Thanks goes out from me to all you voracious readers for the totally unexpected and wonderfully encouraging e-mails urging me to continue in the futuristic world of SentiOne. For you I present Part Two.

Warnings: There are a few gory situations and few swear words. Sorry but they were needed.

This story continues where the last one left off so if you are new to this world I highly suggest you read the last story first.

Disclaimer: They aren't mine but imagination makes it possible for me to do with them whatever I so desire and believe you - me, I have got a lot of desire.

SentiOne: Developing A New Connection (Story Two)

by K-Lyn

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

Choi prepared to leave the Senti-One Deactivation Area, his duty here was complete. He was about to enter an elevator when the building's alarm system went off. He turned to look at the doorway where James Ellison and his new Guide had been when a large metal door lowered in front of him sealing the area from any unwanted visitors. A voice boomed from the overhead system, "Containment successful. Eradication of Clone T-219 will proceed. Processing for successful redirection of Sentinel to be completed in the Atrium. Personnel have been informed."

Choi immediately slipped into the nearby stairwell, which remained unguarded to quickly place a call. Something was going desperately wrong.

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

Chapter One

Death become so few

Ellison woke to find himself alone seated on a large chair in a dimly lit and extremely quiet room. He surmised that the walls were insulated but why? As if his thoughts were being heard a door opened in the far corner of the room and a muscular gray haired man entered. "Mr. Ellison I am Dr. April. I hope you are feeling well."

The confused Sentinel nodded, then he remember something. "Where is Blair Sandburg? What have you done with my Guide?"

The other shook his head, "The clone has been taken and will be studied. His kind is an anomaly to standard clones. We cannot have timers breaching their genetic coding. This occurrence must be investigated to prevent further disruption of once previously controlled reaction, then, when we are satisfied with the solution, the problem must be eradicated."

Anger slowly welled up within James Ellison but his body refused to respond forcing him to remain seated. Apparently he had been drugged. His voice was his only weapon, "By the terms of your contract a Timer, when purchased, is the sole possession of the owner regardless of any health problems." He paused once again cursing his inability to use his body easily, "Those are your terms. Terms I abided by - damn you. He is mine. Return him to me now."

The doctor shook his head condescendingly, "Humans are the rightful heirs to this life. Those like this clone are mere pets. Created for a designated period of existence and then rendered obsolete. Allowing humans to move on as fate allows. These temporary life forms must not be allowed to change their designation. You, sir, have not connected with this anomaly, simply formed an attachment of some sort. In either case, SentiOne assures full satisfaction of their clones and those that use their services. You will be granted the use on another."

Anger granted a brief reprieve from paralysis as Ellison surged forward only to land chest down on the cool floor. The doctor walked past the man with without concern for his well-being and to the exit and opened the door admitting two other men to enter in his wake.

Pausing a moment more, he spoke with his back to the helpless man who remained on the floor, "The drug in your system will delude itself in half an hour. These two clones will escort you out. Perhaps, in that time, you will come to realize that a Sentinel, a human one should bond with a human guide. Good day sir."

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

A furious Capt. Banks stood outside the SentiOne Habitat and watched as his detective was carried outside and then left on a bench. He ran up to the normally volatile man who now remained virtually motionless when deposited. Forced to wait for the drug to loose its hold on his detective, the concerned superior listened to the unbelievable report on what had gone on within the clone-supplying establishment. "What do you mean they're going to eradicate him? Is this allowed?"

Ellison slowly stood. Time had passed and he was even more furious than before, "How did they know he had re-animated himself so quickly? Did you... ?"

Banks held up his hands, "Jim, you know how I feel about clones but to sentence this kid to death? No, that is one thing I would never condone."

The sound of feminine laughter halted their discussion, "No, a human would. But a true Sentinel whose claim had been challenged and whose offer for a connection refused publicly would." Alex Barnes stepped out of the shadows looking at Ellison with undisguised hatred. "He was mine to do with as I wished."

Ellison met the angry gaze with one to match and suddenly the air around the two Sentinels seemed charged with unspent aggression. "Lady, you never had any claim on him. By law he is mine. Mine pledged and claimed by me. He will join with no other."

"Ohhhh! So primal, so feral. I am soooo terrified. Tell me human, is it easier to dominate a clone than say a Guide from your own genetic pool or are you so fragile that claiming a clone makes a weakling like yourself feel like a true Sentinel?""Don't push me on this. You really don't want to start something that you won't win."

She laughed again and stepped closer. Banks noted that the woman seemed almost attracted to the threat of danger and thought her insane. James Ellison was deadly when provoked.

"He insulted me in my territory. He and several others are mine. Claimed and marked. He will die for his betrayal of my protection."

"A true Sentinel needs only one Guide. They should be at your side because they want to be not out of fear and not as part of some sort of collection. This is not a harem and they are not pets."

"Here in this world, his world and mine, I am a true Sentinel. Created by the likes of you and your peers. Created to be better than a regular Sentinel. Being a clone allows me the luxury of having however many Guides I desire. It's good for the company, beneficial to the weaker clones and easier to deal with should there be a loss." She turned to walk away.

Banks, who had been silent until now, spoke, "You have no reverence for tradition. What kind of monster are you to have so little value over life?"

She turned and faced the other, "A man who claims that one such as I is not a true life form should keep silent however I will answer your question with a few of my own. Tell me sir, as a man who heads a civilian protection service, just how many clones are under your employ? And out of that number how many have never experienced prejudice, mistreatment or worse? How many have you, as a department head, stood up for?"

"I've never consciously allowed anyone - anyone to be harmed. All life is sacred."

Barnes smiled, "Really? Well, how benevolent of you sir. Your ancestors would be proud that you had not adopted the very philosophy of selective indifference once used by those who had enslaved them for reasons that were petty and almost comical."

Ellison had had enough and pulled her around to face him, "Enough of these word games. I want him. Tell me where he is."

She reached up and touched his face. Smiling as she brushed her hand across the chiseled features, "So strong and forceful. You and I ..." She pulled back and snarled, "He is mine to do with as I wish and he will die." She pulled away and paused, "The boy will wish he had learned to respect me." Laughter filled the darkness and the female Sentinel once again disappeared into the darkness.

Having no problem with seeing in the dark, Ellison was about to follow her when his captain yanked him back, "She isn't going to tell you a damned thing, Jim. We need ..." He was interrupted by a cellphone call. "Banks ... Choi where the hell? ... Yeah he's ... right away."

Ellison had heard. Choi had stayed with his Guide out of concern for the other's welfare. The concern was valid. "I heard, 12 and Encena. They've taken him to the labs."

It was a sad and horrible truth. Some clones. Those who had become unstable, lost their sense of purpose or were of no value to anyone in the human world were taken here. Clones such as these had sometimes been forced to commit heinous crimes against those who owned them. Though the fact that, like a mistreated pet, most of these clones acted out of self-preservation was never taken into consideration. They had harmed their creators and Gods had the right to do with their creations as they wished.

So the reasons behind a clone's action were never defended. They had no rights in the human world. They were simply deemed unstable and sent to the Synthetic Amphitheatre. A morose and disturbing place and one that needed to be closed even though most felt it served an educational purpose of sorts. Here humans came to watch how clones were created. Abortions were a way of existence here. A clone was created and then, for a few more credits you could watch them being aborted. A dying fetus provided at least a half hour of devoted interest.

Another area provided a birds' eye view of condemned adult clones, those between twelve and expiration, being operated on. Limbs were removed; vital organs preserved all the while being viewed by Amphitheatre visitors.

Also on the list of visual 'study' was the study of the clone aging process and well as the proper ways to ensure their deactivation. Man, it seemed, had come to revere life created by nature but abused the life he himself created. Man, unlike a true deity, had not learned compassion for the ones under his care.

It was in this place; a hell on earth, that the young newly reborn clone was to face death once more.

The captain and his detective prepared to leave just as several strangely dressed men surrounded their eco-transport. The man closest to the two spoke, "The presence of Detective and UnConnected Sentinel James Ellison is requested at a formal meeting of the Sentinel Qualifying Board."

No one moved or responded.

Again the stranger spoke, "Gentlemen delays will only force us to subdue the Sentinel using alternative means."

Banks sighed, "I was told this would be handled at a later time."The detective stared at his superior in shock as he was soon cuffed and taken away.

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

Chapter 2

Sleeping Awake

Blair felt as though he were in a dream. He had woken earlier safely embraced by the Sentinel who had purchased his contract. Death had approached but seemed slow to act. He remembered looking at the other and hoping the human would be all right. Then his eyes closed and the nightmare began.

