TITLE: Favors Past Due
RATING: PG - violence
DISCLAIMER: The characters from the program The Magnificent Seven in this story are not mine and are owned by Trilogy, CBS and MGM. The characters from The Sentinel belong to Paramount, Sci Fi, and Pet Fly. I'm just borrowing them and will eventually return them <bg>
NOTES: real spotty in places. unbetaed. crossover.
SPOILERS/WARNINGS: None from Magnificent Seven, as I have yet to see an ep beyond the pilot. Um, none from The Sentinel either. (least, none I can think of)
ARCHIVE: Yes please.
Blair struggled with the chains about his chest but they did not budge. He could feel the cold steel that was tight enough to burrow into his wrists and it burned. He tried to move his legs, but they too were tightly bound… again in cold steel.
“Sandburg?” The soft whisper surprised him. He did not remember anyone else being in the room.
“Who is it?”
“If they take you out of here… run.” The whisper was filled with so much pain he could not recognize the voice. “Don’t wait for me. Don’t wait for Ellison to find us… you break free and you run. Get away.”
Blair shook his head, feeling his hair cover his face in the darkness. He must have been unconscious when the other man arrived. He closed his eyes and concentrated on focusing past the pain in his head. Slowly, the deep, heavy drum roll receded. “Where are we?”
“North of town. Industrial district.” The whisper was softer, fading. The other man coughed painfully. The sound was wet, almost a sloshing sound.
With a blinding flash, Blair remembered. He remembered the bust going wrong. He remembered seeing Jim fall, blood spraying from him as Henri and Simon tried to catch him. He remembered being knocked away from his sentinel as another took the bullet meant for him. He remembered the awful sound as the bullet tore through a Kevlar™ vest and then ricocheted off the concrete. Then something had hit him and everything went blank.
There was a long silence. “Where are we?”
“North.” The whisper faded away mid-word. He strained but could hear nothing else.
Praying that his friend was still alive, Blair tried to remember.
“What do you mean, they’re gone?” The sentinel’s voice was harsh even through the drugs.
“They grabbed Sandburg and Rafe, used them as hostages to get away.” Simon spoke quietly. “Because of the weapons involved, the case is being taken over by the feds.”
Jim tried to get out of the hospital bed, but collapsed in pain as the damaged ribs, lung, and muscles protested the move.
“I’m sorry, Jim. We’re doing all we can.”
“We’re looking for what?” The AD was surprised. “How in God’s name did that happen?”
He listened for a long moment and nodded. “I’ll put my best team on it.”
After listening to the man for another long diatribe, Travis shook his head. “I don’t tell you how to do your job, you don’t tell me how to run my agency. The team will find the weapons and your missing police officers.”
After he hung up he looked at his computer. It was time to tell Chris to up the ante in Cascade. He quickly typed in a message and waited. Although Cascade was an hour behind Denver, he knew Larabee would already be up and working. Travis smiled grimly as he savored the surprise his old high school buddy, now the mayor of Cascade would have at finding out that his best people were already in Cascade, investigating the theft and distribution of illegal firearms.
Jim waited until after Simon left and then picked up the cell phone. Yes, he knew it was forbidden, but he did not care. He carefully wrapped a bit of stolen tinfoil into a cone and placed it around the antenna. He hoped this would prevent any problems from the cell phone interfering with hospital machinery. If the situation were not so bad he would not take the risk. He dialed a number memorized a long time ago.
“Talk.” The southern accent sounded slightly miffed.
“This is Ellison. Do you still honor the debt?” Jim managed the words without groaning. His side ached from the position he was holding, aiming the antenna out the window as he spoke.
“Of course, sir.” There was an instant change in attitude as soon he identified himself. “What can I assist you with?”
“Someone abducted my partner and another member of my squad.” Ellison tried to hold onto his strength as he felt the drugs kicking in again. “I need them found. I don’t care how, I want them back alive.”
“At once. Their names?” The man on the line was cool and collected, and Jim knew the man’s brain was already racing with plans and ideas.
“Blair Sandburg. Brian Rafe.” Jim paused. “I’ve got a friend in the ATF, Texan named Tanner. He might be able to help.”
A quick chuckle came over the phone. “I know him. We will get them back for you.”
“Cascade, 555-1214.” He rattled off the number knowing that the southerner would memorize it. Then he disconnected and dialed another number.
