"Hey Chief." he set Blair's arm down gently. "How
Blair looked around the cabin for a moment, then up at Jim.
"Man, it was real? I wasn't sure." he set his head back down into the
pillow and closed his eyes.
"You were pretty sick. You had a fever for
a while, but I think it's gone now." Jim placed a hand on Blair's shoulder
to get him to open his eyes. "Why didn't you tell me you were getting sick?"
"There was nothing to do about it." Blair shrugged. "I think
being hunted by some rogue CIA madman takes precedence over a cold."
not the point Chief, you tell me next time something's wrong, got that?"
Blair raised his left hand then, to push the hair off his face and noticed
the chain. "Hey, how'd you do that?"
"A little welding. I wanted
to get the cuffs off, but it's too dangerous."
Blair noticed his hand
then and tried to sit up. "God, Jim, what did you do?"
alright. Just a little singed, don't worry about it." He was helping Blair
sit up and placed a blanket behind his back to lean on. "Want some soup?"
"What? You found food? I don't suppose you found a phone, or radio or
Jim laughed, pouring some soup into a mug. "No such luck,
Chief. But I think I found Brackett."
"Jim, are you sure? Where?"
Blair took the steaming cup Jim was offering and leaned back into the pillow.
"Right where we left him. He's behind us, I can't tell how far though."
He shook his head, still amazed at his ability to sense the 'blind spot'. "It's
incredible, I did what you said, and sort of, felt around.......and there it was."
"What's it like?" Blair was perking up, listening to Jim's description.
"Kinda hard to describe. It's like, I can sense a bubble. I can hear all
around this one area, but not into it or through it. I can't tell how far away
it is, I just know I can hear farther in any other direction but that. What ever
Brackett used on us, I think it's worn off." He shook his head again, trying
to judge the distance, without thinking about it too much.
is incredible. When we get back, we need to do some tests, find out just what
your range is. That's something we haven't tried yet."
"No, I don't...I
don't think that's such a good idea."
"Why? Jim, it makes perfect
sense. We've been testing other aspects, this is just another, possibly more important
aspect of your senses. I don't know why I haven't thought about this before."
"Just drink your soup, okay?" Jim stood and walked around the small
cabin, glancing out the windows into the rainy night. He was uncomfortable with
the subject, but how much longer could he avoid it? If he knew how to judge distance,
then he would know exactly how far away Brackett was. The panther, it, or he,
had told him that to go further would require his soul. Was that what was holding
him back now? And what exactly had he meant? Would Blair understand his fear?
"Jim, what's wrong? What aren't you telling me?" Blair was still
holding the soup, watching Jim pace the small cabin.
Jim paused, looking at
his friend. He had no one else to tell. No one else he would tell. Blair would
understand, but could he help? He sighed and walked back to the bunk opposite
Blair and sat down. "Something happened in Peru, something I haven't told
you about." He paused, looking at Blair.
"What is it Jim? What's
"My senses, since then...they've been magnified. I don't
know by how much, but....it's strange."
Blair was nodding, as if this
was no surprise. "How strange, Jim?" His voice was so calm, quiet.
looked around, trying to find the words. "I dunno. Just, bigger. I was just
getting used to them as they were...and now, I'm not sure how far they go. And
it's got me a little..."
"A little, scared?"
"Well, Jim, it's obvious. I mean, it would scare me. It
just makes sense." Blair set his untouched soup on the barrel and leaned
forward. "Look, it's perfectly natural. Just like when your senses first
appeared to you, it freaked you out. Until you got control, got to understand
and use them. It's the same now, Jim. We just have to find out how much they've
increase, find the limits, then you'll feel better about them. Fear is based on
a lack of understanding, that's all."
Jim shook his head in wonder. His
friend had an uncanny knack for taking the simplest thing and making it the most
monumental discovery. Then he could take something that had Jim confused and upset,
and turn it into nothing. His innocent, fresh outlook did much to cheer him then.
"Drink your soup."
Blair picked the mug back up and tasted it, then
sat back and looked out the window for a moment at the darkness. "You know,
I've been thinking, about Brackett."
"Yeah? So have I."
at the loft, when he was waiting for you, he kept saying how this was going to
be the ultimate test. He never mentioned breaking out of prison, or anything like
that. He just kept talking about you as a Sentinel, and how he was curious as
to just how good you were."
"We know he knows about my abilities,
remember?" Jim sat back on the bunk, pulling his legs up and leaning against
"I know, I know." Blair tried to set the cup back down
and Jim pushed it back. "But Jim, who else knows? What if...what if the CIA
knows? What if Brackett didn't get out, but was let out, and he's here to test
you. Test your abilities, for them?"
