Alright, here it is and let me tell you, the next time I get upset because some writer took way too long in creating a sequel to a story that I enjoy, I will remember the trouble I had writing and re-writing this one. Anyhow, I hope you all enjoy this next installment. I don't know if I will take this any further and, heck, if you've got an idea on how this could proceed 'e' me. I sometimes respond to a bit of pushing.

If you haven't read the previous stories in this SentiOne Universe, this may make little sense so I suggest you read the others first. Thanks again to Starfox for a place to park my fiction and thanks to all of you who have 'e'd' me on my previous writings. I appreciate and love every one of you for the comments and encouraging words. They really make a difference.

They aren't mine but in a virtual world they can be. Enjoy!

SentiOne: New Avenues to Connect
(Story Three)

by K-Lyn

********************

Obstacles can be conquered, accepted or ignored. It is man's right to decide how he deals with them but what of a clone?

He stood by the truck as he had been told to, no that wasn't correct. Not told. He had been verbally dressed down and now stood by the truck as he had been ordered to. The Sentinel was once again not pleased with his actions. It had been this way for a while now. Well, as long as three months could allow and it wasn't getting better.

"Some genetic mistakes need to learn their place in our world, don't they Rick?"

"Don't see why they aren't made to stand in some sort of cage and used only when needed." The officer glanced at his partner and smirked. "Their being on our planet is a damn misuse of oxygen."

Blair ignored the voices and couldn't enter the truck, the Sentinel had the keys and he couldn't just walk away. Clones were forbidden to wander the city without card carrying certification that they were either neutered or had been injected with a monthly contraceptive. He was not a card holder and the rules for him were rigidly set. Humans did not want any unwanted half-breeds roaming their world.

He looked at the warehouse where Det. Ellison spoke with the witnesses of the murder and again he felt such anger that it made him want to run far away...

The human male murdered had purchased a young female clone from a foreign dealer. He then proceeded to beat her whenever she did something he considered wrong, raped her when he 'felt' it was right and when the woman got pregnant he allowed her to carry the child to full term and then murdered the child when it was birthed. The young female clone turned on her 'benefactor' a few nights later and stabbed him nineteen times. Nineteen seemed a good number, since that was the approximate age of the young woman, who also was dead.

The two officers continued to voice their verbal threats and insults while Blair's mind drifted beyond the present. Being a clone seemed a strange existence when compared to that of a human. He had no idea how old he was and never would. He had no real background and no family. The world he lived in was upside down. Murderers murdered and victims were punished. How was he supposed to learn to exist here when it all seemed so wrong?

The words spoken by the man who had chosen him as a permanent Guide replayed themselves inside his mind. "Chief go to the car. I understand how you feel about this, I do, but the law can't be changed because you and I think it should be."

Blair looked at the overweight follicle-challenged retired man handcuffed to a table and spoke his mind. "He killed her and he's going to get away with this? You and I know he raped her too. He and his brother are monsters and both deserved the same death. Only she wasn't allowed to finish."

"Sandburg, go to my truck. Now."

"But Jim, he stood by and watched as his older brother tortured her and just because she fought back he killed her. She had nothing else to live for. They took it all."

"Now! This is none of your concern and you had better learn to behave with less emotion about situations like this. We are on the job damn it! This is no place for emotion. Now go to the truck before I haul you over there myself."

Silently Blair had obeyed and walked away from the detective. He passed the body of the girl who now lay face down on the dead man's driveway. Shot in the back by the brother of the man she murdered in what he called self-defense. In reality it had been cold-blooded murder. She had been shot by the man who had witnessed her continual mistreatment and did nothing but view her suffering as though it were a form of entertainment.

His eyes teared up but he forced himself to slow his breath. Jim would hear him.

"Hey Rick? I think clone-freak is going to cry."

Again Blair looked over towards the crime scene as he heard his Sentinel's voice replaying in his head. "I understand how you feel about this, I do, but the law ..." The man knew no such thing. He was human and no human understood the feelings of a clone.

Again, the young Guide looked away from the scene. Away from the life he promised himself into and down the alleyway. He wished he were a cockroach or some vagrant who ate out of the garbage. At least he could do as he pleased. At least he'd have the right to express himself.

"Sandburg, why didn't you come and ask me for the keys?"

Blair hadn't heard him come up behind him, hadn't heard the two cops end their verbal abuse and was now speechless.

"Get in the truck. You and I are going back to the station and then we are going to have a long talk about crime scene protocol."

********************

Back at Major Crimes

He sat behind Ellison's desk and sighed. 'A talk.' He hated those so-called talks. Jim yelled, scolded or lectured, he never ever talked. 'No toilet noises after ten, keep your (clone) food in the red containers (Jim had accidentally eaten some and ended up vomiting for five minutes - something that Blair often endured when he ate most regular human foods), never go anywhere without stating the destination (it was, after all the law) and on and on.' His head was filled with the rules Mr. Kubrick from SentiOne taught him, rules James Ellison lived by and the unspoken rules of ‘acceptable' clone behavior. It was all so very complicated and so very hard to live by.

"Hi."

Blair looked up and into the dark brown eyes of a young teenager. "Oh, sorry. Hello. Ummmm. Det. Ellison will be back in a moment."

The kid looked over at the Captain's office and the shrugged. "Yeah, whenever my dad and he get to talking about some 'case' ... hey are you the clone?"

Blair nodded, immediately berating himself for following standard protocol by not stating his classification. "Sorry, I should have identified myself."

The youth sat in the detective's chair and scooted closer. "Can I ask you about stuff? I mean like about clone stuff?"

Blair shrugged feeling a bit out of place and slightly nervous. "I suppose."

"Okay, so is it true that you guys eat like recycled waste? Oh and is it a fact that you can't have sex ever? I mean that has got to be tough." He paused and frowned. "My dad says that the people at SentiOne will probably take you back cause it's where you belong but why? Isn't it better out here?"

Blair stood, suddenly feeling a need to hide. It was too much. He hadn't learned proper responses when dealing with teenagers and the questions felt invasive. Did he have the right to feel these things? 'This is no place for emotion.' He looked down at the surprised young man. "Please I - excuse me." He quickly strode down the hallway and into the Men's Room. He never thought that it would be easy out here. The Habitat was hard and unforgiving but he understood the rules and there had been more of his kind nearby. Here it was intrusive and unjust.

Several minutes passed and then he heard the door to the Men's Room open. "Chief, you alright?"

He didn't answer, it would have been a lie.

"Sandburg, please open the door."

"Please detective, I need a moment."

Ellison walked over to the far wall and waited. He knew the young clone was upset and had every right to be. The man who had shot the poor young clone female had been nothing more than a sadist. He Digicorded the girl's mistreatment and even narrated portions of the 'movie' for later viewing enjoyment.

Jim had placed Phil Matee into a cell for discharging a weapon illegally within the city limits, for aiding in the murder of his own brother by choosing to Digicord his murder rather than stop it and hoped a judge would review the reasons behind the shooting and view it as unjust.

Going in the detective had known that the crime scene would be painful for the clone to view and did try to remove him from the area before the younger man had seen too much. He also wanted to stop Sandburg from saying something that would force Capt. Banks to react more negatively then he had to the clones presence. He had failed miserably on both counts. "Chief, time to come out."

There was a sniffle and then a sigh. The door to the stall opened and the younger man, who still hid beneath a knit cap and several layers of clothing stepped out with his eyes downcast. "Yes detective."

"Jim."

Slowly the other looked up. "Sorry. What?"

"Not detective, not Ellison. My name is Jim. Call me 'Jim'."

"Yes. Jim."

Ellison sighed, he heard his name dutifully repeated but it still sounded like 'detective'. "Chief, I work for the police. My job is to determine who is doing an illegal act and to prove it so they can get put away. It is a job that has very few gray lines. I have to follow the guidelines of the law and if you want to be here and help me, you have to check your emotions at the door."

Blue eyes filled with tears of frustration met the detectives. "He killed that girl and you know it. Killed her child and he enjoyed every moment of her pain. She had every right to react like she did. Both of them did this, not just the dead man. I couldn't just say 'nothing'."

"We are not here to judge."

Blair looked down, feeling incredibly lost and so alone. "I'm sorry. I will learn to keep silent from here on."

Ellison had no idea what to say, so he placed his hand on the other's shoulder in what he hoped was a comforting gesture. "I sympathize with you Sandburg, I do, but remember that, here we follow the law to the letter."

********************

Capt. Banks became annoyed as he waited until the two exited the facilities. "Mind telling me why it is that your - Guide reacted like my son has some contagious disease?"

