I would like to thank all those who I wrote in the story for letting me use them in it. and for those who read the story who kept asking me if it was done cause they were anxious to get to read a new ff.
And for Chris (shycat98) for offering to beta and put the story up for me. Cause if not for her I don't think it would ever get up or it would be a long time before I got around to getting it posted.
Enjoy the story and comments please are always welcome.
by Brenda Knoodle
Jim came down the steps. "Morning, Chief."
Blair took off his glasses and looked up at Jim. "Hey, Jim. You sleep good?"
"Yeah I did, once I blocked out your writing."
"You been to sleep at all?"
"Yeah, a little. I needed to get these papers done before we leave. I can sleep in the truck on the way."
"All right. It's that, or you talk my head off." He smiled. "Blair, you need to stop running yourself ragged."
"Jim, you'd think you'd be able to deal with this. This is the way I am, Jim. I can't change the way I am."
"I know, Chief. It's just that it worries me that you don't get the rest that you need."
"I'm fine, Jim. Besides, isn't this why we're taking a camping trip?"
"Yeah, guess you're right," said Jim, getting the stuff out for cereal. "Come on, let's eat." Jim got milk and juice out of the fridge. Blair joined him at the table. "After we eat we'll get ready to leave. Remember, only take what you have to. We're gonna be carrying what we take. We'll meet the chopper at noon and they'll fly us to the drop off place. Are you all right with this?">
"Yeah, Jim, as long as I don't look down."
"It'll take us four days at the most to get to the pick up point. And nothing but peace and quiet for days."
"Are you taking your gun with you?"
"Yes, of course I am. Never know what kinda animal we might run into; but that is the only time it will be used. We live off the land when we can. We'll have stuff with us in case we don't find anything to eat and for breakfast. I don't know about you, but I like to eat as soon as I get up in the morning without going and looking, if we find anything at all," Jim said with a smile.
"Yeah, I like eating when I get up after I sleep. Better yet, as soon as the sun is up. Sleep ... really don't remember what that is." Blair smiled.
"Eat or else." Jim growled, grinning.
They ate their breakfast and then took showers and got their gear ready for a week. They took warm stuff for the nights - they didn't know how cold it would get - and cool stuff for the days because Jim knew it would be hot while they walked.
Within the hour they were on the road heading for the air field to meet the chopper. As they drove Blair cat-napped some until Jim's voice brought him fully aware. "Hey, Chief, you awake?"
"Yeah, I'm awake. What's up?"
"Are you sure you're all right with this flying?" Jim asked. He knew Blair hated heights and he also knew that Blair would do anything for Jim if he was asked so many times. Blair had done things that he knew bothered Blair - like getting into a chopper to chase bad cops, jumping off a water fall to escape some nuts shooting at them, and ending up taking a bullet in the leg - all for the power of a true friendship.
Blair smiled, looking out the window, then turned to look at Jim, and assured, "Jim, listen to me, OK? You do that real well. I am fine with the flying as long as I don't look down at the ground. As long as I don't see how high up I am, I will be fine. Trust me on this Jim, OK?" he put a hand on Jim's shoulder.
"OK, Chief. If you suddenly decide you can't do this, I'll slug you and knock you out and take you that way," Jim teased.
"Oh, in your dreams, man!" Blair put up his hands as if to defend himself from Jim's punch. They laughed. "Oh yeah, Jim. I meant to ask earlier. How come Simon isn't coming with us on this camping trip?"
"Are you kidding? After the last one in Peru and the cave he said, and I quote, 'Are you nuts? After the last time? You two are like magnets for trouble; I'll sit this one out, thank you,' and when I tried to talk him into coming he held up his hand and said, 'Talk to the hand, the elbow isn't listening,' and left his office in a hurry."
"I think Simon needs to stop hanging around Daryl so much. He's beginning to speak his language and it's scaring me to death," Blair said. They both laughed.
Soon they were at the airport. They pulled up and parked behind a building where cars were parked by people on trips. Simon had promised to bring Taggert and get the truck so nothing happened to it. They got their stuff out of the truck and walked to the office. They went inside. A man was standing at a desk and looked up as they entered.
"Hello, gentlemen. Can I help you?"
"Hi. I'm Jim Ellison. I have a flight this morning."
The man looked at the sheet on a clip board. "Oh yes. Mr. Ellison and Mr. Sandburg - camping trip into the mountains. Yes. Danny is your pilot and he will be ready to go here just shortly. Uh, there are a few things you wanted us to do, right?"
"Yes, sir. We're to be gone four days. On the fourth day if we're not at the rendezvous point you give us one more day; on the sixth day if we're not there you get a hold of this man." He handed him a card. "This is my boss, Captain Simon Banks of the Cascade Police. He will handle it from there. We appreciate you doing all this for us. Also, Captain Banks will be here later tonight to get my truck, so you won't have to worry about it."
"All right, sir. We will take care of this if necessary, but let's hope everything goes well for you and we don't have to call him. I wish everyone was this careful about their trips, and made such a fuss to let people know when they would be back and had a day to send out help."
"Well,sir, I like to be prepared. I'm a cop and like to make sure people know when and where I'll return, in case something happens to one of us or someone else."
"OK, gentlemen, if you will come with me, I believe Danny is ready to fly."
They walked with the man to the chopper. The pilot saw them coming near and got out of the chopper he was halfway sitting in.
"Hello, gents." The man had an Australian accent.
"Danny, this is Jim and Blair, your flight for today."
He shook hands with them. "Oh yeah. The ones who made the deadlines for the trip and when to call search and rescue in. Good move, gents."
"Well, you guys be careful and safe, and Danny here will be at the point of pick up in four days."
"Thank you, sir," Blair said.
They put their gear in the helicopter. Blair climbed in as Jim and the pilot talked outside. "Yo mate, is your friend all right? He looks a little on the green side."
"Yeah. He's all right. He hates heights."
"And he's flying for a camping trip?"
"Yeah, he wants to go, and said he could do this. We'll see, huh?" They laughed and got into the chopper. Soon they were air born.
They took about two hours by chopper to get to the landing sight. An hour into the flight, Jim focused on Blair's heart beat. It was fast.
"Blair, your heart is racing. Are you all right?"
"Yeah, Jim. I'm OK. Just getting a little freaked. I'll be all right as long as I get myself to calm down and not hyperventilate." Blair focused on his breathing.
"Just relax, close your eyes, and think of something beside flying."
"I'm trying, I'm trying," Blair grumbled, closing his eyes and breathing deep.
"Hey, Ellison. Is he all right?"
"Yeah, Danny. He's fine. Just getting a little freaked; but I think he's got it under control."
"You said you heard his heart racing. How could you do that, man?"
"Uh ... good ears. I can hear a pin drop across the street. Mom said I got it from her."
Blair looked at Jim and grinned. Jim shrugged like, 'I couldn't think of anything else, OK? Sue me.'
"Oh, OK. Just wondering mate,"Danny replied agreeably. Soon they were at the landing sight with no more incidents from Blair.
Once they landed and got there gear out of the chopper, Danny got out and talked to them. "OK. Everything is set to meet you in four or five days. If not here, we send out the rescue team. You mates be careful and have fun, OK?"
"Thanks, Danny, and we'll see you at the spot."
Danny then nodded, got into the chopper, and took off. Blair and Jim stood, watching him leave. Soon they were on their way hiking across the mountains. They hiked until it was dark and they were near a stream.
"All right, Chief. We'll camp here for the night. Why don't you get some water and I'll set the tent, and then we'll get the fire going. OK?"
"OK, Jim," Blair replied, grabbing the canteens and walking over to the stream.
"Be careful, OK?"
"Jim, I'm just going over here to the stream. I'm in your line of sight. What could happen?" Blair stopped walking, then turned and said, "Uh, never mind. Don't answer that!" Blair started walking again and reached the stream.
"Darn, I wanted to say it."
"Don't go there!" Blair yelled and laughed.
They quickly set up camp and fixed some dinner, which was fish from the stream. They ate dinner and then sat and looked at the stars.
"Have you seen so many stars at one time, Chief?"
"Yeah, but it's been a long time. How in the world did you find this place? It's great out here. All this open land and no crime or guns going off."
"I came up once with my dad when Steven and I were little. I came back here right before I went off to Peru. I needed to clear my head before I left, and I needed the freedom. There were seven of us in that chopper and I thought it would be awhile before I had time to myself again. Little did I know they would all die and I would be alone for eighteen months, until I came across the Chopec Indians I lived with. So I came back here after I was released from the army and before I joined the Police force. I come back as often as I can. When I met you and all with this Sentinel thing, I decided that it was time to take another trip and get a grip on things."
"This place is great, Jim. I could stay up here where it's peaceful and no city or university breathing down my neck." Blair smiled.
