Search and Rescue (Round Robin)
Washington State--Cascade Range
March 24, 1997
Blair felt as though they'd been traveling forever. In reality it had only
been a few hours. They'd gone as far as they possibly could in the truck,
driving in the direction of the train line through the mountains, then stopped
to wait for the Lone Gunmen to catch up to them. Mulder was confident his
friends could provide more assistance in finding Jim, given their familiarity
with high-tech equipment. Though Blair recalled their instrumental role in
saving Scully and Skinner from a group of terrorists in D.C., he hated to lose
They'd already spent more than an hour discussing their options once they
entered the compound. Split up? Stay together? Send a couple people to
scout ahead? The possibilities were seemingly infinite. Amazingly, no one
had even mentioned the idea of them not finding the site. Blair looked over
at the large eagle perched like a pet pigeon on the roof of the cab, knowing
its almost constant presence had everything to do with their collective
certainty. Smiling to himself, he acknowledged the fact that having Mulder's
spirit guide near was comforting. It connected him--it connected all of
them--with some unfathomable, but clearly benevolent force. A power that had
helped Sentinels and Guides throughout the ages.
Blair only wished he was as sure about what would happen once they got in and
found Jim. He appreciated everyone's eagerness to find his Sentinel, but
somehow felt that with so many of them going, they were courting disaster.
Someone would get hurt. He was sure of it. It was an acceptable risk for
him, not really even a choice. He was Jim's Guide; Jim was his
"You okay, Sandburg?" Simon asked, moving to his side and leaving Mulder,
Scully, and Skinner to their procedural discussion.
"Yeah, I'm fine, sir," Blair replied. "I'm just
. . . thinking."
In an uncharacteristic gesture of friendship, Simon leaned against the truck
beside Blair and draped an arm around his shoulders, giving them a gentle
squeeze. He released the anthropology student as quickly as he'd embraced
him, leaving Blair wondering if he'd imagined the touch. Looking up at Simon,
he managed a smile.
"I know how you feel, Sandburg," Simon began. "Scratch that, I don't know
how it feels to be connected to someone like you are to Jim, but I know how I
feel about him. We are going to do everything we possibly can to get him out
of there safe and sound." Simon nodded at the others, crouched a few feet
away near the edge of the scenic overlook. "With a small army plus a little
outside help," the captain said, glancing over at the bird, "How can we go
Blair sighed and reached up to rub a hand over his face. "I just wish we were
there now. I wish we had Jim and were going home to the loft and . . . and .
That's when it hit him. The first wave. It swept over Blair with tidal
force. His connection to Jim had been dormant most of day, with only hints of
consciousness, voices and sometimes feelings of weakness, but this . . . this
felt like an electric shock. He was on his knees before he knew the jolt for
what it was, Jim's pain.
He felt hands on his shoulders and heard a booming voice. "I need help over
What could be happening to Jim? What were they doing to him? These questions
barely over road the searing pain in his head. "Jim?"
Blair's head thudded back against the truck as he suddenly lost all control
over his motor functions. Still half-conscious, he felt himself supported by
more than one set of hands. But they couldn't strengthen his hold on his own
mind. He felt himself floating away toward another, toward his Sentinel, who
Secret Compound in the Cascade Range
Darkness . . . then light . . . bright, blinding, searing light . . . and
voices . . . speaking one atop another. Jim couldn't understand all that was
being said. He could barely remember who he was and what was happening to
him. They'd taken him, drugged him, and were hurting him. Testing
And the pain they offered up--it swept through every nerve, every cell and
fiber of his being. What had they done to him? What were they
Oh, god, Blair. His Guide had come to him, found him, tried to comfort him.
But Jim couldn't offer a coherent thought to his friend. Desperation had
driven Blair's own mind close to his, trying to communicate through the hazy
fog of images and pain. But there were no words to be shared. Words couldn't
communicate the violation, the fear and the feelings of hopelessness Jim had
come to know as his whole world.
And then the blessed darkness came again, dividing Sentinel and Guide, sending
Jim back into a void where the growl of his spirit guide followed.
"What happened?" Scully asked, as she helped Simon ease Blair's limp body
down to the ground.