Ellison looked curiously at the smaller man and waited for a response.

Another confrontation. Another yelling. It was too much. Humans had bad days but was a clone allowed to have a bad day? The rules flooded his mind as he searched for an answer. No emotions, no noises, no anything.

Blair felt as though he couldn't breathe, his hands shaking and his body trembling. He backed away from the two. His heart beating so fast he thought it was going to pop. He saw Jim reach for him and fear forced him to take off.

An hour later he was standing in the park. He didn't know which and didn't care. He had broken the law by leaving without his Sentinel's permission and now there was no going back.

"Hey! There you are. Man are you fast!"

Blair looked at the speaker in surprise. "I - I apologize for ..."

"Hey, look, first of all, you had every right to walk away. I didn't mean to sound so uncool but I had never spoken to a clone and ignorance is not a good reason to behave like I did." He paused and caught his breath. "Let's start over, my name is Daryl Banks and you are?"

"Here, I am called Blair Sandburg."

"Nice to meet you Blair." Daryl looked over his shoulder and nodded towards a café. "Say want to get a bite?"

Not wanting to insult the youth again, he nodded and followed the other's lead.

********************

"What the hell is wrong with him?"

Ellison met the other's gaze with mirrored hostility. "Captain he just saw his first DB and heard the victim's brother boast about the torture done to the young clone and her child. It got to him and then your son starts asking him dumb ass questions probably because he was raised by someone who harbors unwarranted prejudice against clones and Sandburg snapped."

"You hold it right there. Never refer to my son as a 'dumb ass' and," The taller man sighed. "look go find your Guide and talk to him. When he is ready bring him back."

"Sir?"

"I am not prejudiced Ellison, just new to all of this. I know you still don't trust me but, just find him. We don't want him arrested for illegal roaming." Banks looked around. "I'll go look for Daryl and talk to him on how to address others a bit more tactfully."

The Sentinel took off in search of his Guide and two hours later he came up empty handed. He looked at all the places his clone could run and slowly realized that he hardly knew the kid. The places he had searched were all places he would go. The kid had no one to go to and no place to run. A feeling of panic gradually grew within the normally unruffled man. The Guide should be near and not just 'gone'. "Where the hell did you go?"

********************

Blair laughed at Daryl's latest story or as he called it 'an insightful peep into the mind of Simon Banks'. "I can't picture your father collecting 'dolls'."

The younger man laughed and cleared his throat as he spoke with a deeper than normal tone. "Not dolls my boy, they are finely crafted figurines."

Although Blair hadn't thought it appropriate to tell the other that he couldn't eat 'regular' food, he nibbled every now and again on the tube steak and decided it was nice to be out and talk about nothing special. To be treated like a regular person and not constantly monitored. "Why?"

"Huh?"

Blair chuckled and enjoyed the rare feeling of being 'happy'. The last time he had felt this way was when Jim had selected him as a permanent Guide. It seemed so very long ago. "Why are you and I here, now?"

"You mean clone and human?"

"Well, yeah. Most humans don't enjoy associating with clones. Most think we have nothing of true importance to share." He didn't want to say that the person who often felt that way was the boy's father. "Perhaps I am speaking about things I shouldn't be."

Daryl knew exactly who Blair was speaking of and waived off. "My dad can be way judgmental and, well, I like you. I mean, I know we just met but, hey, it's how I am. I meet a person and, boom; I either like or hate you. You seem alright to hang out with so here we are. Just hanging out."

Blair considered the answer and agreed. "I think you're alright too."

The two left the small diner a bit later and continued walking, no specific destination in mind, just enjoying being away from their guardians. The street they were on headed towards the Cascade Museum which was usually swarming with tourists but because this was an early work day it was less crowded and seemed inviting. "Hey, have you ever been inside?"

Blair looked at the large building which he often found himself curious about and shook his head. "Jim says it's for eggheads. What ever that means."

Daryl laughed at the now shared phrase. "Just means 'no' with guys like him and my dad. Let's go inside. I'll show you the cool stuff my teacher took us to see a couple of weeks back. Besides it's free today and believe me, you cannot beat 'free'."

"I really should call Det. Ellison, Jim. He will be upset about my leaving and it's against the law for me to be outside of his supervision."

Daryl placed a hand around the other, liking the idea that though the clone was older, he acted like someone closer to his own age who suffered the same control issue as any regular teen and was someone who listened. "Look sometimes an adult needs lessons to learn too." At Blair's puzzled frown he laughed. "If we get into trouble, I'll just tell the cops who I am and it will be no problem."

"Really?"

"Really. Now let's go inside and I will tell you the true story on how screwed up humanity really is."

********************

"Sir, I suggest we move in now. The target is inside and unaccompanied by the Sentinel."

Kincaid smiled evilly. "Then move in but make sure you are successful. I want him undamaged. Do you understand?"

The muscular man looked at the two walking in the museum and nodded as he spoke into the cellphone. "Understood sir."

He followed the two individuals while gloating at the unexpected opportunity. Tom Ollen would rise in the ranks and become Kincaid's right hand man.

"They are nearing Section 6. Get ready and move only on my command." Ollen loved giving orders and someday he hoped to succeed in having a permanent team of his own. Until that time came, he'd do as needed.

The targets were oblivious to their precarious situation. The clone was to be tortured until he did as he was told and the other, well, after Kincaid showered Ollen with praise for the unexpected gift, the boy would be disfigured, sexually abused and end up begging to die. Dear old Capt. Banks would probably put the kid out of his misery with his own weapon.

Today the was a good day to let people know just who was in charge.

********************

"I just think that perhaps it would be best for me to return to the SentiOne Habitat. I don't understand things out here, I don't fit in and Det. Ellison is disappointed in me almost all of the time."

"Is it a nice place?"

Blair shrugged. "I am a clone. I am sheltered and fed. I guess it's nice."

"Don't you like being a Guide? I mean, well, I've heard that you guys have to always be with the Sentinel but you like that don't you?"

"Daryl, as a clone, there is no like or dislike. Det. Ellison bought my contract." He paused and looked away for a moment. "I think if I had been human, I would have wanted to be selected by Ellison but this is something I will never really know. He just expects me to do things and react to things in a way that I don't understand."

"You are not saying anything I haven't said about me and my dad. Human or not, life is tough but you and he are like a team. Right? I mean my friends and I heard that Sentinels and their Guides are like partners forever."

"Yeah, forever, whatever that means." He sighed and then shrugged. "Maybe with a clone Guide it's not the same. We aren't friends like the other human Sentinel/Guide pairs I've seen at the station so this could be for the best and he can easily use me like before. As hologram. That way I wouldn't be such a nuisance." He paused and felt a shiver pass through him as he noted that they were suddenly alone in the exhibit area. "Uh, Daryl? Where is everybody?"

The teen looked around the large room and noted that the two of them were completely alone. It was something that never happens in places like this. Security was everywhere. "Maybe we went past some doorway we shouldn't have."

"Yes and right into our waiting arms."

Four men entered the now deserted exhibit area and carefully surrounded the two. Ollen taking the lead. "Clones and humans were not meant to socialize boys and to get that lesson across Garret Kincaid will be your instructor." Ollen smiled sadistically. "I can't wait to surprise him with the son of Capt. Banks as well as Ellison's boy toy."

Blair pulled his new friend close and warily watched as the four men advanced. "Daryl run and don't look back."

"What?"

Suddenly, the young clone shoved one of the burly men standing in front of him into Ollen and pulled the youth past him. "Run Daryl and tell them what happened. Go now."

Daryl hadn't been raised to turn on his friends. Blair was his friend. He quickly hit the speed dial on his cell phone and dropped it on the carpet of one of the exhibits as he turned back preparing to fight. Unfortunately he had been closely followed and was struck hard in the face. He was down for the count.

"No, let him go!"

Ollen walked up to the clone who was trying desperately to escape the hold of a rather large man. "As I said, you two are now the guests of Garrett Kincaid and The Patriots for Humanity."

********************

Banks had been on the receiving end of the speed dial call and caller ID listed the call coming from his son. He had heard shouts and then mumbled words. It was enough to force him to act as any concerned parent would.

Thirty minutes later he and his team were at the Cascade Historical Museum; where the call originated from. It took Ellison seconds to locate the phone within the large museum and he hit the replay of the conversation transmitted the moment he had the device in his hand. Phones were no longer simply senders and receivers of messages. In 2150 modern technology developed a phone that could photograph using a sensor zoom lens, record messages so that the owner could replay any conversation, had a locater shrill, camcorder features that lasted up to fifteen minutes of anything the camera's eye could see and could even entertain by either playing digital music or playing digi-movies. Some fit into the palm of your hand or doubled as jewelry pieces.

