Secrets, Books and Murder

Part 5

Suisan "Sue" R.


Willow Springs, Arkansas

Early Morning, 23 January

Sean wasn't sure what had awakened him, but he knew that he was awake for the day. Climbing out of the bed, he padded barefoot to the patio door and out onto the deck. The morning air was crisp, almost cold, but he didn't really notice. As he took in the clean air, he stretched both physically and with his senses, and gasped in shock when he saw the mountain lion.

The large tawny cat calmly walked towards him from the tree line then jumped gracefully onto the deck. Sean never moved. He knew this animal; it wasn't really there, not in the physical world. As he watched, the cat morphed into a man, a warrior carrying sword and shield with his face obscured with heavy blue wode marks, marks that flowed down his neck onto the muscled body to the top of his short battle kilt. The warrior spoke to him.

"Greetings, Protector."

"Morning, Warrior."

"Know you why I come?"


"Your Guardian is in danger. Others know where she went and seek her and the knowledge she has."

Sean tensed; he had feared something like that would happen. "What is it you need me to do?"

The warrior looked at him. "You know that answer already, Protector." Then with all the grace of a cat, the man jumped from the deck, morphing back into the mountain lion before his feet/paws touched the ground. The cat bounded off into the woods.

Shivering, Sean turned back into the house, grabbed up his robe and put it on. Making his way to the office, he made plans to leave, to follow his spirit's cryptic advice, plans that would take him to his wife/Guardian's side. He hoped that he would arrive in time, before trouble found her.


Cascade Washington

Early Morning, 23 January

Caragh had returned to the hotel to find Steaphan waiting for her in the lobby, looking a bit peeved. She walked up to where he sat, reading the morning paper. "Steve?"

The pilot looked up at her, the annoyance he felt clear in his eyes. "Mike. Where have you been?"

She shrugged and handed him a Styrofoam cup of coffee and a white bag with two fresh bear claws. "I went and got you some breakfast. You ready to head out to Gaia's?"

"You must've walked, the rental's still in the garage." He opened up the sack and smiled. "But you couldn't have gone too far to find these. Thanks."

Smiling, she pulled him to his feet and walked with him to the garage. "You're welcome. Now, since we have an hour's drive ahead of us, let's get on the road. The sooner we get there, the sooner we get back and you can get to tinkering on the Aine and I can get some serious shopping done." Reaching the Suburban, she unlocked it and climbed in behind the wheel. Waiting until he was settled, she started the vehicle and pulled out into the early morning light and headed towards the highway.

"So, Mike. What time did you wake up? You weren't in your room when I called at 5:30." Steaphan had worried a bit, and then recalling that his friend was well able to take care of herself, had gotten ready for the day and taken up his post in the lobby, knowing that she'd have to pass him to get back to her room.

Carefully switching lanes to connect with the highway that headed east and out of Cascade, Caragh shrugged and answered. "I really don't recall. Early. Guess I'm still on Arkansas time."

He let the conversation drop as he consumed his breakfast, then after a small consultation, turned the radio on and they listened to NPR News as they drove to their destination.

After Jim dropped him off at the University, Blair holed up in his office, pouring over a book that he had been looking for most of the morning in the loft. Flipping through the worn pages, he found the picture he was looking for, the match for the knot work drawing Jim had done the day before. Reading the footnote under the picture, he flipped to the referenced page and began to read about the drawing, which had first been recorded on the inside of a burial mound in western Ireland in the county of Donegal, back in the late 1940's.

The mound had been fully sealed, much like Newgrange had been, but upon opening, the discoverers had found it empty. Well, not empty, but there had been no body, and only a few artifacts left. Two torcs, made of electrium, had been found, one with two cats on the knob ends, the other, two dragons. A shield, with faded markings much like the one Jim had drawn had also been unearthed, along with a perfectly preserved sword, steel with a cross guard of the same metal as the torcs, and a long pole with one end capped in steel, the other wrapped in crumbling leather with small bones and stones hanging on equally crumbling thongs. Carbon dating had placed the age of the pole, or staff, at or about 700 to 900 years old. The testing had been done by the University of Ireland in Shannon in the mid 1980's and had effectively placed the age of the wood as being from either the 1000's to 1200's. But no one, no archaeologist, anthropologist or other scholars had been able to explain why the chamber had been built and never used.

Blair closed the book, using the paper his roommate had drawn on as a bookmark and stretched. Glancing at his watch, he realized that he had been reading for more than an hour and needed to get to class. He was teaching again. Anthropology 101, the beginner's class, but it was teaching. He put the book back on the shelf and gathered up his notes for the class and headed over to the lecture hall.

Simon Banks walked into the bullpen of his Major Crimes Division, surprised to see Jim Ellison already sitting at his desk and working on reports. Surveying the detective's desk, the Captain noted that the man must have been there for a while already. Smiling, he walked up to the detective, who was busy typing up a contact report.

