The Awakening – Part Nine

PART NINE

“Guide.”

“I’m not your Guide.” Elizabeth turned her head and stared at the wall. She forced all of her mental strength into her primary shield and then glanced at her spirit animal. The polar bear cub had been her constant companion since the night little Jessica had died and now it lay curled in the corner of the room shaking in terror. Giving over to the fear she could not allow herself. She reached out hesitantly with her mind and whispered one word to her spiritual half. “Blair.”

The little animal lifted its head and stopped keening in distress. It didn’t want to leave her but the safety she offered in that one word was so beguiling and luring that he couldn’t ignore it. “Find Blair.”

“You will give me what I want; what I need. That’s all you’re good for, Guide.”

“I am not your Guide!” Elizabeth shouted. “No Guide would ever have one as sick and cruel as you. You’ll never be able to bond with me and I will never accept you—because you are not a Sentinel!”

“I am and you will do what I need or I will kill you.”

“Kill me now, you sick fuck, because I’m never going to give you the gift of my mind.” Elizabeth glared at him. “You’re not worthy of it and it is a gift for my Sentinel.”

“You will stop the voices in my head! You will do as you’re told, Guide!” He shook her and then threw her across the room. She hit the wall and sank to her knees. “You will do what I say.”

“No.” She shook her head. “Not ever. I will never do what you say.” She leaned against the wall and took a deep breath. “I am one with my spirit. I am one with my soul. I seek nothing but peace.” Elizabeth folded in on herself, her eyes blanking. “I know nothing of his cruelty and his pain is not my burden to bear or witness.”

– – – – –

“Okay, this is what we’ve got.” Chad pushed another pin into the large city map he’d put on the wall. “I’ve had fifty reports so far—each pin represents a Sentinel reporting picking up Elizabeth’s Guide scent trail. The blue are our own pride and the green are from the Seattle Pride. They started in Seattle and worked their way to Cascade.”

Simon cleared his throat. “I’ve never heard of Sentinels being used to track a person in an urban environment like this.”

“Jim and Blair are directing them—both pride teams at this point. We have thirty-six Sentinels in the field with hunting and tracking experience.”

“What are the yellow pins?”

“Calls to the dispatcher reporting sightings of Elizabeth,” Chad pushed another pin into place. “So far, none of the callers have been anywhere near where the Sentinels are reporting catching her scent. Even with the way the wind currents are moving in the city—we believe if we cross paths with a visual sighting and a scent trail we’ll have a stronger chance of narrowing down her location.” He motioned towards the pins. “You can tell where the two prides met in the middle—from her house towards the Seattle Center. We have three paths that are not related to that travel pattern and one was definitely before she came online.”

Simon’s mouth dropped open. “Seriously?”

“Yeah, seriously, trust me, Captain. I had no idea a Sentinel could do something like this until Blair started directing Ellison and everyone else started following suit. Sandburg didn’t want to do it—he says it’s too taxing for the Sentinels but Ellison was insistent. Since he couldn’t talk his Sentinel out of it—he slapped radios on every Guide in the pride and teamed them up with unbonded Sentinels and bonded Sentinel-Guide pairs. Each team is made up of six individuals to prevent anyone from bottoming out without a helper on site.”

The radio beeped at that moment and Chad picked up. “Go for Moore.”

“Team four reporting, Fifth and West street, strongest scent trace I’ve found so far.”

Chad paused over the map and took a deep breath. “We have a cross over. We had a call three hours ago from a woman who swore she saw Elizabeth on West Street this morning but she was unable to confirm the time and it was before the bulletin was issued on her disappearance.” He clicked his radio twice. “Team three, join team four in sector six. Focus on residential properties and abandoned commercial lots.” He paused. “Sandburg?”

“I heard, Chad. We’re on our way as well. Have a medical team on standby.” Blair took a deep breath. “Her spirit animal just found me and from his condition –she’s not in good shape. No spirit animal would abandon his Guide unless circumstances were dire.”

“Unless she sent it to you. Could she do that?”

“She has a strong affection for me and trusts me a great deal. It could have transferred to her animal spirit,” Blair admitted. “It’s also a very new spirit. She is his first Guide. I’ve never seen an infant animal spirit before.”

“Infant what?”

“Polar bear.”

– – – – –

Blair cuddled the small bear in his lap unwillingly amused by the looks he was getting. The moment he’d touched the animal everyone, including mundanes, around him could see it. Henri had been the only one brave enough to try to touch the animal and it had keened and moaned under his attention. It was obvious he would accept any comfort offered.

Since they’d arrived in the sector, they’d narrowed the scent trail down to four city blocks and Simon Banks was of the mind that they should start a door to door search. He rubbed the bear’s head and stood up from the sidewalk. “It’s time, little one, to take us to Elizabeth.”

He sat the animal down on the ground and it disappeared for everyone but him. The cub rocked a little and then laid down. Blair winced at its cries of distress and shook his head as he picked the animal back up. “I’m sorry, Jim, he isn’t going to offer us anything. Their bond is too fragile and he’s too hurt.” He cuddled the bear briefly and then walked to one of the older Guides that was helping with the search. “Natalie, would you take him?”

