New Arrivals
Author-Sheila Paulson
Titles

Catalyst
Part Two
by Sheila Paulson

See notes and disclaimers in part one.

Blair spent the day with Higgins, talking about Sentinels, lost tribes, wild places. Higgins had been to some of the sites Blair had, and even knew two of the same people. He thrived on this kind of talk and atmosphere. The journal Higgins had was well documented, and the Britisher had even brought a copy of his memoirs over for Blair when he showed up shortly after breakfast. Blair had him sign it then put it aside for the day's work. Gradually books emerged from his room and spread out across the living room. Blair powered up his laptop and the two men checked out various websites.

They were so caught up in discussing the Sentinel concept that they didn't take time out for more than sandwiches at lunchtime. A lot of Blair's professorial colleagues weren't as impressed by Blair's Sentinel studies as Higgins was, but then Higgins knew it was true. Of course Jim knew it was true because he was a Sentinel, but Jim wasn't excited and eager about it, the way Higgins was. He wasn't into the scholar mindset. Jim had to be pushed and prodded to work on his abilities. Higgins was completely fascinated. He pulled experiences out of his memory like a magician pulling rabbits out of a hat, and came up with five separate people who had one Sentinel sense or another. He had names and addresses for them, too.

Blair tested Higgins' vision with some of the experiments he'd devised for Jim. True, age had made inroads on the Englishman's vision; he used reading glasses. But his eyes were still far sharper than Blair's were. And with a little coaching, he could actually focus. Not as well as Jim, of course, and not intently enough to risk a zone-out, but much more so than the man on the street.

"You really do have some ability," Blair exulted. "This is great."

"It's been useful on more than one occasion," Higgins replied. "Once a friend of mine was swept out to sea on a surf-ski, and we went searching for him. My vision helped a bit there, even if we were able to pin down the general location. He had been treading water for over twenty-four hours when we found him. I'm not sure how much longer he could have gone, although I must admit he is even more stubborn than I am. Do you believe there can be a psychic link between people?"

Blair hesitated. He sometimes felt in tune with Jim, and thought it was a side effect of the Sentinel/Shaman interaction. He couldn't read Jim's mind but, sometimes, he got an uneasy feeling when Jim was in trouble. "I think so," he said. "Because people can be in tune. Why?"

"Because when Magnum was swept out to sea, I became very uneasy although I had no reason to suspect anything had happened. And two of his close friends, Rick and T.C, shared my uneasiness, and the three of them found him."

"I've done that," Blair said. "Not found someone who was missing, but felt nervous sometimes for no reason, then later on found out that Jim had been in trouble, maybe under fire."

"Then the link between a Sentinel and a guide is valid?"

"I think it is." Blair caught himself and stared at Higgins in dismay as he realized what he had just done. "But what's that got to do with Jim? Because he--"

"Was stranded in the Peruvian jungle for eighteen months," Higgins put in. "I have done my research and he did make the national news when he was found. There was an article in Time Magazine about him. I didn't instantly think of coming to find him, but I did recall Hiro Sato's experience in the Philippines when I read it. When I planned this trip to Cascade to meet you, I thought it was fortuitous you lived in the same town as Ellison, and meant to suggest him as a possible subject for your research. When I learned he was already your friend, I was certain the experience had activated latent Sentinel abilities and you had managed to find him. You two have become friends but, like myself and Magnum, you are very different from each other. Magnum and I had proximity and the military background to build upon. You might have had proximity, but it would take something else to bring you together. You didn't give away anything I didn't already know."

"Jim is gonna kill me," Blair groaned, disgusted with himself. He knew Jim hadn't been particularly taken with Higgins, and he'd be steamed that Blair had let the secret slip so easily.

"Don't you think if I could keep Hiro's secret for nearly fifty years I can keep Detective Ellison's?" Higgins asked reassuringly. "I was in MI5 for a time after the war, and I realize the intelligence community would never hesitate to take advantage of your friend's potential. I personally believe a person has the right to choose his own destiny, not to be conscripted, except in wartime. His secret is safe with me. I wouldn't give him over for experimentation."

"He'll still kill me," Blair moaned. "He doesn't really like being a Sentinel all the time."