"Not that I don't like diligence in my men, Ellison, but how long have you been here?"

Jim glanced up at the clock on the bullpen's wall, then up at his Captain. "Oh, about four reports."

Simon snorted. "Yeah, and with the way you type, that equals what? About two hours?"

"I got in at 6:30, Captain."

"And it's now just before 8:00. What got you in here so early? You get a break on the Book Case?" He gestured for Jim to follow him and made his way towards his office.

Following the Captain, Jim sat down in a chair across from Simon's desk and watched as the Captain loaded up his personal coffee maker. "No, not yet. But I'm not ready to give up on it."

Now that his 'go-juice' was brewing, Simon removed his long coat and hung it on the coat tree behind the desk and sat down, facing his detective. "Anymore responses from your NCIC memo?"

"No, not this morning. Had one come in last night, from Washington DC."


Jim nodded. "Yeah, seems one of the archivists at the Smithsonian was doing inventory and noted that the museum's books by Burton had gone 'missing'."

"The Smithsonian? How does a museum misplace books?"

"I don't know. I'll contact them later this morning, see what else they can tell me."

Simon leaned back, reaching for the coffee mug he kept on the table beside his coffee maker. "You want a cup, Jim?"

"Nah, I've had my fill for the day. Besides, you brewed up that vanilla nut concoction that Daryl got you." The smell had permeated the office, sweet and sticky with heavy overtones of dark coffee. Jim's stomach turned just thinking about drinking any of it.

"I did?" Pouring the coffee, he stopped and sipped it. "Hmm, not bad. To me anyway. Guess that means I get the whole pot to myself then."

"At least until Joel gets a whiff of it." Jim smiled. "Anyway, I've already had about three pots of the stuff. Two at home before I came in, well I shared one with Sandburg, and about another pot's worth of the sludge that the vending machine dispenses as coffee."

"Up early, then? Something bugging you that I should know about?" Simon removed his glasses, opening his desk drawer looking for his bottle of aspirin by touch.

Noting his Captain's actions, Jim answered, "Probably not. It may be one of those 'sentinel things' that you hate to deal with."

Simon stopped his search. "Oh, okay. As long as you tell me it doesn't have to do with ghosts, I can handle it -- or drop it until you feel I should know about it."

The reference to Molly, the ghost he had seen over a year ago, bothered him. But Jim wasn't about to let Simon know that. "No, no ghosts." He stood up and stretched, trying to work a kink out of his neck. "I'd better get back to work, the others will start showing up soon."

"Fine. But tell me, what happen to Jorgenson and McMillian? I thought they had the night shift this week?" Simon was fairly sure he knew what had happened, but wanted to hear it.

Jim smiled as he walked towards the office door. "I sent them home when I got here. They'd had a slow night and you know how they are around me. I make them nervous or something."

Simon chuckled. "Yeah. Right. Go on, get out of here and do what you need to do, Detective." He watched as Ellison walked back to his desk and picked up the phone and a piece of paper, probably the fax from the Smithsonian. This book theft case is getting stranger and stranger with each passing week and with each new fax that came in. I wonder where it's all going to end up?


Willow Springs, Arkansas

Mid-Day, 23 January

Sean McConnel walked into his office, after spending most of the morning trying to make arrangements to get to Cascade and assisting Joe Kelley in interrogating his suspect that he'd picked up at the drug drop. Moiré Michaels was waiting for him.

The older woman, who was in her early 70's, stood up quickly when her grandson walked into his office. She wasted no time. "Sean, Steaphy will be ready to take off on a moment's notice. You're sure about this?"

"I know what I saw, Moiré. I told you about it this morning... " He walked around to seat himself behind his desk, facing his visitor.

"Which was almost too early for this old woman to handle." Moiré sat back down in the overstuffed chair she'd occupied earlier, taking time to adjust herself before continuing. "I know that you've had a problem in the past dealing with the visions you have, which is part of what makes you a Protector, what about this time?"

Sean reached out and scanned the office area for intruders; most of the staff was still out to lunch, or working cases. Satisfied with the privacy of the moment, he said, "I can't explain it. I just know that the Warrior appeared to me, basically told me to get to Mike's side, that the ones behind the murder and theft of the Wilkins place had tracked her and would be after her knowledge."

Moiré leaned forward, elbows on her knees. "Sean, laddie, that could easily mean they're just after the book... " She sat back as he interrupted her.

"Or they could be after Caragh. I can't take that chance." He didn't want to think about the possible consequences to him, and his Guardian, if he was to somehow lose her. He knew enough about the past Protector's of the Clan & Tribe to know that if his wife predeceased him, he'd probably follow her. Quickly. Either losing his mind to grief or a zone, and if grief, he'd most likely eat his weapon. Not a pretty thought.

Nodding her head, she said, "I understand, Sean Pat. I had a talk with Deirdre before coming here, she had an interesting 'insight' to pass on today."