“This is Ellison.”
“Sir?” He heard the instant tension in the younger man’s voice. Bewilderment shifted rapidly into the calm focus the sharpshooter was infamous for showing. “Where? When?”
“A friend was taken. Southern Fox will be contacting you. Help him find Bl—“ Jim froze as the duty nurse stepped inside the room.
“Detective Ellison! What are you doing? Ripping out those stitches? Is that a Cell phone?” The woman moved faster than Jim was able to and she had his phone out of his hand and disconnected before he could protest. “No wonder the monitors in here were going bizerk.”
Jim closed his eyes, letting the drugs take over. His old friends were hunting Blair and Brian. Since he was out of commission, they should be able to find the two missing men for him.
Green eyes stared at blue, mischief gleaming merrily in them. “So, it seems we know the same people.”
The Texan nodded shortly. “I owe him, Ez.”
“As do I.” The southerner smiled, his eyes grim. “The question is, how do we handle this without involving our esteemed colleagues?”
“Chris ain’t gonna like it.” Vin looked around the clubhouse. It was one of the few places they were certain was not bugged. As Ezra’s top bodyguard, he made it a point of being present when the room was checked every morning and evening.
“No. But I cannot let this debt go unpaid.” Ezra looked around, his eyes thoughtful as he noted the many missing people. “I wonder, perhaps this is part of our case already?”
Vin frowned and looked over at Galan Trask. The arms dealer sported a slight limp and two of his normal bodyguards were missing. “Reckon you might be right.”
“So, there’s no way to contact them?” Chris Larabee stood over JD Dunne, glaring at the computer expert.
“No. They have to initiate contact.” The young agent did not move an inch. He stared up at his boss, waiting for the older man to explode.
“Brother,” Josiah’s low rumbling voice insinuated itself into the quiet tension. “This was a fact three weeks ago. It remains a fact now.”
“I didn’t like it then, either.” Chris growled. But the rage was gone and he stepped away from JD. The ATF leader closed his eyes and rubbed at the bridge of his nose. “When’s their next check in?”
“Tonight, eleven p.m. Vin’s supposed to meet Buck at the IHOP on fourteenth.” JD replied immediately. The young man had been their sanity on this case, managing to juggle his own job as well as some of the duties of both Ezra and Vin. He had memorized every detail of the case, managed to keep Chris from losing his temper too many times to count, and kept a constant barrage of new data flowing towards the arrests.
“I still don’t like it.” Chris grumbled. He turned to his friend. “Wear your vest.”
Buck blinked. It was not Chris to give him that command, especially when it was a routine check in. He studied his old friend and saw something he had not seen in a while. The darkness in Chris’ eyes was something he had seen before, always just before a case turned bad. Buck nodded.
“The rest of you… plot out the best way to cover the IHOP. I want every move Buck makes covered. Got it?”
Solemnly, they nodded.
“Mr. Stanton, I have a gift for you.” Trask smiled and it was all Ezra could do to keep from shuddering. Throughout the evening, Trask had been eyeing them and it made him nervous, something was very wrong.
“I hope it is something to recompense missing our appointment to inspect the warehouse this morning.” Ezra kept his voice calm even as he felt the hair on the back of his neck stand on end. He felt more than saw Vin tense and change his stance. “I dislike such ungentlemanly behavior.”
“There was a rat problem,” Trask waved for Ezra to follow him. The gunrunner led the way out of the guesthouse and into the main house. From there, he led the group into the basement. To Vin’s unease, three men, all heavily armed, followed them.
“I dislike rats and members of the law enforcement community.” Trask smiled before opening a hidden doorway. He stepped into the narrow passageway. “So I was forced to deal with them this morning.”
Blair blinked at the light as it flooded the stone room. For the first time he could see where he was. The solid stone floor was dirty, covered in dust and tracks. Empty shelves stood against the walls. And laying limply on the ground a few feet away, was his friend.
“Is he alive?” A man leaned over Rafe, prodding him cautiously. A weak groan rewarded him.
“Guess he is.” With that another man grabbed Rafe and threw him over his shoulder.
“Well, look who’s awake.” Peter Thompkins from the Burglary department stood in front of Blair and it all clicked into place. The bust had gone bad because of a leak, one within the department, one that betrayed them all. “How’s the bright little fast track professor? Ready to die, Sandburg?”