"I don't know," Simon replied. "But it must have something to do with his
connection with Jim."
"This hasn't happened to myself or Scully when the link comes to life," Mulder
protested. "I don't understand."
"It must have something to do with what's happening to Jim now," Scully
suggested, leaning over to examine the young man's unconscious
"He's breathing, isn't he?" Simon asked, warily.
Scully looked up from her observations. "He is--his breathing is shallow and
his pulse is a bit rapid, but I don't think he's in any immediate danger."
Scully looked over at Mulder and Skinner then back at Captain Banks. "Is
there something you're not telling us, sir?"
Simon kept one hand curled around Sandburg's forearm as he spoke. "The first
couple of times he linked with Jim, he stopped breathing." Simon shook his
head. "They've never been able to figure out why. I was just . . . I'd hate
to be the one to tell Jim that we lost the kid."
"You won't have to, Simon." The weak voice came from the anthropologist. All
eyes turned toward him as he struggled to sit up.
Banks put a hand behind his back, supporting him. "What happened, Blair?" he
The young man raked the hair out of his face with one hand and took a deep
"Jim . . . they're doing something to him or have done something . . . I don't
know, but it's painful." Sandburg's face remained drained of color. "He'd
been out of it, but was suddenly aware. I couldn't communicate with him
though. His pain was all consuming, probably heightened by his senses. Then,
he was out again. I feel only darkness, like before." Blair leaned his head
back against the truck and closed his eyes. "We need to
get to him soon."
Mulder placed a comforting hand on Blair's shoulder. "We will, Blair.
Langley, Byers and Frohike will be here in a couple of hours. It won't be
"But night will be falling soon," Simon noted. "How are we going to be able
to get through these mountains in the dark?"
"We can with night-vision goggles," Mulder explained. "I was just telling
Scully and Skinner that the guys have some in their truck, enough for all of
us. They're state of the art. With all the equipment they have, it shouldn't
be much of a problem walking through the night if we have to and even if we
split up they have communication devices we can use."
Banks and Skinner both raised their eyebrows in amazement.
"Maybe we should talk more about our plans now while we have a chance,"
Skinner suggested. "The more we know about everyone's role in this, the
greater our chances for success."
Scully was holding Sandburg's wrist, timing his pulse. Her gaze swept over
the small group. "Maybe we should, but I think Blair needs
The anthropologist opened his eyes. "I'm fine," he insisted. Trying to prove
he was well enough to take part in their planning, he was about to get up when
he became nauseated.
He pulled his hand away from Scully, using it to cover his mouth and leaned as
far away from anyone as he could. When he started to retch, he scrambled to
his feet using the truck for support. He didn't need to for long; Simon was
right behind him, guiding him to the rear of the vehicle where he promptly
"Easy, Blair," Simon comforted. He held onto Blair's shoulders in an effort
to keep the young man from tipping forward in his weakened state. "It's okay.
I've got you."
The anthropologist took several deep breaths, trying to calm himself and
control the nausea. Scully neared, offering him a bottle of water.
Gratefully, Sandburg took it and rinsed his mouth. She turned to Mulder
asking him to retrieve one of the sleeping bags from the truck. He quickly
complied, spreading it on the ground beside the truck.
Once he was sure he wasn't going to be sick again, Blair allowed himself to be
led to the sleeping bag. Lying down, he succumbed to the exhaustion that had
crept up on him following his short contact with his Sentinel.
Washington State--Cascade Range
Blair woke with a start. He opened his eyes to semi-darkness and for a
moment, he didn't know where he was. Then it all came flooding back,
eliciting a soft moan. He pushed himself up off the sleeping bag, using his
forearms for support. As his eyes adjusted to the night, he could make out
the rescue party a few feet away illuminated by a few lanterns. It'd grown
since he'd been asleep to include Mulder's associates, the Lone
"The kid's awake," someone observed.
Blair half-grinned. He was twenty-eight and still being called a kid. It was
fitting enough though. At times like these he still really felt like one. He
was the youngest and most inexperienced member of the team, and yet he felt it
was largely his responsibility to free his Sentinel.