He now lay restrained on a cold metal table, without clothing and under harsh lights. His mind flooded of questions. So there was no heaven for those like him but was this - this had to be hell? Was he dead? Was this death? What had he done wrong?

He looked to his left and then his right. Bodies and more bodies of other clones lay on metal tables all around him. He knew without speaking that they were clones as well.

Age and sex didn't matter. Hell wasn't selective. Some clones were moaning, some pulling at restraints, which held them in place. Suddenly T-219 realized that he was in the last place he ever wanted to be. "Oh please no. Not the labs." He closed his eyes and prayed for the nightmare to end. The SentiOne employers had assured him that this would not happen. If one followed the rules, one was ensured an event free deactivation. But why wasn't he dead? Why was he here?

A man walked up to his lab table and pulled his face left for a better look, "Another damn Timer. Who the hell is resetting these things? I am so sick of your kind."

Blair opened his eyes, "I-I survived?"

"Yessss. That's why you're here. I need to know how and why. This time I start with a frontal lobe exploration. I will have the answer one way or another." The man covered his face with a facemask and spoke to others. Shadowy figures that surrounded the helpless clone.

Blair closed his eyes against the horror that was unfolding in this dark place. His mind reacted in desperation. "Jim where the hell are you?"

The doctor laughed at the whispered question, "That one will be forced to connect with another any minute now. So don't worry yourself about him. Soon you will be nothing more than a forgotten incident in his past."

He felt the blade cut away his hair and winced only once when a razor blade closely completed the task by removing what follicles were left. Nothing was ever truly his.

The frightened clone forced his mind to ignore any further stimuli. His body was nothing more than décor for the use of the humans. Still, he had died and was granted life again.

If this was true, he was no longer the creation of man. His life had been given back to him by whatever deity deemed it important. His mind was 'his'. Wasn't it?

It was too much to comprehend. It was a question for another existence.

Concern for James Ellison became his focal point.

Forced connections were never easy. Several Guides battering a single Sentinel for control of his soul. The moment the Sentinel weakened, one Guide would slip into the mind stream and insinuate themselves into the consciousness of the other. It worked sometimes and other times the Sentinel fought until death. Blair knew without a doubt that Jim would never accept a forced connection; the man was so damn stubborn and always needed to be in control.

The Sentinel needed help. The Sentinel could not die.

No sedation was granted as he felt the blade slice into the side of his forehead and screamed from the pain it inflicted. Anger and terror merged. His mind was not going to accept defeat, not now. He opened his eyes and looked at the doctor. His voice was deep and seemed to vibrate off the walls in the lab. "No doctor, this ends now. I have a new purpose."

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

Chapter 3

Pup to Wolf

It had been an hour and he had been extremely cautious.

Det. Danny Choi had passed several others without anyone being concerned about his presence in the backrooms of this disturbing place. He spotted the door to the lab but was instead forced to move hastily out the way. Several clones exited the room, desperately seeking and locating their escape.

When the last had fled, Choi stepped inside. He then froze in shock. "Oh sweet mother of God!"

There on the floor were several technicians and a doctor. All writhing in obvious pain with their mouths open in silent screams. In the center of all of this stood the teacher.

Choi forced himself to gain control of the situation as he neared the clone, whose nude body vibrated with violent anger and who appeared oblivious to the severe cut over his right temple. Over and over the younger man repeated, "Learn to respect life. Open yourself to the pain caused by your own hands."

"B-Blair? Sandburg? Please, he needs you."

The clone turned and looked at the other. His eyes glowed with a deep blue hue, which made his overall deplorable appearance otherworldly. "And you. Do you still consider us vermin to be exterminated?"

Choi searched his soul and understood. This was a teacher. One who had a soul and could see the truth not easily seen by the wisest of Guides. The oriental man realized, without question, that this was a Guide who deserved his respect and loyalty. "No teacher. It was I who helped you and the Sentinel in the joining with your spirit guides and now one who understands that being a Guide is an honor. I readily accept that I still have much to learn."

Blair looked back at the men and women writhing in pain, "They should die for what they have done here. So very many have died for nothing other than the prejudice of humans such as these."

Choi walked up to him and spoke softly, "Teacher, it was you who said we Guides should preserve all life. Necessary or not. Please sir, do not destroy the humanity in your soul. You are not the warrior. Your role is to share and enlighten."

The clone mentally released the medical staff from whatever hold he had on them and slumped weakly into the embrace of the man standing behind him. His voice now weaker and less sure, "I-it's just, they have killed so many. Women, c-children. They have no remorse for the travesties done here. None."

Choi pulled the thin man close and draped his trench coat around the shivering body. "Today they have learned that a clone is no longer an object." He walked him to the doorway while speaking softly. "Your Sentinel needs you. We must go."

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

Chapter 4

Tampering with Fate

Ellison was forcibly dragged into a room and left alone as the door closed. The walls padded, the floor covered with a thick rubber padding. He had been here before. It had been tried twice and they had failed in both attempts. They would fail again.

Off to the right the hologramic images of three men and one woman appeared. A forth stood off to the side trying to deny what was occurring here. "Sentinel, welcome to the Qualifying Board."

Ellison didn't respond. He looked at the man furthest from the images. Banks met his gaze but said nothing. The detective had been betrayed often, by his own family on several occasions, and had come to expect it from those around him. So it was no surprise to find that the man who was not only his superior but also someone he had considered a friend now stood on the other side of the fight.

The older of the two males spoke again, "We are not here to cause you any harm, only to set you on the course of a more beneficial connection."

The female spoke, "Clone and human completions are not healthy. This clone would have been too erratic. An unstable Guide is not what we desire for you."

"I don't give a damn what you desire. Sandburg is my Guide. In this you have no say. I chose who I want."

The woman, whose features were pale and almost glacial, spoke coolly, "Control you attitude sir. This is for your ..."

"Can it woman. I am an adult and a Sentinel who, up until now, has tried to play by the rules of your foolish games." He walked up the images wishing their actual bodies were present. "I have tried completing a Connection with several of your so-called Guides. A bunch of pathetic jerks that wanted to control me as though I were a child or a pet. I have also endured two "Forced Connections" and fought the battles in favor of my freedom. I will not be made to connect with anyone."

The older man looked at a third man who had not yet spoken and nodded. The short bald man smiled, "We will attempt to triangulate a break in your mental defenses. When it is breached a Guide will enter."

Banks spoke up, "I will not condone harming him. You said this would protect him, that it was a preventive action to ensure that the Timer hadn't harmed his mind. This feels wrong. Maybe he should be allowed to keep Sandburg."

The woman spoke, "No. This Sentinel is strong on the grading system and deserves a viable connection with an equally strong human Guide. Proceed."

The doors opened and Ellison made a move towards the exit. The action was a futile one. His mind was immediately bombarded with images and thoughts. The feeling was similar to a physical attack with six people. The Sentinel squinted against the pain and was soon forced to his knees. "No. This is my mind and you are not invited."

Banks watched in horror as the man he knew to be strong, resilient, stubborn and proud now howled in agony. "Stop this! He's in pain."

The woman who the captain had come to know only as the Chancellor smiled coolly. "He must not connect with that clone."

The older man, Banks knew as the Organizer spoke angrily, "He said he had been through this before. Twice. Why was I not told?"

The short bald man met his ire, "You were given enough to evaluate this situation. It is clear that we are proceeding on a viable course of action."

Banks hadn't known what to think, only that he had been told that his friend would have died had he joined with that clone kid. Humans with humans were said to be best. He wasn't a Sentinel and had no concept as to what was happening. He was a quick study. He watched the monitor as James Ellison grabbed his head and again howled in agony.

One thing Banks now knew and it was that James Ellison was a man who liked controlling his fate. "He will die before any of this becomes successful."

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

Chapter 5

The Fight to Connect

Choi assisted the thinner man out of his eco-transport and towards the building. He paused to look around sensing danger nearby. He looked at the smaller man wondering if he felt the sensation as well.

Blair met his gaze and froze. "No."

A single shot was fired and Choi went down. Blair knelt beside him and tried to assess the damage when a cool metal object pressed against the back of his shaven head. "Leave him. Rise and meet your Sentinel."

She stood before him, disheveled and jittery. Still this didn't frighten the clone. He had met death and was no longer afraid, "Alex I am not yours."

