Lee Brackett stood close to the observation window, watching his Sentinel and Guide pair, code-named Hunter and Hawk, as they worked through the tests in the warehouse below him. His team was the best but still he shook his head. They were good, better than the other three teams of mercenaries and former spooks, but not as good as Ellison and Sandburg had been. Fortunately for Brackett, the sponsors of the tests weren't aware of that.
Brackett watched as Hawk stumbled and Hunter whirled to catch the smaller man before he fell. Hawk pressed both hands to his head, as if in pain. Brackett sighed. Time for another shot, and the shots were required frequently now. He knew he was walking a fine line in drugging Hawk; he needed a clear head to be able to function, but Brackett needed his memories as confused as possible to keep him in line. Bracket watched with a slight smile as Hunter ran comforting but very proprietary hands over Hawk, soothing the short, curling hair back, rubbing aching temples with his thumbs and gentling his hands where he could feel the barely-healed scar of a recent serious head wound.
"Possessive, aren't we?" Brackett murmured. "Remember that, Hunter, if you want to keep him you need to get with the program."
Brackett had known the Sentinel would hear him, no matter how softly he spoke or at what distance he spoke from, and, predictably, Hunter glared up at him, his dark eyes angry. It would be an impressive display, Brackett thought, if he hadn't already faced down Ellison before. Hunter might be a 30 year-old former CIA agent in prime shape, but Ellison definitely had the edge in the number of bodies creatively disposed of over the years. But there was something about an angry, protective Sentinel that added some extra fire to a "go to hell" glare.
Hunter turned his attention back to his companion and spoke softly, continuing to gently touch him. After a few moments, Hawk straightened back up and nodded. Brackett watched in satisfaction as they swiftly completed the rest of the test. He was pleased with the results, even if things hadn't gone to plan. He'd learned a long time ago to be flexible and take advantage of circumstances and it was all paying off.
In his original scenario, he himself would have been the Guide to Hunter's Sentinel; but then, as he had been stealing Sandburg's research from his office at Rainier, Sandburg had stumbled in and the opportunity to bring him along for some hands-on training had been too great to resist. Brackett had been pleased with the impromptu change but Sandburg had proved surprisingly resistant to the plan and had taken a little damage as a result.
Hunter's reaction on first meeting the semi-conscious Sandburg had been enough to clue Brackett in about the whole Sentinel and Guide relationship: Hunter had behaved much the same as Ellison, both protective and possessive of the Guide, and Brackett had stepped back and let Hunter take control of the Guide's medical needs. It had been a little surprising, how fast Hunter had whipped into shape once a real Guide had been found -- Hunter had gone from an alcoholic has-been to a functioning Sentinel in a matter of weeks.
In the warehouse, a gong sounded and Brackett smiled. His team had finished the test mission successfully, and in less than half the time of any other team. He looked up into the mission control room, saw the clients beaming at him and knew it was a go. They would be the ones given the job. He'd have to move the timing up a bit, to make sure that Sandburg's memory didn't inconveniently return, but it was an opportunity he couldn't resist: he had the potential to make a fortune while screwing his new clients and his former CIA handlers and he'd do it in Cascade, right under Ellison's nose, using the partner he was frantically searching for.
Send feedback to Rhyo
Go back to Home Page