Ellison keyed the phone to replay the message and was surprised that from the angle where the phone had been tossed a short visual recording accompanied the sound.

Banks heard the words and anger welled up within him. He looked at Ellison and spoke low and deep. "I want to see you in the corner office now."

Silently the detective followed his superior. His own mind filled with horrible thoughts of why his Guide had been taken and where. The maniac couldn't know. No one else knew.

His captain entered the vacant office and waited until the other had the door closed. "Explain to me exactly why they took that clone. Explain how it was that they didn't kill him, no, they kidnapped him and my son."

"I don't know ..."

"Silence." Banks turned around. His eyes burning with unspent anger. "Joan and I had several good years of wedded bliss. It didn't last but good things never last when you are a cop. In the end it was worth it because she gave me one very special thing. A reason to do my job. A reason to want a better future. My son."

"Sir I..."

"Oh no, I don't want to hear about your pain. Sentinels and Guides and all that crap. I don't give a damn about that clone. There are more where he came from. You see, Ellison, I was there when the good Dr. McCoy called that synthetic a 'weapon'. I was there when you promised that human replica that no one would know about his potential to be a source of harm. I guess I had hoped it was a secret best never mentioned and so I kept silent as well." He shook his head. "I was a fool."

"Sir, you can't be suggesting that Blair knew something like this would happen or even that he purposefully placed your son in danger. He would never ..."

"My son was taken because he happened to be with that clone. Now I want you to explain to me that if it weren't for the simple fact that this being is some sort of time bomb, why else would Kincaid, a man who has reportedly murdered more clones than anyone can imagine, tell me why this man would want your clone - alive?"

"You have no right, sir. No right, whatsoever, to blame Sandburg for any of this. Tell me captain did you even stop to consider that Daryl and Blair were taken because Kincaid wants revenge against us? You and I? It seems more plausible since we have been key opponents against his and his followers. And how dare you suggest that the life of your son is all that matters here. No matter what you believe, we are here to protect those who need our help. Your son and Blair need help. Clone or human we're supposed to assist those who need help."

Ellison advanced on his superior, his tone low and very dangerous. "Oh, and one more thing, Blair Sandburg isn't an object that can be reproduced, he is a living and breathing being, who happens to be my Guide. Speak about him like that again and you'll be spitting out teeth for the rest of your life." He was about to walk away and paused. "In all of this you have one card in your favor and that is me because as long as that bastard has my Guide, I will hunt for him and I will find him so he can pay for taking what is mine."

Banks looked away for a moment. He had allowed his anger to get the better of him and was ashamed of that fact. He nodded. "What if all of this is about the clone?"

Ellison backed away and spoke less harshly. "We have connected and according to McCoy, his powers are nonexistent due to this fact. Kincaid will kill him if he finds this out. I will not allow that to happen. We need to act fast." He looked the other in the eye. "I am sorry about your son, sir, I truly am and I will get him back for you if I can. I will get them both back but remember neither is expendable."

"Then let's get started."

********************

"Come on Daryl wake up. Please wake up."

The youth opened his eyes and looked up into deep blue ones that shined unnaturally bright. "Your eyes. I've never seen ..."

Blair pulled back and looked away wishing his glasses hadn't been taken from him. "Sorry. I never meant to look you in the eye. I'm sorry."

Daryl sat up slowly and looked around. "Where are we?"

Blair shrugged. "I've only been out of the Habitat for three months or so. Every place is new to me."

Daryl reached up and touched his left eye and winced. "That dude really socked me."

Blair frowned at the word ‘socked' but said nothing.

Daryl looked over at his friend and placed a hand on the other's. "I'm sorry I got you into this mess. My dad can piss off more than family. Kincaid probably wants something and took me as hostage."

Blair shook his head. "It isn't you that they really came for, it was me. I am something they want to use."

"Huh?"

"Never mind. I will not let them harm you no matter what I promised Jim."

Daryl didn't understand what his new friend was referring to; his head kept throbbing where he had been struck. Curiously he looked over at the man sitting beside him. "Blair?"

"Yes?"

"Why did you apologize for looking me in the eyes?"

"Humans, most humans, hate the way a clones eyes look. I heard your ... sorry, I heard someone telling Joel Taggert that it looked like there was no brain inside the skull and at the same time it looked like clones could see into a person's mind." Blair shrugged. "I wore the glasses to deflect outside vision but, one of those big guys took them from me."

Daryl sighed. "My dad needs a refresher course in racism."

"Huh?"

Daryl laughed at the shocked reaction he received. Blair was an easy read. It wasn't so much that he could see your soul but that you could see his. "Your eyes are cool. Don't hide what was given to you. Never hide who you are."

Blair smiled shyly and then tensed suddenly. "Daryl? Do you trust me?"

"Uh sure. Why?"

"I won't let them harm you."

Daryl wanted to ask more but suddenly closed his eyes and fell asleep. Blair quickly moved to the opposite side of the room. The door opened and the guard walked over to the now unconscious teen. "He's still out. Kincaid will not be happy."

Ollen glanced at the clone and then at the guard. "Bring them both. Let him decide what to do with the Banks boy."

Blair closed his eyes and concentrated for a moment longer. I will not let them hurt you.

********************

Kincaid watched as the two captives were dragged into the meeting room. He noted that one was still unconscious. "Ollen why is this POW still incoherent?"

"Sir, Hudson had to use a bit of forcefulness to obtain the POW and it may have been a bit over the top."

Kincaid walked up to the boy and tilted his head back. "Take him back to the cell and monitor him for any change. I like my prisoners awake and fully capable of experiencing all that I have to subject them to." He turned and looked at the silent clone.

"State your designation and purpose." He reached out and yanked the knit cap off of the clone. He smiled when the other tried to pull away - fear was something he enjoyed.

"Designation Clone 2-19 TG Classification Timer; Purpose - Random Guide to Sentinel. Current status under review and reconsideration." The answer was delivered quickly and emotionlessly.

Kincaid chuckled. "Mindless synthetic shell. Tell me clone, who is your creator?"

"Dr. McCoy."

"So you know." Kincaid stepped away from the small clone and then turned back. "What do you know of the organic weapon built by McCoy."

"I know nothing of this 'weapon'."

"Liar." Kincaid pressed a button on a nearby desk and a digi-screen was cued. Sandburg saw himself back at the lab, bald, nude and being prepped for surgery. He again saw the others around him. Then he was free and the lab techs crumbled to the floor. The image was suddenly stilled.

"Want to answer my question again?"

"I can no longer do as previously anticipated. Dr. McCoy stated that my connection with a Sentinel would alter the expected ability and render me incapable of performing in that way." Blair looked up at the screen, at his prior self and then away. "I will not harm again."

Kincaid laughed. "Clones are different from humans and I believe that you will 'operate' just fine. That is when dear old Detective Ellison is no longer."

********************

It had been three days. Banks and Ellison were now sleep deprived and both on the edge. "Where would that damn bastard have taken them?"

Banks sighed. "Joan's sister called. They had to give her mood stabilizers. God this is too damn hard."

Simon and Jim continued their thorough search for any leads as to where the captives were being held. Both men on edge and both trying desperately to maintain a calm exterior.

Totally unexpected, Mr. Kubrick entered Major Crimes and spotted Ellison immediately. He strode towards the man and quietly waited to be noticed.

"Yes? Oh, Mr. Kubrick. Can I help you?"

The man nodded. "Might we speak alone?"

Minutes later the two were seated in an interrogation room. Mr. Kubrick looked the room over and then spoke. "Allow me to forgo the formalities and state my purpose here. Members of SentiOne have received word that you are no longer in possession of T219. Is this correct?"

"He's been kidnapped by Kincaid. I am searching for him. Why?"

Kubrick looked away and then back. "Someone very recently had been inquiring about this one's 'strengths'."

"Who? When?"

Kubrick handed the detective a thick folder. "Mr. Tolbert was one of our security guards at the Habitat. Your vice department located his body stuffed into a waste disposal cylinder. He had been murdered. The police think it was a substance abuse situation gone wrong. Needless to say there wasn't much of a body left." He cleared his throat and continued. "We also ran an investigation of our own as is common when someone from SentiOne is violently murdered. It appears that Mr. Tolbert had gotten the attached information from an unknown source and I fear that he turned it over to someone, perhaps even Kincaid, for money."