"Well, we've got a long hike ahead of us tomorrow; better get some rest. You do remember what that is, don't you?"
"Uh yeah. I think so. But not sure if I can stay that way once I get to sleep. I have this built in clock that wakes me up every so often so I can get things done." Smiling, Blair stood up and stretched.
"Well, let me say this: if I hear you up in the night, I personally will knock you out. Deal?"
"Uh, I think I'll sleep all night just fine." Blair then headed for the tent. "You coming?" he asked, noticing that Jim was still sitting by the fire.
"In a few minutes. Remember I've had more sleep than you in the past couple of months, and Iwasn't up all last night either, remember?"
Blair grinned and got into his sleeping bag inside the small tent. Jim zoned his hearing, listening to the land. He thought he heard voices, then lost it. Within the hour he could tell Blair was asleep. He kept the fire going for a while. He was almost asleep when his hearing kicked in again.
"Just up ahead, shhhh." It was a girl's voice.
Jim got to his feet and got his gun and checked it to make sure it was loaded and ready to fire if needed, like all cops do when getting ready for the unknown. Jim listened as the voices and footsteps grew closer.
Just as the people in the woods reached just outside the light fire, Jim yelled, "All right! Hold it right where you are! Don't move!"
The people stopped in their tracks, not moving.
Blair had been sleeping peacefully, until he heard, "All right! Hold it right where you are!"
He got out of the sleeping bag and poked his head out of the tent. "Jim, what's going on?"
"Stay put, chief!" Then: "Who are you? Why are you sneaking around in the dark?"
A girl answered nervously, "Uh, we're sorry, sir. Don't shoot please. We got separated from our group and we saw your fire. We don't mean any harm. We just wanted to get warm by the fire."
"Come near the fire so I can see you. All of you," Jim ordered.
The girls all walked near the fire.
By now Blair had emerged from the tent and stood just outside, out of the way. Jim watched as the girls moved near the fire. Once they were in the light of the fire and Jim could see their faces he put away his gun.
"Sorry, ladies. Just being careful. Warm up by the fire."
The five ladies sat down near the fire to get warm.
"Chief, it's OK."
Blair walked over and stood next to Jim and questioned, "Jim, what is going on?"
"Don't know. They came out of the woods in the dark."
"I'll make some coffee." Blair headed back to the tent to get the coffee and water.
"Do you always carry a gun and point it at people when they come up to your camp?" asked the girl who had been the only one to say anything.
"Yes I do. Especially when its night time in the mountains; and I always carry a gun where ever I go," Jim replied.
"Sorry sir," apologized the girl.
"You said you got separated from your group?" Blair asked, joining them again and putting the coffee on the fire to heat up.
"Yes. We were camping. There are eight of us up here camping," another girl said.
"Shhh, Tab. We don't know these guys. They could be with those men who were after us," said the speaker of the group.
"If it helps any, I'm Detective Jim Ellison and this is my friend and partner, Blair Sandburg."
"Hi. You're a cop."
"Yes. Cascade Police department, and you are?"
"I'm Lisa." She then pointed to each of the girls with her. "That's Tab, Lee, Chris, and Karin. We were camping and someone started shooting at our camp. We all took off running to get away."
"You said there were eight of you. Where are the other three people?" Blair asked.
"We don't know. They took off also. We all got separated and us five have joined up with each other. We still don't now where Wendy, Kat, and Angie are. We're worried about them. We were hoping it was them here when we saw the fire. We're really sorry to scare you like that, too. If I was a cop on vacation and someone came walking into my camp at night without saying or being able to see, I guess I would pull a gun on them also."
"It's all right. Just be glad I don't shoot first and ask questions later," Jim joked, smiling at Lisa.
She laughed. "We won't stay long. We need to find our friends."
"Uh, Lisa right?"
"Lisa, I have found out that it's better to stay put and let the others come to you instead of you looking for them. You usually end up missing each other and getting lost worse."
"He's right, Lisa. Jim was a ranger, he knows about these things," said Blair, giving them each coffee.
"Thank you," they said as he gave them the coffee.
"How long have you been separated?" asked Blair.
"Uh, two days."
"Are you all hungry?"
"We don't mean to impose on your trip," Lisa said.
"I could eat," Tab piped up.
"It's no trouble. If you would like, Blair could get you something to eat."
"Thank you, Blair." Tab grinned at him.
Blair went to the tent and found some stuff to eat that they'd brought in case they couldn't find anything.
"You were a ranger and now a cop, huh?" Karin inquired.
"Karin, stop being nosy!" Chris exclaimed.
"I'm not. Just curious," she replied.
"I was. I lived eighteen months in Peru, in the jungles."
"I knew it was you!" Lee cried.
"Lee, what are you talking about?" Tab asked.
"I saw him on Life magazine. He was the only survivor of his team that crashed in Peru. Holy cow," Lee explained, excited.
Blair had come back and gave the girls what he could find of food - mostly chips and small packaged stuff they had brought.
"We really appreciate you being nice to us," said Tab.
"Yes, and we are so greatful we saw that fire tonight. If you had put it out we would still be wondering around out there scared to death," added Lee.
Tab then started laughing and everyone looked at her.
"Don't mind her. She's lost it finally," Lisa said in way of explanation.
"I did not." She laughed a few more minutes and said, "Lisa, do you remember what I said earlier? That our luck had to change on this trip?"
"Uh, yeah?" Lisa looked confused.
"Well, I think it just changed. We found us two cops." She burst out laughing again.
This time they all laughed a little.
After a moment Blair said, "Uh, excuse me. Let me just point out that I'm not a cop. I'm an anthropologist, but I'm also a special consultant for the police department."
"Oh, I'm sorry." Tab apologized and cracked up laughing again.
"What is with you ?" asked Lee this time.
"I was wondering if he worked with the narcotics department, or that they sure do dress different on Cascade's police department."
They all laughed.
"Oh, thanks. See if I give you any more of my food," Blair teased, as if he was mad.
"I'm sorry, Blair. I get this way sometimes. Ask them. They'll tell you."
"Believe me she does," Lisa agreed.
They all laughed again.
"All right. You ladies get the tent, and Blair and I will sleep by the fire," Jim announced.
"Oh, we don't want to take your tent. We can sleep out under the stars."
"Uh, I don't think so ladies. You need the warmth of the bags and you look like you need a good sleep. We'll be fine. Get some rest."
"We really appreciate all you guys are doing for us. Again, we're sorry we scared you," Lisa said.
"It's all right. Just be glad I'm not trigger happy." Jim smiled. "Now go get some sleep. We'll find your friends in the morning."
"Good night, Jim; night Blair; thank you again," the girls said.
They went to the tent and arranged it so that five people could get into a small three-person tent.
Jim and Blair sat by the fire, looking into the flames.
"OK, Jim. What's going through your mind? I know that look."
"Something isn't right. I think they're hiding something from us. Lisa's heart was racing as soon as I asked her what happened to separate them," Jim explained.
"Come on, Jim. You're a human lie detector for godsake. They're scared. Whatever it is, I'm sure they will tell us soon."
"Just the same, Chief, I think we need to take turns watching over the girls tonight. Just to be safe."
"OK, who gets first shift?" asked Blair.
"I'll take first watch. Get some sleep and I'll wake you in a few hours."
"OK. Night, Jim." Blair curled up in a ball, using his jacket as a blanket.
Jim stood and listened to the woods to hear if he could pick up anyone else near. But he picked up nothing. The rest of his shift he listened, but didn't detect anything or anyone moving around in the woods. Soon it was time for him to wake up Blair for his shift and get some rest himself.
"Chief? Chief, come on wake up." Jim shook Blair a little.
"Uh, oh yeah. OK, I'm up. Anything?"
"Nope, all is quiet. Yell if you hear or see anything." Jim snuggled down to sleep.
"Believe me if I see or hear anything, you're the first one I'm gonna tell."
"You want my gun?"
"Yeah right, Jim. I'll leave that for you, OK?" Blair smiled.
Soon Jim was sleep. Blair went over and checked on the girls in the tent. They were all sleeping soundly. He gathered some more wood for the fire and sat stirring the embers. He thought of how he would like to just once have a nice quite camping trip with out everything going wrong. He sat there for a while wishing he could go back to sleep; but Jim trusted him on doing this job and he was determined to do it. Blair sat looking into the fire when he heard a twig snap beside him. He slowly stood up and started to turn to see what it was when suddenly he saw a person in the dark, just out of his sight from the fire. Next thing he knew he saw something coming at his head, and before he could react the object made contact. Everything went black as he fell to the ground unconscious. The person raised the stick again to hit him again when a shot was fired and the stick flew from the person's hand.
"Hold it right there!" yelled Jim.
"All right. Just don't shoot."
"WENDY?! Is that you?" It was Lisa's voice.>
"Lisa? Oh my god! I am so happy to see you! Are you all right?"