“You sold us out.” He stared at the man he thought of as a friend.
Thompkins shrugged. “It was worth it, especially to know that you and Ellison are going to pay the ultimate price… your death. Man’ll break when your body is found.”
Before Blair could protest, Thompkins slammed his pistol into the young detective’s temple, knocking unconscious.
The trip was long enough that Ezra was helplessly confused. All underground twists and turns, rising levels and falling levels, enough to make him unsure whether or not he was still in the same state, much less the same city.
“My gift to you, Mr. Stanton… a chance to prove that you are not a federal agent.” Trask flipped a switch and suddenly Ezra realized they were in a large warehouse. Weapons, ammunition, and explosives were stacked and shelved all around them.
“Good God.” Ezra felt his mask slip at the sheer immensity of the treasure trove they had just located. Chris Larabee was going to be pleased, or so he hoped.
“Bring them.” Trask ordered his men. A door was thrown open and two men were dragged into the warehouse. “These are two of our rats, Cascade’s finest.”
Ezra felt his stomach drop. By all rights, he and Vin should turn away. What was the value of two lives against a case that would close down a major weapons pipeline? He could hear Larabee’s yell if he found out about the chance he was being given. They had been working to find this stockpile for nearly six months. He and Vin had been undercover for over a month in Cascade.
“You kidnapped a pair of police officers?” Vin’s whispered comment rang loudly in Ezra’s ears.
“Two detectives.” Trask replied. “I’ve been warned that I have a pair of rats in my organization. You are two of the possible rats. Kill these two and prove you are not federal agents.”
“If we kill members of Cascade’s law enforcement community, we will be hunted down to the ends of the world. No place will be safe for us.” Ezra responded calmly. “Are you certain this is what you want us to do?”
Trask took a pistol from one of his henchmen and checked that there was a bullet in the chamber and a full clip in the magazine. “You will shoot Detectives Sandburg and Rafe. Each of you will shoot one of them. If you do not, you die.”
The low-pitched grumble of the panther’s cry woke Jim Ellison to a world of blue. The familiar tint of the spirit world was no shock. He stood, realizing at once that he was unwounded, wearing the clothes he had worn so long ago among the Chopec. He followed the panther, racing through the blue tinted rain forest.
At the temple of the sentinels, he paused. He could hear the faint cries of a bird and the soft encouraging bark of the wolf. When the panther looked back at him from the stone steps, he shrugged at its questioning glare. Step by uncertain step, he followed it into the temple.
The ancient stones were blue-gray and stark in the odd light. The shadows were menacing and eerie, not staying in place as he moved. Beside the altar he saw a hawk nestled between the paws of a young wolf. The bird’s eyes were dim, its feathers torn and coated with blood. It looked up at him and creeled, crying out softly in pain. The wolf nudged it gently and he saw the blood that streaked the wolf’s face.
“You must wait here.” The panther morphed into Incacha and blocked him from getting any closer. “It is not yet time for you to join them.”
“They are dying.” Jim spoke the words and knew them to be true. He felt his heart skip a beat and he felt the renewed pain wracking his chest.
“Perhaps. Perhaps not. It has not been decided. You must wait.”
Nathan Jackson watched the frantic activity in the ICU area and closed his eyes. “You best be saying a prayer, Josiah. The detective is not doing to well.”
The tall ex-preacher nodded and closed his eyes, adding a prayer to the ones being said by the somber faced Major Crimes unit in the waiting room. They had two men missing and one literally facing death’s gates. A little help from above would be quite apropos.
Before he finished his prayers, his beeper went off. He checked the message. It was the panic code – Vin had missed the check in.
Vin shot a quick, silent look at Ezra and took the offered weapon. Without glancing at anyone else, he strode over to the two crumpled figures. He knelt next to one, his hand gently touching the blood-covered police officer’s throat.
“This one’s already dead,” he announced and walked the few steps over to the other man. “This one’s still breathing.”
“I want Stanton to do the honors.” Trask called angrily.
The southerner nodded, having expected it. Straightening his silk tie and shrugging his Armani suit back into perfect placement on his shoulders, he strode to the two men in the center of the room. He kept his eyes on his partner, waiting for a signal.