She laughed, "So strong and willful. You have changed since your recent demise." She tilted her head towards the Sentinel Qualifying Facility. "He has already succumbed to a forced connection. You have no other choice. Connect with me and I will be one with you."

"Why?"

"What?"

"For several years I was in your territory, used by you, harmed by you and neglected by you. Never, in all that time, did you desire me as a sole Guide. Why now?"

She pulled him to her side, keeping the gun pressed against the cool forehead. She sniffed the iron scent and licked the side of his cheek tasting the blood that oozed from the cut on his forehead and loving the texture of it on her tongue. She smiled, "You are strong and have proven yourself unique. I deserve a Guide like you and will have what I want."

Blair yanked himself away from her wanting the woman to disappear, "You say Ellison has connected with another. You will not allow me to verify this and so I must believe you. Fine. If this is true then please kill me now. I lived because I had a purpose and it was not to be your plaything. I will never be your Guide. Never."

"NO! You will beg to be mine. You will show me the respect I deserve." She raised the weapon watching as the clone neither spoke nor acquiesced. She saw the defiance and spoke in anger. "Fine, then die."

For a second time that night a shot was fired. Blair watched in shock as the female crumbled to the ground. He looked to his left and then ran to assist Choi as he lay back on the cold cement."No, I will call for the EMTs. Go. Your Sentinel is fighting a battle and needs your help."

"But, Danny ..."

"No, go. Please teacher. Please go."

Blair was torn, he had been taught to assist humans. They were the creators. Still there was a stronger need to help the man who had purchased his contract and wanted, though misguidedly, to connect with him. A clone should never connect with a human. It was considered a shameful act but that was a thought of another timeframe.

It was then that he was suddenly bombarded with the feeling of anxiety and desperation. He was needed inside the Sentinel Qualifying Building. Urgently.

Blair entered the building without being stopped. Apparently no one expected a clone to be so brash. His owner was inside and he had a duty to fulfill.

Subconsciously his mind led him to the correct area. As he neared what looked like an atrium he heard the tall dark man, Simon Banks, yelling for something to be stopped, saw a pale woman shun his actions and noted two other men staring at a vidscreen. He felt a tug from within. His body moved down the hall to another door, a door with a keypad. His hand reached out and touched the security lock while his mind searched for a way in and the code was given. He pressed the sequence into the keypad and the door opened.

At the far side of the padded and round room was James Ellison, cornered and fighting to escape unseen harm. Older men, Guides, surrounded the Sentinel. No one touched anyone but the clone easily felt the empathic battle that ensued before him. He knew of the pain the three were causing. "Stop this now. This is against the teachings of Sentinel and Guide Connections. You are raping him of his will to be who he is."

A female voice shouted over the hidden speakers, "Get rid of that atrocity and continue."

Two of the three turned to face the thin, bald, barely clothed clone. Their minds crawled into his and for a moment he felt complete shock over the sudden turn of events. "We are the same. We are Guides. This isn't right."

One of the two sneered, "We are human and are not the same."

Anger welled up again in the newly reborn clone. Was this all the world had to offer? Hatred? Prejudice? Disregard for the knowledge Burton had shared on Sentinels and Guides? He looked at the man in the corner and knew that this person and Choi were not like the others. Their existence and others like them offered hope for the future. A future that needed to be fought for.

Ellison gasped as the Guide nearest him stepped closer. Hoarsely he cried out.

The two Guides ignored the sound as they advanced on the clone whose eyes again glowed with a deep dark blue ring around the iris'. Suddenly the two fell to their knees and grabbed at their heads. "Sleep."

Both limply fell to the floor in an unconscious slump.

Blair felt no pride at the small victory. This should never have occurred.

He moved passively by only to pause as he was once again bombarded with the thoughts of the remaining empath. This was a stronger empath, Blair felt the man's power but forced his mind to ignore the pain projected towards him as he mentally searched for the pull the other placed into Ellison's mind.

Success!

He swiftly connected with the power and deflected it away. Forcing the power back towards the human Guide.

Ellison slumped against the wall trying to organize his mental thought processes. He opened his eyes and watched as the third empath collapsed onto the floor with the others.

His eyes shifted to take in the man left standing. A ghastly nightmarish imitation of the clone the Sentinel had sought to connect with. Fear caused him to mentally pull away from the other.

The emotions were telegraphed to the clone that now trembled from the exhaustion of the mental battle and the physical one that had preceded it. The feelings of fear and repulsion flowed into his mind and hit him hard. "Forgive my appearance. Y-you granted me the will to live Sentinel. I grant you the r-right to select your real Guide. Seek and connect." The dark blue hue dimmed in the eyes, which now were bright but less lively.

His duty to the owner had been completed. His duty was performed successfully. Lifelessly, Blair Sandburg, Clone T-219 fell to the ground.

"No." Ellison moved next to the pale man, concern overriding his initial fears. It was then that he noticed the bleeding gash on the side of Blair's temple. The body was too cool and the oversized coat made him appear so very thin. The Sentinel needed a place to heal and a place where his Guide could be tended to without threat.

He stood on shaky but determined legs and pulled the other close. Strength grew from necessity. Slowly he scooped the frail body into his arms and headed out the door.

The Chancellor blocked his exit and spoke with authority, "This should not be allowed."

Ellison looked at the woman with a cool emotion-free gaze, one that was known to belie his true feelings. "Lady, you so much as touch me or my Guide again and I will kill you."

The woman was about to say more when Simon pulled her back. He placed himself between the two.

"What now Captain Banks? Are you going to arrest me?"

The dark man winced at the hostile way his title and name was said but forced himself to ignore it. He pulled out a card key and smiled, "Take the eco-transport and find a place to ride all of this out. Jim, I truly didn't know what was supposed to happen here and I am sorry."

Ellison took the key and then pulled back. His Guide was in his arms and no one was to touch the younger man - ever. "This was unforgivable sir." He passed his superior and quickly entered the transport after placing his Guide in the reclined front seat, covered with a blanket the Sentinel had snatched on the way out of the Sentinel Qualifying Building.

He drove out of the city and after making sure he was not followed, parked near an abandoned warehouse. Once more he stepped back into the cool air only long enough to destroy the Locater Chip on both the radio and within the fiberglass trunk. The two needed no further disturbances.

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

Chapter 6

Serenity

He woke feeling warm, smelling something heady and earthy. He opened his eyes and noted that his room was covered in plants.

"Hey Chief, how you feeling?""Uh, I, uh... Is this some kind of dream?"

Ellison chuckled and the disoriented reaction. It had, after all been four long worrisome days. "Nah, we're in a highly reclusive Reconstruction Zone. This is Peru."

Blair frowned as he slowly sat up while the older man fluffed some additional pillows behind him. "Peru?"

"Here drink this. You sound a bit hoarse."

Not disagreeing he complied. Still there were questions. "How can this be Peru?"

"Well I have a few people out in this world who owe me. Needed a lift and here we are."

The young clone didn't know what to say to that. Still his mind had plenty more questions like who were these people? How did they get here? Why were they here? "Peru?"

The other man chuckled and patted the others on the back, "Don't strain yourself. Yes - Peru. I-we, you, well we needed a place to heal. So I came here. There is a Shaman here who had helped me once before and, well, I trust him."

"Ellison." He paused at he sigh he heard from the other and started again, "Jim, isn't this a bit far? You need to connect. You need to find your Guide."

"Look, I thought we settled this. You are my Guide."

"But ..."

"No, not now." The older man looked away and spoke patiently, "Tonight you eat and rest some more. We will do what needs to be done, later."

"You don't understand. I'm a ..."

Ellison stood and moved away causing the other to become silent, "What you are is mine." He exited the room without looking back.

Blair sighed, "I simply want the best for you, sir. It is all that I ask."

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

He stepped outside of the shelter and paused. Why did it disturb him so deeply to hear the younger man deny his place - his connection? Why couldn't the Guide just accept what was?

His body proceeded through the forest with the agility of a cat. Trying to run from the thoughts that tried to overwhelm his mind. The battle continued forcing him to end his journey.

Standing there under the cover of the jungle the Sentinel wondered when it was that he, a military man, a man who was proud of the control he had over his career and his lifestyle had become so deeply attached to the other. Clone 2-19 TG. Blair Sandburg.

It had started out simply enough. He had wanted to avoid a union with a Guide. He didn't want to 'connect' with some person, who, in his opinion would invade his life and force James Ellison to become some kind of trained pet. It was 2150, not some time in 2001. Technology had advanced. There were options. Options he sought because he needed answers. Blair was a clone tended to by a corporation who offered a hologramic alternative to an invasive and actual presence. The clone had a job and Ellison was merely a customer. Everyone benefited from this and no one could get hurt.