"No, I would imagine he must feel he's lost control of his life. In actual fact, he is simply learning to control it in a different way, but I can see why he might not understand that. What have you learned about his abilities?"

Blair shook his head. "No, I really shouldn't say anything else without Jim's permission. It's not fair to him."

"Does anyone else know of his abilities?"

"Only his captain in Major Crimes."

Higgins nodded sagely. "That's wise. Very well, if we can't discuss him until you've gained permission, what shall we discuss?"

Blair hesitated. "Will you tell me about your experiences with Indiana Jones in Zimbabwe?" he asked hopefully.

Higgins smiled. "I think you'll enjoy this, Blair...."


Jim returned to the loft that evening in a state of annoyance and frustration. The trial had heated up and the witness who was scheduled before Jim had been kept on the stand so long while the defense objected to nearly every question asked by the prosecution that Jim had not yet been called to testify and was instructed to return the following morning. Another day in a suit and tie didn't appeal to him. He'd done it before and would again because court was an inevitable part of the criminal justice system. But he didn't have to like it.

Ragan had spotted Jim the moment he entered the courtroom and had spent most of the day glaring at him, shooting daggers with his eyes. Once he'd mouthed something, and Jim's sentinel talent allowed him to interpret it. "I'm gonna get you." And then amusement in the man's eyes. Jim was sure the evidence would convict Ragan, and he was used to threats, but when he reached the third floor and started down the hall to 307, he was not in the best humor he'd ever been in. He sent his hearing out ahead of him to see if Blair was home and safe from Ragan's threats and picked up the familiar heartbeat--and a second one in close proximity.

Muttering a curse, Jim flung open the loft door and found Blair and Higgins on the couch side by side looking through a book of snapshots. Jim recognized them as pictures from some of his jungle adventures when he'd lived with various tribes. Higgins, as usual, was pontificating about them as if he knew all there was to know about every primitive tribe on earth.

Both men looked up in surprise when the door banged behind Jim, and Blair's eyes rested on him uneasily. Jim knew the look well. Sandburg felt guilty about something. And from the speculative look in the older man's eyes when they rested upon Jim, it wasn't difficult for Ellison to guess what had happened.

"Jim, I didn't tell him," Blair said, shoving the photo album into Higgins' lap and bounding up to face him. "I never said anything. He already knew. I just reacted to something he'd said. He read that article about you in Time. He put it together, especially when he found out I already knew you."

"Thanks a lot, Sandburg," Jim snapped. On top of the annoyance of the trial and the irritation of Higgins' presence in the loft, that was the last straw and he lashed out without thinking, "I thought I could trust you."

Blair's face fell. Gazing up at Jim with the hurt eyes of a puppy who has just been kicked, he said, "I didn't tell him, Jim. It just slipped out."

"That's quite accurate, Detective Ellison," Higgins agreed, rising to his feet. He and Blair stood side by side rather like guilty children. "I simply assumed you were a Sentinel and spoke as if it were a given. He'd been careful all along, and I respected that, but I was simply too fascinated by the concept to hold back."

"So I'm like a butterfly on a pin to you. A freak of nature?" He turned to Sandburg with annoyance and resentment. "And you bought into it? Thanks a lot, Chief."

"Jim, will you listen?" Blair persisted urgently, worry in his eyes. "It's not like that. You just don't know about the scholar mindset. You see things as a cop because that's what you are. I'm an anthropologist, and I can't help having an anthropologist's perspective."

"So it's the butterfly on the pin for you, too?" Jim was too angry to acknowledge the upset in Blair's expression. He only saw how quickly Blair had given him away to his new friend, the one who could understand his mindset more easily than Jim could.

"Perhaps I had better leave," Higgins volunteered hastily.

"You don't have to," Blair replied quickly, gesturing at him to sit down again. "Jim, I apologized. I never meant to give you away and Higgins won't. He never gave away the Japanese Sentinel, not once, not in all those years, not until now, fourteen years after his death. He won't give you away either."

"Fine. Very generous. But I've been under a microscope enough for one day. If you want to continue your conversation, maybe you can do it somewhere else."