Sean snerked. "Deirdre, huh? What did the Clan's resident seer have to say?" He liked Caragh's cousin, Deirdre O'Neill, but the woman was flaky. Only a few years older than his wife, the seer could easily be mistaken for a redheaded Caragh McConnel, but was into the new age movement with fervor. She dressed like Stevie Nicks had for years, mostly in black, but recently had gone over to the "tie-dyed hippie look" of the late 60's, early 70's. And while he couldn't really prove it, he was fairly sure that she was either experimenting with illegal substances or maybe just hanging around with folks who did. She often reeked of marijuana these days.

Moiré knew of her niece's foray into her own version of belief systems, this new age stuff she was into. It wasn't the traditional path of a seer, or a Shaman, but Deirdre had been jealous of Caragh since childhood. She had wanted to be the one that Two Eagles had chosen to be his apprentice, but the old Osage medicine man had flatly refused her, telling her that her path was different, better, but she had to find it herself. Knowing what she was about to say wouldn't please her grandson; she took a deep breath before answering.

"Deirdre told me she dreamed of Caragh last night. That she had dreamed that she'd been hurt, physically and psychically. She didn't go into details, but she told me that she had a bad feeling about it."

"Psychically?" Sean leaned over his desk, head going down to his hands. "Like her Shaman abilities would be affected?" He didn't understand everything about his wife's skills as a Shaman, but he knew that those skills were very important to the Clan & Tribe.

"I don't know. Neither did Deirdre. Have you had a chance to talk with Leland about your plans yet?" Moiré knew the Sheriff wouldn't be happy about his Chief of Detectives taking off unexpectedly and, if she had to, she'd gladly intervene.

"No. Not yet. Lee's been hitting the campaign trail already, even though he hasn't really decided whether or not to run again this year."

Moiré smiled. "Doing the public speaking tour this morning and lunch with the Rotary or one of the others?"

Sean brought his head up. "Moiré, how do you know so damn much about politics?"

The woman stood up, her smile growing even wider. "Sean, next time you're over at the Courthouse -- take a good look at the Judge's wall. Now, I need to get back to the plant. Call me or Steaphy when you know the time you'll be ready to fly out." She walked around the desk and planted a kiss on the top of the detective's head. "And don't worry. We'll get you to Mike's side in time. Trust me."

Sean watched her leave, spryly avoiding a collision with a group of returning secretaries, slipping past a couple of patrolmen dragging a suspect through to processing, then deftly slipping out of the offices. He shook his head, wondering if his wife would be that active when she reached her grandmother's age. He sighed and reached for the files that were stacked four inches deep on his desk, this was a part of the job that he had always hated. Paperwork. And since becoming the Chief of Detectives, he'd been getting more and more of it on a daily basis.

Moiré didn't leave the grounds of the Galloway County Sheriff's Office right away. She waited in her car, watching for the unmarked unit that she knew Sheriff Leland Andrews drove these days. After twenty minutes had passed, she noticed the car pulling into the lot. Getting out of her car, she waited for the Sheriff.

Lee Andrews had noticed Moiré Michaels waiting for him when he pulled into the parking lot, and wasn't surprised to see her walking towards him with purpose to her stride. "Moiré! What brings you to me today? Something happy, I hope?" He called as he climbed out of his unit.

She didn't mince words. "We need to talk, Lee. Privately."

"Sure. My office?" He gestured towards the building that housed not only his office, but also the County's jail.

"No. My car. Now." She turned on her heels and walked back to her burgundy Sable, not waiting to see if he followed her, just knowing that he would.

He followed. No one ever dared to refuse Moiré Michaels. The woman had been the County Judge of Galloway County, ten years ago, and still held a lot of power; power which came from her ability to inspire people, not from her position in the community, though that helped too. He climbed into the passenger side of the woman's car and looked over at her. "Okay, what's up, Moiré?"

"Sean needs to leave. Today, tomorrow at the latest. Don't try to stop him."


"Mike." She didn't say much more than that in the ten minutes that he sat in the car, listening to her. Lee wondered just how often his life, and his way of looking at the world, would be turned upside down by the team of Michaels and McConnel and this weird Guardian/Protector thing he still didn't fully understand.

"I'll see what I can do to get him out of here early. I know that he's got more than enough time on the books to cover a long term absence, but I'll have to let Detective Kelley know he's going to be holding the reins for a while."

"Will that be a problem?" Moiré looked at the Sheriff, her eyes hard and cold.

"No. I'll talk to him. I won't spill any secrets, but I will make sure that he understands."

"Good. Well, as much as I like talking to my protégé, I better get out of here before Sean figures out I haven't left yet." Moiré started up the car, the radio blaring to life.

Lee smiled, she was listening to the alternative rock station, as he got out of the car. He waited until she had pulled away before heading into his office. The old woman never ceased to amaze him. Walking into the outer office of his secretary he called out, "Gladys? Locate McConnel for me, will you?"