"Yeah, we're fine," said Lisa, as she and the others came out of the tent and ran to each other hugging.
Jim saw Blair laying on the ground unconscious and quickly moved to him. He saw the cut and blood on Blair's forehead and applied pressure to Blair's forehead.
"Tab, get the first aid kit out of the pack next to the tent." He then looked at Lisa and asked, "Is she one of your group?"
"Yeah, Wendy this is Detective Jim Ellison and his partner, Blair Sandburg, the one you hit."
"Oh my god, I hit a cop, oh my god ... I'm gonna go to jail for assault on a cop. Oh god, I didn't know."
"Wendy, settle down. You had no idea. We stumbled on to their camp hours ago. They're helping us. Come on, sit by the fire and get warm," Lisa coaxed.
Tab returned with the first aid kit. "Here, Jim."
"Thanks." Jim took the first aid kit and opened it.
He then started cleaning and dressing Blair's head.
Tab sat next to Wendy. "Of all the people to hit, you hit the best looking one. I bet he won't ask you out on a date."
"Tab!" Lisa scolded. "All right the rest of you get back to the tent and get some rest."
Lee, Tab, Karin, and Chris headed for the tent to go back to sleep. Lisa and Wendy sat up.
Jim looked at them. "OK, that is one less person from your team. Who's still missing?"
"Well, Kat and Angie," Wendy answered.
"OK. First light we'll start looking for them."
"How is he, sir? I am so sorry I hit him. I thought he was one of the men who attacked our camp. I didn't know he was helping the girls."
"It's all right. I'm sure he will forgive you. He's usually a very forgiving person. Chief?" He patted Blair's cheek. "Come on, Chief. Talk to me." Blair's eyes fluttered open and he looked around confused. "Hey. Welcome back. How do you feel?"
"My head is killing me. What happened?" Blair asked softly, as if he wasn't completely awake yet.
"Well, you ... or I should say one of the missing girls found our camp. She thought you were a bad person and clobbered you," Jim explained. Blair started to sit up, but his head was pounding. He put a hand to his head and winced in pain. "Easy, Chief. Just relax. Take it easy. Get some rest, OK?"
Blair nodded and relaxed, lying back down. Jim covered him as he drifted back to sleep and moved over with the other two girls.
"All right, we may have a problem," Jim told them.
"What's wrong?" Lisa asked.
"Blair. I think he might have a concussion or something else. I didn't like the look of his eyes when he woke up a few minutes ago. Something isn't right."
"OK, what do we do then?"
"Not much we can do till morning. Go and get some rest. I'll stay and look over the kid."
The night was quiet for what was left of it. The girls all slept peacefully and Jim kept watch over Blair and the girls. Come first light he started fixing some powdered eggs that he and Blair had brought for breakfast. Jim liked eggs and had insisted they bring them with them on the trip. Soon everyone was waking up. Lisa and Wendy woke up first since they slept by the fire and could hear Jim mixing up the eggs. "Morning, ladies," Jim greeted, as they awakened.
"Morning. If you want, we can do that for you. If you wish to get some rest for a little while."
"Yes, that would be nice. But don't let me sleep too long. Sun is just coming up so wake me in three hours and no later. OK? I want to be on the move by noon."
"OK, we'll wake you in three hours. How's Blair doing?"
"He slept through the night with no problems. If by chance he does wake up and wants to get up, make sure he's not feeling dizzy or feverish, or anything like that. OK?"
"Yes, we understand. Go and get some rest," said Wendy.
Wendy and Lisa started fixing the breakfast. Soon everyone was up and coming to the fire.
"Hi, gals!" yelled Karin.
"Shhh, Jim's sleeping!" Lisa put a finger to her mouth.
"Sorry, didn't see him. How's Blair?"
Before Wendy or Lisa could answer a voice spoke, "Oh, I'm fine and you?" It was Blair. He was sitting up and no one had noticed him.
"Are you all right?" asked Wendy. "I'm so sorry."
"I'm all right. Just please don't hit me any more." Blair laughed, raising his hands as if for protection.
"I am so sorry I hit you. By the way, I'm Wendy."
"Hi, Wendy. I'm Blair, as they probably already told you."
"I was scared, and didn't know if you were friends or not, so I just decided I'd clobber you and ask questions after my friends were safe."
"It's all right. Help me up." Blair reached with his hand for Wendy to grab.
"Um, are you supposed to be getting up?" Tab asked.
"Uh, let me guess - Jim gave you a list a mile long to make sure I'm all right before I get up, right?"
"Huh?" asked Chris, confused.
"He always does. He's very protective of me," Blair explained with a laugh, and got up off the ground. "I'm fine. Head doesn't hurt any more, and if I know Jim, once we're off these mountains he'll have me go to the hospital and have me checked for a concussion." Blair laughed, then stood up and stretched. He saw Jim laying on the ground curled up sleeping. "Awww, isn't he so cute when he's sleeping." Blair smirked. He then walked over to the creek and washed his face.
"Blair?" Came a voice behind him. Blair looked up and saw Tab standing beside him.
"Hi. Um, Tab right?"
"Yeah. Tab. Can I ask you a question?"
"Sure. I'll try and answer it for you the best I can. What's up?"
"Nothing much. I was just wondering if we're gonna get off this mountain alive?">
Blair stopped washing his face and looked up at her. "Oh my, yes, we'll get off this mountain. If anyone can get us down safe and sound, it's Jim. He's the best I've ever known about getting through the woods and mountains."
"I hope so."Tab then walked back towards the camp.
Blair finished washing his face and wetting his hair down, and pulled it back in a pony tail which he did often. He sat looking over the creek area. The land was so quiet and peaceful, and this was suppose to be his and Jim's quiet weekend away from it all; but as usual, they landed themselves right in the middle of some kind of trouble. He shook his head and stood up.
He heard a twig snap in the distance and called out, "Hello. Is someone there?" He didn't get an answer. Blair then walked toward the area the noise came from. "Hello?"
He still got no answer. He then crossed the creek where it wasn't so deep so he wouldn't get as wet. He looked around, then heard a twig snap again. Somewhere off to his right. Blair turned quickly and he could see a person hiding behind the tree.
He started towards the person and called out,"All right. Who are you?"
The person started running through the woods. Blair took off after him.
The girls fixed the eggs and a few other things they could gather up.
Jim suddenly sat up and asked, already getting to his feet, "Where's Blair?"
"He's at the creek," Lisa said, turning to point and discovering he was gone. She looked confused. "He was just there a minute ago ...?"
Jim took off running across the creek and in the direction of Blair's heart beat. He could tell Blair was running because of how fast his heart was beating.
Blair chased the person up a hill and stopped before he reached the top when he saw a gun pointed at his face. "Woa, hold on there, friend. I was just trying to figure out who was watching me."
"Come on up here!" Ordered a man dressed in very dirty and ripped up bib overalls. Blair went on up the hill and raised his hands. "You not belong up here in these here mountains. What're you doing here?" The guy asked using very poor English.
"I'm camping up here with some friends. That's all, man."
"You all with the government, trying to stop us ain't you?" the man demanded.
"Government, stop you? What are you talking about? We're just up here to go camping. My friends and I, that's all, man," Blair said.>
The man kept his gun pointed at Blair. "You must leave these mountains at once, or else."
Before Blair could answer, he heard somebody yell his name. "SANDBURG!" It was Jim.
Blair turned his head to look down the hill, where Jim's voice was coming from. Before Blair could answer him he felt something hit him from behind. With a yell he fell down the hill, rolling and tumbling. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't stop. Blair noticed something he hadn't noticed when climbing the hill, since he'd came up from the opposite side chasing the man. What he hadn't noticed was at the end of the hill was a cliff; and Blair was heading right for it.
Jim and the rest were looking for Blair. Jim heard Blair's heart beat, and he could hear how fast it was beating. He also knew Blair was scared. When Blair cried out he took off running, with the girls right behind him. Jim ran toward his falling friend. Jim and the others saw Blair just in time to see him go over the edge of the cliff.
"SANDBURG!" yelled Jim with fear. He ran toward the cliff where Blair had disappeared. "Chief!" Jim ran to the cliff and laid on his stomach, looking over for his friend. What he saw next almost made his heart stop. His friend was laying on his left side, on the ledge about 300 feet below him. Blair wasn't moving.
Jim looked down at his friend and yelled, "Chief? Are you all right? Blair, can you hear me?"
Blair didn't answer him.
Jim focused his hearing and listened. He could hear Blair's heart beat. It was strong and he was breathing fine.
"Jim!" Lisa yelled.
Jim focused back and looked at the girls. "He's alive. Just unconscious. We need to get him up."
"I've got experience with mountain climbing," Lee said. Jim took off his pack and placed it out of the way, with the girls.
"Lee right?" he asked, looking at her.