Blair flinched. He opened his mouth, maybe to insist that it was his home too and he could stay if he wanted to but, in the end, he didn't say it. "No, I'll just get together with Higgins tomorrow," he said, turning to the older man. "At the university. Nine o'clock?"

Higgins confirmed the time. "I'm truly sorry, Detective Ellison," he offered. "With my inside knowledge and expectations, I knew instantly. I realized you didn't want it broadcast and I quite respect that. You need have no fear I will give you away to anyone."

Jim nodded without speaking.

Higgins took his leave hastily, shaking hands with Blair. When the door had closed behind him, Sandburg glanced around, noticed the cluttered state of the loft for the first time, and started to gather up books with a muttered apology for the mess. Weighted down with an armload of heavy tomes and with a guilty conscience, he paused in the doorway to his room. "Jim, I'm really sorry, man. It just slipped out. It was a natural part of the conversation. I didn't choose to tell him about you, and he already knew anyway. I said I was sorry, and I can't go on saying it. At least I wasn't rude enough to kick a guest out like that."

"He wasn't my guest," Jim returned. It was an unfair comment and he knew it but he was still angry about the Ragan trial, and Higgins felt like a threat, even if he had been vetted by Naval Intelligence and Hawaii Five-0. The fingerprints had matched; he was who he claimed to be and not a hit man hired by Ragan. But Jim didn't want him hanging around.

"He was mine," Blair replied defensively. "But that only works as long as we're partners here. As long as this is my home, too, instead of just where I live."

"Don't you think you're overreacting a little, Sandburg?"

"Don't you think you are?" Blair stared at him, unwilling to yield. "Come on, Jim, he already knew about you. Nothing I would have said or not said could have changed that." "Do you talk about me with your colleagues at the University, too?"

"No. No." Blair hesitated, then he vanished into the bedroom long enough to deposit the books, emerging a second later. "You know I don't."

"I thought I did," Jim returned. All it took was one interesting new friend for his secret to be history. Did he have guarantees here? With Sandburg's capacity for excitement, who was to say the story hadn't leaked out by accident half a dozen times already?

"So that's the bottom line? You don't trust me? Fine, Jim. I'll start looking for a new place tomorrow." Hurt and upset, Sandburg flung the words out as a challenge. Maybe he wanted to hear Jim refute them.

"For god's sake, Sandburg, will you calm down," Jim snapped, ignoring the surge of panic he felt at the younger man's suggestion. How did they get to this point so fast? He stomped on his temper. "Look, I'm sorry," he forced out. "It's been a crummy day, and then to come home to this...."

"Crummy day? The trial," Blair burst out in alarm, anger forgotten. "Oh, man, I am so sorry. I forgot all about it. Did it go wrong? Did Ragan get off? Is he gonna come after you?"

"It's just taking longer than they thought. I haven't testified yet. Ragan made a threat to me in court, but there's nothing he can do when he's locked up. He's threatened me ten times already and nothing's happened."

"It's not like he doesn't have contacts, Jim," Blair fussed. "If he really means it, he could find a way to get to you." Argument forgotten in his concern, Blair's eyes had widened. "I want you to promise to tune in sight and hearing everywhere you go--concentrate on the normal sounds of your environment, block them out, then anything extraneous will get your immediate attention."

"Even a high powered rifle from three blocks away?" Jim asked skeptically.

"You should be able to hear the displacement of the air from the bullet," Blair said, thinking fast. "Jim, you have to stay focused all day tomorrow. Check the truck in the morning before you start it. Ragan might be all hot air, but you can't risk it. Maybe I'd better come along and make sure you don't zone out."

"I'm not going to zone out," Ellison replied. "And I don't want you there. You weren't involved in the case and I want to keep it that way. I don't want him coming after you to get at me, and if he sees you in court, he's going to think about using you to get back at me. I don't think he ever saw you, and that's the way I want to keep it."

"Maybe you better get somebody to go with you, Brown or Simon. Simon would be better," Blair continued, warming to his theme. "He knows about you, and he can watch for the zone-out factor."

"I'll handle it, Chief," Jim replied. His anger had faded. "Look, I'm sorry about the way I jumped all over you when I got home. It's just, that guy bugs the hell out of me."

