at the dark shadows of rock speeding by. "Sam was born while I was in 'Nam. Kate didn't tell me, apparently because she wanted me to take care of myself in a war zone and not worry about them. Afterwards, I suspect she was giving me time to get my head back on straight."
Josiah nodded grimly. "Took me a while to get my head straight after the 'Nam, too. That jungle warfare was hard on a lot of men. I drifted in and out of a lot of things."
"Me, too. Lots of dangerous things. I can see why Kate didn't want Sam too close to me at that point."
"When did she tell you?"
"She didn't. Kate died on assignment over in China. Since she never told anyone my name, Sam went to live with some of her friends." Mac sighed. "I think that's the worst part of all. It was hard for him, witnessing his mother's death at age nine then going to live with virtual strangers. If I had known, I'd have dropped everything to raise Sam myself."
"But you're close now?"
"Yeah. After I met Sam, we traveled for a year together. He was nineteen, so it was easy to do at that point. Afterwards, I convinced him to go back to college while I returned to Phoenix. I just wish I could have spent that kind of time with Blair."
"Nah, Blair was already deep into his life by the time we met, working on his doctorate and consulting with Jim's department. I've tried not to disrupt him too much."
Josiah nodded. Cautiously, he decided to shake the bush and see what fell out. "What about after his press conference?"
It was dead silent in the compartment. Then MacGyver lightly replied, "Blair went straight into the police department after that."
"Rather surprising move, considering he admitted to fraud."
Mac turned to face Josiah. "Blair never committed fraud, because he never turned in his dissertation. What happened was that a greedy publisher and University politics forced him into a bad situation. Blair had to make a choice between doing what was good for him or keeping his promise to protect another. He chose to keep his promise. I couldn't be prouder of him."
Josiah gave a sharp nod. "Thought it might be something like that. When I told Tanner about the press conference, he quoted Croce and ordered me to drop it. I learned a long time ago to trust Vin's instincts, so I did."
"'You Don't Mess Around With Jim'."
Mac broke out in a loud laugh, releasing some of his tension. "I think I need to meet this Vin Tanner."
Ellison's Explorer, western slope
Jim stepped on the brakes, stopping the vehicle just short of a snow slide. Quietly, so as not to disturb his dozing guide or the sleeping ATF agents in the back seat, Jim slipped out and shut the door. As he walked forward in the strong wind, he could hear another door close. Vin joined him at the edge of the snow.
For a moment, they both studied the six foot deep bank glittering in the starlight. Then Vin softly commented, "We aren't going to get through this."
Jim shook his head. "Not without a bulldozer or two. Also looks like there's another slide ready to go." Jim tried not to shiver as the wind drove the cold through his ski jacket.
Vin shoved his hands in his pockets. "Guess we're going to have to find another way down." As Jim turned back, Vin added softly, "Nice eyesight, by the way."
Jim froze in his tracks. "What do you mean?"
"Saw a tape of Sandburg's press conference. Interesting show. Probably would've believed it if I hadn't met him and seen you do a few things I couldn't explain."
Jim sighed as he turned back around. "Your question?"
"No question. You're one of those sentinel guys. Knew that before you started driving without headlights tonight."
"You tell anyone?"
"Nope. Ezra saw the same tape, and from what little he said, he's figured it out, too. But don't worry about him; Ez's the expert at keeping secrets. Our partner, Josiah, brought the tape to our attention, and I told him to drop it. He did."
Jim sighed. How many people did it take to find out about a secret before it was no longer a secret? "Well, it's probably a good thing you know anyway."
"Your JD said something that made Blair think you have enhanced sight."
Vin shrugged. "Sure, I can see good. Helps with my shooting. But I'm not one of you sentinels."
Jim chuckled. "Already told him that." At Vin's curious look, Jim explained, "I can sense other sentinels. I can't sense you."
Vin grinned. "Well, I do shower regularly." After Jim snorted, Vin asked, "How many others have you met?"
"Three. Only one you'd want to meet, though. Anyway, Blair believes that a person who carries the sentinel gene, but isn't a sentinel, will have one to three heightened senses. My brother's sense of touch is above normal. You could be a carrier."
"What do you mean by 'carrier'?" Vin asked.
"You can pass the sentinel genes to your children," Blair's voice popped up behind them. As the two former rangers turned, Blair grinned at them, bouncing in place to keep warm. "If you mate with the right woman, you could produce a sentinel like Jim."
Vin lifted an eyebrow. "Sounds like you're talking about livestock."
Jim smirked as he cuffed his partner's head. "Now you know what I live with."
"Yeah, yeah," Blair countered. "Laugh it up. But really, Vin, if both you and the woman you hook up with carry the right genes, there's a possibility your child could be a sentinel."
Vin shook his head. "That's if I can find a woman who'll have me."
Jim gave Vin's neck a comforting squeeze. "You will."
Blair continued to bounce in place. "It's freezing out here. What's going on?"
"We're stopped by an avalanche," Jim explained.
"Which means we're going to have to take a much longer route to get back to Ridgway." Vin sighed in frustration.
"We also need to keep trying the phone," Blair commented, trying to keep his teeth from chattering. "We've got to reach Mac."
"Good idea, Chief," Jim replied as he ushered the younger men back to the Explorer. "We need to call your dad before HE runs into militiamen."
"You don't think he would, do you?" Vin asked before opening the door. He glanced inside to check that Buck was still sleeping. "The western slope covers a lot of territory."
"Oh yeah, he would," Jim replied darkly. "Who do you think passed the trouble-attracting genes to Blair and Sam?"
Jack O'Neill's cabin, western slope
Dawn was just peaking over the ridge as Jack O'Neill stepped out of his cabin. He took a deep breath, enjoying the crisp mountain air. There was just something about the peaceful surroundings. Jack couldn't think of a better way to recover from a hard mission than to enjoy the Rockies in their winter splendor.