"Yes." She nodded.
"All right, Lee. I'm gonna lower you down on the rope. As soon as you're down we'll throw you another one, tie it around his waist, and we'll then pull you both up. OK?"
Lee nodded. "OK, Jim. I'm ready," she said, getting set to go over the ledge.
"Lee, are you sure you're all right with this?" Jim asked, concerned.
"I'm all right. Besides, they're gonna need you up here to pull us back up."
Jim nodded. "Be careful. OK?"
"I will. Don't worry about me. Let's get your friend up off that ledge." She smiled and started down over the ledge.
As she started down, Jim could hear Blair moan. Then he called out, "JIM?"
Jim shouted, "Chief, hang on and don't move, all right? Lee's coming down after you. Just be still."
"Maybe if he stands up she could get to him faster?" Tab suggested.
"Bad idea. Blair's afraid of heights, and if he sees how high up he is, he's gonna freak out on us. Best that he doesn't know how far up he really is until he's secured on the rope."
"Jim! Where am I?" yelled Blair, now fully awake.
"Chief, look up! Lee's on her way down to you. Don't move!"
Blair moved his head to see what Jim was talking about.
"Blair!" Jim yelled.
"Do you hurt anywhere; anything broken?"
"No, don't think anything is broken. Just hurt all over, especially my head."
"OK, Chief, relax. Lee will be with you in a couple of minutes."
"This isn't the one who hit me is it? I don't want to get hit again!"
The rest of the group tried to stifle there laughs and not lose their grip on the rope. Everyone that is except Wendy, who sighed sadly. "I'm never gonna live this down, am I?"
Jim could tell her feelings were hurt, even though he knew Blair was only kidding, trying to stay in good spirits.
"All right! I'm down!" Lee yelled up to the others. She worked her way over to Blair. "Hey, buddy.''
"Hey yourself, Lee," Blair said with a grin.
"Let's get you off this ledge." She smiled.
Blair sat up with Lee's help. "Oww Owww," he groaned as he started to stand.
"What's wrong?" asked Lee, stopping as Blair sat back down.
"My left ankle. I twisted it or something when I fell."
"All right, just relax."
Blair remained sitting, and Lee began tieing the other rope around him that the others had lowered once she was down. Jim focused in on a cracking sound.
"LEE! Hurry, the ledge is going!" Jim yelled.
Lee quickly got the rope around Blair.
"Grab the rope, ladies, quick!"
They didn't ask questions. They quickly grabbed the rope.
"All right!" yelled Lee. "What's wrong?" She quickly made sure she was secure to the rope. Before Jim could answer her the ledge gave way.
Both Lee and Blair cried out as the ledge crumbled away beneath then. They fell only a second before the ropes stopped their fall, smacking them against the wall.
"Blair, Lee, are you all right?" Jim called out in concern.
"Yeah, we're OK," yelled Blair. For the first time since he fell he could see how far up he was. "Oh god, JIM!" He shouted, looking down.
Blair didn't answer; he was too busy looking down.
"Blair, look up at me. That's an order!"
Blair slowly looked up at Jim.
"Now listen to me, I want you to keep looking at me. Don't look down to the side or any direction. Just at me! Understand?" Jim demanded.
Blair had never heard that tone in Jim's voice before. "All right Jim," Blair replied, focusing on him.
"Good, Chief. Now enjoy the ride," Jim, Wendy, and Tab began pulling him up.
Lisa, Karin and Chris were already pulling Lee up. In no time Lee was laying on the ground, gasping for air.
"Are you all right?" asked Lisa.
Lee nodded and sat up as Jim, Tab, and Wendy pulled Blair up and eased him over the edge. He laid face down on the ground, breathing deeply.
Jim knelt down next to him. "Chief, are you all right?"
"Yeah." Blair rolled over on his back. "Uh, promise me I'll never have to do that again," he breathed.
"Come on, buddy." Jim looked at Lee, who now stood beside the others. "You all right?"
"Yeah, Jim. I'm fine."
"Thank you, Lee." Jim smiled.
Lee smiled back.
"Think you can walk, Chief? We need to get away from this ledge."
"I can try; I think it's just sprained," Blair said, getting to his feet.
He hobbled a little to stay on his feet and somehow managed. Jim had managed to feel around his ankle, to make sure it wasn't broken, without the girls seeing him. He did a slight shake of the head, letting Blair know it wasn't broken. Then once again they were all off to try and find the missing friends and still make the pick up time. Jim knew they were late and that they needed to make up time in order to meet that plane.
Simon Banks sat at his desk, smoking a cigar, while Joel Taggert sat in the chair in front of the desk.
"Wonder if the guys are enjoying their trip?" Joel wondered.
"Yeah, if Sandburg doesn't talk Jim's head off. If he does, we'll probably have to arrest Jim when he gets back for murder!"
"I still think you should've gone with them, Simon. You love to camp."
"Oh yeah, I do; but not with them. Trouble follows them like ants to a picnic."
"When are they to return, by the way?"
"Uh, three days I believe. If they get to the pick up point on time. Which reminds me, I need to drive out to the air field and get his truck. Want to come with me? You can drive the truck to the drop off point for them."
"Sure. Got nothing better to do." Joel smiled.
They then left the office and headed for the air field. When they arrived at the air field it was starting to get dark. Simon and Joel went into the office to get Jim's keys he'd left for the truck. There were a couple of ladies talking with a man behind the counter.
"Is there any way you can help us? The rangers' station is closed for the night and our friends didn't return like they were supposed to. They should've been back hours ago. We had plans to meet," one girl said.
"I'm sorry, but we can't fly at night. Too dangerous in the mountains to take the choppers in. I'm sorry about your friends. You'll have to get hold of search and rescue. They are the only ones who can night fly up there," the man replied.
"Come on, Rhonda. Let's go," said the other lady.
"Sorry, can I help you gentlemen?" he asked Simon and Joel.
"Yes, we're here to pick up Jim Ellison's truck parked outside."
Oh yes. The cop and his friend."
"Yeah, that's them."
"You Captain Banks?"
"Yes, and this is Taggert. Jim said he would leave the keys with you?">
"Yes, sir. Right here." He turned, got the keys, and handed them to Simon.
The two girls sat off to the side. One was fuming and the other was almost in tears.
"What's going on?" asked Simon, with a nod toward the girls.
"Some friends of theirs were due back earlier from camping and they haven't returned yet. They want one of my choppers to fly them up to look for them, but it's too late. I'm not allowed to night fly in the mountains."
"OK, so how do they call?"
"Oh, the rangers station. But they said they already were there, and it's closed for the night and no one answered the calls."
"OK we'll talk to them," Simon told him, and walked over to the girls.
"Uh, excuse me ladies."
"Yes?" said the mad one.
"I understand you have some missing friends."
"Yes, they were due back this morning and they still haven't returned. We're getting a bit on the worried side."
"OK, we'll see what we can do."
"Who are you people?" asked one girl.
"Sorry. I'm Captain Simon Banks, Cascade P.D., and this is Joel Taggert, bomb squad captain. You are?"
"I'm Rhonda and this is Otter. Or that's what we call her."
"OK. Joel get on the horn and get the rangers out here. Don't worry, we'll get some people out here to help you. We have a couple of friends up on the mountain who, if I know them, will probably find your friends and get them down safe.
Joel had pulled out his radio, called the station, and requested Search and Rescue to respond to the air field so they could meet up with Captain Banks. Before long they had several units respond to the airfield and people gearing up to help find the missing campers.
"How long have you known these girls?" Rafe asked Rhonda.
"Uh, to tell you the truth, up until a few days ago I'd never met them in person. We all met on the internet through a cop show we all like so well."
"You're kidding, right?" Rafe grinned.
"I'm serious. We met on the internet."
"Oh, that is so cool." He went to tell Simon about the girls.
Simon and the others quickly went to work getting the info they needed, about the girls and where they were suppose to meet. Simon also informed the rescuers that he had an officer and his partner up on the mountain somewhere. Soon the search was on for the missing friends.
Meanwhile, the gang had made pretty good time. But after a while Blair began to have more and more trouble with his ankle. Soon he fell behind the others. Jim really hadn't paid much attention to Blair. His mind was wondering on how they would get these ladies off the mountain safe and sound.
"Jim, man, hold up!" Blair yelled, then he hobbled to a fallen tree and sat down. "I can't go any farther." Jim joined him as Blair was taking off his shoe.
"What's wrong?" Lisa asked from behind Jim.
"OK, we'll make camp here." Jim turned around and faced the others. "Blair's ankle's given in. We'll make camp here so he can rest it."
"All right," Lee agreed.
Blair took off his shoe and sock and looked at his ankle. It was swollen pretty good by now. All the walking and climbing he'd done on it over the past couple of hours didn't help any. Jim and the others set up camp.