There was no need for physical contact and both could remain objective.

Then it happened. The kid was asked to help his 'customer' out in the human world. Asked to step out of a way of life and into one the young clone feared. He did so and went beyond the call of duty. Helping not only one badly zoned out detective but assisting a colleague in the department. Joel Taggert had sustained severe burns from an explosion. Blair assisted by allowing the injured man's body to recover without feeling the pain that had certainly been part of the process.

The act weakened the young clone and his superiors were less than happy about his sacrifice but he did so stubbornly and without fear. It was at that moment that Ellison knew he could trust this young individual with his life.

Then there was the forced connection. The young man faced off with three Empaths. An untrained, strong and relentless human clone, stopping a forced union with some egg-headed Guide. It was a brave and selfless act.

The stoic man knew he had been given a gift during that moment. The clone somehow blocked the Sentinel from future attacks thereby granting James Ellison the very control he sought. He was given back his right to choose whom he connected with and if he wanted to do so. His mental diatribe ceased when he heard the choked gasp behind him.

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

Never, never in all his time at Senti-One had the young clone dreamed the jungle could be so - alive. All the books, holograms, movies, and stories never prepared the young man for what lie in front of him.

Initially he had wanted to speak with the Sentinel and determinedly followed the older man into the forest. He had hoped to get his point across. A human Sentinel, one with a mind and will as strong as Ellison deserved a human Guide but now ...

The green was so - green. The world so vast. The sun streamed through the leaves above him and highlighted the world around him. He hesitantly reached out to touch the tree just out of his reach when his legs suddenly gave out. The ground rushed up to meet him but suddenly paused in its advance as he was swiftly lifted up.

"Damn it, I told you to rest. You're still too weak to be traipsing around out here."

Brightly lit dark blue eyes looked into pale concerned orbs, "It's just so big. So green. So real."

The frustrated Sentinel retraced his previous steps carrying the unrepentant Guide back into the shelter pausing when he heard the other whisper.

"Please, I ... wait. Please?"

"What is it? You o.k?"

The shaved head now peppered with newly growing curls nodded, "It's just that all of my time on this world was spent indoors. Contained and preserved. I just want to stay out here."

"Chief you need to rest. I promise this will all be here when you are stronger."

"Please Jim, just a bit longer. Please?"

How could anyone refuse such a soulful plea? Jim carried Blair to a tree stump where the two sat side by side.

He watched as the Guide sought to memorize what was before him. Eyes wide, mouth forming a silent 'O' shape but it was the hand. The hand was what forced the normally indifferent man to smile.

Like a child on his first day in kindergarten, Blair had his hand firmly clasped within the larger ones. The thin fingers twitched and tightened but never relinquished their hold. The younger man was definitely overwhelmed by his surroundings and unconsciously sought assurance that he was safe. Assurance from his Sentinel.

The protective guardian looked away from the hands and again at the other's face, his head. "God, your hair. They had no right."

Eyes still wide with wonder yet also inexplicably aged with wisdom looked at the man beside him, "It is I who has no rights. Remember? Hair is just another possession, like shoes or my limbs."

"No, you are mine. You have rights." The statement was contradictory but said strongly enough to be understood but the other. Jim reached up with his free hand to touch Blair's now healing cut and froze, shocked to be feeling so touchy with the Guide.

The clone smiled, "What is it like to have so many self imposed barriers in your life?" Before Ellison could answer, thin but strong hands reached up and pulled the other stronger hands to touch the cut.

Ellison didn't recoil and instead allowed his senses to examine what he was feeling. He noted that the skin was healing but knew with the certainty of a Sentinel that there would be a very thin scar. His hand reached up further and felt the downy soft texture of the hair that quickly grew to reclaim its rightful place. His hand drifted down again to the face, those eyes. The soul.

"Jim? Jim, please, don't do this."

Jarred out of his concentration by the worried tone in Blair's voice, he frowned at the other, "Do what?"

"Please, you need a real Guide. Don't connect with me."

Without a word the young clone was swiftly carried into the shelter. Back on the bed, the clone watched as Ellison - Jim paced for a few minutes and then stopped. "There will be no further discussions. You are my Guide. We will connect. There will be no other 'real Guide' because you are it."

"You don't understand ..."

A hand sliced through the air and halted further discussion. The angry man stepped near the bed, "You are a clone. Hell, I don't care if you had three eyes and were part bird. You. Are. My. Guide."

Once again Blair watched as the other stormed out of the shelter. This time he would not follow.

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

The withered man sat near the roaring fire in a clearing beside his shelter. This was his home. Home to his father and all his ancestors. His people had often traveled into the concrete world, gotten educated, sought out jobs and married but always they had returned. It was simply the way it was meant to be.

Being a Shaman granted Incacha with certain - sights. He chuckled knowing the Sentinel, whom he had met years earlier during a heady land dispute between the Chopec and the land developers from Cyclops Inc., was now faced with a feisty challenge. Capt. James Ellison had been an unfriendly military man who single handedly prevented over one hundred men and women from being literally bombed out of their homes. A home that now legally belonged to the Chopec people without further incident

Incacha had noticed the behavior of the military man and knew that this was a Sentinel. He stuck by the man knowing he could be of some temporary assistance. Still, the man was stubborn. Never opening up to knew ideas and always wanting things to be done in a certain way - his. Stubborn and immovable.

"Stubborn, pigheaded." Ellison paused at the wry smile the older man gave him, "Why?"

"Why what my friend?"

"Why does he fight me on this? Doesn't he feel this - this thing between us? Am I going crazy or am I the only one who feels the need to - to connect or join or ..."

How did one explain such things to a person who had long decided to ignore the signs. Incacha was a shaman as was his father and so forth. A person gifted with a different sort of perception. Incacha's father had the gift of hearing. His father could speak and hear the answers of those in the past. He could hear the thoughts of others and sometimes he could hear the sounds of the future. In certain situations, the gift could be shared but only with one the Shaman trusted.

Incacha had been gifted with sight. Seeing the past, seeing a person's true self and seeing bits and pieces of the future. The current shaman could share the vision mentally, force cruel men to relive their violence visually or share the beauty of the world with a loved one. Incacha had four sons. Sons who currently lived outside the jungle but whom the man knew would return. With his gift they were never very far. He saw them and shared in their lives because of his gift.

Living away from the modern trappings allowed ones soul to reach out and explore its true potential. James Ellison needed to learn these things but Incacha had long since realized that the teacher had to be found.

Stoke the flame the older man spoke, "He fears failing. He has the gift of 'suggestion'. He has used it on you and on a - friend who worked with you."

"Yes, I was injured and zoned, he pulled me out. My co-worker was badly burned in an explosion and Sandburg made the pain fade away."

The shaman nodded, patted the ground beside him and waited for Jim to join him. "He has also used it to hurt those who had hurt some innocents. He used it to harm and he is shamed." He paused to look at the man beside him, "Enqueri, he is so very unsure and afraid."

Ellison laughed at the name the shaman used. It was one the shaman gave to a lost and silent military man. "He's new to this world. He was a sheltered employee of SentiOne."

Incacha shook his head, "He was a pet. Nothing more. A highly educated pet who is more a child than he knows." The shaman paused, "A Sentinel needs a Guide. Right now the young Guide needs time." Again he paused a frown forming on his face as he gazed into the fire, "She is hunting him. Own or destroy."

Ellison stood suddenly, "Another Sentinel. Another clone. That damn bitch can't have him."

Incacha stood and placed a hand on the agitated man's chest. "Is he worth dying for?"

"Yes!"

The old man smiled, "Then go. Shelter him, listen and talk to him, give him something he never had before."

"What?"

"Understanding my friend. Understanding, trust and perhaps love."

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

Ellison arrived at the shelter, a non-occupied shelter. He froze. Had Alex been here? Had the kid left with her? Willingly? Where had he gone? Hadn't he been too weak?

Then he heard it. A soft thrumming sound, along with the sound of shallow breathing. Following the sound led him back outside and to the tree stump where they had sat earlier. There behind it was the shivering man who was now sound asleep.

Ellison went to retrieve him and heard a whimper. The insolent Guide wanted to stay no matter what. Quickly the frustrated man returned to the shelter and back again with five blankets, a soft cotton cap, one water resistant covering and a rather large pillow. He constructed a large sleeping area for the two and carefully pulled the younger man atop a blanket. He then lied beside him, covering both with the remaining four blankets and the covering.