Quietly closing the door behind him, Jack trotted down the steps and walked over to the woodpile. Last night, Daniel had insisted that he do most of the chores, but Jack hated to be waited on. He planned to have breakfast all made by the time his friend woke up. Considering how late Daniel was up reading the night before, Jack knew he had time.
As he began to stack wood in the crook between his cast and chest, Jack heard a truck grinding over the four wheel drive trail. Since traffic was rare on the remote road, he turned to see which neighbor was out so early, especially in winter. He didn't recognize the Ford, but waited patiently when it stopped nearby.
"Howdy," called a man leaning out the open window. "Do you know which county road this is?"
"Actually," Jack drawled, "you're on the Rugged Peak Mine Trail."
Inside the truck, Jack could see a young man flipping through a map. Then he caught the glare of the third man inside. Even the dark beard couldn't hide the sneer on the face. "Hey Paul, that's Dexter Fillmore."
"Fillmore!" The driver glared at Jack.
Jack blinked back in confusion. "Who?" Then he saw the men reach inside their jacket. "Ah, guys..."
As guns cleared their coats, Jack dived for the slight cover of the woodpile. "Come on out, Mr. Fillmore!" the driver shouted. "You're going to meet justice."
"For crying out loud, I don't know any Fillmore," Jack shouted back. "I'm Col--" His voice was interrupted by gunfire. "Damn it," Jack muttered to himself. "Regulations or not, next time I'm slipping out a zat gun."
Larabee's Ram truck, western slope
Chris stomped his feet to keep warm, watching the sun rise. He still didn't know where they were, except that they weren't near the main road.
Behind him, Sam was perched on the roof of the Dodge, holding a stretched-out coat hanger where the radio antenna once resided. "Tape," he requested.
Ezra handed him a length of electrician's tape. From his seat inside the cab, JD asked, "You really think this will work?"
"Ought to." Sam carefully wound the tape around the base of the antenna, the hanger, and the roof. "Got to try something."
JD sighed as he tinkered with Ezra's satellite tracker. "Yeah, I'm hoping Buck and the rest of the guys are okay."
"Me, too. Plus my Dad's suppose to drive to Harry's cabin at some point today. I don't want him walking into this mess without warning." Sam banged the top of the roof. "Try it now." As JD turned to the radio, Sam glanced at the pacing Larabee. "He doesn't look happy."
"Mr. Larabee is rarely happy." Ezra examined his boss with a frown.
Sam raised an eyebrow at his new friend. "That doesn't sound reassuring."
"Oh, his leadership may be tough but he is always forthright, intelligent and truly cares for his subordinates. However, having both Mr. Wilmington and Mr. Tanner missing is an insufferable burden for Mr. Larabee."
"He and Buck have been compatriots since high school, and then were partners while employed by the Denver PD. More recently, Vin has become Chris' right hand man. Chris treats him like a beloved younger brother. For one of them to be missing would be difficult for our fearsome leader. To have both of them missing is intolerable."
"So that's why he looks like a bomb ready to explode?"
"Exactly, Mr. Malloy."
Suddenly, the sound of gunfire echoed off the rock. "Let's go!" Chris ordered, dashing to his truck. Sam was barely inside before they were rolling.
Jack O'Neill's cabin
Jack flinched as a splinter of wood flew past his face. Unarmed and pinned down, there wasn't much the Air Force Colonel could do except duck.
Thankfully, the welcomed sound of a shotgun cocking cracked through the air. "Hold it!" Daniel's voice sent a surge of relief through the colonel.
One of the bad guys turned his gun turned the cabin. Jack heard a 'boom' from the shotgun, then the sound of the door slamming. Bet Daniel wishes he had a staff weapon about now. We need more practice with Earth defenses.
After another boom from the cabin and another wood shower for Jack, the sound of a truck roaring down the lane reached their ears. The three men in the Ford jumped back into their vehicle. Once the truck raced back down the road, Jack cautiously rose from behind the torn-up logs.
The black Dodge Ram slammed to a halt in front of Jack. Barely aware of Daniel walking up behind him still holding the shotgun, Jack called out, "Hello?"
A tall blond man dressed in black jeans and a long leather coat stepped out of the truck. He looked at Jack in surprise. "MacGyver?"
Jack sighed. "No, I'm not MacGyver. And I'm not Dexter Fillmore. So who are you?"
Climbing out the other side, Sam studied the scene in front of him. "Like Blair said: sounds like Dad, looks like Dad, but hair WAY too short." Before Ezra could ask what he meant, Sam raised his voice. "Colonel O'Neill?"
Jack and Daniel stared at the young man for a moment. "Sam Malloy?" Jack asked.
A smile stretched across Sam's features. "Yep."
Jack walked over, holding out his hand. "I've heard a lot about you."
"Same here," Sam replied, shaking the hand warmly.
"Well, I haven't!" Chris glared at the pair, trying not to stare at the man who looked like the bomb expert he had worked with only 24 hours ago. "So will someone tell me what in the hell is going on?"
Blair adjusted the seat and mirrors as he took over the driver's seat. With dawn brightening the horizon, they didn't need someone with sentinel eyesight. It was time to give Jim a well-deserved break.
Buck ducked back inside, rubbing his arms. "Brrrrrr."
"How's the leg?" Jim asked as he dug into his bag and handed out power bars.
"Sore, but I can walk on it," Buck assured him.
Blair rubbed his hands together. "So where to?"
"We're going to need gas soon," Jim pointed out.
"Be nice if we could find a phone or a place where we can use our cells," Buck added.
"Well," Vin drawled as he picked a bar and opened the wrapper. "I know of one town close by, but we might not want to go there."