His musings were interrupted as two members of the team neared him--Scully and
Frohike. The FBI Agent took his wrist to monitor his pulse again, asking,
"How do you feel, Blair?"
"Better, I think," he answered, succumbing to further examination without a
protest. She was a medical doctor after all.
"Good to see you, kid," Frohike chimed.
Blair looked over at him and couldn't help but smile at the contraption the
older man had on his face. The goggles and attached microphone made him look
like someone out of a James Bond movie. "Nice shades,"
Beneath the high tech equipment, Frohike grinned back. "Should be, these are
top of the line night-vision, communication combos. Can't attempt a break-out
"Thanks for coming, man," Blair said, turning serious on a dime. As much as
he'd worried earlier about waiting for Mulder's friends, it was clear they
could provide much needed help. That they were so willing to drive cross
country to find Jim was a testament to their reliability and genuine
"Hey, we'll get Jim out of there and away from those bastards." He patted
Blair on the shoulder. "You can count on it."
Blair nodded, accepting Frohike's help as he sat up.
"You really should have something to eat and some water, Blair," Scully
suggested. "Why don't we get you over to the group so you can do that and
join in our discussion?"
"Yeah, that sounds good. I'm kinda hungry," Sandburg replied. He got to his
feet with a little assistance, but was able to walk unaided toward the team a
few feet away. He still felt a little groggy, but he was no longer
As he approached the group, he sent a tentative call through the link, but
wasn't surprised when it remained unanswered. Jim was unconscious again.
From what Blair had experienced earlier, he didn't think it was necessarily a
bad thing. If it meant Jim wasn't in pain, then maybe it was better the
Sentinel remained unconscious.
Byers and Langley both acknowledged the younger man's presence, adding their
words of encouragement to Frohike's. "Thanks for coming, guys," Blair
replied, sitting on the ground between Captain Banks and Langley. "I really
appreciate your help. I hope I haven't held us up too long."
"We only got here about twenty minutes ago," Byers said. "We've just been
sharing our 'toys' with the group." He passed a set of goggles
Sandburg examined the device, then put it on. His vision was immediately
enhanced. Everything around him suddenly became brighter and clearer. It
reminded him of the time Jim had sent his senses through him, bringing a dark
night into focus. This equipment was going to make their trek through the
Langley leaned toward him and adjusted his mouthpiece. "How's the volume on
that?" Byers asked through his set.
Blair jumped as the voice came to him from the device on his head in yet
another Sentinel-like moment. "Loud and clear," he
"You can turn it down," Langley explained, showing Sandburg where the volume
control was located.
"Anything else I should know about this gizmo?" Blair
"That's pretty much it, although we've brought some other stuff with us,"
Frohike said, passing a plate of food and some bottled water over to Blair.
"We'll show you after you make nice and eat for us."
Blair grinned. Now he had more than just Simon and Scully looking out for his
welfare. It sent a feeling of warmth through him. These people really cared.
If good thoughts and determination were all it took to get Jim out of this, he
would already be free.
He took the food and Frohike offered, resting the plate in his lap and
balancing the water bottle against his leg. Blair ate as they continued to
discuss their options and planned for the coming hike through
Secret Compound in the Cascade Range
Jim first became aware of his sense of smell as he drifted toward
consciousness. The familiar scent of cigarette smoke sent a pang of dread
through him as he opened his eyes. Turning his head toward the odor, he was
greeted by the sight of his captor and tormentor. As much as he wanted to
leap for the man's throat, his limbs refused to respond. For the first time
he noticed he was strapped down.
A welcome voice entered his head almost immediately. 'Jim, I'm with you,'
Sandburg said. 'We're coming to get you out of there.'
'Okay, Chief. Just listen, this might help. Listen and breathe,' Jim
instructed as he turned his attention back to the man standing
in his room.
"Well, Detective, our doctors are very impressed with you. You've held up
well throughout their examination and the procedures." The man removed the
cigarette and expelled more smoke into the small room.
"You bastard," Jim coughed, surprised at the weakness
of his own voice.
"I take it you aren't too pleased with this little leave of absence we've
arranged for you. No matter, it had to be done. Just think how much your
contribution will mean to the realm of science, Mr. Ellison."
"What have you done to me?" Jim demanded.