Ellison scanned the materials and cringed at the information within the folder. It contained the formula used in combining partial human DNA with elements used for cloning. Other documents had the projected growth rate, selected physical features and the desired expiration date of the clone known to Ellison as his Guide. All of it was so damn impersonal and made the Sentinel angry just knowing of its existence. This information was about his Guide, not a vehicle or a cooking recipe.

Several pages later, he located information written by hand. A familiar script and one he thought had been thoroughly destroyed. "This is from Dr. McCoy?"

Kubrick nodded. "The doctor documented all of his work and apparently kept these records in more than one place. He was 'proud' of his creations. You'll note that he referred to the clones and his brothers as monsters. He was pleased to have been able to create ‘monsters' who, according to him, could cause great harm." The thin man stood and walked to the mirror behind him. "Are you certain we are alone?"

Ellison looked at the mirror. He tilted his head and then sighed. "Sir, I can tell you are there. Please join us."

A minute later Capt. Banks entered and sat silently across from the detective.

Kubrick looked at the other man and then spoke to Ellison with a bit of hostility in his tone. "This is the man who has betrayed you and your Guide. Do you trust him now?"

"I don't trust sir. However, Capt. Banks and I are equally invested in this situation. His son was taken by Kincaid as well."

Kubrick looked at Banks with undisguised distaste. "We speak here of a clone. Information you have no need of knowing."

"Sir, I am the Captain of the Major Crimes Unit and Det. Ellison and his Guide work under my command. I don't like secrets or surprises and if this clone is a danger in any way, I need to know now."

"Fine. The board is also privy to the information I am supplying you with, so I accept your attendance here." Kubrick turned his attention towards Ellison and ignored the other. "It has been deemed by SentiOne that, based on the information in that folder, this clone is highly unpredictable and therefore may be unreliable." The director sighed. "They have asked for his eradication."

"Why? Why now?"

Kubrick looked at the shocked detective, his own eyes, though the color of black, deepened in intensity. "We are all basically animals are we not? Though T219 and his brothers have never harmed anyone, Mr. Sandburg is an unknown and therefore he is feared."

"I won't allow it. He is my Guide."

Kubrick handed the detective a legal document. "This is a Summons for you to appear at the Sentinel Qualifying Station in Brickton. I was asked to personally bring this to you by the Board."

Light blue eyes glanced at the document with obvious distaste. "I've heard of that place. There is no way. I am not going to let those idiots screw with my mind and my memories. Besides it won't change the connection between us. I will not allow them to kill him. He is mine."

"I am certain that you are determined to find your Guide but so is SentiOne. They will locate the clone using their very best SentiOne Exterminators and when located he will be put to death. I, personally, feel he should be left to become whatever he was designed to be. The young man hasn't debilitated anyone permanently but the powers that be feel eradication is the best course of action. They fear his existence and because of this he will be executed. When that happens SentiOne will offer to assist you in 'recovery' and will assign you to be with another."

Ellison stood and approached the thin, somber looking man. "Does SentiOne know where to find Sandburg?"

"I risk much in telling you this but so be it. You see, I am hoping you will find a way to save the boy. He has the potential and I despise wasting good potential." Kubrick handed a slip of paper to the detective who was now flanked by Capt. Banks. "Kincaid and his men are expected to be there tomorrow at noon. Ellison, I am still fighting to keep T219 operating but the Exerminators SentiOne sent out will take him down if they get the chance." The man left, nothing further needed to be said.

Banks quickly called several members of his team and prepared a briefing containing the new information supplied by Kubrick. He looked over at the detective. "I'll omit the information about his being a weapon but the men need to be warned about those hunters sent out by SentiOne. Maybe, if we are careful, he won't have to die."

Ellison who had been looking at the documents supplied by Kubrick unleashed his anger at the nearest target. "What does that matter to you? He is a clone, a synthetic that can be reproduced at will and who has no business breathing our air." He walked to the door and paused. "You never gave him a chance. Hope you're happy."

********************

Kincaid's men placed the still unconscious body of Daryl Banks into the car and quickly left to retrieve the clone. Both Banks and Sandburg had been in their possession for three days, days that the teenager was blissfully unaware of but days that the clone had suffered through.

For three days Blair had been subjected to beatings and assaults on his person in hopes that he would supply more information about his abilities - he hadn't. Kincaid decided there was one last way to make the synthetic answer his questions, so he had the clone drugged to ensure some measure of compliance and then placed into the car beside the Banks boy. The clone smiled knowing that his younger friend was protected and mostly unharmed. He also smiled at the fact that because he wasn't human, his body wasn't easily weakened by the drug he had been given. The most he felt was a bit nauseous.

Blair waited until the two men uncuffed his hands as they shoved him into the backseat and locked the car door. He leaned over and looked at Daryl. The bruise was no longer bleeding and he seemed fine. He breathed in deeply and concentrated. "Daryl? It's your friend, Blair. In a bit we will be on our way back into the city. When you wake, find your Dad. Forget about me and get help. No matter what happens go and find your dad."

Kincaid entered the car and noted that the clone sat in the corner and away from the Banks boy. He enjoyed the sight of the terrified synthetic. "Ollen? After we get to the designated attack site, dump the Banks boy, with a bullet in his brain of course, at the residence of our esteemed captain. Give the good captain something to greet him after a hard day's work."

Though the drugs had little effect on him, his little foray into Daryl's mind did more worse than good, Sandburg's head was throbbing, it was hard to breathe because something inside was stabbing his side and his arms ached from the futile punches he launched at his tormentors. Kincaid's men had made sure to bruise, cut and violate him in sadistically inventive ways that left his outer body basically unharmed. Through it all he tried to pay attention to their plans for him. It was how he had heard what they intended for his Sentinel and his new friend Daryl. He had succeeded in protecting the young boy so far and now hoped he could protect his Sentinel just as well.

The car ride was long but the traffic around their final destination seemed to get worse as time went by. Eventually they parked.

As Blair was being herded into a building, he waited until the car he and Daryl had arrived in was left to be guarded by one of Kincaid's foot soldiers. A soldier who had been ordered to leave in half an hour with Daryl Banks' unconscious body. It was all the time Blair needed. Now he understood why he was here and what was his purpose. He wasn't alone, not really, he was a Guide and, now, he realized he was also a friend. He would protect those who cared for him with his life. This was his reason for living and, if necessary, for dying.

Closing his eyes against the dizziness, Blair centered himself and allowing the two men to continue dragging him into the building, he concentrated on the person he protected. "Find your Dad. You are fine and feel awake. Exit the car on the street side, make no sound and find your dad. Find your dad and this will all make sense. Find your dad."

********************

It was another coming of age moment in Earth's history. Clones were marching in hopes of gaining equal standing within the society that created them. They were sentient beings with thoughts and wills of their own. They demanded equality.

Others protested against the idea. These beings were developed to enable mankind a lifestyle of ease and comfort. Those these beings could think, they were recycled thoughts at best.

Those on the sidelines watched. Cyborgs and genetically enhanced humans viewed the events with hope for a better future but wary of the struggle. Within the chaos were the police working hard to hold back hostile protestors who thought those given life by humans should be respectful and silent while protecting those whose voices strove to be heard and someday recognized as an equally valued existence.

Det. James Ellison stood near the Equal Rights for Clones area and tried to spot anything out of the ordinary which would indicate his Guide's presence. Problem was, this was all out of the ordinary and having enhanced senses only made his work more difficult to ignore the sounds from those around him, and extremely hard to focus past the brightly lit micro-signs with their inventive but obnoxiously brightly lit protest slogans.

"Ellison, look several feet off to your left. Who is that?"

********************

Daryl slowly woke and stretched lazily. It was when his hand hit the backside of the car seat that he froze. "Where am I?" Now suddenly wide-awake, the young teen slowly sat up. There was a man beside the vehicle watching something down the street. Sounds of a loud party or a parade surrounded him. He looked out the window facing the street and suddenly felt he had to find his dad. "If I find Dad I know this will all make sense to me."

He carefully exited the car, leaving the door open and ran as quickly as he could. He didn't know how he knew but his Dad was here in the parade area and he had to find him.

Someone called for him to stop. He turned to see the guy who had been standing by the car moments ago, now trying to reach him. It was the menacing look on the large muscular man's face that forced the young teen to run faster and far away from the big behemoth. It had been several minutes and the voice of the man seemed to die away in the background as Daryl slipped into the crowd of parade goers never once looking back.

********************

The thoughts of a parent who's child is missing can be quite imaginative and very dark. One minute Simon Banks was certain his son was alive, the next he wondered how he could live with the boy no longer in his life, then there was the hatred he felt for the clone who had to have been the catalyst to the entire situation and then he hoped both were well. "God, Daryl, I just want you to be safe son. Please come back to me."