Tab saw Blair's ankle and went over to him. "Uh, Blair how's your ankle feeling?"
"I'm all right." He tried to put pressure on it only to sit back down quickly and wince in pain.
"Easy, Blair. You'll only hurt yourself more."
"Dammit!" Blair shouted, and hit the tree in frustration.
"Come on, Blair. Don't be hard on yourself," Tab soothed. "There is no way you knew this would happen."
"I know. It's just you girls are counting on us to get you off this mountain and this whole trip is going crazy."
"Hey, you had no idea this would happen."
"I guess you're right. No sense in blaming myself for something that no one had any control over." He then smiled at Tab, "Thanks."
"Hey, no problem just stay off that ankle and let it heal. OK?" She smiled back. Blair nodded.
Jim walked over to them and put a hand on Tab's shoulder and she looked up from her kneeling position in front of Blair. "Hi, Tab. Could you give us a minute please?"
"Yeah sure, I'll get some firewood." She joined the others.
"How's the ankle, Chief?" Jim examined the ankle.
Blair winced as he touched it. "It's all right, Jim. Just sore."
"Well, its not broken or anything. Sorry about that. I should've picked up on your hurting, but I totally blew it."
"Jim, it's all right. You have more then just me to worry about. You have these people whose lives depend on you getting them off the mountain."
"Blair, uh, what happened back there? Where did you disappear to?"
Blair had been wondering when Jim would ask him that. "Um, I thought I saw something across the water and went to check it out. When I heard you holler, I started down the hill and lost my footing and fell," he lied.
He didn't like or feel good about what he'd just done, but he was also thinking of the girls; they were in ear shot, so they could hear everything he'd just said. Later in the night when everyone was sleeping he'd tell Jim the truth about the mountain man.
"All right, Chief. I'm sure you'll give me the real story later tonight, right?" Jim whispered so only Blair could hear.
"I hate when you do that," Blair grumbled, giving Jim an evil look.
"Come on. Let's get you settled by the fire and get that ankle wrapped."
He stood up and Blair did the same, putting no weight on the ankle. He put his arm around Jim's neck and hopped towards the bed the girls had made under a tree for him. Blair sat down on the sleeping bag, and moved his leg with his hands to position his ankle up on a pillow Jim had made out of some of his clothes.
"How's that, Chief?"
"Feels pretty good. Thanks, man."
"Now let me get a good look at that ankle." Jim once again checked Blair ankle and Blair winced as he touched it. "I need to get you off this blasted mountain. This ankle looks bad," said Jim, making an ace bandage out of one of his shirts by ripping it and wrapping his ankle.
"I'm fine, Jim.">
"I hate to burst your bubble there, Chief, but you're not fine. This ankle is pretty bad. You keep pushing yourself and walking on it and you're gonna do worse damage to it."
"Jim, we're in the middle of who knows where. I've got to walk to get out of here 'cause you sure in heck ain't carrying me off this mountain."
"Watch it, Chief, or I just might do that." He smiled.
"So Jim?" asked Lisa "What are we gonna do? I mean he can't travel on that ankle."
Jim took a deep breath and said, "I'm not really sure what we're gonna do. I'd say for now we get some rest and go from there in the morning, OK?"
Lisa nodded and went to help the others get something to eat. There supplies were low. Jim and Blair had brought some food, but they had planned on eating off the land. So what they had now had to be shared with everyone. Lisa joined the others.
Tab said, "Lisa what's going on?"
"Well, several things. Blair's ankle is pretty bad. He's not gonna be able to walk off this mountain from the looks of that ankle, and his friend has no idea what to do about it either!" Lisa complained, hostilely.
"Come on, Lisa, settle down. Jim doesn't look like the type to quit trying. Maybe he just needs some time to think. You have to also remember the guy hasn't slept maybe an hour since we met him."
"You're right, Wendy. It's just that I'm tired and want to go home. I'm also worried about Kat and Angie. I hope they're OK out there."
"I know they are. All we can do is keep good thoughts for them, OK?" Karen said.
Everyone nodded. The girls then fixed some food from potatoes and onions they had found. Lee handed Blair a cup of the soup mixture they had made.
"Smells great. Thanks," Blair said, taking the cup.
"You're welcome. How's the ankle feeling?" Lee asked.
"Hurts some, but it'll be fine, really. Thanks."Blair smiled.
Lee grinned. "Well, if you need anything just give a holler. OK?"
"I will. Thank you." Blair took a sip of the soup.
It was good and he needed something warm in his system. It had gotten dark and it was getting colder. Jim had gone to look around some. The girls put up the tent.
"Blair? " It was Karen who spoke this time.
Blair had begun to drift off to sleep when she called his name. He opened his eyes and looked at all the girls now standing before him in the light of the fire. "Uh, yeah, Karen?"
"We were wondering if you would like the tent tonight seeing how you're hurt and all. It would be the right thing to do."
"Oh, guys, I'm fine, really. You all take the tent."
"Blair, we ..." Blair held up his hand before Lee could continue.
"Ladies, listen to me. I'm fine. I'm comfortable, my ankle's not hurting, and I'd prefer to sleep right here. Besides, Jim will be back in a few minutes. I'm fine. Now please go get some rest. OK?"
They nodded, but Blair knew they wanted to protest. But they didn't. They went to the tent and got settled in the best they could with six people sleeping in a small tent. They decided it would be best for warmth. Blair sat awake, watching the fire, wishing Jim would hurry up and get his butt back. Blair didn't like being alone.
Jim had been walking around the mountain with the girls right near him, so it was hard to use his sentinel abilities to help them while they were around. He now had a chance to use them with out them seeing or interrupting him. He every so often listened to the camp. He could tell they were sleeping, all but Blair. He could tell he was nervous about being alone with the girls while they were sleeping. He decided he wouldn't stay gone too long. He really wanted to find out what actually happened to Blair up on that hill.
Jim followed the trail for a while. He kept walking until he thought he had gone far enough and needed to head back, when he heard a twig snap some where behind him. Jim began to follow the sound.
Back at Camp:
The girls were all asleep and Blair sat stirring the fire. He was starting to get sleepy and he wished Jim would get back so he could get some sleep. He didn't like the idea of going to sleep with no one watching the girls or the camp. Blair sat there staring into the fire and started to drift off to sleep when he heard a twig snap behind him. He carefully got to his feet and hobbled around the tree looking for the maker of the sound. He was hoping it was a deer, or a squirrel, or any small animal.
"Jim?" he called softly as he rounded the tree. "Jim is that you?"
He got no answer. He could put a little bit of pressure on the ankle but it was still bothering him a little bit. He rounded the tree, hoping to find Jim, instead he came face to face with the mountain man.
"Oh man, you again. Are you following us or what?" Blair asked. When the man raised a shot gun, Blair raised his hands and asked, scared now, "What do you want?"
Before Blair could say anything in protest, or in defense, something hit him hard on the side of his head and everything went black as he fell unconscious to the ground.
Jim had been walking back toward the camp when his hearing picked up Blair's racing heartbeat. He focused his hearing and heard the mountain man shout, "YOU!" Jim focused back and started running back towards the camp. When he entered the camp, he saw the fire and where Blair had been sitting, but no sign of his young friend.
Jim quickly went to the tent and yelled, "Wake up girls!"
Everyone was awake in no time and climbing out of the tent.
"Jim, what's wrong?" Karin asked.
"Sandburg. Where is Sandburg?"
"He was sitting by the fire, waiting for you to return," Lee answered.
"He's not there now," Jim replied. He listened to the woods and heard nothing. "Dammit, where is he?" he demanded.
"Jim, calm down. That won't help us find him, if you're out of control on us," Tab soothed.
"OK, break camp. We've got to find him." Calmer now, Jim walked off ahead of the girls as they began to break camp in the dark.
"He's losing it," Karin said.
"Come on. Think how you feel about Angie and Kat. Blair is Jim's partner. Angie and Kat are our internet friends we've talked to for years, but we'd never met 'til the other day. Think how you would feel if they had been best friends we knew for years and years," Lisa said.
"You're right. Sorry." Karin apologized.
"Come on, let's find Blair," said Lee. They had the tent down and packed up, and raced to catch up with Jim.
They looked all night for Blair with no luck of finding him.
"OK, let's rest here for a couple of hours and then get started again, " Jim said.
The girls took the opportunity for a rest, with no need to protest. They were tired. Jim walked ahead some.
"Jim!" called Lisa, walking up to him.
"You need to get some rest. You're exhausted."
"I can't. Not now. I've got to find Sandburg."
"You won't be able to if your too tired to concentrate on anything."
"I couldn't rest even if I tried to. He depends on me," Jim explained.
"Jim, you will find your friend as well as ours. But you need to rest and get your strength up. Just in case we run into trouble we're gonna need you. Remember, we're a bunch of helpless females up here."