"That's classified. Surely with your background in covert ops you understand
and appreciate the necessity to keep secrets. Without them, the world as we
know it would deteriorate into utter chaos. Order is maintained by people
"Lies are maintained by people like you," Ellison spat.
The man smiled, his face falling into a pattern of unpleasant lines. He took
another puff of the cigarette, then dropped it. He stepped on it before
returning to the conversation. "I admit we sometimes have to be creative with
the truth, but we do so for the greater good."
Jim looked around him, then down at the restraints that bound his arms and
legs. "This is for the greater good?"
"You must realize, Detective, you are an extremely rare specimen. We couldn't
pass up the opportunity to learn more about you and your abilities. And we
wanted to ensure that your unique genetic enhancements wouldn't end with you."
The man reached into his pocket and withdrew a pack of Morleys. In the
pattern of a chain smoker, he put another cigarette in his mouth and lit it.
"Your line of work can be very dangerous. You could be killed before you
fathered a child. It's a shame you didn't have a child with Carolyn or any
woman after her. It would be such a bonus to be able to observe your
Jim couldn't believe what the man was suggesting. And the casual tone of his
words seemed to give their meaning a more frightening twist. "You son-of-a .
"Now, now, Mr. Ellison, let's not resort to name calling. I'm a reasonable
man. You won't be permanently damaged. We would like to talk to that young
friend of yours . . ." The man paused for a moment, letting his threat sink
in. "The anthropologist who's been studying you, Mr. Sandburg, isn't it?
We've read his research and he could be very helpful. It seems he's been
indispensable to you, working and living with you. He just must have a wealth
of knowledge about Sentinels."
Jim's anger increased with each word. His eyes locked their deadly blue gaze
on the man in front of him. "Leave him out of this," Jim's voice was a
"And why would I want to do that? Sure, it may take some coaxing to get him
tell us anything . . ."
"You touch him and you're dead," Jim promised.
The man laughed. "We can and we will do anything that will give us the
knowledge we need. We can and will do anything that will further our
Washington State--Cascade Range
The team opted to stay together during their nighttime hike. Mulder took the
lead, keeping his naturally enhanced eyes on the flight path of his spirit
guide. Scully, the Guide to his Sentinel, walked a few paces behind him.
Then, Sandburg and Banks followed by Skinner and the Lone Gunmen.
Their electronic equipment made the journey much easier, though no less
demanding. As suggested they all carried only the essentials in their
backpacks and were wearing dark clothing that would hopefully hide their
progress from any casual observations. Unfortunately, winter was still
hanging on at these high elevations, so they were forced to wear cumbersome
jackets and gloves.
They'd been hiking for about two hours, when Blair suddenly stopped. He
didn't respond to Simon's inquiry. Almost immediately, Simon called a halt.
He walked up to the young man as the others started to gather. Gently, he
took Blair's arm and called him again. Still nothing. Blair's breathing had
become heavy and erratic.
"Come on, kid, what is it?" Simon urged. He released Blair's arm and took
hold of the night-vision glasses and com link, easing them off
Blair's eyes were locked on something only he could see. Their vacant look
scared Simon. It had to be Jim. Their link must have kicked
Scully neared. She reached for Blair's chin, turning his face toward her. "I
know you're with Jim now," she said, echoing Simon's thoughts. "But you need
to be with us, too, Blair. Follow my voice, you can do it. Tell us what's
Amazingly, Sandburg responded to her. "A man . . . there's a man with him,
him . . . they've done things . . . done things to Jim . . ." It was hard for
Blair to speak. He was really starting to hyperventilate now.
"Take it easy," Scully said. "Take slow deep breaths.
"His heart is racing," Mulder commented.
Scully confirmed her Sentinel's observation pressing her fingers against
Blair's neck. "Sandburg," she said, more forcefully. "You have to get this
under control. The best thing you can do for Jim now is to tell us what's
The anthropologist's eyes finally met hers. He nodded and forced himself to
breathe more slowly, lifting one hand to his mouth. When he could speak
again, he told them everything he'd heard.
"Before he left, he said they were coming to get Jim for another session in
about an hour." The fear in that statement was unmistakable.