Gladys Haynes looked up from her desk, surprised. "How did you know Sean was looking for you?"

Passing her desk on his way to his office, he smiled. "I used to be a detective, Gladys. You know that."


Cascade, Washington

Late Afternoon, 23 January

Caragh Michaels-McConnel, AKA Kara O'Shannessy, opened the door to her hotel room, sighing in relief as she dropped several shopping bags to the floor and kicked the door shut behind her. Steaphan Shannon had caught a ride back into Cascade from Gaia's earlier with one of the workers there, for which, she'd been grateful. It had given her the opportunity to shop the various specialty shops here in the city, and for her efforts she had collected a few new coffee blends, teas and other 'frivolous' items, like the new shirt she had found for her husband, Sean. Kicking off the sneakers she had donned this morning at Gaia's, before touring the facilities, she reached for the shopping bag containing the shirt.

Pulling the shirt out to inspect it, she marveled at the soft feel of the fabric. It was a heavy-duty flannel, brushed and sanded until it felt like silk to her touch. And the color. It would match his eyes, a green that so closely matched her own. He'd love it, that she was sure of. But she'd have to make sure to wash it properly before letting him even try it on. And if he didn't like it for some reason, she figured she could always steal it from him. Putting the shirt back into the bag, she stretched, stood up and went over to the room's phone, calling over to Steaphan's room, surprised when he didn't answer.

Concerned, she called to the front desk. "Yes, this is Ms. O'Shannessy in room 1028, are there any messages for me?" Hoping that if the pilot had been delayed, he would have called the hotel -- leaving word of his whereabouts and itinerary.

The lady manning the front desk hesitated then answered, "Ah, yes. A Mr. Shannon just called and left one for you, ma'am. Said he was still at the airport but should be back by five this evening."

"Thank you." Caragh said then hung up. Glancing at her watch, she figured she had about half an hour before Steaphan would return, so she set about repackaging the items she had bought on her shopping spree.

Detective Jim Ellison pushed away from his desk and stretched, trying to get the kinks in his lower back to work out. He had spent most of the day tracking down other reports of books that had been stolen or misplaced all over the country. Most of them were books by Sir Richard F. Burton, mostly from private collections, except for the one at the Smithsonian.

After talking to the archivist there, he realized just how easy it could be to misplace a book. They had thousands of books to keep track of and couldn't do all the restoration work on the tomes themselves, so they had contracted with several book binders in the area to do the work for them. That's what had happened with the Burton books, which had come up missing.

Reportedly, the museum had sent the books out to a bookbinder they had just contracted with, but when the books had been returned they hadn't been checked back in properly. Out of the fifty or so books that had been sent to the new restorer, only two had not been returned. Burton's "The Sentinels of Paraguay" and a little known book by James 'Blackie' Wilkins, "Guardians and Protectors." Once the oversight had been discovered and the bookbinder contacted, he'd closed up shop and no one seemed to know what had happened to the business.

Jim was starting to realize that the other book that figured prominently in the reports he'd gathered, outside the Burton books, was this one by Wilkins. But he had no idea what it was about. Unless the half-baked theory he'd been pushing into the back of his mind all day was correct? Thinking about it, brought it back to mind and he considered it. Shaking his hands out, he logged back onto his computer, logged onto the Internet and pulled up a search engine he had had Blair notebook for him. After typing in his request, he settled back in the chair to await the results. In less than a minute, he had his answer.

A James Wilkins had worked with Burton, for a short time, in Africa, while the explorer was working on his sentinel theory. But then the two men had had a falling out and Wilkins had returned to America and settled down with his wife and family in the small town of Willow Springs in Arkansas. Coincidence? Somehow I don't think so. Jim logged off the computer and glancing at the clock, realized it was time for him to call it a day.

Seeing Rhonda wasn't at her desk, he walked over to the Captain's office, knocked and walked in. "Captain?"

Simon Banks looked up from the paperwork on his desk and smiled. "Jim, what can I do for you? Besides sign off on your overtime?"

Jim smiled, shaking his head in amusement. "I just thought I'd let you know, I'm outta here for the day. Unless you have something for me to do?" He couldn't help it, he sounded almost hopeful.

Hearing the tone in the other's voice, Simon thought about handing off a few of the reports to his detective to go over, but seeing the lines of tension around the man's eyes, he couldn't do it. "Nah, get out of here. And don't show up here early again unless you really have to. I don't like it when you scare off the help."

"Yeah, right. Maybe you should be the one to show up early tomorrow? Keep Jorgenson and McMillian on their toes?" Jim walked out of the office before his Captain could reply. Grabbing his jacket off his chair, he headed out of the bullpen and down to the police garage where he had parked this morning.

Once in his truck, he realized that he wasn't ready to head home just yet, the case he was still working on tumbling around in his head. So he drove around the city for a while. Listening to his favorite classic rock station, he thought about the Burton/Wilkins connections, keeping track of, but not really paying attention to the police radio that was on. Until he heard the call...