"How come?" Blair asked.
"It's where Ezra snuck into Sam's jeep."
Buck shot his friend a puzzled look. "I thought you and Chris said that was militia territory."
"And Chris said that store clerk kept glaring at you and your long hair."
"But it has a working phone?" Jim injected.
Jim and Blair traded looks. "They obviously have no idea what we look like, if they're mistaking Sam for me," Blair pointed out.
"You'll still have to keep your head down," Jim replied. "We didn't get all of Kincaid's followers, as that attack after the verdict proved. And they do know what you look like."
"We told the clerk that Sam was our cousin," Vin inserted. "He made a crack about not wanting our party tromping through his store."
Jim smirked, catching the sly gleam in his friend's eye. "So if Blair, Buck and I walk in, we could all be heading for Ouray and he'd only think we're more nuisances?"
A huge grin broke out across Buck's face. "You know, it could work."
Jim nodded. "Let's give it a shot."
Nathan watched as a member of Team Four gave MacGyver a steaming cup of coffee. The medic easily saw the signs of fatigue in the man he had come to respect. Sensing Josiah stopping by his shoulder, he quietly asked, "Did he get any sleep last night?"
"Nope." Josiah also watched as the county sheriff approached their friend. "He's pretty worried about his boys."
"Can understand that, but it won't help if he wears himself out."
Josiah shrugged. "Something about being a father lends itself to worry. I suspect the only one of us who might understand is Chris."
"Man, I hope they contact us soon."
"Hey, Sanchez!" Josiah turned to greet Team Four's leader.
MacGyver blew the steam off the cup in his gloved hands, forcing his voice to remain even. "Any sign that Sam was hurt in the crash?"
"No, none," Sheriff Connor was quick to reassure. "At least he was mobile enough to keep up with the fed."
"What about where they were meeting Blair and Jim?"
The sheriff paused. "The park was shot up."
Mac winced, all too easily imagining those bullets piercing one of his sons or Jim.
"But only the fed's truck was there, and it had three flats. Considering we're talking about eight men, two more vehicles, and no evidence that they left on foot, I suspect they managed to escape."
The muffled ring of a phone broke into the conversation. Mac shoved his free hand into his pocket and pulled it out. Using his teeth to yank up the antenna, he flipped it open and answered, "Hello?"
"Dad! Great, I caught you."
"Sam?" Mac responded, lifting an eyebrow at the sheriff. "Where are you?"
"Trust me, you do NOT want to know. It's a bit of a mess here. I just didn't want you to leave for the western slope today until we've got it under control."
"Ah, Sam, I've already heard about the mess."
Dead silence. "Did Blair get a hold of you?"
More silence. "Where are you?"
"Ridgway? Ah, man! Dad, these militia guys want Dexter Fillmore." Mac sighed, easily filling in a few blanks. "You're not by yourself, are you? These guys tend to shoot first and ask questions later."
"Nah, I'm with the guys I was working with. Who are you with?"
"Some of their co-workers."
"Your brother and Jim?"
"Well, that's a long story. But Colonel O'Neill says we're only forty-five minutes from Ridgway, and I can give you the scoop once we're there."
Mac blinked. "O'Neill's in this too?"
"Like I said, it's--"
"A long story, I know. Just get here."
Pine Tree, CO
Leaving Vin to gas up the rented Explorer at a rundown station at the edge of town, the other three entered the store. Jim casually walked over to the food aisle while Blair wandered over to the refrigerated section. Buck sauntered over to the counter.
Buck noticed that while the man's gaze simply slid over himself and Ellison, he glared when he noticed Blair's long hair. The action made Buck's blood pressure rise. Blair didn't look that scruffy, and anyone who was smart and brave enough to have taught college level classes deserved respect in Buck's humble opinion. Plus, he could easily picture the same glare directed at Vin. Buck was rather amazed Chris hadn't rearranged the bastard's face yesterday. He certainly felt like it. Pushing aside the thought in order to do his part in the scheme, Buck gave the man a huge, friendly grin. "Sir, do I need a license for ice fishing, or is that just for warm weather?"
Jim smirked as he listened to Buck discuss the finer points of fishing. The gregarious agent was growing on him. He picked up a box of breakfast bars and four packages of beef jerky. He spotted Blair nonchalantly walking towards the phone next to the cooler. Tilting his head, the sentinel could hear his guide dialing MacGyver's satellite phone. He stretched a little further, catching other voices in the back room. Frowning, Jim focused on them.
"Has Kincaid left for Russell station yet?"
"A few minutes ago. It will be a glorious moment for our cause when he blows it up."
"I just hope we can take care of Sandburg and Fillmore for Kincaid. Seems like that's the least we can do."
Tension clawed its way up Jim's spine. Kincaid was going to blow up a station? It couldn't be the Kincaid he and Blair just testified against. Was it family? What kind of station? Just when the situation was complicated enough, a Kincaid jumps into the mix. Taking a deep breath, he walked over to his partner.
"Yeah, Mac, we're fine. Sam's coming? Great, we should be there in another couple of hours." Blair looked up to see the concerned look on Jim's face. "Just a sec."
"Tell Mac I've picked up something, but we can't discuss it here. We'll call him back from a safer location."
Lifting an eyebrow at his partner, Blair softly repeated the message to his father. After listening a moment, Blair nodded. "Okay, will do." He hung up the phone and exchanged looks with Jim. Jim tapped his ear. Catching the meaning, Blair gave a slight nod as he picked up the bottles of water and juice he had picked earlier. Together, the partners walked up to the counter.
Buck turned, giving both a smile as he read their faces. "Let me help you with those, Prof." He unloaded the various bottles out of Blair's arms.