"Why? He's a great guy," Blair responded. "I could tell you didn't like him, but I think he's great. He even spent a week with the Chopek once. Long before you were there, but he knows a lot. I'm learning all kinds of neat things from him. He even lived with the Hovitos before they got mostly assimilated by modern culture."

"Or it's all hot air," Jim returned.

"It's not hot air. He knows too much for it to be hot air, and he's got documentation. What's the matter, Jim? Why don't you like him? You don't suspect it's all a plot and Ragan sent him?" Clearly Blair thought the suggestion ridiculous.

"No, I checked him out," Jim replied.

"You what?"

"He knows too much about me, and he showed up with all the right stuff to push your buttons, Chief. I thought maybe he was too good to be true. But he's exactly who he says he is." He added reluctantly, "And someone in Naval Intelligence says he's the most honorable man he's ever met."

"I knew he was a good guy," Blair said. He added in a smaller voice, "I wish you'd told me you were gonna check him out."

"That makes us even," Jim replied. "I wish you hadn't told him about me."

"Jim, I didn't tell him. He'd just made a comment about a link between a Sentinel and his guide or shaman and I just responded automatically. I knew you'd be mad as soon as I said it."

"I don't know that I'm mad, Chief," Jim replied. "I'm just a little disappointed here. I'd trusted you."

Blair looked stricken. He hurried over and collected a new stack of books from every available surface. "I swear it's never happened before, man, and it never will again. You want me to put him off tomorrow, I will."

Jim was sorely tempted. He didn't want Blair spending all that time with Higgins. But he had no reason for it that he could understand, just his resentment for the older man. He wasn't even sure why he disliked him so much. But it bugged him that Blair had lit up like a candle over some stuffy Brit who told the most boring stories known to man.

When had Blair last sounded that eager and excited when talking to Jim? He banished that thought instantly. It was ridiculous. Crazy. He didn't resent the old guy just because Sandburg liked him. That was stupid. He didn't resent anybody else Sandburg liked. Why should he? He wasn't married to the kid, for pete's sake. They were just buddies. Hanging out with a beer or watching a ball game. Sure they had the Sentinel-Guide thing going for them, but....

But how long had it been since they had that much fun hanging out? When had Blair pushed for more of his experiments with the same excitement he'd displayed in the beginning? Had he started to lose interest in Jim's Sentinel abilities, to take him for granted? Was he sorry he'd said he enjoyed the life Jim had shown him so much he couldn't settle back into a quiet academic niche?

And why should it matter if he had? The kid was a friend, sure, but friends came and went. True, he was Jim's guide, his shaman. But maybe guides burned out. Jim didn't know what the hell was going on, he just knew Blair's reaction to Higgins made him really nervous. All it had taken was a day for Higgins to get Jim's secret out of Blair. Okay, so it had been a secret the old guy had known before he came to Cascade, but that wasn't the point.

Blair had given him away to a stranger. Jim grimaced and pushed the other thoughts out of his mind. "No," he said flatly. "I'll be in court tomorrow. You've done the damage already. You might as well keep your appointment."

Blair winced, turning away to grab up a couple more books.

Jim felt mean. "You had anything to eat?"

"Never got around to it. Want something?"

"I'll see what we've got." Jim headed for the kitchen and poked his head into the refrigerator. "Out of milk. I thought it was your turn."

"I was gonna go this afternoon," Blair said. "Then I just got caught up in Higgins' stories. I'll go now."

They were both being stiff and formal, like a pair of strangers who just happened to share lodgings. "Don't forget to pick up coffee," Jim said. "I'll have a shower when you're gone."

Blair tossed the books he was holding in on his bed. "Okay, won't be long." And he grabbed his coat and headed outside without a backward look.

"You handled that just great, Ellison," Jim told himself in disgust. "Why not get in a few more kicks while he was down?" But his overreaction didn't ease the hurt that Blair had given away the secret of his Sentinel gifts to a stranger.

Dinner that night was stiff and formal, and both men were glad to find a basketball game on television. It meant they didn't have to talk to each other.