"Females is right. Helpless I don't think so." Jim smiled. He then rubbed his forehead. "You're right you know."
"Oh, I am about being a female. I should hope so." She laughed.
"No, about needing to get my strength up."
"Well, come on. Let's go get something to eat, and then you can get some rest." Lisa grabbed Jim's hand and pulled him toward the camp fire.
When Blair awoke he tried to move, but his hands and feet were tied. He lifted his head and moaned and laid it back down. He had a killer headache.
"Hi?" questioned a shaky voice.
Blair turned his head to the other side to see where the voice had come from. To Blair's surprise, instead of finding one lady sitting there, he found two.
"Hi. I'm Kat and this is Angie." They sat on a rock with their hands tied behind them.
"Hi, ladies. I'm Blair. Where are we?"
"We're in a cave. Being held by a mountain man," Kat answered.
"Oh, oh yeah. My friend I seem to keep running into. Do you have any idea what is going on or what he wants with us?"
"Well ..." Angie began, and paused...
"From what we've been able to hear, mountain man is Derek Walden. He escaped from prison and has been hiding up here for years. He has a friend named Peter. He's not very nice," Kat replied instead.
Blair moaned a little and put his head back down.
"Are you all right?" Angie asked concerned.
"Yeah, I'll be all right. Just my head hurts like crazy," Blair explained with closed eyes.
"Rest, you're gonna needed it. They like to keep us awake a lot at night. I guess if we're awake and not rested we won't have enough energy to try and escape," Kat decided.
Blair again drifted off to unconsciousness.
Jim couldn't sleep even though he knew he needed to. He sat looking out over the mountains on a rock ledge, trying to figure out what was going on.
"Jim?" It was Lisa. She had come up behind him. Jim turned and faced her. "Jim, are you all right?" she asked, sitting beside him, taking his hand.
"Yeah, I'm all right. Thanks."
"You two have quite a friendship, huh?"
"Yeah, Blair and I have been through a lot together. He's my best friend."
"Jim, listen to me, OK? We'll find Blair and the others."
"I know we will, Lisa. Thanks. I just worry about him. It's a hard habit to break. Since he came to work with me his life has been put in danger so many times. But he always hangs with me no matter how much he is injured or whatever happens to him."
"Hey, we're all gonna make it through this, even Blair and our missing friends; and it will be an adventure we'll all talk about for a long time."
"Yeah, and maybe I'll have Blair give me some lessons on his computer on the internet so we all can talk." Jim smiled.
"Jim, I just wanted to say thank you, also. I am so glad we found your camp, and thank you for all you guys are doing to get us off this mountain." Lisa reached over and kissed Jim on the cheek.
"Come on, let's get some rest. We'll need to get started again in an hour or soon as it's light." He said, covering his shock over the sudden kiss on the cheek.
They went back to the camp. Everyone else was sleeping. Jim sat next to the fire leaning up against a fallen tree. Lisa sat next to him, laid her head upon his shoulder, and drifted off to sleep. Jim looked down at her sleeping head and smiled. He shook his head then laid his head on hers and drifted off to sleep as well.
When the sun was coming up, Mountain Man and his friend Peter had returned to the cave. They found the girls sleeping. They had slipped off the rock and now leaned against it. Blair still lay in the same spot.
"Hey, I thought he should be awake by know," Peter remarked.
"He should've. You hit him too hard."
"Come on, Derek. I didn't hit him that hard."
"Get them up," Derek ordered before turning and exiting the cave.
"Come on, ladies, rise and shine." Peter nudged the girls.
Angie and Kat began to stir. He then went to Blair and nudged him with his foot against his back. Blair stirred a little, but didn't wake up.
"Come on, get up!" Peter yelled.
He kicked Blair in the back, about midsection. Blair cried out in pain, now fully awake. Peter untied Blair's ankles and yanked him to his feet, face to face with him, holding Blair by the shirt up off the ground.
"Let me guess. You must be Peter," Blair stated, trying to stay calm. Peter stood about as tall as Jim and was built the same.
"That's right, pretty boy, and you're gonna learn real fast, you keep your mouth shut and do as I tell you, or you'll be sorry." He then dropped Blair to his feet. Blair's ankle gave out and he fell hard to the ground, trying not to show that landing on his ankle hurt like hell.
Derek came back into the cave to see what was taking Peter so long to wake there guests. "What's going on?"
"Don't know. I pulled him to his feet and he fell back down," Peter lied.
"What's wrong with your ankle?"
"Fell down a hill and twisted it a little when I tried to stop from going over a cliff; but you already know about the cliff, huh? In case you guys didn't notice it, I only have one boot on. That should've given you a clue that my ankle was hurt."
"Help him out to the fire, ladies. Come with me please," Derek directed them.
Peter helped Blair to his feet. Blair didn't put any weight whatsoever on that bad ankle. They all went outside the cave and sat beside the fire Derek and Peter had going. Derek got them all a cup of coffee to help take the chill of the night air out of there systems.
They drank some coffee and Derek spoke. "All right I know who our lady friends are." He looked at Blair. "Now I want to know who you are."
"I'm Blair Sandburg. I'm an anthropologist at Rainier university in Cascade."
"OK, Mr. Sandburg. Why are you on my mountain?"
"Your mountain ?" laughed Blair.
"I don't see what is so funny there, Mr. Sandburg. This is my mountain," Derek retorted.
Peter got up and went over to Blair. "You need to learn a little manners there, hairy boy." Peter put his foot on Blair's ankle and bore his weight on it.
Blair grabbed his leg just below the knee and cried out in pain as Peter put more pressure on the swollen ankle. Having the ankle tied all night didn't help it to heal any, even if it had healed some before he was taken hostage.
"PETER ENOUGH!" yelled Derek, and knocked Peter to the side. "I don't want to see that again. You are not to hurt these people. Do you understand!" Peter nodded, but didn't say a word. "Sorry, Mr. Sandburg. Angie, you want to check that ankle please?"
Angie nodded, and went over to Blair, who leaned his head back, holding the top of his leg just below the knee, trying not to scream.
"Easy, Blair. It's all right," Kat soothed.
"Now, Mr. Sandburg, while she looks at your ankle we'll continue this chat."
Blair had gotten himself under control enough to look at Derek. "I told you who I am. What more do you want?" he asked through clenched teeth.
"I want to know why you're on this mountain with Jim Ellison?"
Blair was stunned by the mention of Jim. "You know Ellison?"
"As a matter of fact I do. You see I escaped from prison about six months ago and have been hiding up here and other places. My friend there, Peter, just joined me here a week ago. You see he hacked into the computers all over the world looking for Mr. Ellison. And when he found him listed on the manifest of charters from the air field near here I just had to take the opportunity to come out of hiding and kill the pig who sent me to prison for life."
"If Jim sent you to prison for life you must've did something horrible to deserve it," Blair said, and winced as Angie touched his ankle.
"Sorry," she apologized.
"That is my business, why I went to jail, but I think it's also your business to watch your friend die. So why don't you tell me the truth, and tell me why your with Ellison. You a cop?"
"Do I look like a cop?"
"I'm an anthropologist. I'm a special consultant for the police department. I work with Ellison on cases just as an observer. That's all."
"All right. If that's so, maybe I'll let you live."
"Uh, Derek, why do you have these girls? They have no connection to Jim."
"Well they just seem to get in the way. They set there camp up right in the middle of the target zone to take out Detective Ellison. Getting you was just a step in the right direction. I saw how worried he became at the creek when he realized you were missing, and figured if we had you he would come looking and know someone was out here. I believe we did a good job."
"I'm just getting revenge for what he did to me."
"Oh yeah. What he did to you. You did something horrible, and you blame him 'cause you got busted. How sane is that?"
"You need to learn to shut your mouth and let sleeping dogs lie." Derek moved over next to Blair. "Your friend isn't here to protect you, or teach you any lessons on keeping your mouth shut, so I guess it's up to me then, huh?" Derek barked.
He then did what Blair didn't think anyone would ever do. The most he expected was to be slapped around, but instead Derek shoved Angie aside and stomped down as hard as he could on the side of Blair's ankle. When he did, Blair screamed in pain and Angie and Kat both jumped up when they heard the ankle snap.
He had broken Blair's ankle.
Once his ankle snapped, Blair sat there trying to hold back the urge to pass out. He held his leg around the knee, looked up at Derek and managed in a voice full of pain, "You'll be sorry you did that."
"Oh, we'll see about that, my friend. Peter put them back in the cave and close it up. I don't want them going anywhere. We need to go see what our friends are doing."
Peter helped Blair back into the cave. He tied Blair's hands in front of him, and didn't tie his ankles. He figured, why bother? Derek broke it, so he couldn't walk. Peter tied the girls again and then put a door of wood that he and Derek had made over the opening of the cave.