The guy at the counter leveled another glare at Blair's long hair, only to look up and meet the ice directed at him from Ellison. One glance at the large, muscular man, who looked like he would enjoy breaking him into tiny pieces, and the clerk quickly ran up their purchases.
Once they were driving away in the Explorer, Buck lost the smile and asked, "Problem?" Vin swiftly glanced around, wondering what was going on.
"I overheard two guys in the store talking about wanting to get Sandburg and Fillmore for Kincaid."
"We already knew that," Blair pointed out as he drove, puzzled.
"Yeah, but they were talking about a Kincaid who was about to blow up a station for them."
"What?" Buck exclaimed. "What station?"
"Either of you ever heard of Russell station?"
Both agents shook their heads. "Town? Train station?" Vin asked.
"Haven't a clue."
"Well, it can't be Garrett Kincaid," Blair pointed out. "The feds should have him all nestled in his new federal penitentiary home by now."
"Could be family, Chief."
Blair shuddered. "That's a scary thought."
Buck was frowning as he searched his memory. "We knew that this militia was planning something big. That's why we sent in Ezra. And he did say that the new player who came in a couple days ago was an explosives expert. I wonder if that's this second Kincaid guy?"
"Another Kincaid who's an explosives expert?" Blair shuddered again. "Oh, joy."
"I think we need to call Chris," Vin suggested.
"Agree," Jim replied.
"Which means we need another phone," Buck pointed out.
Peering ahead, Jim smiled. "Or perhaps we can borrow a radio."
"Huh?" Buck glanced around. "What radio?"
Jim nodded his head forward. "That radio."
At the corner of the side road they were on and highway 550 was a sheriff's department car. Blair pulled up beside it, surprised to recognize the driver as the deputy Jim had scared the day before.
Jim got out to greet the younger man. "Need to use your radio."
The deputy opened his mouth to protest, then remembered who it was making the request. He then recognized one of the other three men as the fed from the day before. Gulping, he nodded and replied, "It's all yours."
Ezra made a face as he sipped the horrible coffee the deputy had given him. Its only redeeming quality was that the liquid was hot. He hated the cold air more than the coffee.
Thankfully, watching young Malloy give his father a welcoming hug helped to distract him from his misery. He could see the resemblance between the photojournalist and the lanky, unassuming man. Buck's legend barely seemed old enough to have fathered either Sam or Blair, but the deep love between them was obvious. Ezra felt a bit envious -- Maude would have never lowered herself to make that sort of 'scene' in public.
Then the Colonel they had rescued, who did look amazingly like Sam's father, walked up. "Gus."
Ezra noted the surprised look on Sam's face at the name. His father only sighed. "Hi, Jack."
"I've only got one question." Jack stared sternly at his double. "Dexter Fillmore? DEXTER Fillmore? Isn't Angus MacGyver nerdy enough for you?"
MacGyver only rolled his eyes as his son managed to look both shocked and amused. "That's the point. I sometimes needed to be a nerd when I was working undercover for the DXS."
"You are a nerd," Jack pointed out.
"Not that much of one," Mac countered as Sam snickered. He leveled a glare at his son. "I'm not."
"Hey, don't get me into this," Sam protested with a smirk.
Mac relented with a soft smile. "You want to explain what's going on?"
Sam quickly launched into his report. Ezra watched MacGyver absorb the story, noting the intelligence lighting his eyes. The undercover agent recognized it as the same light he had seen in Sandburg's eyes. Apparently, Blair's legacy from his father was intelligence instead of looks.
The Colonel was also listening to the story, frowning when Sam told about the shootout at the park. "Do you know if Blair and Jim are okay?"
Sam shook his head worriedly. "We haven't seen them since."
"Blair called me a few minutes ago," Mac inserted. "They're all okay. But Jim broke in to say that he picked up something and they'd call us back."
Ezra noted the brief exchange as father's and son's eyes met. It was easy for the agent to deduce that both were in on Sandburg's secret. Ezra took another sip of coffee as he studied the Colonel's face. A slight shift indicated that he knew about Ellison as well. Interesting.
Nathan waved at MacGyver to grab his attention. "Chris's got your son on the phone."
As everyone gathered around the patrol car, Ezra could hear Buck explain, "...heard someone say a guy named Kincaid is going to blow up someplace called Russell station, but Jim and Blair don't think it's the same Kincaid they testified against."
"That goes along with what we got," Josiah replied. "Nathan, Mac and I have found evidence that the bomber we're investigating is Decker Kincaid, and he left the Front Range a couple of days ago."
"Which would correspond to when Ezra's mystery explosives expert showed up," Chris pointed out, looking to Ezra for conformation.
Ezra absently nodded his head as he stared at the ground, thinking hard.
"That would also explain how Ez got made," JD inserted. "Ezra helped Buck on a couple of bombs before we left the Front Range, and I bet the bomber spotted him at the scene."
Suddenly, Ezra's head popped up. "Did you say Russell station, Buck?"
"Damn." The rest of Team Seven looked at their undercover agent in surprise. Ezra rarely broke his sophisticated image by swearing. "Do you know when?"
Jim's voice entered the conversation. "It sounded like they were heading there now."
"Wait a minute," MacGyver interjected. "Isn't that one of the main electrical switching stations for the western US?"
"That is correct," Ezra answered. "If this Kincaid was able to disable or destroy it, it could disable the entire western power grid."
"The entire grid?" Chris repeated in surprise.
Ezra nodded. "The grid is set up like a doughnut. A few years previously, a double failure at a similar station did bring down the entire network."
Josiah nodded. "I remember that. Huge areas lost power."
"That would be one powerful statement for a militia out against the federal government, no pun intended," Nathan pointed out. "MacGyver and I need to get there quick."
"The station is up near Montrose." Ezra reached for the map Sam still held.
