Standard Disclaimer: Don't own 'em, never will. Sigh.
Naomi was finding it increasingly difficult to find her center while meditating. The vibrations here at the compound had changed. She couldn't stay focused; her mind kept reflecting on the changes that had occurred since her last visit. There were only a handful of familiar faces. The new people made her feel uncomfortable, especially the new leader of the community. Normally a people person, Naomi made a point of staying out of Brother Jonathan's way. All of her questions about the former community leader, Brother Richard, had been met with silence. Brother Richard had been a calming influence in the community, a diminutive man with a cheerful loving disposition that embraced everyone around him. Just the thought of Brother Jonathan made Naomi's skin crawl.
//What would Blair do?// Naomi asked herself, she then chuckled. //He would look around as he called Jim.// She decided to take a closer look at her surroundings before she used her weekly telephone call to her son. Having come up with a plan of action, she gracefully stood and stretched her arms over her head to relieve the tension. She pulled a shawl around her shoulders and left her room.
Naomi wandered around the compound, a relaxed smile on her face as she greeted everyone she met. She meandered toward the newest building in the compound. As she drew close to the building, one of Brother Jonathan's minions stepped out from the side of the building.
"Hello! Beautiful day, isn't it?" She looked up with a bright smile for the man in front of her. "Do you meditate? I've found that the brighter the day, the easier it is to meditate. Today is just perfect, don't you think?" She tried to look around him. "Is the building almost finished? I would really like to see inside."
"I'm sorry, Sister Naomi, but the building is still under construction so we are keeping it off-limits for now."
"It is going to be the new meditation center they've been talking about for years, isn't it?" She watched the man's face as she chattered on and saw him grasp the idea she had held out.
"Yes, it's going to be the Meditation Center."
Naomi looked around him again. "I really would like to see. Come on, just a quick peek. Just to see if the harmony of the building is in sync with my internal harmony."
"Maybe in a few days, when it is safe. I'm sure you will get a tour."
Naomi pretended to be disappointed. "Oh well, if I must wait, I must." She smiled at the guard. "But I will be back in a few days. I love new things." She winked at the guard and, in her usual flowing motion, moved away. //I hate when people lie to me.// She thought. //There hasn't been any construction being done since I've been here. Now I'm sure something is going on and I plan to find out what.//
"Come on, man. You know the only reason Simon won is because you bet against me." Blair complained laughingly.
"I was going for easy money, Chief. How did you let Joel con you into arm-wrestling Simon?"
Blair shook his head. "I'm not sure, but I think the waitress was in on it."
"You mean the one who ran her hand down your arm and said 'Oooo, you must be so strong'?" Jim said in a falsetto voice.
Blair walked over to the blinking answering machine and pushed play. "Laugh it up, big guy. When you least..." He was interrupted by the sound of his mother's voice.
"Hi Blair, just calling to let you know everything is fine. I'm sorry you weren't in for our weekly chat. Hopefully all of our plans are still on for the weekend. Bye for now."
"What is she talking..." Jim held up his hand, halting the younger man's question. His brow furrowed as he heard the subvocal plea at the end of the message.
After rewinding it, he listened to the tape again, focusing his hearing. Blair watched with increasing worry as Jim repeated the words only he could hear. "Jim, I know you can hear me. I need help. Things are very strange here. Meet me at the northeast corner of the fence line. The vibes are all wrong. I can't leave..."
As soon as the message ended, Jim was on the phone. "Simon, how would you feel about a road trip? A family emergency has come up... Yes, it's Naomi. I have a feeling we are going to need your help on this one." He listened for a moment. "Okay, we'll see you in an hour." He turned to his partner. "Simon is on his way. No matter what your mom has gotten into, we'll get her out. Okay, Chief?"
"I know, big guy. I just have a feeling that things could get really bad on this one."
Naomi continued to project the image she had perfected over the years. She had learned that an amiable ditz could get away with a lot. As soon as it grew dark, she proceeded to sneak over to the off-limits building. Staying very still, she waited until the guard had gone to dinner. She listened for anyone else and, when she felt it was all clear, she crept into the building. Turning on the tiny flashlight she was carrying, she looked around. The main entry was very boring and nondescript. She moved further in to the building. Opening one of the unlocked doors at the end of the hall, she stepped into an operating room. Naomi was now confused. //Why would a small hospital be a secret, unless..// She thought to herself. //Maybe it's like the case Blair told me about, the plastic surgery for bad guys.// She went into the room next door and started looking through the file cabinet. She had just opened the drawer when she heard a noise in the hallway. Grabbing a couple of files and quietly closing the drawer, she hid behind the desk. Once the footsteps had continued down the hall, she gave into her curiosity and looked at the files in her hands. "Oh my God." She whispered. The record she was looking at was that of Brother Richard. The new management of the community was harvesting organs for sale on the black market. She quickly skimmed the rest of the record and was relieved to know that Brother Richard was still alive, his rare blood type had saved him from a random harvest.