Morning had come and gone. Danny had flown Simon, Otter, Rafe, and Taggert to the pick up spot. They had radios and everything in weaponry they might need. They headed toward the drop off spot in search of their friends.
Jim awoke at first light still leaning against Lisa. He got up and put some wood on the fire, which was dying down. Tab soon came out of the tent to get warm by the fire.
"Morning, Jim. Did you sleep any?"
"Yes, actually I did. Thanks."
"Good, you look better."
"Tab, why don't you go wake the others? I want to get going soon.
"OK. And Jim, I have a good feeling that today we'll find our friends." She smiled and got up to get the others.
Jim got up and went to the edge of a hill and looked out over the valley below him. He listened for any voices. He finally heard what he needed to hear.
"Blair, are you all right?" Angie asked.
"Yeah, I'm OK. You?"
"Don't worry about us. We're fine. You're the one who's injured," Kat reminded him.
"I'll be OK. How's that?" Blair leaned his head back. He was in a lot of pain, but didn't want to let them know that.
Jim got the general direction they were in and returned to camp. Everyone was up and ready to go. "Morning," Jim greeted the girls. They all returned the greeting and Jim said, "Ready?"
They all got up and got started, with Jim leading the way. He didn't tell the others that he had heard Blair and their friends. He really didn't want to have to explain how he could hear them.
Blair sat, trying to get his breathing under control. He had started to hyperventilate while trying to subdue the pain he was feeling. So he sat trying to get his breathing under control, as he had told Jim many times before to help him with his sentinel powers. He took a few deep breaths.
Angie started talking to Kat. "Do you think the others are OK?"
"If you are referring to Lee, Tab, Karen, Lisa , Wendy and Chris, I happen to know first hand they are just fine," Blair answered instead.
Angie looked at Blair as did Kat. "What did you say?" asked Kat, confused.
"Your friends you were camping with, they're fine. They're with my friend, Jim Ellison. The guy Derek was talking about. He and I are friends and partners. Jim's a cop and I work as a special consultant for the police department. Now we need to get out of here, find them, and warn them about Derek and Peter. I think Derek won't hesitate to kill Jim, and your friends are with Jim. I don't think he'll hesitate to kill them either."
"But how can we do anything? We're tied and they broke your ankle," Kat pointed out.
"Listen to me, I've been in worse situations than this. One of you work your way to me. They tied my hands in front of me; if one of you work your way over to me and turn around maybe I can free your hands. We can then get out of here."
"I'm game," said Angie, and she began working her way toward Blair.
She scooted across the cave until she was close to Blair. She worked herself around so her back was to him. She worked her way backwards until she bumped into something. Angie heard Blair gasp, but he didn't say or yell anything.
"I'm sorry," Angie apologized, who had just bumped into his ankle, and had gotten herself all upset over the accident.
"It's all right. Just move to the side a little."
"Blair?" Kat asked, while Angie moved over some and back to where he could start working on her ropes. "You said you know our friends are all right and that they're with your friend? How?"
"The first night we set up camp here, I'd went to bed and I heard Jim telling someone to freeze. Come to find out it was all your friends, but Wendy. I met Wendy later that night when she clobbered me."
Angie laughed and apologized, "I'm sorry, Blair. I just know, Wendy. Clobber now, ask questions later."
"Yeah, so I learned. I was out for the rest of the night and still have a headache to remember it by."
"How are you doing?" asked Angie of the ropes.
"Almost got it," Blair replied through gritted teeth. He had been working his fingers to the bone as the expression goes. They were beginning to bleed. "Got it!" he exclaimed after a few more minutes of silence. He removed the remainder of bonds, she then untied her ankles, then untied Kat and Blair. They helped Blair off the ground and sat him on a rock to get him off the ground. Once he was seated, he said through clenched teeth, "OK, see if you can get that door off."
"Are you all right?" Kat asked.
"Yeah, just hurts like heck. Please try the door; see if we can get the heck out of here."
Angie and Kat went to the door to see if they could either get the cover off it or get out around it. Luckily, they were able to push it hard enough and it fell over. Once the door was open the girls went back to Blair.
"Blair, are you sure you're all right? You don't look too good," Kat remarked.
"Yeah, I'm all right. We need to get out of here before Peter and Derek come back."
They each took an arm and put it around their shoulders. They knew it was about to become hard. Blair couldn't walk with his ankle broken and they would have to help him, which would make it extremely slow going. They moved as fast as they could go.
Peter and Derek made there way threw the woods in search of Jim and his friends.
"Any idea how were gonna get him?" Peter asked.
"Well, we're gonna find the route they've taken, then we go get the kid and use him as bait. Soon as Ellison sees the kid, he's gonna try and help him. 'Specially once he sees he's injured; and then we get him and finish the bunch of them off. And no one will be the wiser."
Jim and the others were making good time down the mountain. They were going down a hill, Jim ahead of the others. They had been on the move for about three hours now.
"Be careful. There's a lot of loose dirt and rocks," Jim warned.
Chris was bring up the rear with Tab.
"Careful Chris!" Tab called out as Chris moved ahead of her down the hill. Chris worked her way down as careful and as fast as she could and still keep up with the others. Tab went slow, she kept slipping. She kept Chris in eye sight. To her, Chris was moving way too fast. "Chris, slow down!"
"I'm fine, Tab! Stop hovering over me!" she snapped. Chris should've listened to Tab because as she continued down she stepped on a loose rock causing her feet to go out from under her. She hit the ground hard, landing on her left wrist. Tab was the first to reach her.
"Chris, are you all right?"
"Oww," Chris moaned, holding her left arm.
"JIM!" yelled Tab. Jim turned to see what was up.
He saw Chris sitting on the ground and Tab kneeling beside her. Jim moved back up the hill to the girls.
"What's wrong?" Jim asked, reaching them.
"I was trying to keep up with you and slipped. I'm all right."
"Let me see your wrist." He looked at it and felt it, trying not to move it. "Sorry, Chris, but I hate to tell you this - you're not all right. It's broken."
"Great, just great," Chris lamented, then switched her tone to anger. "You have so much more to worry about. Then I hurry to keep up with you and end up falling and breaking my stupid wrist."
"It's all right, Chris. Let's get this set and get off this hill so we can take a break. I'm the one who should be sorry if anyone should be. I'm used to the woods and all and while thinking of finding my friend and your friends, I didn't think about you ladies not being used to the hills. I should've been more considerate of you," Jim apologized, as Karen gave him some sticks to set Chris's wrist and some rope to hold the sticks in place.
"OK, guys, we're all sorry. Now let's get down off this hill," Wendy piped up.
"All right," said Jim, after getting Chris's wrist set and helping her to her feet. Jim and Tab each stood on either side of Chris and went down the hill helping her so she wouldn't fall again. She slipped once, but Jim caught her before she could fall.
"Thanks, Jim," said Chris.
Jim smiled at her. "You're welcome."
They made their way to the bottom with no more incidents. After that they all took a break. Jim sat with Chris and Tab as the others spread out a little and sat resting. Jim knew the ladies were getting tired, and that they needed to get off the mountain and soon. The food supply was almost gone and they were now down to getting their water from whatever streams they could find. Soon they would be in real trouble and he didn't need all these ladies either starving to death, or dying of exposure out here. He had to get them off the mountain and soon.
Derek and Peter stood at the top of the hill, watching Jim and the others.
"They're headed toward the cave. Come on, we need to get ready for them. Rate they're going they should reach the cave in two hours," Derek speculated.
Jim was talking with Chris when his hearing focused in. He didn't pick up the voices, just the footsteps. Jim jumped up, pulling out his gun, looking around.
"Jim, what's wrong?" Lisa asked.
"Stay down," he ordered. After a minute, he heard the footsteps getting farther and farther away.
He put his gun away. "OK, let's get going."
"Jim, what was that all about?" Lisa demanded.
"We were being watched," he answered as they began walking again.
"How do you know?"
"I can just feel it." They continued on.
Meanwhile, Simon and his gang were closing in the gap.
Blair, Angie, and Kat were making slow progress. Blair was too much for the girls. They had gone an hour and really hadn't made much progress.
"Hold it! Stop, please!" begged Blair. They could tell in his voice that he was in a lot of pain. The girls sat him down and, tired, sat beside him. "This isn't working. I'm slowing you down. You're gonna have to go get help and bring it back."
"Come on, Blair. You don't expect us to just leave you here?" Kat was incredulous.
"You don't have a choice. You've got to find help. I can't do this and you two can't keep holding me up."
"But how will we find someone? They could be anywhere?" Angie inquired. "I mean we don't have a clue where they would be."
"Listen to me, you have got to get help. You really don't have a choice in the matter. I can't walk. My ankle is broken and if you two keep trying to carry me you're gonna kill yourselves. We'll go a little farther until we find a safe place for me to hide. Then you are gonna have to go get help," Blair insisted.