Jim thought about that for a moment.
He had to admit, the thought had crossed his mind once. But, did he really believe
it? If it were true, what would they do about him? He knew the CIA, knew what
the military could do if it wanted. But, how could they prove anything? How could
they study anything? He had been to the doctor, when he first noticed his senses
changing, and they had found absolutely nothing out of the ordinary. There was
no medical proof to back up his claim. It would just be his word against Brackett's.
"I don't know Chief, that sounds like a long shot. I can't see them believing
Brackett about something like this anyway."
"Maybe. But it's all
I can come up with." Blair reluctantly drank more soup when Jim glared at
the cup growing cold in his hands. "What now?"
"We stay here
for the night. I can keep an ear out for him, he's holed up for the night just
like we are."
"And then, we turn the hunter,
into the hunted." Jim stretched his arms up and placed them behind his head,
grateful now that he could do that without eliciting a nasty look from his partner.
"We've got some control now, having broken the chain. Now that we've take
away his ability to keep us together, we can take away more." He had to glare
at Blair to get him to finish the soup. "But, until this rain clears up,
we may as well take it easy."
Blair set the now empty cup down and pulled
the blanket up around his shoulders, wincing a little with the movement of his
left hand. "So, we wait?"
He nodded, settling
into the blanket padding the wall he was leaning on. "So, Jim. What really
happened with Wendy?"
"You should rest, you were pretty sick for
"No, thanks Jim, I'm feeling much better. What happened
"Chief, you had a fever. Your hand is hurting, get some
"You got knocked out and burned your arm. What happened on
Jim sighed, shaking his head. "If I tell you, will you
shut up for a while?"
Blair smiled, "Maybe."
He rolled his
eyes, resigned. "Okay. It was nothing, really. We were having dinner, chatting
about her new network job, then she started asking about that robbery case we
"After a few minutes, it wasn't
a date anymore, it was an interview."
Blair laughed a little, shaking
his head. "Man, I warned you about that."
"Yeah yeah, I know.
Date at eight, news at eleven." Jim rolled his eyes.
"Hey, I'm sorry."
Blair was still smiling.
"Ah, she wasn't that great anyway." Jim
said. He sighed, thinking about that night, how they argued and she walked out
in the middle of dessert. There was a little more to it than that, but Blair was
enjoying this too much already. He was about to change the subject when he heard
"Jim, what is it?"
Jim held up a hand, listening. "Brackett.
That bubble is still there, but now there's another one."
Another one? Where?" Blair sat up, trying to see out into the dark forest
beyond the cabin.
"He's still behind us, but now there's another spot,
off to the left."
"God Jim, do you think there's someone else with
him? If Brackett moved, the generator would have moved with him."
there's more than one generator." He stood and walked to the front of the
cabin, turning his head to listen in each direction. "He could be trying
to herd us, or just confuse us."
Blair pushed the blanket off and swung
his legs off the bunk. "But, that would mean he knows you can find him. Or,
he's getting ready to make a move, and there's just one way he wants us to go."
Jim nodded. There were two 'bubbles' now. "I think it's time we made a
move. If he was behind us, and then to the left, he could be working his way around,
blocking off one more direction. I think we throw him a curve ball, and head right
Blair stood, "What if he's not alone?"
he's alone. People like Lee Brackett work alone. You ready?"
Jim, you stand a better chance without me. I haven't been much help yet."
Jim shook his head, "No, no way partner. You stick with me, and stay close."
"No argument. Let's go."
Jim paused once
outside the cabin, focusing in the direction of the new sound blackout. "Okay
Chief, stay close." He led the way toward what he hoped was a second white
noise generator, planted somewhere while Brackett was circling around. He kept
his pace a little slow, so Blair could keep up without aggravating his illness.
His own head was still pounding, and his right hand hurt, but he had already turned
down the pain dial as far as he could without dulling his senses. They traveled
for thirty minutes before Jim realized the buzzing in his head was no longer the
headache. It was increasing in pitch, almost deafening.
he put out a hand to stop Blair. "It's here."
Blair glanced around
in the growing light. "Where?"
"I don't know, but I hear the
static, and it's getting louder." He looked into the trees, trying to focus
around the area.
"Jim, over there." Blair pointed to the right and
moved towards a clump of undergrowth. He stopped and looked down. "It's here."
"Don't touch it." Jim hurried over. "It could be booby trapped."
He saw what Blair was pointing to. Hidden in a clump of ferns was a small black
box. The static was so loud, Jim could barely focus on it as he scanned for any
sign of a bomb. "Looks clear." He reached down and picked up the box,
flipping the switch on the front of the unit as he did. Immediately the static
"Good work. I wondered what it would take to tip your hand."