He looked over at the detective who stood amidst the chaos below and noted that the man appeared to be calm and in control. Of course, having spent the last few days with the man, Banks knew better. Though his body seemed poised for action, it was the way Ellison clenched his jaw whenever something seemed to break and didn't. It was at that moment the proud stance and the broad shoulders would slump down a bit. Banks regretted the words he spoke in the museum, he was acting like - like the concerned parent that he was but it was true. No one deserved to die at the hands of someone like Kincaid.

Simon hoped Ellison would understand and forgive him. Though he had no love for clones, in his heart of hearts he didn't hate them enough to wish them dead. Blair Sandburg had saved Ellison's life twice and the young clone deserved some respect.

He was about to suggest looking further up the street when something caught his attention. He immediately called Ellison on the Talkie, when he noticed a commotion starting just left of where the detective stood. "... Who is that?"

********************

Ellison reacted swiftly to the question. Somehow, regardless of all the distraction, he had spotted the young Banks running in his general direction. The detective ran into the crowd and pulled the boy behind him. He then took notice of the boy's pursuer and immediately withdrew his weapon and took aim. "Cascade PD, freeze." People screamed and ducked for cover but the detective remained ready to discharge his weapon in order to protect the boy behind him.

A shot was fired but neither the detective nor the suspect had discharged their weapon. The shot came from somewhere else and had taken out Daryl's pursuer. Ellison turned and looked at the frightened youth. "Where is Sandburg?"

"Daryl, thank God!"

Capt. Banks grabbed his son away from the frantic detective and hugged him tightly. Ellison turned away from the reunion searching for any signs of his Guide hopeful that he too had made a successful escape. His sight inexplicably zoomed towards the buildings across the street but the Sentinel could not locate anything.

"Dad, oh God, Blair. They have Blair." Suddenly the teenager turned away from his father and paused. His breathing suddenly quickened, causing the boy to gasp. He clenched his eyes shut as his father held him close. When Daryl's eyes opened, the look on his face was unusually calm and focused. He looked up at the detective and spoke in a manner foreign to his father. "Jim, they want you dead so they can reactivate me. Jim, please save yourself. Get out!"

Ellison walked up to the youth, whose eyes were unfocused and who remained suddenly very calm. Simon grew more and more concerned for his only child and pulled the boy closer as he reached out and turned the precious face towards his. "Son, what's the matter?"

Daryl turned back towards the detective. "I can't hold on much longer. Kincaid is here. The building with the red banner. Tell Daryl he is - was a good friend. Jim? I have to do this."

Ellison walked up to the teen, who was now being used by his Guide. "Do what?"

"I thought that I was never meant for this life. The Habitat was safe and familiar. This was all so new and so very hard. So much anger and malice." The boy's head turned and gazed up at Simon, who silently held on to his offspring. "Find Jim a Guide that conforms with your preference. I am sorry I never gained your acceptance, maybe it would have made things easier."

"Daryl? Sandburg? Don't do this to him. He needs you."

The boy looked back at Ellison. His face still calm and his voice steady. "I am a timer clone, not a weapon. I made you a promise and I will keep it. I will not harm anyone but I will protect you. I now understand that this is the purpose for my being here and I will not fail."

The detective knelt in front of the teen who suddenly disappeared and was replaced with the image of his Guide. "This purpose, this protection, includes yourself. Guide-you are mine."

A tear slipped from the shiny dark blue eyes. A tear whose appearance tore at the Sentinel's soul. "He wants you dead. I will not allow this. I - - -". Daryl suddenly slumped in his father's grasp and was picked up.

Ellison grabbed the boy's hand. "Sandburg, Blair we are connected. You can't die. I won't allow this. You are mine."

Daryl frowned and looked at his father. "Dad? He needs ..." He suddenly turned and looked at the detective who was still holding his hand. He shivered. "Good-bye my Sentinel. Connection interrupt, Clone T219 seeking termination."

"Nooo!"

A shot was fired and the crowd scattered. Banks immediately carried his son to the safety of within a building alcove. He turned and watched at James Ellison walked back towards the building that had a red banner strewn from its awning. The man was determined to reclaim his Guide.

"Dad? He protected me. Made them think I was unconscious. Dad, he is my friend, don't let him die."

Banks held his first born in a fierce embrace. "I am so sorry. I was wrong. I was so wrong."

********************

Kincaid stepped over the body of the man in his circle who had failed to kill both the Banks boy and Ellison. Failure was unacceptable in his army.

Then it occurred to him. "You are the reason Banks woke." He grabbed the clone by the shirt collar and noticed that the drugged man seemed lost in some sort of hallucination.

This infuriated the man more. "You will listen to me. Do you understand?" He shook the clone roughly and then slapped him.

Blair opened his eyes and irrationally expected to see his Sentinel. "J-Jim?"

"No. The asshole isn't here."

The clone smiled self-satisfactorily. "You missed them both. You failed."

"You listen to me you miscreant. I want you to show me what you are capable of." He dragged the clone to the edge of the building and pushed him so he laid against the ledge that lined the structure. "Do it or I will toss you over the side like the trash you were made from."

Blair closed his eyes and spoke softly. "Good-bye my Sentinel. Connection interrupt, Clone T219 seeking termination." He opened his eyes and looked piteously at Kincaid. "I have been dead before and have no fear of that particular future."

Kincaid had had enough of this clone and its insolence. He dragged the synthetic to its feet and over to the ledge. "Tell me human substitute, can you find him from here? Can you locate your Sentinel right now?"

Blair frowned and looked down at the large amount of people gathered for the protest and then looked at the terrorist in confusion.

Kincaid looked back at his men. "Must have used recycled genes to make this one."

They laughed as he turned and again shook the clone. "Your Sentinel. He is down there. Can you find him?"

Blair again looked at the crowd below, focusing on the thought that Jim was down there and then froze. Somehow he was able to spot the man. Ellison stood in front of Banks and Daryl, defending and protecting those in his tribe. His Sentinel's sharp eyes desperately searching the area for something. More likely someone.

The injured Guide looked back at Kincaid but said nothing.

It didn't matter, the evil predator knew that the clone had seen his master. "Ah, I see in your vacant looking eyes that you have located the man." He shoved the clone to face downward. "You obviously don't care whether you live or die but what about Ellison?" Kincaid chuckled. "Personally, if the ass died, I'd never miss him." He stepped closer to the clone and whispered. "Can you live knowing that you allowed his death? Knowing you refused my commands and forced me to murder him?"

Blair heard a weapon discharge and watched as his Sentinel and those he was protecting searched for cover. The sharp shooter took aim once again and waited for his orders.

Again the militant whispered into the clone's ear. "Next one will hit the target. Are you willing to allow this to happen?"

The younger man closed his eyes against the nightmare in front of him. His duty was to protect the Sentinel but he had never faced such a decision and lost some of his bravado to fear. He mentally made the decision and went with his heart. "I will do as you ask."

"Then show me what you are capable of." Kincaid looked down at the people below. "I want all those fools to be rendered helpless."

Blair looked at the hostile man and then at the people below. Forgive me Jim. Please forgive me. He closed his eyes and frowned.

********************

Kincaid watched as the people below suddenly fell to the ground. The whole area, as far as his eye could see suddenly became still - silent. All life was rendered helpless and now lay on the ground. Kincaid looked at the clone in amazement. "Are they dead?"

Blair shook his head, his eyes a bit glassy and his complexion pale and shiny. "No. They sleep."

"Can you kill them?"

"Yes, but I will not."

Kincaid laughed at the obstinate tone. "No matter. I can have them disposed of easily enough."

Kincaid looked back at his men and noted that they too were surprised by the abilities of the clone. "The power is ours gentlemen. We, the Patriots for Humanity, will once again create a world better suited for the superior survivalists and we will use this freak of science against anyone who opposes us."

The men cheered and shouted out their leader's name.

Kincaid was giddy with power. He now knew that the perfect world would soon be his. His perfect world was close at hand and nothing and no one could stop him.

He laughed as he looked at the downed people below and frowned when his shoulder was suddenly shook and shook hard. He turned his head and found himself lying on the cold rooftop with Ollen desperately trying to wake him. "Sir. What happened?"

Kincaid sat up and looked around. "No. Did you see it?"

"Sir, for a moment we were all sort of, well, we were out of it. When I came to, you were on the ground - uh, smiling. The rest of us, a bit dazed." Ollen had no idea what had happened but he felt inexplicably insecure. He looked around and noted one anomaly. "Sir, the clone. He's gone."