Blair headed over for the University as soon as he finished the breakfast dishes. He'd been feeling really bad about the slip he'd made, a purely unintentional one because Higgins' words that proved he already knew had been so natural Blair couldn't help but react. Higgins hadn't been trying to trick him either. He'd just forgotten that he'd decided not to know because he'd been so caught up in the subject. At times, Blair simply ached to discuss Jim's abilities with someone who had experience in the field, someone who might suggest new areas of study, ways to help Jim manage his hyper-senses. He'd never done it, of course, and wouldn't without Jim's permission. Except that now he had. "Nice going, Sandburg," he muttered to himself as he pulled into the parking lot. "You handled last night just great."

The thing was, he'd expected Jim to be pissed off, but he hadn't expected him to come down on him with hobnailed boots the way he had. Blair had actually meant it about finding another place. If Jim didn't mean to forgive him for the accidental slip and treated him as an interloper in a place Blair had come to regard his home, the first real home he'd had in his adult life, then there wasn't much point of sticking around. He'd long ago realized he couldn't publish a thesis about Jim; it would be so unfair. People would know in a minute who he had written about and the resultant mess would wreck Jim's life. Blair wouldn't do that. He had enough material for ten papers, but he had to find a way to handle it without losing all the work but without compromising Jim's identity. He'd told Jim all that.

But lately, Jim hadn't been up for any new tests. Maybe he thought he had a handle on his abilities and didn't need a coach right at hand. Blair knew Jim tended to resent the responsibility being a Sentinel gave him and, at times, to long for normalcy. But he'd accepted the responsibility and Jim was the type of guy who didn't weasel out when he felt responsibility.

Blair wished Jim would let him run more tests. There had to be lots of possibilities he hadn't even though of yet, things that would protect Jim in his job and make it easier for him to help people. But late Jim had nixed most tests. There were times when Blair had felt he was getting further and further away from his Sentinel. He wasn't doing anything. Sure he was conducting research, trying to learn what a shaman was supposed to do to help a Sentinel, and then working to adapt that to a modern, urban setting. Jim's responsibilities were far different than those of a primitive Sentinel. It would have been great to ask Higgins, who had a brief experience with a Sentinel, what suggestions he would make. But Blair couldn't do that.

And now, on top of the distance Blair had felt lately, Jim was utterly pissed off at him. He was scared. Jim was his friend, the best friend he'd ever had. But maybe it was just like the other friendships in his life. Transitory.

Blair didn't want this one to be transitory.

He approached his office, hiding a sigh when he saw a student waiting outside the door, arms loaded down with books, juggling them anxiously. He didn't recognize the young man, but there were a lot of kids on campus, and maybe this one had a question even if he wasn't in one of Blair's classes. Except that it was Christmas break. Nine days till the holiday. Blair hadn't thought much about it this year. There was a tree at the loft, and he and Jim had decorated it together. Blair winced, remembering how they'd laughed and kidded each other as they decorated it. Why were such moments so rare any more?

And why was this kid here on break? The campus was virtually deserted. Blair had only noticed three other people as he headed for the Anthro building, and no one inside but a janitor mopping the floor at the far end of the corridor. He was already disappearing, wheeling his bucket around the corner.

"School's out for the holiday," he called to the student. "Is it urgent."

"It is kind of urgent, Mr. Sandburg." He was taller than Blair by about two inches, solidly built as if he worked out, his hair a little long and hanging down over his eyebrows. Cool blue eyes peered at Blair through the fringe. "Here." He passed the stack of books to Blair, who reached out automatically to receive them.

The gun sprang into the student's hand while Sandburg juggled the books, surprised by their unexpected weight. "Don't try anything," the man said levelly, and all trace of 'student' disappeared from his face and posture. This man was hard and practical, with a fierce determination in his eyes. With his free hand, he swept the hair back from his forehead. "We're going to take a trip, you and I, and I don't want you crying out, giving anything away. You do, and you write the death sentence of whoever you try to warn. Got it?"

Blair nodded. He could hardly do anything else with the gun leveled at his chest. "Who are you?" he asked. "What's this about?"