"All units, report of suspicious activity, possible homicide, Cascade Municipal Airport. Proceed with Caution."

Realizing that he was only a few blocks away from the airport, Jim picked up the mike and called in. "Unit Echo Seven, responding to Airport."

"Copy, Echo Seven. Report called in by civilian, contact lost. Caller advised the gate guard was unresponsive, that she had heard activity in hanger 18, and then she hung up on us."

"Got it." Reaching up, he flipped down the driver's side visor with his emergency lights attached and then hit the control buttons that would turn them on, sound the siren and cause his head lights to 'wig-wag'. As he did this, he heard other units responding to the call.

Roughly two minutes later he pulled up to the guard shack at the airport, cutting all his lights and sirens before approaching. Leaving the engine of the truck running, he got out to check on the guard. Jim found the man, inside the small hut and very dead. Without getting too close to the body and risk contaminating the scene, he used his eyesight and zoomed in on the wound. The guard was lying on his stomach, blood pooled around his head, which Jim used to track the wound. It was a small hole at the base of the skull. The perfect placement to kill a person instantly, but he couldn't detect any gunpowder residue.

Standing in the doorway of the shack, Jim focused his eyesight and hearing on the rest of the area, looking for Hanger 18. Spotting it, he noticed a dark green Chevy Suburban parked outside the hanger, and another dark, possibly black, Ford Taurus parked nearby as well. His hearing brought in the noises of someone cursing and apparently tossing stuff around, another barely breathing and yet another person who was controlling their breathing and carefully walking around the hanger. Getting back in his truck, Jim called in his location, what he had found and where he was heading. Not completely shutting the door, and keeping his head lights off, he approached the hanger, then killed the engine and let the truck coast to a stop right behind the Suburban. If the vehicle belonged to the guard's killer, he didn't want him to have an easy way out.

Carefully approaching the side door, that was hanging open, Jim pulled his weapon, took the safety off and found himself wishing he hadn't come here without Blair. He was tired, and this was just the type of situation where his senses could come in handy, but without his guide to focus on, he'd be risking the chance of a zone-out. However, without being aware of it, he was able to dial up his sight to where the gathering darkness didn't bother him. Pushing the door open carefully, he made his way into the hanger, only to almost trip over another body.

Kneeling down beside the fallen man, Jim reached for a pulse on the neck and his hand came back bloody, confirming his suspicion that the man --a mechanic if the coveralls were any indication --was dead. Moving stealthy, he moved away from the body and towards a stack of crates where he could hear another person moving about. There were also noises coming from a plane parked in the hanger, it's door hanging open, light spilling out from the cabin area. Concentrating on his first target, Jim didn't see the form that filled in the doorway of the plane, jumped down to the hanger's floor and disappeared into the darkness on the other side of the plane.

Jim had crept behind the crates, and found his target. A woman, dressed in dark clothing and carrying a gun. She was tucked in behind a large crate and seemed to be watching the plane for movement, her gun aimed in that direction, steadied against the crate in her two handed grip. He moved a few more feet closer to his target before hissing out, "Freeze! Cascade PD! Drop your weapon!"

By fifteen after five, Caragh began to worry. Steaphan hadn't returned and hadn't called to say he was delayed. Pulling a card out of her backpack, she had placed a call to the mechanics' shop at the Cascade Airport and spoke with one of the tenders there, Bud, who had informed her Steaphan was still there and working on the Aine. After asking him to pass on the message for the pilot to wait for her there, she left her room to grab her rental and head over to the airfield. The phone call and drive over to the Airfield hadn't done anything to settle her nervousness, in fact, the dread that had been building since five minutes after five seemed to be increasing. Pulling the rented Suburban up to the guard shack, she wondered where the guard on duty had gone. Deciding to investigate, she got out of the truck and approached the hut. Upon opening the door, she found the guard. He was on the floor, lying on his stomach, blood forming a good-sized puddle around his head. Pulling her gun, backing out of the door, she nearly puked from the sticky sweet stench that assaulted her nose. Running back to the truck she yanked her cell phone out of her back bag and dialed 9-1-1.

"9-1-1, what's your emergency?"

"My name's Caragh Michaels, I'm at the Cascade Airport. I just found the gate guard, I think he's dead." She climbed back into the truck, instincts telling her that she needed to find Steaphan, fast. "There's some kind of activity at Hanger 18, I'm not sure what."

"Ma'am, I have officers responding, can you tell me your name again?"

Caragh had been about to answer, as she rolled down the driver's side window, when she heard a man yell. "Caragh Michaels. Get those officers here, I just heard someone yelling. From hanger 18, I think." Not thinking, she shut down the cell phone and put the truck into drive, shutting down her headlights and driving only with the light from her parking lights. Pulling up to the hanger, she noticed a door hanging open on its hinges. Shutting off the truck, she let momentum pull her into a parking spot, got out and locked the car up.