Angie and Kat didn't like the idea of having to leave Blair, but they also knew they didn't have a choice. They were tired from carrying him and from the nights they had been kept up. They were exhausted and carrying Blair off this mountain wasn't helping any. After a couple of minutes of resting,, they continued on their way looking for a place to hide Blair until they could get help.
Jim and the others were making good time once again; but this time Jim was more cautious to the others, making sure they were keeping up with him. He zoned.
"Dammit, they're gone! Come on, we've got to find them!" yelled Derek.
"How far could they go? The kid's hurt," Peter argued.
Jim wondered who they were calling 'the kid'. "Come on, we've got to hurry," Jim announced, picking up speed with the girls right behind him.
Simon and his crew were quickly picking up ground.
Blair, Angie, and Kat slowly moved on. "I can't go any farther. You're gonna have to go on with out me," stated Blair, noticing they now stood at the top of a hill.
"Dammit, Blair. How on earth do you expect us to leave you? I mean we're in the middle of nowhere and we haven't a clue where your friend or our friends are."
"You'll find them, or Jim will find you, either way; but there is no way I'm gonna be able to go down that hill," Blair admonished looking down at the bottom.
Before anyone could answer, a gun shot was heard and a bullet hit the tree next to Kat.
"It's got to be, Derek. We don't have a choice now! We have to go down the hill!" yelled Blair. The girls tightened their grip on Blair and started down the hill, going as fast as they could without falling or losing their grip on him.
Jim and the others heard the shots.
Jim turned to the girls. "Stay here and keep down!" he ordered, and started running in the direction of the shots.
Simon, Taggert, Rafe, and Otter were quickly moving along.
"Man, I hope we find them soon," said Taggert. Then they heard the shot.
"I think we may have them real soon, Joel," Simon informed the other man, as they all drew their guns and started running in the direction of the gun shot.
They spread out, heading towards the gun shot from different directions. They would meet in the middle if everything worked out.
Angie and Kat were doing their best to keep a hold on Blair. But it was hard and they were losing the battle. Derek and Peter had gotten to the top of the hill and took another shot at them. The bullet hit the tree next to Kat. She screamed and ducked, losing her hold on Blair, which caused Angie to lose her hold on him, also. With a cry he went tumbling, head first, down the hill. He fell for what seemed like forever, but was only a short period of time, until he landed flat on his back. He laid there stunned, unable to move. He opened his eyes expecting to see Angie and Kat who had cried out his name as he fell, but when he opened his eyes he saw Simon standing before him shouting,
"SANDBURG, WHAT THE HELL!" He had landed at Simon's feet. "Blair, where's Jim?" Before Blair could tell Simon what was happening and that he had no idea where Jim was, more shots were fired. "TAKE COVER QUICK!"
Blair laid there unable to move. Taggert and Rafe ran to him, grabbed him, and pulled him to his feet.
"Come on, Blair! Move it!" Rafe yelled.
"Ankle's broken," Blair managed and collapsed in their arms.
Taggert picked Blair up and carried him to safety, stunned by his friend's collapse. He lowered him behind a rock, out of harm's way. "Simon!" Taggert called.
Simon joined the others behind the rock. "What happened?" Simon asked, looking at Blair's limp body.
"He's out cold. His ankle's broken and he's banged up pretty bad. Who's shooting at us?" Taggert demanded.
"Don't have a clue and no sign of Ellison either," Simon declared.
"Captain, check this out," Rafe beckoned.
Simon turned to Rafe. "What?"
"Check up on the hill, halfway down behind the trees that have fallen. There are two girls there."
"That's Kat and Angie," said Otter. "That's two of my friends where are the rest?" she wondered, worried.
"We'll find them. We need to get them off that hill," said Simon. More shots were fired and they ducked down. They then returned fire.
Jim, in the meantime, was making his way toward the top of the hill. He was coming up on Derek and Peter from behind. He stopped, just out of their sight. He focused his hearing to figure out who they were shooting at and who was shooting back. He knew Blair didn't have a gun.
"Where the hell is Ellison!"
He focused back, now confused and muttered, "Simon?"
He then focused his eyes to see who was shooting at his friends. Once he did he could see the person who had made there vacation a hell. It was Derek Walden. Jim focused back and mumbled to himself, "What the hell is he doing here?"
He made his way closer to the men. The shooting continued. Jim wanted to end this and find his friend. Simon and the others were returning fire and Simon had managed to take out Peter. He laid unconscious on the ground with a bullet in his side. Derek had a good position to hide and keep himself safe from the bullets.
Jim walked up behind him and ordered gruffly, "Drop it, Derek. NOW!"
Derek stood up, held up his gun, and slowly turned to face Jim. "Well, well, look who we have here. If it ain't Detective Jim Ellison. Having a nice vacation are we, Detective?"
"You're the one who did all this ?"
"I told you, Ellison. When you shot me and sent me to prison for life I would get out and hunt you down."
"You killed a bank full of people, Derek; and you didn't expect me to take you out? Just let you walk away from it like it was nothing?"
"Yes, I did. But no you had to play Mr. Hero and shoot me. Now it's my turn to hurt you."
"Where are the girls and my friend?"
"Go to hell, Ellison!" yelled Derek, and turned the gun on Jim, which he hadn't dropped yet.
Jim dove out of the way of the shot fired, rolled, and came up on one knee and fired a shot, taking Derek down. Jim quickly got to his feet, went over, and got the gun away from Derek ho was still alive,just wounded. He went to Peter and took his gun also.
He climbed to the top of the hill and yelled, "Captain Banks!"
"Jim! You all right?"
"Yeah! It's over. I've got to find Blair."
"Jim, we have the kid with us."
"Great to hear that, Simon. I'll be down there in a few minutes. I need to go get the others." He then turned and discovered the girls he had told to stay behind were now behind him.
They all worked their way down the hill to the others at the bottom. Once at the bottom Lisa, Wendy, Chris, Lee, Tab, and Karen saw their missing friends, Angie and Kat. They all ran and had a group hug, all talking at one time. Jim shook his head and walked over to shake Simon's hand as Rafe, Otter, and Taggert went up to get Derek and Peter.
"What are you doing here? And I'm glad to see you, sir."
"Otter, from the rangers service, informed us that Walden had escaped; and when we get back someone is gonna get an ear full. This guy has been out for a week and they didn't even inform us that he had escaped. Anyway, she got worried about her online friends and asked us for help. We decided to help, and find you to let you know Derek was out and probably after you. We also learned that he had that Peter guy stake you out for the past couple of weeks trying to find a good time to take you out," Simon explained as they walked over toward Blair.
"How is he?"
"Well from what I've been told, the kid's gone through hell aplenty. He twisted his ankle falling off a mountain."
"Yep, I know that part. What else?"
"Well, Derek decided to get a little revenge for you and broke the ankle. Then he fell down this hill and landed at my feet, or we may have passed him up coming down that hill." Simon shook his head.
Within the next hour they were headed for the landing site. Simon had radioed and told them to send rescue teams, that he had the missing campers, Ellison and Sandburg, and the escaped prisoner. It took them four hours to get off the mountain and to the hospital, for them to all be checked out and then be released.
Three days later Jim sat at his desk, Blair beside him with a cast on his ankle half way up his leg, and crutches sitting behind him. Simon came out of his office and over to the guys.
"Hey, what are you guys doing here? Thought you were to take a few days off to get some rest!" Simon barked.
"I just stopped by to get some of this paper work done for you, sir. Besides, we're meeting some friends here in a few minutes and going to lunch and whatever," answered Jim.
"Yeah, and here they come," Blair announced, getting his crutches and standing up with them.
Simon turned to look to see who was coming and about died. In came Tab, Lisa, Wendy, Chris, Karen, Angie, Kat, Lee, Otter, and Rhonda.
Jim stood up. "Hi, ladies. Ready to go?"
"Yeah, we are," said Lee, as Jim came out from behind the desk.
Wendy, Lee, Otter, Chris and Tab went over and stood with Jim. The rest, Lisa, Angie, Kat, Karen, and Rhonda went over and stood beside Blair.
"Well, sir, we're off for a day of sight seeing and whatever else the day will bring." Jim grinned.
"Oh, we have a day planned for our heroes," Lee informed him.
"Hey, has to be better than the week of hell we just went through," said Blair.
"We are gonna make you two forget all about your hell week." Tab kissed Blair on the cheek. "Thank you for saving our lives."
To the guys' surprise, each of the girls gave both Blair and Jim a kiss on the cheek. Simon shook his head as they walked out the door with the girls.
"Figures, those guys have a week of hell and they get ten women to make them feel better ... some people." Simon grumbled, walked back into his office and shut the door.
The End Send comments and feedback to Brenda at: firstname.lastname@example.org