Kincaid stood and looked around. "Find that piece of trash and bring him to me. I will have him watch Ellison die and then I will gut him myself." He watched his men walk away and felt unbridled anger well up from with. "An illusion. Nothing but a damn illusion." The militant didn't like being made a fool of and despised the fact that it was a clone that had bested him. He now envisioned the synthetics long and painful death.

Kincaid's men ran down the stairwell and searched for the escapee. Each still confused as to what happened but determined to right the wrong done to them.

Meanwhile, the wounded man was hidden within the crowd and headed towards the alleyway. He knew he had to get away from everyone. He didn't want to be used like this ever again nor did he want to be a danger to others. Slowly he walked away from the building he had escaped until he was far away from the demonstration. Still he continued forward until he fell in the alcove of a cold stone building. He heard footsteps behind him and moved into the building whose door was open.

Blair had never seen such a place. Large statues of young people with eyes like clones. Blair looked up towards the front and saw more statues, these of mutant humans with wings attached to their backs. The building was quiet, empty and cool. So very peaceful. There were benches everywhere and he supposed that people came here to sit, look at the artwork and enjoy the silence.

He noticed that some of the statues where of men and women in pain. "I know how you feel."

"Oh, no you don't but you will. Oh, you will."

********************

Kincaid couldn't believe his luck. He had just exited the building when he spotted the synthetic making his way around the corner. "Thought you could come to the house of God? Here you are nothing but misused human waste. There is no God for you."

Blair's eyes widened in wonderment. "The God of humans lives here?"

Kincaid snorted. "Not for you." He grabbed the other and pulled him to his feet. "Where were you headed? Did you think you could hide from me? From my men? Even SentiOne has arranged to have you killed off. Their Exterminators are looking for you as we speak. Too bad you didn't behave like I wanted."

The young clone tried to pull away. His chest hurt and he felt so very tired but Blair was determined to face this man. "I will not do as you ask. It is wrong to murder others and I will not help you."

Kincaid shoved the other against the wall, his hand now wrapped around the thin neck. Revenge was the sweetest emotion of all. Slowly, his eyes filled with insane rage. "Never? Never?" His hand tightened. "Thou shalt do as your God is bidding. Man created you, we are your Gods and you should do as asked. Your insolence will be punished. I will kill you and when I am through, I will kill Ellison."

Unable to pull in breathing air, Blair reached up to disengage the hands around his neck. Kincaid laughed and slammed the clone's head against the wall. "Human air is too good for someone like you. Die." He continued squeezing, never noticing the shadow coming up behind him.

A shot was fired and Kincaid turned towards the sound. "Who the hell are you?" He looked down and noted a rather large dart in his chest. "No!" He and Sandburg slid to the floor. Kincaid was immediately rendered unconscious.

Blair tried to move, to see who else was there but he couldn't make out the other's face and cried out when he was lifted and then laid on a bench. Again the injured man tried to pull away and was eased back in place. "Your Sentinel searches for you, Guide."

"No, he can't find me. He can't be endangered." Blair squinted but continued to have trouble with his vision. "Please, he can't find me."

"Shhh, young one. Your future and those like you will succeed with your continued existence. Rest now."

********************

Simon and the members of Major Crimes combed the area. Most of Kincaid's men were arrested leaving only one man and Kincaid unaccounted for. Banks grew more concerned for the clone. It was a well known and often proven fact that the longer a person remains missing, the most likely they would turn up dead. Wisely, he remained silent on this fact while working beside Ellison.

Ellison moved towards the alleyway across from the building where Kincaid's men were corralled and paused. The sounds of the demonstrators were dying down as the event ended for the evening. Still the sounds were loud to one with the ears of a Sentinel, as were the scents around him. He stood in the alleyway and closed his eyes. "Where are you Chief?"

He took a deep breath and paused. His eyes opened and focused on a dime-sized drop of blood. "Got ya."

Ellison remained unaware of anything or anyone, the Sentinel hunted for his Guide following scattered drops of blood. He paused in front of the large Church for Fallen Angels; a religious faction, which had been created for clones and other genetic altereds. The belief was that God loved all who loved.

Ellison entered the building, never really aware that he was being closely shadowed by his superior and two of his co-workers.

Again he paused. The blood was gone and there was no scent.

"Captain, over here."

Ellison located Det. Rafe and then looked at the body on the floor. "It's Kincaid."

Slowly the suspect woke. Ellison didn't wait, he reacted. The dazed suspect was lifted and slammed the into the wall behind him. "Where is he?"

Kincaid laughed. "That you Ellison? What? Are you looking for something?"

"You son of a bitch, what have you done with him?"

Banks stepped up to the two. "Answer him."

Again Kincaid laughed. "How's your son Banks? Next time he might not be so lucky." He looked back at Ellison. "He took him." He was pulled away from the wall and slammed into again.

"Who?"

"Don't know who, but I hope they kill him."

"Jim, let him go."

Ellison ignored his superior. Instead he shoved the man once more against the wall and then stepped away.

"My men will find me and you will pay for this."

Banks grabbed the irate suspect and cuffed him while reciting his rights. The captain pressed him against the building and turned him around. "Your men. The superior survivalists are all in a cell."

Kincaid noticed a slight reflection coming from the far corner of the room and smiled. "That's what you think. Enjoy your time in hell Banks."

Ellison heard the familiar sound of a weapon preparing to discharge and spotted a sniper taking aim. "Captain get down."

Banks turned to move just as Ellison shoved Kincaid in front as a shield. The shot was fired and Kincaid landed on his knees.

Kincaid shouted towards the gunman. "Ollen you damn fool!" Then the terrorist landed on the cool marble floor, a shocked expression on his face as he looked at the large hole in his chest and died.

Ellison raised his weapon towards the balcony. "Cascade P.D. Drop your weapon and show yourself. Now!"

Ollen wasn't stupid. He knew Ellison was a Sentinel and he also knew he'd have better luck in the courthouse than facing a shoot-out with a Sentinel. Being a Patriot for Humanity meant he was also a true survivalist. He did as any survivalist would, he surrendered.

********************

Somehow, the young clone had made it back into the alleyway through a side exit and was slowly walking further away from the 'House of God'. He had to keep moving or he would be found and that would mean he failed from protecting his Sentinel.

A black car pulled up in front of him and before he had a chance to react he was gathered and pulled into the vehicle. Certain that this was a SentiOne Exterminator, Blair resigned himself to his fate and allowed his body to lapse into unconsciousness.

Time passed, how much he couldn't figure out.

The sound of music surrounded him and the smell of some sort of spicy food filled the air. "Hey, I think he's waking. What do I do?"

"This wasn't my idea smart ass. What I do know is that he needs a doctor."

Blair slowly opened his eyes curious to know why an Exterminator, or two, would even consider his health. Instead, he was surprised to see two familiar faces.

The first person was a dark man, whose strength was undermined by a goofy smile that seemed to pop up continuously. "Hey Hairboy. How're you feeling?" Det. Henry Brown or "H" to his friends.

The other individual was a well-dressed baby faced man whose innocence concealed the calculating person who always got the job done. Det. Rafe was the Police Department's resident mascot for how a detective should be attired and how looks could deceive one into believing that the man was simple. Det. Rafe, whose first name was known only by his superior, had a very high arrest record and the reputation of a person you would not want to cross. He had been partnered to Henry Brown for two years now and behaved as though they were childhood friends. "Brown back off, give the kid some air."

Blair had never spoken much to either of the two men. Whenever he had entered the department, most of Ellison's co-workers stayed away from him. Though they had always been cordial, they had never really spoken. "Jim?"

Brown shook his head. "Sorry Hairboy, Ellison doesn't know where you are right now. SentiOne's got a few trackers on your case and we thought we'd step in and throw them off your scent."

Blair frowned. "Trackers?" He tried to sit up and winced.

Brown pushed him back gently. "Got another conspirator coming over. He'll fix you up - good as new."

Blair winced as he drew in a deep breath. "Please, you don't understand. You two are in danger by hiding me here. Please just let me go, the SentiOne personnel won't press charges if you turn me over to the Exterminator."

Brown looked up at his partner who sighed. "H, why don't you call Dan and find out how soon he will be here. Let me have a talk with Sandburg."

Brown looked back at Sandburg and smiled reassuringly. "You are part of the unit Sandburg and we don't turn our backs on our own." He stood and exited the room.

Rafe sat beside the smaller man and smiled. "Why do you want those - those Exterminators to take you away?"

Blair looked away and remained silent.

"Do you think that he would allow you to be taken so easily?"