"Then we're closer." Buck's voice was infused with worry. "Are we talking a bomb like those in Denver?"
"Right," Chris replied grimly.
Mac glanced at Nathan. "Wilmington is your normal demolitions man, right?" Nathan nodded. Mac raised his voice. "Agent Wilmington, MacGyver here. Are you familiar with the Denver bombs?"
"Yes, sir." Chris could hear the unusual respect in his friend's voice. "I was the one who wrote up the first reports and recommended to Chris that we needed an expert."
MacGyver turned to Larabee. "I could talk him through if they find it."
"Hear that, Buck?" Nathan asked.
"Yeah, and I'm willing to give it a shot."
Everyone looked at Chris. Chris fought to keep the sudden surge of anxiety in his gut from showing on his face. "There'll be more militiaman than just the bomber."
Vin entered the conversation. "He ain't going in alone, Cowboy."
"If the sheriff doesn't mind lending Sandburg and me weapons, we can help," Jim added.
Chris closed his eyes as he made his decision, weighing the risks to his men and fellow law officers against the potential damage and injury to others. Damn it to hell, why does it have to be a bomb? After taking a deep breath, he announced, "Then let's do it."
An hour later, Russell Station
Jim, Blair, Buck and Vin knelt behind a large pile of rocks. Passing a pair of binoculars to Blair, Buck asked the air, "Why do those guards look wrong to me?"
"Cuz they're wearing the same fatigues Ez was wearing?" Vin suggested.
"That would be it." Buck shook his head. "They've got to be militia, which means they've taken over the station."
Blair peered through the binoculars. "I count two guards."
"Three," Jim corrected. "There's one behind that pole."
"So how are we going to get in?" Blair asked. "While we could probably handle the guards, what about that fence? It's got to be ten feet high and electric."
Jim and Vin exchanged glances. Jim turned to the other agent. "Wilmington, think you and Sandburg could take care of the guards by yourselves?"
Buck nodded. "Sure. You and Junior handling the fence?"
"Yep," Vin replied.
Wrinkling his brow, Blair looked up at this partner. "How are you taking out the fence?"
Jim slapped him on the back as he stood up. "If we told you that, we'd have to kill you."
"Hey!" Blair protested, trying to transmit his concerns with a glare.
Reading the expression, Jim gently squeezed his partner's shoulder. "I'll be careful, Chief."
Deep blue eyes stared into ice blue, then Blair finally nodded.
"Give us a ten minute head start," Vin advised his own partner.
Buck smirked at him, though his eyes were concerned. "Just watch your backside, Junior."
"See you in fifteen," Vin returned.
Chris led the group from Ridgway in his truck. He could see Josiah in an ATF van behind him, with an occasional glimpse of the Sheriff's car behind the van. Tension crawled up his spine as he tried not to remember another bombing. You better not blow up with that damn thing, Bucklin, or I'll kick your butt all the way to hell.
JD sat next to him, holding on tight to his cell phone. Even he knew better than to interrupt Chris at that moment. The young man was worried, too. Buck had told him that the Denver bomber's work was more complicated than the run-of-the-mill bombs he was used to handling. JD could only pray that Buck learned quick and that Blair's dad was a good teacher
Ezra quietly sat in the back seat, wishing there was some way he could ease the stress throbbing through his leader. From the black expression, he summarized that Chris was thinking about the car bomb that had killed his wife and child. The southerner again marveled at the loyalty Wilmington had shown, staying by Chris' side during the dark days that followed. Ezra never liked being in the line of fire when his leader was ready to explode.
In the van, Nathan sorted through his tools as MacGyver sat holding his satellite phone, swiftly thinking through various options. Sam shifted in his seat, feeling the weight of Standish's backup piece in his pocket. He prayed Blair and Jim were okay while hoping his father didn't notice the gun. Without the same concerns, O'Neill sat next to Sam, openly checking the weapon the sheriff had lent him.
MacGyver glanced at Jack, trying not to look at the gun. "You didn't need to come along. You could have stayed in Ridgway with Daniel."
"Doesn't take two to call the General," Jack replied wryly, closing the gun with a click.
Mac pointed his chin at Jack's cast. "You're still recovering."
"This?" Jack lifted the arm. "This is nothing."
"Gus, Blair and Jim are consultants for my unit, and thus my responsibility. You and Sam are involved as well. Where else do you think I'd be?"
Mac couldn't help but shake his head. "Thank you."
After staying low and weaving around various rocks, Blair adjusted his backpack as he studied the man by the pole. Deciding the guard didn't look that intelligent, Blair threw a small rock. It hit the metal pole with a loud ping. The militiaman glanced around, trying to identify the sound. With a smirk, Blair threw another rock. This time, the man stepped around to investigate the noise.
Patiently, Blair waited until the man was standing in front of him. Then he stood up and touched the barrel of his borrowed gun against the man's neck. "Put your hands on your head." The militia guard stiffened, then obeyed. Carefully, Blair ordered his prisoner to walk to the gate.
A few moments later, Buck appeared, holding his gun on another militiaman who was helping a limping third. "Look at what I found, Prof."
Blair grinned. "We're collecting quite a set."
The limping man glared back at his captor. "You don't know who you're messing with."
Rolling his eyes, Buck indicated for the man to join Blair's prisoner by the gate. "No, you have no idea who YOU are messing with." Once in place, Buck asked, "You still got those 'presents' from the deputy?"
"Oh yeah. I've been looking forward to this." Blair stepped forward, holding a couple of pairs of handcuffs. Remembering his treatment while held by the Sun Rise Patriots, the young man thoroughly enjoyed cuffing the men together. By the time he was done, the cuffs were looped through the hefty metal grid work of a nearby meter.