He pulled Blair close, placed the cap atop the bald head. The Sentinel was now satisfied that his Guide was warm and safe enveloped within his arms. The sleeper seemed to sense this and curled up against him.

"Sleep my Guide. You are safe."

Ellison listened to the soft breathing and the thrumming sound that accompanied it. He gazed at the slowly darkening night sky and smiled at the content feeling that welled up from within. It felt as though time had disappeared and the world had silenced. Nature had taken over. This was what was meant to be. Sentinel and Guide together and a part of nature.

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

Sometime later, Blair drift towards the waking world feeling the warmth around him and nestled closer within it. Slowly he opened his eyes and looked up. His - Jim held him close. The man needed a real Guide. Choi perhaps. Not a clone, not someone who harmed others.

"So strong and willful. You have changed since your recent demise." His mind replayed the maniacal voice. Alex wanted him but the thought alarmed him. She wanted him for all the wrong reasons.

Still, what was he exactly? He had harmed others - maybe he was evil.

The thought made him tremble and he was slowly pulled closer into the warmth. A hand tugged the cap on his head and a voice whispered that he was safe. He smiled shyly as he soaked up the feeling. Safe was good.

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

Chapter 7

Time

For three days they talked, listened and learned. Blair, away from the city and reproachful glares, changed. He was talkative and expressive. His meeting with Incacha had been enlightening. A shaman recognizes a shaman.

Blair learned much but he refused to believe that though he had been brought back for a reason, he couldn't be a shaman. That was more unbelievable than a human Sentinel wanting to connect with a clone Guide. Especially one who could harm a human with a simple thought.

Incacha and Ellison assured the younger man that what had happened that faithful night when he first used his suggestive powers was not evil but the act of one new to the gift.

"But I hurt humans. A clone never hurts a human. Never."

Incacha placed a hand on the thin man with a thick nest of curls on his head and spoke softly, "No one should harm another. We are all brothers. Protecting the innocent is not evil Blair. You are not evil."

The older shaman looked into the young man's eyes and saw a man of great wisdom with an immeasurable amount of untapped power. A man who was good. He also saw child. So much knowledge and so very little actual life experiences. The small one had been abused and neglected but his will endured and somehow the spirit had remained innocent.

He waited till the young shaman stepped away and then spoke to the air, "Enquiri?"

The man stepped out of the thick foliage and nodded, "Yes."

"So much he will teach you. So much you will teach him. Protect his soul and he will share a world with you."

The Sentinel hesitated, "He and I, we, I mean ..." He blushed furiously and looked away.

The old man chuckled, "A Guide and Sentinel share a world few outsiders will ever understand. A closeness that is often times thought to be obscene by some. We live in a new world with old prejudices. I speak not of a romantic love or of sexual closeness - warrior. When the time comes the connection will be very strong and will bind your souls forever."

"But he still doesn't want to be my Guide."

"The time of choosing will come soon enough. Let him first trust you as a friend then all will be possible."

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

It was late as the young clone walked through the homes in the village. It was great to have helped in the planting of new trees. No one here asked why a clone was in their midst, they simply welcomed all.

Blair frowned as he passed this particular shelter. It was the home of an older man, his wife, three boys and their grandmother.

He watched as the man was greeted by his wife who was closely followed by their sons. He watched as they talked of the day, as the boys were each picked up and held. He wondered what it would be like to be their child. What was it like to have a parent? Someone who loved you, protected you and knew you inside where it counted.

Suddenly jealous, he turned away. It wasn't fair. No lineage, no mentors. He was nothing to anyone.

He ran far away from the village. Far from the warmth he couldn't share. Far from the Sentinel who should never connect with such an aberration. He ran deep into the forest and fell to the ground. "Please, I just want to die. I don't belong."

"Oh, baby, of course you belong. You belong with me."

He was knocked unconscious before he could react but knew the voice. Alex had come.

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

It had been an hour since Blair had left Incacha and Ellison sighed, "Kid, you have got to learn about curfews. At least while here in the wild."

He stepped out of the shelter and tilted his head. At first he heard only the sounds of the jungle. A cool breeze drifted his way and sent a shiver up his spine. Anger and fear merged. The man known as James Ellison slipped away while something wild took his place. No longer a man of control, he became part of nature, uncontrolled and primal. The Sentinel felt the loss of rightness in his world. His Guide was in trouble. Stolen by another. The other would suffer for taking what was rightfully his.

He exited the shelter stopping when his chosen path was blocked, "What the hell are you doing here?" He held up his hand, "No, forget."

The taller man pulled the other's arm back and held his ground when the icy blue eyes met his brown ones with unbridled anger, "I'm here to help."

Ellison laughed coldly, "You? Forgive me sir, but wasn't it you who arranged that little 'Guide Attack' back there?"

"Detective."

"No, it's Ellison to you. Do you know what they did to him? They shaved his hair off and then they were going to operate on him. Did you know that? Oh, I forget maybe you did. He defended himself, though, and will now probably be hunted for harming the monsters who hurt him." He gazed into the forest, feeling the need to reclaim what was his by right and moved toward the call.

Again he was blocked.

"He isn't here. She's taken him back to Cascade. Choi and a friend retrieved intel on the man who created him. He's back in Cascade."

"What? What the hell are you playing at?"

"Jim, please. I didn't know what was going to happen. Honestly, I was told that a connection with an unstable clone like this one ..."

"His name is Blair Sandburg."

The other sighed in frustration but nodded, "Fine. They, the Sentinel Qualifying Board said it would harm you, quite possibly kill you." Banks looked down for a moment, "I will not deny that I have some misgivings about clones but you know me." He met the other's gaze, "I did this to help you and I truly didn't know that they were going to harm the cl ... uh ... Sandburg. I owe him Ellison, he helped two of my best detectives and I would never ever knowingly place anyone human or otherwise into danger."

Trust was a commodity that Ellison shared in small rations. Currently Banks' ration was under lock and key, "What intel, where has that bitch taken him?"

"Does the name Dr. McCoy mean anything to you?"

"The butcher who dabbled in genetic splicing?"

Banks nodded, "The very one. Seems he created Sandburg and his four others."

The two walked north towards the sonic chopper Banks had waiting nearby. Pausing, Ellison turned and walked into the dense foliage off to the right of the vehicle.

Banks couldn't see in the darkness but waited. It was time to set things right.

Incacha stood in the darkness - waiting.

"I have to go. He is in trouble. I- I need ..."

The older man smiled and nodded. "The Sentinel hunts for what is his. Remember Enqueri, he must be ready. Try not to force him. After all you, yourself did not find a forced connection appealing."

Ellison, smiled ruefully, "I will connect with him when he is ready but it will be with me."

The Sentinel clasped hands with the other and then left. Incacha sighed, "Sentinels, pigheaded but oh so emotional. Good luck my friend." The older man walked away laughing. He had 'seen' the future, well bits of it. The two were going to form quite a connection.

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

Chapter 8

Reversal of Fortune

He woke and almost cried in despair. Had it all been a dream? Had the jungle, the shaman and Jim ...had it all been just an illusion?

This time he was seated strapped to a chair and held by his hands, head, waist and feet. Still, though it was a lab it was different somehow. No cold laughter or indifferent looks from lab techs. This time it was machines probing, sampling, and intruding. Machines forcing fluids into his body and hurting without concern.

It had been three days of this. When suddenly the machines ceased their movement.

Silence.

Then one of the metal walls illuminated and then disappeared. Alex smiled evilly as she entered behind an older, slightly heavier white haired man. Blair remembered an old book when he was younger called 'The Night Before Christmas' and thought that if the man had grown a beard, he would have looked like St. Nick.

Given the current situation, he tabled that particular thought.

"Ah, there's my little creation. How are you holding up? Oh, this is a great day. You are the only one left but I knew one of you would last and, well, here we are."

Blair didn't speak. What could he say? He merely waited. The hurt would come, it always did.

"Oh come now, have you nothing to say or to ask of your creator?"

He blinked. 'Creator?' Given the opportunity to ask any question of the one who created you, where did one start? "Why? Why did you create me?"

The older man chuckled, "Ah always the same question. Why to prove that I could. You see I have heard of your formidable powers. A whole lab of medical staff members trembling at your feet. I gave you that. A living weapon of war. Oh this is a great day."

Blair closed his eyes against the horrid reality, "I am a tool then, just a tool."