"He is a Sentinel. If I were dead, he'd be able to have someone who isn't a distraction, who isn't hunted and who understands your ways."

Rafe looked at the doorway for a moment and then back. "I have a secret to share. Will you keep it?"

Blair nodded.

Rafe reached out and adjusted the bedding around the younger man as he spoke. "I am the great grandson of a clone-human marriage." He paused at the shocked look on the other's face and nodded. "It's true." He reached for a cloth, wiped the blood that trickled from Blair's forehead and sat on the chair beside the bed.

"It was long ago, when clones were first created and used solely as slave labor. My great grandfather was a proud and financially well-off man who had decided to purchase a clone nurse-maid. You see, my great grandfather was forced to use a wheelchair due to a disease that, at the time, there was no cure for. He didn't want sympathy or people prying in on the specifics of his illness and figured this was a way to ensure his privacy. The nurse-maid had to care for him and did so without ever speaking a negative word. As time went on the two got to know each other more and more. He learned of her hard life but marveled at the fact that she never said a bad word about her treatment. It just was."

Blair nodded. "It isn't our way, just a day in the life of a clone."

Rafe frowned. "I know that is how you feel Blair, but perhaps if more of us knew the truth about you and those of your kind, there would be less reason for humans to be suspicious of clones."

Blair shrugged. "That requires trust. In the SentiOne Habitat, a negative word in the wrong ear could mean a severe punishment." Suddenly he coughed so hard that he found it difficult to breath easily.

Rafe wondered when the doctor would arrive and decided this debate would have to wait. "Anyway the two of them learned about each other, became trusting friends, eventually fell in love and were secretly wedded."

Blair frowned. "It is not permitted. They would have taken her away and he would have been punished for such an indiscretion."

"In those days both would have been put to death." Rafe smiled sadly. "They were careful; they had to be. My great-grandfather's money afforded them privacy and the two lived a long time together. Moving from place to place whenever they felt others were noticing too much. Still they were able to have six children and a good home life. Always a roof over their heads and two parents who loved them all." Rafe stood. "When they were found out. As you said they were arrested and separated but love is strong, Blair. I know it sounds corny but it is true. Anyway, somehow, my great-grandma was able to get to my great granddad's cell. No one could figure out how she did it so we figured it was a secret best kept between those two." Rafe looked at Blair. "They were well past their prime when the truth came out and their children were already having children of their own. My great grandparents had done well. Their time was at an end and both were content. They spent their time in that cell talking about their life, hoping for the future of their children, and holding each other. The next morning they both were found still in a loving embrace. Dead."

Blair tilted his head. "How?"

Rafe smiled at the curious nature of the younger man. "My dad says that they probably just figured out how to go to the next level of existence. Together somewhere - forever."

"And the family. You?"

Rafe smiled sadly. "It has always been a struggle. Trying to prove you are human to humans but knowing that in their eyes you are some sort of freak. Seeing clones being mistreated and trying to help whenever you can but feeling that it's never enough." Rafe looked at Sandburg. "You, like everyone else on this planet, have the right to a life without persecution and to give in to prejudice is wrong. You didn't ask to be created but now that you have life; you have the right to live. You and Jim are Sentinel and Guide. He needs you and you know that you need him. He would never be able to handle your disappearance or death."

"Humans connect that way. Clones are not the same and I am not an ordinary class of clone."

Rafe smiled. "Tell me about it. You live with Ellison and you're still in one piece." He sobered and spoke softly. "We all have battles to overcome. I found my place and fight to protect it. Trust me it's worth it."

Blair was about to speak but instead began coughing harder. Rafe dabbed the corner of the clone's mouth and heard voices outside the door. "Help is here."

********************

Dan Wolf was the department's coroner but had also done time in the emergency rooms at various hospitals. His origin was that of an Intuit who strongly held on to the old ways and beliefs of his people. He was also a clone sympathizer who believed that every life was an existence to be cherished. Clones were created of man and thus were man.

Four hours later, the coroner exited the room and smiled at the two concerned detectives who waited for a report. "He'll be fine. Needs a great deal of rest. Where is Ellison?"

Brown shrugged. "The kid is being tracked. Figured they wouldn't find him with us. So we brought him here. Hadn't thought any further than getting him somewhere safe and taken care of."

Rafe noted that Wolf seemed a bit preoccupied. "Why? What's wrong?"

"Nothing. It's just, well, that young man has been through a great deal of suffering. His body has markings of a hard and very terrible life. Right now he needs to feel safe. His being a clone it's easy to understand that he is a bit uneasy with so many humans around but he is also a Guide. If he is here feeling a bit afraid and exposed that means the Sentinel is somewhere feeling aggressive and hostile. They need to be connected, for both their sakes."

"Ellison has always been a bit hostile. The captain must have his hands full." Rafe sighed. "If we bring Ellison here, now, it could jeopardize him altogether."

Wolf nodded. "The question isn't whether or not you should bring him here. He will find his Guide. It is the way of a Sentinel. The question is whether or not you want to face the man whose Guide, at least in his eyes, you stole albeit with good intentions."

H looked at his partner and sighed. "Guess we need to speak with the captain. You know, in case we need back-up?"

********************

Banks had spent two hours in the hospital, making sure that his only son was healthy and unharmed. He realized now more than ever that he owed the clone a great deal. At the moment, he waited outside of the emergency room as requested by his son. The boy wanted to speak to Ellison alone. Simon granted the request. His son was maturing.

Ellison waited for his superior to leave and then looked at Daryl. "Do you have any guesses where they took the two of you?"

Daryl smiled sadly. "No. If I did, I would have told you." He paused and then spoke softly. "He told me that he wants to return to the Habitat."

"That's not going to happen."

Daryl smiled at the firm tone. "I know you aren't his father but could you tone down the authoritarian tone for a moment?" When he received a nod from the other he continued. "He says that he makes you feel ashamed of him. Says he doesn't fit in. It's hard, detective, trying to be what you want your dad, uh, owner ..."

"Friend."

Daryl nodded and smiled again. "What your friend wants you to be and still be who you are inside. Blair is new to all of this. He's like the new kid on the block and hardly knows how to behave in a new world. He only knows that he wants you to be proud of him. Just go slow with him."

Ellison sighed. "We are both learning but I understand what you are trying to tell me and I will go slower. Thanks Daryl. I'm glad he got to talk to you."

Daryl smiled brightly. "He's my friend too. I hope you find him soon. Oh and one more suggestion?"

"Yes?"

"Ease up on the house rules man. You are really stagnating his creativity."

Ellison chuckled. "Creativity, hmmm? I'll see what I can do. Take care Daryl."

Ellison left wanting more than ever to locate his Guide. The younger man was not going back to the Habitat, not now and not ever. That was one idea that would be erased. He paused and then sighed. "We'll get this straightened out - slower."

After making sure his son would be safe with his ex-wife, Banks returned to the crime scene and found Ellison, still searching the area for his Guide.

The captain wondered if the man was aware of the two SentiOne employees who continued to openly watch him from across the way. "Taggert, why are they here?"

The burly detective looked at the two 'vultures' and snickered. "Said they are within their rights and are not interfering in the investigation. Guess they still plan on taking the kid in when he's found."

Banks raised an eyebrow. "Get me the Chief on the phone."

"Now? You know how he hates to be disturbed at ... two in the morning."

"Get his ass on the phone. One of my men is being harassed illegally and I need strong back-up on this situation. Sides Georgie owes me big time."

Ellison sniffed, looked and listened for anything that would indicate his Guide's whereabouts and found nothing. Undaunted, he continued to search for clues. He knew he was being watched and ignored the two idiots. His mind was focused on finding the Guide and protecting the one who was his. He would deal with those two later.

It was getting later or earlier depending on how one looked at the situation. Street lights were being turned off as the sun slowly rose.

The Sentinel's eyes were irritated from strenuous usage but the annoyance was minor when compared to the uncontrolled anger he felt at not being able to locate his charge. James Ellison was a man on the edge.

The wind blew a scent in his direction forcing him to pause, tilt his head and sniff the air again.

A couple of blocks away from where Ellison searched, a black sedan entered the alley and deposited another member of the Major Crimes Unit. Banks waited for the man to step up. "Brown, report."

Brown looked over at the figure that stood on the far end of the alleyway and then back at the captain. "Uh, sir? Uh, Rafe and I, well, we thought it would be best. He was injured you see and those two guys were looking for him and, well...?"

Banks frowned. "H, what the hell are you talking about?"

"Where is my Guide?" The scent of his Guide was strong on this man and that angered the Sentinel even more. His Guide's scent belonged on no one else.