Buck grinned. "I really like your work, Prof."
Blair turned and was about to reply when the gate opened. Both he and Wilmington spun, guns drawn. Vin exited, glancing at the prisoners and nodding his approval. With a wave, he led the other two into the facility.
They met Ellison just inside the fence. Blair studied his partner's face a moment. "We're clear?" he whispered.
Jim shrugged. "I'm sure there's more. Just not sure where."
Blair stepped a little closer, keeping his voice low. "Can you hear heartbeats?"
Jim tilted his head a moment, then shook it. "There's a humming from all the electricity flowing through this place. I feel like I'm next to a mega-watt battery inside a Gameboy."
"Can you filter it out?"
"I can try, but it's as much touch as sound. I'm not sure it'll work."
Nearby, Buck was studying the facility. Huge transformer towers of metal and plastic rose around them. Even Buck could sense the power flowing through the wires. "Okay, if I was a bomb, where would I hide?"
Vin, too, looked around. "Wherever all the electricity's flowing through?"
"Any idea where that might be?"
Buck sighed. "Well, we'd better figure it out quick."
With half an ear on the agents' conversation, Blair continued to think hard. He turned to his partner. "Jim, nix the heartbeats. Can you smell anything?"
Jim tilted his head a little more. After a moment, he answered. "There's a kind of faint chemical smell that's different from everything else."
"That could be the bomb. Let's see if we can find it." Visualizing the scent on the air, Jim stepped forward to track it. Blair followed him deeper into the facility, Buck and Vin right behind them.
When Jim paused, Buck immediately spotted the device. "There it is." Buck stepped forward and knelt before the large case leaning against one of the towers. The agent drew several deep breaths as he cleared his mind and stilled his body. Behind him, Vin watched his partner intently. He had never seen Buck deal with a bomb before, and was impressed by the calm that filled the normally energetic man.
Nearby, Blair checked the open line of his cell phone. "Mac, Blair. We found it." The young detective listened for a moment, nodded, then cautiously called out, "Buck."
Buck held out a hand for the phone. He took it and softly replied, "Wilmington... Yeah, it looks like the others..."
Blair turned back to Jim and Vin as he pulled off his backpack. "Mac said to tell you there was enough missing from the inventory to make five bombs. This is only number four."
Vin's eyes grew wide. "So there could be another one hiding around here?"
Jim grew thoughtful. "Didn't Standish say something about a double failure? That could require two bombs." He patted his partner on the shoulder. "Stay here with Buck -- you're our best bet to help him figure out your Dad's improvisations. Vin and I'll go hunting for the other bomb."
Before Vin could follow, Blair grabbed his arm. "Sometimes when Jim focuses too hard on one sense, he can get lost in it," he whispered worriedly. "If he suddenly stops moving and his eyes go blank, shake him." Vin nodded seriously, then trotted after his former C.O.
"...So we start with the motion detector." Buck turned to Blair. "You wouldn't happen to have a screw driver, would you?"
Blair smiled as he pulled out his Swiss Army knife. "Never leave home without one."
"...the third screw is removed, gently pull off the lid..."
The steep mountain canyon was giving way to smooth slopes. Sam glanced at his father, concentrating on his phone, then glanced at O'Neill and Nathan. "How much farther?"
Jack thought a moment. "Probably about ten miles."
Sam frowned. He was worried that Jim and his brother could be captured by militiamen before they reached them. Jack, reading the expression, squeezed the younger man's shoulder.
Suddenly, Josiah slammed on the brakes. Chris' truck had suddenly slid sideways ahead of them. Nathan, steadying MacGyver from the force, looked forward. "What's wrong?" They all winced as the sound of gunfire answered Nathan's question.
Chancing a glance out the window, Sam swore under his breath. "Looks like the guys who chased us from that park."
MacGyver lifted his head from the phone, brow wrinkled. Jack pointed his cast arm at him. "You concentrate on the bomb. We'll take care of this problem."
"Amen, Brother." Josiah carefully popped the driver side door to slide out of the van, Nathan on his heels.
Jack and Sam slipped to the front, Jack silently indicating for Sam to take Josiah's place at the wheel. Jack realized that keeping Mac's connection to the agent with the bomb was the top priority -- if they had to retreat to keep his 'twin' safe, so be it.
Josiah and Nathan worked their way to Chris' truck. Four trucks were parked ahead of them, firing at the Ram. Chris, Ezra and JD were taking turns ducking and shooting back at their assailants. "Buck find the bomb yet?" Chris asked tersely as he reloaded.
"Yep." Nathan quickly shot at a grizzly-looking fellow in the winter fatigues who had popped around a green Ford. Dropping back to the ground, he continued, "MacGyver's talking him through now."
JD bit his lip. They had to give the bomb expert time to help Buck. He fired another shot around the bumper.
"We have a plan?" Josiah asked calmly before shooting over the hood.
Chris winced as another series of pings hit his truck. Anger surged as he thought of the repair bill in his future. "Shoot the bastards?"
"Sounds like another game-winning strategy to me," Ezra replied. He, too, was becoming very tired at being shot at. Three more agents and the sheriff joined them from the rest of the caravan.
"What we need is Vin here to shoot the gas tank on one of those junkers," Nathan pointed out.
Lifting an eyebrow, Chris glanced at his youngest agent. "Want to give it a shot, JD?"
JD looked up, surprised. "Sure."
Chris pulled a rifle from out of the truck. JD dropped to the ground, then wiggled underneath until he had a good view of the Ford. Drawing a deep breath, the agent tried to remember all of Vin's advice from the firing range. After taking careful aim and releasing half a breath, he pulled the trigger. The truck suddenly exploded.
"All right!" Nathan exclaimed. The rest of the militiamen raced away from the trucks, holding up their hands.