The woman reached out with a dubious expression but gamely took the cub from him and smiled when it didn’t disappear. “My own spirit animal doesn’t appear to anyone when I touch him.”

“He will stay visible as long as you’re holding him.” He patted the animal and started to walk away but it started to cry loudly. Blair frowned as he watched the cub reach out with both paws. “Natalie, put him down.”

Natalie squatted and let the cub down on the ground with careful hands and it disappeared from everyone’s view but Blair’s. The cub took a few steps and then tumbled. Then he got its feet and scurried towards a small group of Sentinels. Blair recognized them as students from Rainier. The cub nuzzled up against one of them and Blair took a deep breath as the young man reached down and picked up him with careful hands.

“Fuck.” Blair glanced briefly at his own Sentinel aware that the atmosphere had drastically changed in that moment. “We have a problem.”

“No kidding, Chief.” Jim cleared his throat. “Jacob, come here.”

The young Sentinel came to his Alpha, his jaw tight with fury as he cuddled the shivering spirit animal. “She’s mine. She’s my Guide.”

“You aren’t registered.”

“No, my parents didn’t want me to register until I finished college. They said I didn’t need the burden of a Guide. They hired me a private Conservator.” His fingers clinched in fur. “I never should have listened to them.”

“You’re both too young to bond.”

“She’s too young for a sexual bond but we could have had a platonic one. If we did I would know where she is right now.” He clutched the bear closer. “I should have known when I saw you with her spirit animal.”

“What is yours?”

“Snowy Owl, but I’ve been dreaming about a bear for months.” He glanced back towards his friends and took a deep breath. “That he came to me… that means she’s my perfect match, right?”

“Yes,” Blair responded. He could have never lied to a Sentinel.

“I saw her on TV… she’s… beautiful.”

“All Guides are,” Jim slid one hand onto the younger man’s shoulder and pulled him close. “Listen to me, we’re going to find her. We’re going to find your Guide but you’ll be no good to us if you go feral. I can see you fighting it.”

“I left my Conservator at the school since there were going to be Guides to help us,” Jacob admitted roughly. “I’ll do my best to keep my cool.”

– – – – –

Megan Connor spread the drawings out that the forensic artist had brought just a few minutes before and studied them. The seven uniforms she’d pulled from downstairs were all staring with her. The images weren’t pretty no matter how much talent the artist had—they were horrific in detail and in subject.

“I don’t know him, but I knew his father.”

Megan jerked. “Excuse me?”

“His father—died six years ago in the line of duty. His mother is retired and living in Florida.” The cop took a deep breath. “Stuart. His name is David Stuart. His father was Nigel Stuart, one of the first Sentinels to ever join the Cascade police department after the rules changed and Sentinels could serve outside of the military.”

Megan left the small room at a dead run and almost ran Thomas down in the hall.

“I’m already on it,” he said. “Markus is en route to the scene and we’re doing a records search for property owned by Stuart and his immediate family.”

“I’ll call the Captain.”

“Do that—and make sure to tell him that Stuart wasn’t on the list we received from the Sentinel-Guide Center. I think someone owes us a lot of explanations.”

– – – – –

Elizabeth pressed against the wall, the pain in her side was pronounced but she was pretty sure she only had a cracked rib. The bang of doors upstairs and the shouting by the police was distant and as much as she wanted to she couldn’t force herself to speak. She knew she wasn’t safe yet and until she was safe she couldn’t relax her guard, couldn’t risk letting him in for even a minute. Shots fired. Steps, running, more steps, doors banging open, voices shouting ‘clear’ in sharp, stressed filled tones.

Finally the door at the top of the narrow case snapped open and there were footsteps on those nasty little wooden stairs. She felt him first, the pressure of her Alpha Guide’s mind reaching out to her and she reached out blindly for the source of comfort. “Blair.”

Blair collapsed on the dingy blood stained mattress and took the shaking girl into his arms. “Elizabeth.” His hands fisted into her shirt. “It’s okay.”

“I didn’t let him in. I kept control and I didn’t let him in. I didn’t let him in.” She scrambled against him—trying to get closer, trying to sooth her soul. “I didn’t. I kept my mind safe.”

“You did so well,” Blair murmured his voice hoarse. “So well. You sent your spirit animal to me.”

“He was hurt,” Elizabeth whispered her body relaxing by degrees. “I couldn’t protect him—I knew he’d be safe with you.” She lifted her head. “Where is he?”

Blair brushed her hair back from her face and frowned at the bruises he found. “Do you remember when you first came online and I told you that you could wait years for your Sentinel?”

“Yes.”

“You won’t.” He took a deep breath. “Are you ready to meet him?”

“He’s here?” she asked, her voice soft with amazement. “Really?”

“Really.”

“I must look horrible.”

Blair snorted and ignored the laughter he could hear upstairs—relieved laughter. “Here’s the thing—he isn’t going to care, we aren’t getting an EMT near you until he’s seen for himself that you’re okay.” He leaned in and let her burrow close to him. He whispered more for her benefit than anything else. His words wouldn’t be a secret to any Sentinel in the building. “He’s nearly feral, sweetheart and very young. I know this is a lot for you—but I need you to focus and take care of your Sentinel.”