H jumped. Was that a growl? And hadn't Ellison been standing two blocks away? Suddenly, H was shoved against his car and nose to nose with an angry Sentinel. "Where is my Guide?"

"Easy Jimbo, look Rafe and I have him hidden someplace safe. Had - - him, uh, well he's been looked at too." H didn't want to incriminate more people than he had to and decided that Wolf would remain a silent ally in this. "I was instructed to come get you. He-he's doing alright but I was told that he needs to see you. Something about connecting?"

Banks looked over his shoulder and noted that the two SentiOne employees were slowly approaching. At that very moment his cell rang. "Banks. Georgie, what do you have for me? Good. Great. I have your assurance that you and the department will back me up on this? Excellent. Georgie, you are a man of honor, see you at the next game."

As he placed his cellphone into his pocket, the captain smiled brightly at the two SentiOne employees. "H, take Ellison. Jim? Call me when you can and fill me in."

The two SentiOne men were about to follow the departing detectives when several police officers surrounded them. One of the two SentiOne employees turned and addressed the captain. "We are SentiOne Exterminators and, under Section 913 Of The Consumer Livestock Act, you have no right to obstruct us from re-claiming company property."

Banks smiled as he lifted an eco-safe cigar and placed it into his mouth. "Blair Sandburg may have been SentiOne property but he was purchased by Ellison. I have seen his contract, had it looked over by the department legal staff and according to the Chief of Police, perhaps you know him? George Matteus, has informed me that if you or any of the SentiOne personnel go anywhere near that young man in an attempt to force him to go where he does not want to, well, you will be arrested. As for your Section 913? Take it and shove up the corporate ladder."

The two men were flustered. Neither knew how to proceed in a situation such as this. Both looked to the other for suggestions and eventually left. Banks didn't care where they went since H's car had already disappeared from sight. Besides the way Ellison drove, H and he were probably in the next continent. "It's good to be a captain."

********************

Blair winced at a sharp pain in his chest and was slowly lifted and resettled into a more comfortable position. A hand brushed aside his unruly curls and the familiar touch made him smile. He opened his eyes and was greeted by the concerned gaze of his Sentinel. "Jim?"

"Hey kiddo. Glad to see you awake."

Blair opened his mouth to speak and coughed instead. A cup was quickly pressed against his lips and cool water eased its way down his throat. He was then carefully resituated and again his hair was brushed out of the way of his eyes.

"I spoke with Daryl, says he can't wait to see you again. Told me to ease up on house rules."

Blair winced at that. He hadn't wanted his owner to know how he felt about the 'Ellison Rules'.

Seeing the expression Ellison smiled. "Guess I am a bit rough to live with."

Blair shrugged. "It is your home."

"Our home."

Not hearing the words but eager to make sure things were alright between them, Blair began to apologize. "I'm sorry I ran away. I never meant to cause this much trouble. I just needed to think and ..."

Hearing the raised heartbeat and worried for the other's health, Ellison tried to calm his Guide down. "Shhhhh. It's alright."

"No, you don't understand. There are men looking for me. They will find me and if you aren't careful..."

"No one will find you."

"Jim, the Exterminators are searching for me."

"Simon took care of them. You're safe."

"But ..."

"No buts. Relax."

"Jim, ... " A large hand brushed along his face and then down his arm. The reassuring hand wrapped around one of his. "The things that I did out there to Kincaid; the SentiOne Board were right about me."

"You protected Daryl and yourself. You caused no harm to others." Ellison slid closer, his body curling against the Guide's as he luxuriated in the scent that rightfully belonged to him. "You did all the right things, Chief. You are not a weapon. You are my Guide."

Blair tried to pull away and was eased back into place. The little strength he had was waning but this was important. "There might be more out there. People who want me for their own reasons. We shouldn't connect. We should end this while we still have a chance."

"I would never run from my Guide and there are no more chances. You are mine. We fight together."

"You could die."

Bright blue eyes glowed with fierce determination. "I will only die if you leave me. Our connection is strong."

Though he wanted to continue this discussion, Blair felt suddenly very sleepy. The well-known comforting hand brushed over his torso and again wrapped itself around his hand. He fought to speak. "Together?"

"Til death and then after, my Guide."

Warmth surrounded the injured man, the connection had begun, and his mind drifted up and into the mind of his Sentinel. He was safe and protected. Slowly his body relaxed and the two fell asleep.

********************

Rafe peered into the room and then closed the door.

"So, the two of them alright?"

"They're asleep."

H looked at his partner in surprise. "Ellison sleeps? God, wonder what the guy dreams about?"

"Probably dreams about what he is going to do to the guy who ate his WonderBurger last week."

"Hey man, he was gone for two hours. Figured the meal would spoil."

"Tell it to him. I've got nothing to do about this."

H stood and joined the other in the kitchen. "Some partner you are."

********************

Two Weeks Later:

Mr. Kubrick walked into Major Crimes and nodded appreciatively. He had done several things to ensure the safety of this one and was pleased to discover that he had been correct in - all of his actions. A circle of men surrounded the desk in the far left corner and then suddenly they all began laughing. Two of the men walked away and one remained. "You know Hairboy, next time you can stay at my place. Got a better range of food than Rafe does."

Blair smiled at the other. "Thanks H. I appreciate it."

"Anytime." The dark man grew serious and spoke sternly. "Remember, anytime."

Mr. Kubrick approached the desk just as the man left and waited for recognition. As he looked at the young male clone he noted that the he no longer wore a knit cap to conceal his long curly hair. It now hung loosely and unrestrained. The young man also no longer wore his coat indoors but remained wearing several layers of clothing. The glasses also remained part of his apparel but they were now slung from his shirt collar. Time had changed a great deal in the clone. Blair Sandburg no longer masked his identity but he remained cautious about sharing it with everyone. Perhaps that would change in time as well.

"Oh. Mr. Kubrick, did you need to see Jim - uh Detective Ellison?"

"No, my boy. I am here to see you." He handed a thick envelope to the young man. "Just a few documents stating that SentiOne no longer has any claim on you. You are truly a free agent. Also, you will find an offer for you to come back to the Habitat as a guest of mine. You see, I am starting an Out-Clone program for the young adults, such as yourself. A sort of an open forum class for clones wanting to exist outside the Habitat. I need someone who is familiar with the ever changing social taboos of an integrated lifestyle to teach other clones what they may or may not face when co-existing amongst humans."

"Sir, I am honored but I am hardly an expert."

Kubrick smiled, laughing just wasn't something the rail thin man was in the habit of doing. "No one can truly be an expert but I feel it will be beneficial to other clones to know that, though life is difficult out here, it can be done if one truly wants to do it."

Blair looked around the Major Crime Unit and then back at the tall man. He stood and nodded. "I will consider it and thank you again."

Kubrick nodded and left.

"Consider what?" Ellison approached the desk and placed several diskettes on it. "What will you consider?"

Blair smiled. "I've been offered a job as a teacher at the SentiOne Habitat."

Ellison frowned at the idea of his Guide going back to the place that had mistreated him. Mindful that this was his Guide's decision, he spoke. "Do you think it will be alright?"

Blair looked down. "If you don't want me to, I won't."

"I want you to do what makes you happy Chief. I just want you to be safe."

A large hand landed on the side of the other's shoulder. Blair smiled at the feeling of safety and trust. "I want others to know that it's hard out here but ..." He looked over at Rafe then at H as the two prepared to step out and he smiled. He then looked back at Ellison and nodded proudly. "The battle is well worth fighting as long as you learn new avenues to connect."

"Alright." Ellison sat down and sighed at the work that lie ahead. "Let's look these over and complete a few reports. Daryl and Simon will be at the loft at 6. Taggert, H and Rafe come over a bit later and don't forget that Rafe wants you to fix up that chip dip you made for him the other day."

"No problem - and it's a chip sauce."

Ellison keyed up the monitor and sifted through the diskettes. Meanwhile, Blair looked once again at the other men in the unit. Sure, there were those who continued to sneer in his direction but they were not present. Here, amongst those of the Major Crime Unit, he had made - friends - and they were worth fighting to keep.

"Chief? Come on now, the reports don't type-up themselves."

Blair chuckled. "Well if the department would spend more money on voice activated units and less on those sugar pastries you guys eat all the time..."

"Donuts, Chief and never pick on the policeman's energy pills. You really have got to learn to appreciate their nutritional value."

Somehow Blair didn't think he would ever come to truly enjoy all the unhealthy things humans ate but he was grateful to have the time to try.

End

Comments, criticism, suggestions? Please e-mail K-Lyn.

Back to K-Lyn's page.