"Yes, one I will use to show all those morons who opposed the creation of clones just how wrong they are." The older man paused, "Dr. McCoy creator of the living time bombs soon all will tremble at my feet. You are my proudest moment."

"So much hate, how do you humans exist like this?"

McCoy snickered at the lack of respect, "By playing God to those like you. Now let's begin. I hate waiting. The doctor chuckled with renewed excitement," Samples of your particular DNA will be taken from your brain. I will create an army vastly different from your somewhat disappointing physical status. Tall, strong and quite intimidating."

For first time Barnes spoke, "Wait, I tracked them all down for you. Paid security off with credits I never got returned. All because you told me that when this marvelous creation of yours was located, I'd be the Sentinel used for the connection."

McCoy laughed, "My dear woman, connecting with him will lessen the strength of his gifts. He would become less potent and not much of the weapon he is now becoming. No, he is not for you."

"You assured me ..."

The doctor brushed the woman off as he reached for a scalpel and found himself pushed up against a wall. Like any good maniac he laughed at the face of danger, "Alex, my dear girl, this is unnecessary. After all you are unable to connect. I made you that way to ensure that these subjects would remain unconnected. Surely you had to know that. It was a harsh way to create a Sentinel, similar to declawing a cat and rendering it harmless but I had a dream and you had been the beginning of it. You were supposed to have been the controlling influence on these subjects but I erred by making you a female. A male clone would have been less prone to emotional outburst and moments of irrationality." He sighed in mock pity for the doomed creation," Even now you must feel the need but know in your mind that even your senses were underdeveloped in that way. An aged woman with the reactions of a teen who will never mature."

"No you are lying."

"Loss of control, volatile emotions, they are all symptoms of your slow demise."

"Fix me. Change this now."

"There is nothing to fix. As I said, you were simply created to track this one and his brothers. You are no longer necessary."

"Fix me or die."

The older man shoved the irate woman away but found himself in great peril as the two struggled. The cloned Sentinel may have been lacking in some areas but she was agile and no match for an aging and slightly overweight human male. Machines were knocked out of the way, buttons pressed, locks opened.

Blair fell out of the seat before he had even noticed he was free. Unfortunately the three days had taken their toll on a body that had endured much. Too weak to stand or crawl, he slowly backed into a corner, never noticing the tubes that were still connected to his arms. His were eyes riveted on the two individuals locked in a battle to the death at the far side of the room.

The female Sentinel grabbed the scalpel, which had been dropped by the 'creator', and jabbed it deep into the jugular vein of the mad doctor. She removed it and again jabbed into the man's heart. Smiling coldly, she then reached into the man's opened and gasping mouth and swiftly used the weapon to remove his tongue.

The room filled with a horrid high pitch yell, followed by a cryptic gasp. The doctor was no longer.

"Talk, talk, talk. For ten years, nothing but promises, speeches on your greatness, and endless chatter about your damned creations." She giggled and she played with the bloody appendage. "Talk now Dr. Jackass. Let me hear about your theory of brain over brawn."

She tossed the bloody tongue aside and looked at Blair, "You will connect with me."

He shook his head trying desperately to retreat from the other. The wires that once took blood from him left a trail of red streaks on the floor. "Please Alex. I don't know how. Please stop."

She walked over to the cringing man and smiled evilly while waving her weapon at the other, "Now or I will remove those pretty eyes of yours and wear them as earrings."

"Step away from him now!"

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

Chapter 9

A dance in acid rain

An hour previous

He had endured three long unbearable days. The soul of the Sentinel cried out for blood. The Guide, his Guide, had been stolen and needed to be reclaimed. Retribution was deemed necessary.

Capt. Banks had never before seen a Sentinel in full hunt mode. Now he was looking at just that sort of situation and knew he had been a catalyst in what was now happening.

Banks watched completely mortified as the man he knew as the cold, reserved and logical Det. James Ellison was reduced to a highly volatile, barely human individual. This was no longer a civilized man, he was feral and losing what little humanity there was left by the minute.

When they had finally located the abandoned warehouse on the outskirts of Cascade, the detectives discovered that it was scheduled for rehabbing but that was five years down the road. At the moment unwanted vermin who needed to be evicted from their nesting grounds inhabited the building.

The Captain looked at his other detectives and held his hand up in an effort to control the situation, "Jim, we'll give you forty minutes. Then we come in."

The man nodded and quickly merged with the shadows.

Senior Det. Joel Taggert stepped beside Capt. Banks, "Pity. I so wanted a piece of this - Barnes."

"Need I remind you that this is a by the book operation Detective?"

Taggert looked at Banks, "You're doing right by your men sir. I for one will support this."

Banks said nothing as he looked back at the building and then at his wrist chron. "Who would have thought that one damn clone would make a bunch of otherwise civil men break all the rules?"

Det. Rafe walked by and responded to the rhetorical question, "It's the small battles that win the war sir."

"All right people, stand ready."

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

The call thrummed through his body and the pull was strong. He paused at a door near the third level; it had no security pad on it yet its presence made him pause. The scent was here but somehow different. He entered and reached for the light control. As the room illuminated, he saw five slabs, four of which were inhabited by covered lifeless bodies.

A Morgue? No.

The four occupied tables contained the scent that again pulled him forward and before he reached out to reveal the identity of the occupant on the slab closest to him, a sensor reacted to his proximity.

To the far end of the table a hologram appeared. It was an elderly gentleman whos cold calculating eyes belied the otherwise friendly appearance. Then it spoke, "Clone S4 Designation Timer. This Timer endured seventeen days under the knife. Something about this particular coding seems to enable the test subject to reset its own expiration sequence."

The hologram jotted something on a datacorder and then continued, "Upon retrieval of this particular clone we encountered hostility even after I identified myself. The subject tried to attack me.

A voice sounded somewhere beyond the hologram spoke. It was a recording "I don't give a damn who you are - let me go."

The hologramic man, whom Ellison now surmised was a doctor, chuckled, "Being the creator of clones this willful is both disparaging and amusing." He cleared his throat and gained his earlier cold appearance, "After subduing this subject, Clone S4, T-218 was dissected like his three other versions. Died when erroneously left unattended on the seventeenth day."

"Facts are as followed: (i) This clone and the previous attempts prefer warmer climate; body temperature regulation is corrupt; (ii) it can become violent if pushed; has a serious morality streak and further dabbling into the psyche will have to be performed; and (iii) lastly each version was stronger than its predecessor. This one caused the brain cells in the guard's head to explode. I am experiencing a great deal of excitement over final subjects abilities. It is a pity I had to sell all five in order to elude the board but location is proving to be interesting. Each clone has a high intelligence level and an even higher curiosity level. I am quite proud of this and will keep this part of the genetic coding for future subject."

He paused and then smiled, "I anticipate that the last one will have gained control over the emotions that force the murderous reaction. This last one will be broken down and recycled. I am aware that the initial programming was for this project to disarm volatile situations by instilling a feeling that was counteractive but since the Chancellor and her friends have decided that this was no longer worthwhile and deemed the project basically a joke, I will alter my previous course of action and instead strive to create the perfect machine. When I have taken my revenge on my so-called colleagues the sky will be the limit. There are viable ways to make a living off a weapon such as this and I will find them. - McCoy out."

The hologram disappeared and the room was once again silent. Ellison reached out and removed the sheet. "No. Oh Christ, no!" He continued moving throughout the room, removing the sheets and revealing further horror.

Each cadaver had similar genetic features. The hair shorter or longer, texture, color differed but the face, the youthful face was there. These were all exact duplicates of Blair. Above each was a number from T-215 through T-218. Some had a part of its body dissected and laid out beside them. It was that what caused the Sentinel to become angrier. His senses spiked and his attention was once again pulled away when he heard the welcomed sounds of a healthy thrumming beat that called to his soul.

He prepared to leave the room but paused once more. He looked left and then right and noted the sensors. Tilting his head he followed a buzzing sound and located the mainframe, which contained the recordings of the lunatic in the hologram.

Once again his eyes took in the four cadavers. Dead now because they were 'willful'. Each bearing the face of his Guide.

"This shit ends now."

He pulled out his gun revealing the irony that though man had evolved, they hadn't evolved far enough to render the existence of weapons a thing of the past.

Aiming with calculated precision the weapon was fired in the direction of the far wall. An explosion from behind the wall indicated that the mainframe had been destroyed.

The Sentinel then removed a small silver pellet and tossed it into the room. He had four minutes to move to a safer area. He was about to close the door and looked back at the four forgotten and neglected bodies, "I promise you all, I will protect him from harm. You will not have died in vain."