"Let's clear the road and move it!" Chris ordered.
Jim was trying to be both careful and alert as he and Vin searched the rest of the switching station. Not only was there the possibility of another bomb, but there was still the matter of the bomber. Thankfully, the place wasn't that big. Using Blair's and Buck's voices to ground him, the sentinel used his enhanced sight and smell to search for trouble.
Covering his back, Vin also used his eyes to search. "Shouldn't there be guards or workmen or something around here?"
Checking behind a tower, Jim shook his head. "Most these places are automated."
Vin swiftly swung his gun around a corner. "You know, considering the importance, that's not very smart." He knelt down, studying a suspicious box.
"Just another example on how lax security is in this country. It'll probably take something big before anyone starts taking it seriously." Suddenly, Jim stopped in his tracks, head tilted.
Vin stood up. Remembering Blair's warning, he studied his former C.O worriedly. "Cap'n?"
"...So I finally get to meet the infamous Blair Sandburg..."
"Damn. Someone's found Blair and Buck." Jim turned back to his partner and ran, with Vin on his heels.
Blair scored the glass around the end of a tube. "I didn't understand why Mac wanted us to pick up two straight neon lights, but now it makes sense. What a great way to suck up a powder in a vacuum."
Buck pulled a small piece of gum out of his mouth. "Yeah, especially since one whiff of air can ignite it and set the whole thing off. You should stand back once I start working." Buck paused as he listened to the phone. "Your dad said he's done this before."
Blair shook his head as he handed Buck the tube. "You know, I don't even want to go there."
Buck broke off the end of the tube and swiftly plugged it with the gum. "We can ask later." He turned back to the bomb and began to gingerly ease the tube through the plastic caulking surrounding the case.
Blair took a step back as he followed the expert's advice. "Good thing we had the deputy with us; I doubt the bar owner would have given them to us otherwise." Blair suddenly paused as a soft footstep reached his ear. Pulling the borrowed gun from the waistband of his jeans, he clicked off the safety and held it ready.
"I'm in," Buck reported as he concentrated on his work. "No sign of air seepage. Am popping the gum off now..."
Blair was about ready to write off the noise as a product of a stressed and over-active mind when he heard another noise behind him. The young detective spun, finding himself face to face with another man holding a gun on him. The brown-haired man was trim and lanky, with enough similarity in the face for Blair to realize he was the other Kincaid.
"So I finally get to meet the infamous Blair Sandburg," the man sneered. Behind Blair, Buck's back tightened, but he began to suck up the dangerous powder with the neon tube.
Blair trained his weapon on the man. "Yep, that's me. Who are you?"
"Decker Kincaid. It was my cousin you sent to prison."
"Well, if your cousin hadn't broken several laws and killed people, he wouldn't be in prison."
"Shut up!" The fanatic light in the other man's eyes sent a shiver down Blair's back. "We don't recognize the law of the oppressors. Collaborators like you will be executed once we're in control!"
"Yeah, yeah, I've heard that before," Blair replied as he stayed between Buck and the militia man. "You responsible for the bomb?"
"Bombs." Decker emphasized the plural. "You won't be able to disarm them both in time."
Ah, hell, Dad was right. "Really? Want to drop that gun and time us?"
Before Decker could reply, another voice interjected silkily. "You might live longer that way."
"Let me guess," Decker snarled, "Detective James Ellison?"
"Got it in one," Jim replied. "Now drop the gun before I drop you."
Buck lifted his head from the bomb, catching a shadow on the right.
"Ah, but I can still get one shot off. So I'd drop your gun before I shoot scruffy here."
Both Blair and Kincaid jumped from the loud noise. Buck nonchalantly laid the tube, now empty of its explosive contents, on the floor next to him.
Blair blinked as Kincaid fell to the ground, clutching his right shoulder. He glanced back at Buck.
"Powder has been removed from the case," the tall man reported into the phone, smiling at the younger man. "Now pulling off the glass."
"Nice shot, Slick," Jim complimented his friend as he reached down to haul the injured bomber to his feet.
"Buck gave me a sign that he was about to do something, so I was prepared," Vin glared at the suspect.
Blair tossed Jim another pair of handcuffs. "He said there's more bombs."
Jim cuffed the bomber's wrists. "Where's the other one?" When Decker remained silent, Jim shook him.
"Trigger disconnected. Bomb disarmed. Four minutes left on timer. Hang on." Buck turned to the others. "You guys have any luck?"
Trading glares with Decker, Jim shook his head.
Vin snapped his fingers. "I think I might have found something." He quickly led Buck and Blair to the box he had spotted earlier, Jim dragging his prisoner behind them.
Buck knelt down to study it. "How much time?" he asked.
Jim shook the prisoner again. "Not enough," Decker replied smugly.
Blair glanced around the area. "Think you can disable the motion detector quickly?"
Buck looked back. "Sure."
"Then do it." Vin and Jim traded puzzled glances as Blair dashed to a nearby cart. Nodding, Vin raced to the gate while Jim helped Blair maneuver it into place.
"Done." Buck lifted the box up and onto the cart. Together, the three men began pushing the cart. As they picked up speed, Vin pulled open the gate. With one last shove, the cart and its dangerous cargo rolled out onto the empty grassland. It exploded in a roar of flames.
Blair turned back to his partner. Jim was leaning forward, hands rubbing his ears. "You okay?"
"Yeah, fine." Then Jim looked around. "Where did Kincaid go?"
Blair, too, starting looking. "Oh, oh..."
The switching station was in sight when a huge explosion ripped through the air. Chris felt his stomach clench as he pressed on the gas pedal.
"That was outside of the facility," Ezra pointed out, trying to reassure himself as well as his leader.