Inside the door, she found the second body of the evening. Kneeling down to check, she found her hand coming into contact with wet skin on the man's throat, but no pulse. Then the cabin light on the Aine flared to life and she ducked behind some crates to hide her presence. A form briefly appeared in the hatchway of the plane, but it was too tall to be Steaphan. From her hiding place behind a large crate, she watched the plane for movement, wondering what was going on. Through the small windows on the cabin, she could see the intruder moving about the plane, but she couldn't see the face. Bracing her handgun against the crate in a classic 'barricade' stance, she waited, knowing the intruder would have to leave at some point and she'd have a chance then to approach them.

She was concentrating so hard on the plane and the movements on board, that she almost missed her inner warning system going off. But she did. The hairs on the back of her neck stood straight up and her spirit guide roared in her mind. Then the man's voice hissed in her ears, "Freeze! Cascade PD! Drop your weapon!"

Her spirit guide still roaring, Caragh slowly straightened up from her crouch, her hands going out away from her body, her gun flipping around her right index finger as she let go of the gun. "If you don't mind?" She moved slowly, into a deep knee bend and carefully place her weapon on the floor before standing back up.

Jim kept his voice low. "Fine. Now without turning around, take two paces back towards my voice." He watched as the woman complied, her hands still held out to her side, palms up. "Hands on your head, lady." She complied again, still making no sudden movements. As he did a quick pat down with one hand while keeping his gun trained on her, he couldn't help but hear her heart beating like it was going to come out of her chest. Satisfied that she wasn't carrying another weapon, he reached for his handcuffs, and then placed one around her right wrist. Pulling her arm down behind her back, then guiding her left hand down and back, joined them with the cuffs.

Just then, the first of the other units showed and the responding officers came into the hanger. Jim called the first officer over to his position, handing over his prisoner. "Jacks, watch her, I'm going to check out the plane." The female officer nodded and her partner, Raymond Jons joined him as he approached the plane.

Caragh watched the plainclothes officer, who had just arrested her; handed her off to the female cop, and then stealthily approach the Aine. He moves just like Sean in this type of situation! Her thought was rewarded with her spirit guide roaring even louder in her head. She didn't even realize that Officer Jacks was pulling her out of the hanger, until she was being guided to sit in the back of a patrol unit. Damn! Must've had my own little zone out. Then she remembered something. The man who had arrested her had done a lousy job on his pat down, and the female officer hadn't done one at all before placing her in the back seat of the patrol car. Smiling, she waited until the officer had moved off to join in the search in the hanger, and then maneuvered her hands around until she could reach her holster -- and the handcuff key she kept hidden there. Within a few moments she was free of the cuffs and quietly got out of the unit, for the officer hadn't secured the door. But that was as far as she was going to push the issue and leaned up against the car's trunk. She wondered what the two officers who had continued on to the Aine had found, hoping that her friend Steaphan was there, but not dead like the previous victims she had found.

Approaching the plane, Jim risked reaching out with his hearing again, and found only one presence on the plane, a person who was apparently injured if his labored breathing and occasional moans meant anything. Nodding his intentions to Jons, he climbed up the three steps into the plane. The first thing he noticed was the utter destruction of the passenger cabin; it was practically demolished. Then, following the labored breathing, he found a man down on the flight deck, bleeding profusely from a shoulder wound. "Damn, Jons! Call in an ambulance, we've a man down!" Jim holstered his weapon and knelt down next to the man in the small space and set about seeing what he could do to slow down the bleeding.

Steaphan came back to consciousness to find a man that looked a lot like Sean McConnel kneeling over him, and pressing something against his shoulder, which felt like it was on fire. Blue eyes met his and he realized that whoever this man was, it wasn't his friend or the man that had attacked him. " Who..?" His voice was weak, but apparently the other heard him.

"You'll be fine. Detective Ellison, Cascade PD. Can you tell me your name, or possibly who did this to you?" Jim was trying to monitor the man's vital signs, and while he was rapidly approaching shock, he seemed to be doing okay. The bleeding under the towel that he'd found in the galley even seemed to be slowing down.

"Steve. Shannon. N'ver saw... " Steaphan couldn't continue, the pain in his shoulder sending his sense of touch into overload, he choose that moment to embrace the darkness gathering around him and slipped into unconsciousness.

Jim waited until he was able to turn his patient, his victim, over to the paramedics that had arrived before heading back out to his truck and the woman that he had placed into custody. He was surprised to find her at the passenger door to the Suburban he'd blocked in and handing over a large purse to officer Jacks. His eyes hardening to flint, he approached the two women.