The door was now closed as he turned his back on the souls within. Logically he knew they were dead, been so for quite some time, however an irrational part of him, the Sentinel, felt the need to protect those bodies from further mutilation.

He silently vowed to conceal this 'Dr. McCoy's' evil wishes. This was a heinous act against a living being and should never be repeated.

He followed the pounding sound that filled his mind with the need to protect. Down the long hallway he paused and again entered a room which was unguarded and that smelled of blood. The room was filling with smoke brought on by the damage inflicted to the machines inside but none of this mattered. He saw the other closing in on his Guide and called out a warning.

She spun on him, high on the adrenaline of her recent kill. She lashed out with the scalpel and caught him on the arm. He felt no pain, only anger fueled by her threats to his Guide. He tripped her with a kick against her ankle. She fell as she jabbed him again with the scalpel and caught him high on the right knee.

He grabbed the hand that tightly held the weapon and tore it easily from her grasp. Turning the weapon on the other Sentinel, he plunged the scalpel deep into her flesh and sliced her jugular vein with knowingly sentencing the other to death.

Alex gasped in surprise, pulling away from the human and then looked at the Guide who sat staring back at her with a mixture of sorrow and fright. "You will always be mine."

Ellison moved between the two, blocking the dying woman's view. He dropped the weapon at her feet, "He is free to choose." Stepping closer he bent down and whispered, "You were never meant to have him."

She tried to suck in another breath but was denied the right. Eyes open and now staring at her dead creator, the Sentinel expelled her last breath and died drowning in her own blood.

Ellison walked over to the other who remained on the floor and attempted to back further away. He paused and spoke calmly, "Chief, it's alright now."

Blair shook his head never removing his gave from Barnes' lifeless body. "Please. Please kill me."

"What? No, you're safe now."

"I am nothing but a weapon. A weapon of evil. You heard him. I know you heard him." He looked up at Ellison, eyes filled with tears that spilled onto his pale cheeks, "I am nothing to no one. I am a gun waiting to be used against someone. I was created to harm, maim not help. A freak, a monster. They were right, your captain, the chancellor, even Alex. I am unstable a-a genetic time bomb."

He gasped for breath and looked down, "Please, I can't exist knowing I am some sort of danger to anyone. I-I won't become like her. Son of a madman, Guide to a psycho. Please, have mercy and just kill me."

The Sentinel snapped, reaching down he grabbed the other and rose up with the weakened man. He then shoved the smaller barely dressed man against the wall and then higher up, "You will listen. You are my Guide. I have seen you. Seen you. You have had several chances to kill, to be this so-called weapon and you choose against harming anyone. Chief, here now, you didn't even kill the man who did this to you. Why?"

"I-I don't know."

Ellison shook the other again and waited.

"Be - because it was wrong. Because there is already so much hate and I don't want to be a part of that."

"That's right. Now no machine I know has a conscience. We can all kill but we, you and I, can chose not to. Blair, you are a man with a living soul. Death is not an option."

Slowly the weakened man was placed back on the ground and then lifted up into a warm embrace. He pressed closer to the other and spoke softly against the strong neck, "But you could connect with so many others."

"No, it is you. You are my Guide."

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

Half an hour earlier

Time had passed rather quickly and Ellison's superior entered the building shortly after the first explosion had occurred on the third floor. The place was relatively empty and the few guards that had been present were being arrested as they ran for safety.

Instructing the others to maintain their alertness, Banks decided to investigate the interior alone. Room by room held nothing of interest and he began to wonder if this had been a big mistake.

Eventually, the captain reached a room on the far side of the fourth floor hall and halted. He had heard the words spoken then. "A weapon."

Silently he backed away. It was time to take a stand and chose a side.

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

Chapter 10

Crossing the wide divide

The two sat in the loft. Both rested from hospital stays, inquisitions, and debriefing. Blair Sandburg had been designated a Guide clone. The chancellor and the Sentinel Qualifying Board were under investigation for illegal tampering with the natural order of things and for the possibility of their knowledge of what Dr. McCoy had created. Ethics they called it.

By law Blair Sandburg was now under the protection of one James Ellison. Free but not entirely. The corporate heads at SentiOne had lost their battle to an old but still valid consumers protection clause which, in layman's terms, stated, 'That items (See definition on line 12 of this agreement) legally purchased by a consumer and paid for in it entirety leaving no remaining debt are therein under the sole ownership of the consumer'.

A very opinionated Mr. Kubrick of SentiOne had been quite helpful in his efforts to assist T-219 to assimilate into the human world. "This young man has potential. I know that in my heart and he should be allowed to prove to those in his new environment that a clone can succeed anywhere."

Ellison was skeptical at first but in the end Blair was allowed to remain at his side. Kubrick promised to contact the two with information and suggestions on how Blair could mesh further into the world of the humans but promised to allow the customer to decide how to proceed.

Ellison would not dictate. This was Blair's future and the control belonged to the Guide.

Still only one issue remained.

Elsewhere, Dr. McCoy's warehouse had been completely decimated by an electrical fire that had started quite mysteriously. No bother to explain why several well placed charges of an explosive device had been kept in strategic points of the structure leaving nothing but rubble which smoldered for two days. No bodies were found.

An ex-captain of the explosive department and the now Senior Detective of Major Crimes commented to the media that, "Nature obviously took its course."

Now all everyone had to do was reclaim his or her lives.

Through it all Ellison waited. Patiently. He kept his distance from the younger man hoping to give the other the assurance that he would not be forced into a connection. Still it was difficult being so close to the other and not being able to ask the one question that begged to be asked.

The Sentinel had never planned on purchasing a clone, not in the beginning at least, but he now found deep satisfaction in the knowledge that an old law could protect Sandburg from being taken away. He was also surprised that his superior, Capt. Banks, had gone a long way in trying to make amends with the detective and the young clone.

Since the department required Sentinels to work with their Guides present during volatile situations, Banks found a way to permit Ellison to work with his as of yet 'potential' Guide. There was no pay for the position but Sandburg would incur time. When and if the clone chose to become official he would have earned vacation time. For now, however, he was listed as an observer with guide potential.

Still, as anticipated, there were difficulties. The younger man only spoke freely with Ellison and rarely with those around him. He was taught that his thoughts or even his presence should remain non-existent. Then there was the way he dressed. Blair hid. Hid his hair under a cap, hid his body by wearing several layers and was the picture of invisibility which he maintained by keeping his head lowered and his eyes glued to the ground whenever anyone spoke to him.

It was difficult to change conditioning such as this but Ellison was damned determined. He saw a great deal of potential in the younger man. Getting him to relax was proving difficult especially when what he really wanted was for the other to become his Guide.

Blair was simply overwhelmed by the recent course his life was on. He was a clone who had lived in a contained atmosphere, had been a Timer and now he lived outside. Here the younger man continued to get ill from consuming strange foods, had no idea where he belonged within this society and strangely enough he now saw humans everyday and everywhere. He was in the human world and it proved to be both thrilling and terrifying.

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

Thoughts he had had in the past warred within him. Human weren't perfect. He had learned that they often suffered from the same worries clones did. Things like jobs, family, and even the future were concerns everyone had. Everyone.

Then there was his 'home' life. All of which was provided by James Ellison. The man fed him, clothed him and offered friendship. The latter being new and a totally unknown concept to the younger man.

Then there were the humans at Major Crimes. They all seemed to be nice and willing to talk which confused Blair when he also noticed angry glances from those who waited to speak to him whenever the Sentinel was called away privately.

Those were the hard moments. He had been shoved, tripped, told to urinate elsewhere and once received a note that told him to remember that clones could be killed and no one would give a damn. Blair hid that note knowing that there was nothing he could do to change the opinion of people like this.

Still he wanted to discuss these situations with someone. Jim was out of the question. The man responded with actions and Blair didn't want to the be cause of unemployment for his benefactor. He then considered speaking with Det. Choi about the incident but decided against the idea since Danny was preparing for a new assignment and needed to enter the job without other concerns.

Finally he came to accept that he was a clone and if someone chose to kill him, well it would be done.

Still the young and curious clone continued to watch the humans. They made calls to home, met each other for lunch. He watched them laughing, sharing, and being carefree.

No one would give a damn.

Again he was seized with a great feeling of loneliness and wondered why he was alive to experience such a negative emotion.

"Hey Chief, time to go home." The older man paused and then frowned, "You all right?"