Naomi took a deep breath and tried to pull in her racing thoughts. She carefully stood, staying close to the wall she moved to the door. After carefully peeking out, she walked as quietly as possible to the exit, holding the pilfered files under her shawl. As she rounded the corner, a large hand grabbed her by the shoulder.
Jim and Blair walked the mile to the compound, not wanting to alert the guards. When they reached the north east corner of the fence, there was no sign of Naomi.
"This is where she said to meet, right?" Blair asked, worry evident in his voice.
"Yeah, Chief, maybe she's just late." Jim said trying to reassure his young partner.
"Can you find her?"
Jim held up his hand for quiet. Blair settled back and let his Sentinel work. Jim cast out with his hearing, searching for Naomi's distinctive voice. He filtered out the ones that were unfamiliar.
"I am calm, I am calm. Like hell I'm calm. The boys better get here pretty damn quick or all they'll... don't go there, Naomi. Think positive. Yes, that's it, Jim and Blair are going to show up and kick butt. Yes, a much better thought."
Jim smiled as he looked over at his partner. "Found her, Chief."
"Is she okay?"
"Yeah, I think so." Jim paused knowing his next request would not be welcome. "I want you to stay here, Chief, and bring in Simon and the local cops."
"And what will you be doing?"
"I'm going to check out the compound to see if I can get Naomi out before everything hits the fan."
Blair begrudgingly nodded. "I'll give you twenty minutes and then I'm coming in."
"Not without Simon, you're not. Do you understand me?" He demanded an answer.
"Yeah, I understand."
As Jim cut through the fence, Blair thought to himself, //Twenty minutes, Simon or no Simon.// He settled back into the shadows to wait.
Jim carefully made his way across the compound, using his hearing to pinpoint Naomi's location. He patiently waited for the guard to move away from the building. Taking advantage of the shadows, he picked the lock on the side door and crept inside. He swiftly crossed to the room where Naomi was being held. The lock on the door was child's play for the Sentinel.
Naomi looked up as he entered the room. He held a finger to his lips signaling to stay quiet. Her eyes widened and Jim started to turn but the warning was too late. The blow to the back of his head drove him to the ground, unconscious.
Blair watched the minutes tick away. At nineteen minutes he left a note where Simon would find it and climbed through the fence. The cloud cover over the moon helped to conceal his passage. He ducked around corner when he saw two men exit the building he had seen Jim sneak into. They stopped a few feet from his position to light a cigarette.
"What's Jonathan gonna do with those two?" The shorter man asked.
The taller man shrugged. "Don't know, but probably he'll do a quick harvest and then they'll join the rest." He gestured to the area just outside the fence. "We've got room for a few more in the garden." The two men laughed.
Blair blanched, their meaning was clear. He held still until they moved out of range and then slipped into the building. He made his way down the hall opening the doors that were unlocked and peering through the observation ports in the doors of the ones that were, he knew he didn't have enough time to pick every lock. Halfway down the hallway, he found the room where they were being held. Looking in he could see his mother with Jim's head resting in her lap. Blessing the fates that had made him decide to learn how to pick locks, he made short work of the lock and opened the door.
"What happened?" He whispered, and gestured toward his partner.
"One of those goons hit him over the head." She started to explain. "I don't know why he hasn't come to yet."
"Oh man." Blair knelt beside his partner and started talking. "Come on, Jim, you need to wake up now. I really want to get out of here in one piece. Follow my voice, follow it back."
Jim opened his eyes, and saw his young partner leaning over him. "I thought I told you to wait outside."
Blair gave a silent laugh. "Yeah, right, and before too long you would have been parts. This is a human chop shop." He helped his Sentinel to his feet. "Good thing I carry the extra key to your cuffs." He smiled as he unlocked the restraints. "Now I think would be a good time to get out of here." They stood and started out the door. Jim halted them in the hallway.
"The cavalry has arrived, Chief. We'd be better off staying here. I don't know about you but I really don't want to be caught in the crossfire." They nodded their agreement and decided to hole up in one of the empty rooms. Jim listened to the progress of the officers being led by Simon Banks. Once the sounds quieted in the compound, they made their way out of the building. Blair had filled them in on what the plans had been for them. They were all grateful to be free.
"Ellison, Sandburg." They turned toward the bellow.
"Yes, Captain." Jim answered.
"Couldn't wait to be rescued, could you?" Simon laughed.
"I tried to convince them to wait but Blair decided he wanted to do it all by himself." Jim smiled. "Personally, Simon," Jim whispered loudly, "I think he has some kind of a hero thing going. Ever since he got that badge...."
"Hey!" Blair protested as they made their way to the car and the road home.