JD's cell rang. "Hello?... Chris, Josiah said that MacGyver said that Jim, Buck, and Blair pushed the second bomb outside the station. They're all okay."
Feeling like his heart was finally pumping again, Chris stopped the truck outside the gate where his missing agents had three prisoners lined up. The van pulled up right behind them.
Vin waved. "About time, Cowboy. You've missed all the action." Vin's eyes continued to search the area, hoping to spot the missing bomber.
"I'm not so sure about that." Buck waved at the bullet holes. "Those all from the park?"
"Nah, picked up a few more on the way here." Chris looked at Buck sternly. "I thought you were disarming that bomb, not blowing it up."
Buck chuckled. "There was more than one, and I didn't have enough time for the second. The first should give us plenty of evidence, though."
Chris' eyes narrowed. "Are you limping?"
"I'm fine, Stud."
The word 'fine' tipped the balance. 'Fine' with his team covered everything from sprains to bleeding to death. Chris turned back to the team's medic. "Nathan!"
Behind them, Sam was greeting his brother with a hug. "Man, Indy, I've been worried about you."
"Same here, Olsen."
"Tracking down one more terrorist."
Before Sam could reply, a gunshot rang out. MacGyver was standing still, hands raised, as Kincaid pointed his weapon at him. Inspite of the blood on his shoulder, the gun remained steady. "Everyone just stand still!" Decker shouted. "Mr. Fillmore and I are just going to take a little trip."
"You sure you've got the right man?" Jack O'Neill stood on the other side of Chris' truck, glaring at the bomber.
As Decker hesitated in confusion, Jim rose from behind a shed and tackled him. They rolled in the yellow dirt, clouds rising into the air. Finally, Jim kneed Decker in the stomach, forcing the militiaman to drop the gun. One solid punch to the face, and Decker Kincaid was out for the count.
"Nice work, Detective Ellison," Ezra complimented him as he handed over his handcuffs. Jim acknowledged him with a smile as he finished securing the new prisoner.
Mac gave him a hand up. "You okay?"
Blair and Sam ran up. "Jim? Dad?" Sam asked breathlessly.
"Fine." MacGyver stared at his sons and Jim. "Can't you three go anywhere without getting into trouble?"
"Isn't that the pot calling the kettle black?" Sam returned.
"Yeah," Blair added. "Remember Wyoming?"
"San Francisco," Jim included.
"Chicago," Blair continued.
"Nah, Chief, that was just Sam," Jim corrected. "Mac didn't make Chicago because of Wyoming."
"Oh yeah, Wyoming." Blair lifted an eyebrow at his father.
Mac rolled his eyes. "Those are beside the point. What do you three have to say for yourselves THIS time?"
Sam glanced at his brother and Jim before offering, "Ah, Happy Birthday?"
Mac couldn't stop the laugh that burst out of him. Joyously, he pulled both sons in for hugs.
That evening, Harry's cabin
The small cabin was crowded. Mac briefly reflected that the place had never seen so many people. He flashed a smile at his grandfather's picture, hoping the old man wouldn't have minded. Considering how grateful MacGyver was that his family and friends were safe, it was probably one of the best birthday parties he had ever had. He glanced around at the various groups.
Blair was sitting next to the fire with Daniel, Josiah, Nathan and JD. The three former anthropologists were telling stories about their adventures to the others. JD's eyes were huge, soaking up the tales.
In the kitchen, Jim was swapping military stories with Jack, Chris and Vin. Mac rarely saw Jim so relaxed. Buck had just joined them, refilling his bowl of Blair's chili. Earlier, Mac had enjoyed talking with the younger man. Buck's enthusiasm was contagious.
Then in the corner behind the couch, Sam and Ezra were talking. With a smile, Mac walked over to hear what was going on.
"...latest Clinton scandal." Sam waved his arms. "Even if I was on the U.S. political beat, the man's out of office. Who cares what he's doing? It's not going to change anything if I'm scrounging around for dirt on him in Israel. You wouldn't believe what I had to go through to stay on the India earthquake."
Ezra shook his head. "I do not envy you your position. Your skills are being wasted with such trite."
Sam swirled his glass, staring at the punch. "Yeah. I'm really thinking it may be time to switch jobs."
The dejection in Sam's voice caught Blair's attention. The guide turned his head towards his brother. "Switch jobs? You thinking about going back to being a stringer?"
"Maybe." Sam shrugged his shoulders. "Though I'm really getting disgusted with the state of journalism in general lately. I want to make a difference; instead, I feel like I'm fighting a losing battle against tabloid reporting."
"Have you ever considered a job in law enforcement?" Ezra asked. "You already have many of the talents and skills required for an outstanding ATF agent."
"Really?" Sam asked, his face lighting up with the compliment. Behind him, Mac's eyes grew wide.
Also picking up on the conversation, Chris turned. "Definitely. Just contact me when you're ready, and I can get you set up."
Seeing the look of panic on his father's face, Blair held back a smirk as he caught his partner's mirthful eyes. To keep from laughing, he stood up and walked over to the table. "Hey Mac, think you can postpone your heart attack long enough to blow out some candles?"
Realizing was his brother was doing, Sam joined him. Looking over the cake, he asked, "Should I grab the fire extinguisher?"
Mac gave his younger son a mock glare. "Just you wait; your day is coming."
Unperturbed, Sam grinned as Blair lit the candles. As everyone gathered around, Mac took a deep breath, paused, then blew out the flames.
"What did you wish for, Dad?" Sam asked.
Mac wrapped an arm around each of his sons. "Nothing. Everything I want is right here."
Author's note, 2/3/02: FINALLY! I didn't think I was ever going to get this one done! Not sure what I'm working on next, but hopefully it won't take as long. Thank you all who wrote me -- I appreciate hearing from you.
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