"Yes, I'm fine."

It was a complete lie but Ellison decided to put that on hold, "We're done for the day. Why don't you and I 'process' for a while and take a walk before we head home?" It was something the kid had initially come up with when Ellison had experienced a particularly stressful day and somehow walking had helped. Still helped. He hoped it would help now.

The two ended up in Unity Park, near the loft. It was a densely wooded area and reminded both of the jungles of Peru. A place the two remembered fondly.

"You had a chance to look over those brochures Kubrick sent?"

"No. Not really."

Being a man of action, Ellison acted, "What is it Sandburg?"

Silence.

The detective pulled the other towards a nearby bench forcing him to sit.

Silently he waited.

"Did you know that parents - families shape the basic mores of each child's mind? It's a very interesting web of associative direction."

The kid was intelligent, of that Ellison had no doubt but he was a man on a mission and would not be distracted. He remained silent and waited.

Blair sighed in defeat and looked down at his hands, "My first interactive experience with humans was when I was twelve. A man wanted to have me for a week. I was loaned out." He shrugged, "I dreamt that he wanted me as a replacement for a son but ... " He sniffled and shrugged again, "I never knew that you could hurt someone like that."

"Chief."

Blair slid away from the comforting hand that reached out to him, "The med tech called it my badge of honor." He hugged himself and continued speaking, his eyes never looking at the man beside him, "I got over that. This body does not belong to me. It was something I came to accept. Still I wanted so much to be out here. I knew it could be better. It had to be." His eyes looked into the other's and a small smile formed, "It is - Thank you."

"So, why ...?"

"Jim, I have no lineage. I am no one. I am nothing and have nothing."

"You have me."

Sandburg chuckled but it came out sounding more like a sob, "Jim, you can't do this. A human Guide would be ..."

"No, I want you." He slid closer to Blair and reached up to the cheek nearest him. He felt the damp flushed skin and smiled when Blair didn't pull away, "I am sorry for what had happened to you. You didn't deserve that experience but please Chief. Please."

Again the question begged to be asked and this time it was heard without uttering a word.

Blair closed his eyes as the emptiness in his soul longed for the connection and nodded.

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

They swiftly arrived at the loft without the younger man knowing how. He followed Jim upstairs to the area he had once been forbidden to enter. He paused at the foot of the bed, unsure and feeling a bit lost, "I-I don't know what to do. I w-wasn't supposed to live this long. I wasn't prepared."

The Sentinel moved close to him reaching for the trembling hand nearby, "Open your mind and let go of your defenses. Here you are safe and respected. Here you belong."

Taking a deep breath, he obeyed and tried to relax. A hand brushed against his cheek followed by softly spoken words, "My Guide."

Blair watched as Jim's continence altered. The face became primal and the eyes hungry. Again the words were repeated, "My Guide - mine." He felt no fear at the sudden change in the other and waited.

The Sentinel pulled the silent man to the bed. Strong hands stroked, petted and touched, the nose flared as it took in the scent from different areas, and the ears listened to the breath, the gasps and the sound of the heart beating with the rhythm of peace and contentment. He then paused his imprinting of the Guide as a feeling suddenly washed over and moved through him. "My Guide."

Fear and happiness intermingled from within. Primal eyes gazed into the focused orbs of the Guide and noted that the blue irises now glowed brightly. "I am your Guide, Sentinel. I am yours til death."

"Til death," Jim murmured. Strong legs and arms wrapped around thinner ones. The Sentinel spooned behind the other while pressing his nose against the backside of the smaller man's neck. He took in the scent found there and smiled contentedly.

"Mine." He growled as the shirt collar around the Guide was tugged out of the way.

Blair yelped as teeth bit into his shoulder drawing blood. He relaxed when the pain was followed by warm soothing licks. His mind now flowed easily into and around his Sentinel. Emotions merged and blended.

The connection was made. The two were now joined. The Guide's mind felt muddled with new and, for the moment, unfamiliar feelings.

The feeling of contentment and pride came to him first. Blair had never known pride and smiled at the new emotion. Arms held onto him tightly. Touching, pulling for the two to be closer than physically possible but the Sentinel demanded complete surrender and the Guide submitted knowing that he was safe. He allowed the other to probe with heightened senses while his empathic mind drifted easily with the other and eventually into sleep.

Much needed to be processed and time would tend to all else.

The Sentinel needed time to record the many nuances of the living being that now connected with him. He noted the healed over scars, the few aging marks, the patterns of the flesh, and the scent of sleep, which indicated that the Guide did not fear the Sentinel. He again buried his nose into the back of Blair's neck. The actions caused him to emit a purring sound. It was as it should be.

He paused from his inspection of the other and listened to the sounds in the loft and beyond. His nose flared as he breathed in the surrounding scents. He growled in satisfaction and again rested his head behind the other's falling asleep to the sound of the beating heart.

The Guide stirred for a moment and immediately calmed as a voice whispered, "No longer alone my Guide. A part of the whole. You are mine."

"Yours Sentinel. Connected."

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

Chapter 11

Riding the wave

The next morning Ellison woke and nearly killed himself running down the stairs in search of his Guide. The connection was still too new and separating was not a wise course of action. Sentinels were control freaks and needed to have everything and everyone in their places. His Guide was not where he should be.

He located Blairr, sleeping on the couch and surrounded by used tissues. Regrets? Shame? What?

The concerned Sentinel lifted the Guide and sat beside him. The sleeping figure moved closer only to be pulled back. Confused eyes opened. Emotions transmitted themselves. Confusion, worry, fear and anger, "Jim?"

"Why? Why did you come down here? The connection needs time. Not over. What? Are you not happy with this?"

Blair shook his head trying to clear the continual wave of feelings that threatened to overwhelm him. "Please - too much. Please, Jim." Blair tried to calm the other using his gift but his mind was still too weak to be of any influence and he was, for the moment, helpless.

The older man closed his eyes and then calmed a bit. When he opened them concern flowed forward. Knowing now that his Guide was safe but distressed over the recent actions.

Blair gasped, "I-I needed to- to process. So much. No hate or shame." His eyes filled with tears as he spoke to the Sentinel but he seemed unaware of their presence. He looked deeply into the cool blue eyes in front of him, "You had no regrets. I felt happy and you and I ... it scared me. This is so new and so - wow! S-so I came down here to try and understand it all."

"You come to me. Together we understand. You are no longer alone. We are connected, joined. Brothers of the soul and mind."

"But I am a clone. It seemed reasonable for you to use me when necessary."

He was shook by the stronger hands and then drawn into a warm embrace, "Brothers - Family. Always necessary."

Nodding he whispered, "Brothers."

Again he was placed on the bed. This time a strong arm circled his waist to ensure no further departures.

Emotions again blended but this time with ease. This time he stayed where he was wanted.

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

A few days later.

The two walked into the Major Crimes Unit. Sentinel and Guide. Ellison noted that at times his Guide moved closer and that it often happened whenever they passed Drug Abuse Regulator Det. Trumbo.

The Sentinel gazed at the other marking him for a 'discussion' later then ushered the other man towards their work area. Sandburg was unaware of the interaction being totally focused on the tops of his and Jim's shoes.

Banks called for the two to enter his office.

Ellison was still unaware that his captain knew about the clones' genetic designation. Time would decide if he could ever again trust Simon with that piece of information.

Banks remained silent about the clone and its capabilities. He still had much to consider.

The two entered the office; Blair dressed like a man in search of a blizzard and Ellison hovering protectively nearby. Sentinels protected and Simon forced any sarcastic comments away.

"Another explosion at one of the SentiOne habitats. I need the two of you to go out there two hours ago."

Ellison looked at he report and nodded, "Kincaid?"

Banks sighed, "Bastard killed four children in the last bombing."

Blair looked at the Captain and spoke softly, "He needs to be brought in for good."

Banks heard the softly spoken comment and nodded. "Get on it. We're counting on you both."

It was a strange feeling - pride - but it made the young Guide smile. He hoped not to let his Sentinel or those around him down.

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

Chapter 12

So the tide rolls in

Kincaid planned another strike. He had gotten information that there were now clones in existence which had been constructed as weapons. These synthetics needed to be either found and used for his own personal campaign or destroyed.

The war on clones just took a nasty turn.

The End for Now

O.K. Be gentle this is the first of three AU stories that I have dabbled into and another chapter is in the making but this storyteller needs time. Being a non-wrist chron wearer please be patient. Kincaid is in for a really nasty fall.

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

Back to K-Lyn's page.