Vin gave Ezra a faint bit of a grin and spun the pistol so that it was upside-down, the grip facing the undercover agent. He twisted it slightly, so the muzzle was pointed slightly to the left of his body. He saw the slight widening of Ezra’s eyes and placed his finger on the trigger. As he fired, Ezra whirled, his derringer appearing like magic into his hand and a worn black handled Beretta appearing in the other.
Buck felt the shockwave of the explosion and rolled with it. He ended up leaning on his truck, staring at a rising cloud of dirt and debris. He knew what he was going to find there, he thought dazedly. He was going to find two explosion mad ATF agents. He just hoped they were alive.
“Rest easy, now.” The Texan drawled in Blair’s ear as he press a makeshift bandage to the young man’s forehead.
“The ambulances are en route, as is the cavalry.” A soft southern voice spoke on the other side of the dazed young man. “I believe they both may live.”
“What happened to ya?” The Texan shot at his companion. “You lost yer thesaurus?”
“I am attempting to stem the new flow of blood,” there was the sound of material ripping and a soft grunt. “We should not court our compatriots’ displeasure by rescuing a corpse. I may not be as skilled as our esteemed medic, but I can keep Detective Rafe from joining his forefathers… at least until someone of the medical profession arrives.”
“I can’t see.” Blair murmured. Immediately the cloth over his eyes was moved and he looked into a lean face with merry blue eyes. “Thank you.”
“Just tell Ellison we did our jobs, okay kid?” The Texan drawled, his voice a rough whisper as the police and medical units pulled up and personnel descended upon them.
“Yes, Detective Sandburg,” the southerner turned his attention to Blair, both hands still holding the remnants of his silk shirt to Rafe’s chest. “Please tell the Captain that the Southern Fox has fulfilled the request.”
Blair nodded, the movement making his head spin. “I’ll tell him.”
“Thank you.” Both men replied as they let the paramedics take over their tasks.
“IA wants to know if you broke cover, destroying a huge warehouse containing the largest stockpile of stolen weapons ever located, killing all the members of Trask’s organization, and risking your lives just to save two Cascade Police officers.” The quietly spoken words of the tall man dressed in unrelieved black, but in their very quietude there was menace. His eyes were flashing with irritation as he paced from one agent to another, one moment an icy gray-green, the next fiery green. He stopped in front of his best friend. “Well?”
Vin shrugged noncommittally.
“Mr. Larabee, are they objecting to our discovery of the stockpile or the rescue of the police officers?” Ezra Standish redirected their leader’s attention off the sharpshooter.
“No. They are objecting to the fact that we lost the men supplying Trask.” Chris Larabee could understand the actions his men had taken. Standing back and allowing two fellow lawmen die was unthinkable. And rumor had it they were given the choice of killing the two wounded detectives or dying themselves.
“Trask was a complicated man,” Ezra spoke up again. “He protected his source avidly. If we had been given more time, we may have been able to locate that source. But it would have taken a long time. Longer than we were given.”
Chris nodded. As far as he was concerned, the investigation was closed. He knew IA could not push too hard, not without alienating more than just he rank and file. Cascade was a wild city, one that seemed to attract problems. It was bad enough that the local state office deferred to the Cascade PD in most matters, and in all things that related to Ellison and Sandburg. “You did good. Let’s go home.”
The sentinel rested in his bed, content. The ICU was not very large so he knew exactly where his friends were. His guide was barely five feet away. Blair was suffering from a severe concussion, hypothermia, and several broken or cracked ribs. The lack of coherence and his disconcerting habit of drifting in and out had sentenced him to ICU and hourly checks by a grim faced nurse. But his guide lived and was getting better. He could hear it in the strength of Blair’s heartbeat.
Brian Rafe was closer to the nurse’s desk and had his own personal nurse sitting next to him. She sat there, one hand holding his, ignoring the quiet activity going on around her. According to Simon, she had commandeered a motorcycle cop at the airport and conned him into breaking every single traffic law so she could arrive at the hospital as his ambulance did. After waiting patiently for his doctors to complete surgery to repair the damage, she had told the head of ICU she was remaining with Rafe. The nurse had briefly contemplated arguing and then backed down. Jim smiled as he heard the soft words she whispered in Rafe’s ears. She was going to whisper him straight into health.
Jim picked up the note card that lay on his bed. His fingers traced the lines sketched in the fine, heavy grade paper. Only Ezra would use this kind of stationary. But the message was pure Vin.
We still owe you more than our lives.