She'd seen the ambulance pull up and the medics rush into the building, knowing that someone was hurt, maybe Steaphan, Caragh had made up her mind and approached the officer who had put her inside the patrol unit. "Excuse me? Officer Jacks?" The officer had spun on her heels, her gun training on Caragh as she came around. "Whoa! Hold it! I'm a deputy Sheriff! I'm going to slowly reach for my ID, in my back pocket." Keeping her left hand out away from her side, she slowly reached into her pocket and pulled out her ID case and handed it to the startled officer.

Officer Josephine Jacks was mentally kicking herself for not following procedures and knowing when Detective Ellison found out, he'd kick her butt. First, she hadn't patted down the suspect herself; secondly, she hadn't made sure the door had securely latched on the unit, and thirdly, she'd allowed herself to get distracted. She'd be back on meter duty by morning, she just knew it. The woman held out a black wallet towards her and Jacks took it, flipping it open to read the ID in it in the light spilling out from the hanger.

Inside was a five-pointed badge, and a picture ID showing the woman before her and identifying her as a Deputy Sheriff of Galloway County in Arkansas. Handing the case back to the woman, Jacks apologized, "Sorry about the mix up, Ellison must not have realized you were a fellow cop."

Caragh engaged her most charming smile. "That's okay. I never told him. I have more ID in the Suburban back there if you want?" Jacks nodded and they headed over to the rental. She was just handing her backpack over to the officer when her spirit guide roared another warning at her, she turned to see the man who had placed her in custody stalking over to them. "Whoops," Caragh muttered under her breath.

Jim heard the woman, he walked up to the two women and repeated his 'suspect's' remarks to her, "'Whoops' is right, Miss. Jacks, what the hell are you doing?"

Jacks looked up at the detective and realized that she was about to see the legendary Ellison temper. "Sorry, Detective. The Deputy here was just about to show me the rest of her identification."

At that, Jim looked at his suspect, really looked, for the first time. She was maybe an inch taller than Blair, and except for her hair being longer and her eyes a bright shade of green, she looked like she could be his guide's sister. She was holding out an ID folder, which he took and opened, looking over the badge and the ID card. Reading the name he dismissed the officer. "I'll handle this from here, Jacks. Go make sure the scene is secured and notify the coroner's office and then call the evidence team out here."

Caragh watched as the female officer handed her back bag off to the detective and waited until the woman was out of earshot before asking, "So, you wanted to talk to me earlier, Detective Ellison?" She leaned up against the side of the Suburban, folding her arms across her chest. "Did you find Steaphan?"

Jim was surprised; here was the woman he'd been wanting to talk with all day, asking about a man she couldn't possibly know. Could she? "How do you know him?" He handed the strange backpack, it only had the one arm strap, to her. "And what the hell are you doing here? In Cascade?"

Taking her bag back from him, she slung it over her shoulder as she answered. "Steaphan's my friend, and my pilot. As to why I'm here in Cascade? I'm on a purchasing trip for my company." She looked up into the face of the detective, amazed at how much he looked like her husband. "Is Steve okay? I saw the ambulance pull up, and you told Jacks to call the coroner?"

Jim wasn't able to relax his guard, his jaguar kept snarling in the back of his mind. "He'll be fine, shoulder wound."

She came off the suburban like she'd been shot. "What?! I need to talk to the medics, he's allergic to a number of drugs." She made to move past him, but the detective reached out and held her back with his hand. The contact was electric and she could've sworn she heard a hissing snarl join up with the roar of her dragon spirit guide. Startled, she looked up into the detective's light blue eyes; her own widening as she realized what was going on.

Jim watched as the blood drained from Caragh McConnel's face as the jaguar in his mind hissed and snarled and was joined by a roaring. Locking eyes with her, he noticed just how green the woman's eyes were -- a soft, light, new green that reminded him of the woods in spring. The Jaguar screamed and the other sound became deafening, drowning out the cat with its bass roar. He let go of her arm in shock. "What the hell?"

Coming back to her senses, Caragh rubbed her arm where he had touched her. Keeping her voice low, to test her theory, she asked, "You're a Protector, a Sentinel, aren't you?" Her dragon, Autumn, shut up and so did that snarling hissing, leaving her mind filled with only silence and questions.

Jim wasn't sure he had heard her at first, then realized she had pitched her voice low enough so that only a Sentinel could've heard her. He didn't answer her, just backed up a step and ran his hand over his face. Then her whisper soft words floated to him on the still night air.

"Don't worry. Your secret is safe, Protector."

Officer Jons came running up just then, before Jim could answer her and before she could make a move towards the hanger. "Detective! The victim is asking for a 'Kara'... "

Caragh stepped forward, past Ellison. "That's me." Behind her, Jim nodded to Jons to escort her to the wounded man, too startled to speak just then. He watched as the officer escorted Blair's old friend and deputy sheriff back into the hanger. Needing something to do, he followed them into the hanger, walked over to where Caragh McConnel had so carefully laid down her gun, and retrieved the weapon. Examining it, he was suitably impressed. No wonder she hadn't wanted to 'drop' it. It was a beautiful piece. Ruger SP-101. After taking a few deep breaths, he walked over to the ambulance where the wife of his fellow detective was rattling off a list of drugs.