She nodded against his throat. “His name?”

“Jacob Summers, nineteen years old, unregistered. He’s a sophomore at Rainier.”

“He’s online and unregistered?” She lifted her head and frowned. “That’s so dangerous. Get down here right now!”

Blair sat back on his heels and laughed a little as he prepared to watch a one hundred pound girl tear a strip off a two hundred pound hockey player. Jacob came down the stairs, still holding the bear cub – Jim with him, providing the anchor he’d needed to stay in his right mind since they’d realized what Jacob was to Elizabeth.

Jacob put the cub down and it tumbled briefly and then scurried to Elizabeth—disappearing into her in a flash of light that made the young Sentinel’s mouth drop open. He didn’t even glance at Blair as he walked across the concrete floor of the nearly empty basement and dropped to his knees in front of his Guide. “Elizabeth.”

She reached out and then with a little sob launched herself at him. He clutched her tightly, and sat back on his heels as she snaked her arms and legs around him and buried her face against his neck.

Jim leaned against the railing and sighed. “We’ll have hell keeping their bond platonic.”

Blair chuckled. “She’ll be eighteen in a few months and really—he’s only two years older than her. It’s not unseemly and he’d never hurt her, you know that.”

Jim pulled his Guide close with a sigh. “I do know.”

“It’s okay,” Jacob murmured, rubbing a circle against her back. “You’re safe and everything is fine. Nothing will ever hurt you again, I promise.”

– – – – –

Blair leaned against the kitchen wall. “Thomas?”

“We found…” He cleared his throat. “Pictures of the other children—plus three that he was apparently stalking. The captain’s kid among them. He had a lot of inside information, Blair, information he shouldn’t have been able to get his hands on.”

“What have we learned about his father?”

“He registered before a digital system was in place—it would have been months before we found his records if then. He wasn’t marked as a Sentinel in his employment records within the PD but was partnered with the same cop for twenty years. He was killed in the line of duty six years ago.”

“His Guide?”

“His partner and presumed Guide ate his gun a week after he put his Sentinel in the ground. We are trying to get more information from the Center but there wasn’t a formal pride in Cascade at the time so there are no pride records to fall back on and…” Thomas sighed. “It’s just a fucking mess.”

Blair glanced towards the door that lead down to the basement and then nodded. “He hit her but nothing else. Her parents?”

“Are en route.”

“Did you tell them about Jacob?”

Thomas grimaced. “I figured I would leave that to you.”

“Bastard,” Blair muttered and jerked a thumb towards the door. “Monitor them but don’t interfere unless things get heated. I don’t think either of them are in a place to initiate an intimate bond but if they are this isn’t the place for it. This isn’t even the place for a proper imprint and I made that clear to Jacob. Once he gets her calmed down he’ll bring her up.”

He walked through the building—an old brownstone in a good part of town and tried to ignore the terror and helplessness that lingered in the place. He’d experienced a lot of horrible things in his life but it was without a doubt the worst that he’s ever experienced. Elizabeth’s parents were hovering on the sidewalk with Captain Banks who was barking out orders on his cell phone and trying to get uniforms to clear a path for the medical examiner. Stuart hadn’t gone down easily and they’d had to kill him in the end.

“Sylvia, Nathan.” He reached out and touched them both as he soon as he could. “She is upset and a little bruised but all together in good shape.”

Sylvia relaxed. “Why can’t we go in?”

“It’s a crime scene,” Blair responded gently. “We’ve kept all non-essential personnel out and there is something you should know.” He sighed and glanced at the growing crowd of spectators. “Her Sentinel has been located—he was part of the search group. We found out about him during the course of the search.”

Nathan Arnold frowned. “Is he here now?”

“He is with her. She’s very upset.” Blair tightened his grip on Nathan Arnold when the man started towards the house. “He’s a very good person, Nathan. Strong, intelligent, and dedicated. He loves his parents, wants to do good things in the world, and is pre-med. He is honest to a fault and would cut off his own head before he’d put a single mark on your daughter. Their bond will remain platonic until she is prepared for more—even if he has to wait years. He alone knows how much this experience has cost her because the moment he touched her she poured it into him.”

“Did… was she…”

“No, she wasn’t raped.”

Nathan took a deep breath. “Okay, okay.”

“His name?”

“Jacob Summers.” Blair turned his head as the front door of the building open and he smiled. “And he, huh, plays hockey for the university.”

“Big boy,” Nathan muttered as he watched Jacob carry her from the house. “Well, good, no one will mess with my little girl after they get a good look at her Sentinel.”

Jacob sat his Guide on her feet in front of her parents and turned his attention to the paramedic who was hovering off to the side. “She’s dehydrated, blood pressure is 120 over 80, her kidneys are bruised, two fractured ribs, and it would be great if you would stop gapping and get over here so you can treat her.”

– – – – –

PART TEN

Keira Marcos

In my spare time I write fan fiction and lead a cult of cock worshippers on Facebook. It’s not the usual kind of hobby for a “domestic engineer” in her 30’s but we live in a modern world and I like fucking with people’s expectations.

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