" ... Penicillin, sulfa, magnesium, oh and his eyes are really sensitive to bright lights and he's allergic to most detergents."

"Okay. Anything else? Michelle, break out the burn linen."

"Not that I know of. Which hospital will you take him to?"

"Cascade General. Do you happen to know his blood type? He may need a transfusion."

"No. But hang on... " She dug into her back bag and pulled out her daily planner. Finding what she needed, she rattled off a phone number, which the paramedic wrote down. "That's the number to the Record's Archive in Denver. That, with his social security number will get you access to his Naval medical records and they should have the information your doctors will need."

"Thank you. Let's get rolling, Michelle. You want to ride with us?"

Caragh was torn. She wanted to go, but couldn't leave the crime scene or her vehicle. "No, I'll get there as soon as I can. If he wakes up, let him know that, will you?" She backed away from the doors so that they could be closed.

The female medic, acting as the ambulance driver, nodded as she closed the doors on the treatment bay. "We'll let him know, ma'am. If you need directions to Cas-Gen, I'm sure the detective can get you there." Michelle nodded in the direction of Ellison, smiling in greeting and getting one back in return.

"Funny, Michelle. Funny."

"Glad you like it, Ellison," she retorted as she trotted to the front of the ambulance and climbed aboard. She pulled out scant seconds later, sirens screaming.

Jim walked up to Caragh and tapped her on the shoulder. "McConnel?"

Caragh turned around to see him standing right behind her. "Ellison?"

"Steve is in good hands. Garry and Michelle are one of the best medic teams in Cascade."

Caragh choked back a laugh. "Personal experience, Ellison?"

"Jim. And yeah, you could say that." He took her handgun out from his waistband, popped open the revolver's cylinder and handed to her. "Here, you don't want to lose that."

Carefully taking the handgun from his hand, she inspected it, and then snapped the cylinder shut and holstered it. "Thank you, Jim. Sean would probably kill me if I lost this one." She settled her sweater back over the gun and, pushing a stray lock of hair out of her face, looked back up at the detective. "So, you want to take my statement here, downtown or somewhere else?"

Actually, I want to know how you know what I am. But..."How about you follow me to the hospital and I'll take your statement there?"

"Fine by me. Thanks." She followed him back out of the hanger to the vehicles, waited for him to talk with Jacks then noticed he climbed into the blue and white Ford pickup which had effectively blocked her Suburban in. She followed him all the way to Cascade General Hospital, managed to find a parking space close to his and walked with him into the active Emergency Room, where she couldn't help but notice how well known he was by the staff there. He must come here often. I swear, I think the triage nurse was checking him over for injuries.

"Hi, Chris. A Steve Shannon was just brought in by Michelle and Garry. Do you know what room he's in?" Jim greeted the admissions clerk.

"Hmm. This has to be a first, Detective Ellison. You're here inquiring about someone else other than your partner!" Then she got a look at the man's companion. "Oh! I didn't know Sandburg had a sister!"

Caragh smiled, she had been confused for Blair's sister a lot when they were in school together; it looked like that trend was going to continue. "I'm not Blair's sister. But you didn't answer Jim's question?"

Chris blushed at the tone that the strange woman used, and realized that she was correct. "Sorry about that, let me go check." She got up and made her way back to the main area of the Emergency Room.

Jim leaned against the counter and faced Caragh. "That wasn't very nice, McConnel."

She glared at the detective. "Well excuse me if I don't feel like exchanging pleasantries, Ellison." She noticed the harried clerk coming back and turned her glare on the woman.

"Mr. Shannon's in trauma 2, are you Ms. McConnel?" The strange woman nodded sharply. "He regained consciousness long enough to say that you should have all his information for admitting?" Again, she only answered with a nod. "Okay, let's sit over here and we'll get your friend admitted." Chris sat down at her computer terminal and pulled up the admissions program.

Jim waited until Caragh was settled, then leaned over her shoulder to speak to her. "I have to go call in my location to my Captain. Either stay put or I'll meet you in Trauma 2, okay McConnel?" She only nodded as she was giving her pilot's full name and address to Chris for the record. He left the Admitting area and walked over to a pay phone and placed two calls, one to Simon Banks and the other to the University hoping to catch Blair before he left for the day.

The clerk had just asked a question that Caragh didn't know the answer to. She reached into her pack and pulled out her cell phone. "I don't know. Can I use this in here? I can get the answer from his sister."

"It's better if you step outside to make your call, or you can use this phone?" Chris pointed to the phone sitting on the desk.

"It's long distance. I'll be right back." She had to make a few calls anyway. Leaving her pack on the desk, she walked out of the ER and made her calls. The first was to Moiré, the second to Sean.

Part 6

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