"I didn't say you could ask questions," the man said angrily, his free hand shooting out to backhand Blair across the face. He staggered, dropping a couple of the books. "You hold on to the rest of that pile. I don't want your hands free. I'm gonna have the gun in my pocket, but my hand will be on it the whole time. Move. We're heading out for the south parking lot." He gestured with the gun, confident that Blair couldn't drop the books and jump him before it was aimed properly again.

Blair had looked down the barrel of a gun before. It had never been an experience he'd wanted to repeat. He considered the option of throwing the books in the gunman's face, but decided against it, at least while in the building. The janitor might come running to investigate and wind up dead. There might be better chances outside, witnesses who would report what had happened.

So he settled the books more carefully and turned toward the south entrance. The gunman fell in at his side and a pace back, close enough to grab Blair if he wanted to, but not so close that a sudden elbow would hit him. "I know you think you're sharp as a tack," he said. "But I will happily shoot you where you stand and take the consequences. I'd rather not. You don't have to die right now. It's your choice."

Blair started for the door only to freeze when it opened and Higgins came in. He saw Sandburg immediately and opened his mouth to call a greeting.

The little he'd seen of the older man had convinced Blair he was quick on the uptake. So he tried to convey a warning with his eyes, fractionally shaking his head. Then, he let his eyes pass over Higgins without a trace of recognition. He said naturally, "Professor Higgins," as if greeting someone casually known. And walked past, the gunman at his heels.

"Sandburg," Higgins replied and walked by without a second look. He was quick.

Blair didn't dare turn to see what Higgins would do. He hoped he didn't do anything risky. Higgins might have a world of experience but he was far from young. He could hardly take on an armed hardcase. But he could tell Jim. Blair felt a surge of relief at the very thought of his Sentinel. If anyone would know what to do in this crisis, it was Jim Ellison. Sandburg would play it as it went, looking for an opportunity to break away. But if no opportunity came along, Higgins was sure to tell Jim what was going on. At least there was a chance.

Blair squared his shoulders, determined to see it through to the bitter end.


Jonathan Quale Higgins arrived at Rainier University promptly at nine o'clock, driving a rental car. He crossed the campus, noticing how much quieter it was today, students scattered for the holiday.

He hoped he hadn't caused too much trouble for young Sandburg. He genuinely liked the teaching fellow, and had enjoyed himself mightily the day before. But it was obvious Ellison was angry about the slip-up. Ellison didn't like him, but then a man like Ellison wouldn't at first. Look how long it had taken Higgins to come to terms with Thomas Magnum when Robin Masters permitted the private investigator to move onto Robin's Nest and live in the gatehouse. Yet Magnum had proven a fine man and a friend, improbable as that had seemed in the beginning. And Magnum had a limitless sense of the ridiculous. If Ellison had one, it appeared underdeveloped. Maybe it needed nurturing, training, the way his Sentinel senses had in the beginning. Surely Blair, who had a well-developed sense of humor, could coach him in that department, the way he did with his heightened senses.

Higgins stepped into the building and spotted Blair immediately, coming toward him, arms full of books, a student at his heels. But when Sandburg saw him his face went through a series of warning contortions. Used to such visual signals from people like Magnum, who had a mobile and expressive face, Higgins instantly got the idea Blair didn't want him to speak with recognition. His casual greeting to 'Professor' Higgins clinched it. There was danger, and the 'student's face was much too hard and professional to mark him as anything but a criminal. His right hand tunneled suspiciously into his coat pocket, where a quickly-glimpsed bulge suggested a weapon.

Higgins didn't let his discoveries show on his face as he passed them with a casual, "Sandburg," in greeting. He made himself keep walking until he heard the outer door close behind him, then he turned and retraced his steps, following them outside but maintaining a considerable distance. He had to see where Blair was being taken, to follow him without being observed. Such actions had been a part of his life at one time, but in the last seven or eight years, since Magnum had rejoined the Navy, Higgins had spent little time indulging in sculduggery. The Island Orchid Growers society, the Shakespeare club, the amateur Gilbert and Sullivan company, took up his time, pleasant diversions but far from active. He was stouter than he had been during what he considered 'the Magnum years'. But his mind was sharp and clear and, if he were out of practice, he had not totally forgotten the long-abandoned skills.

Much to his luck, the kidnapper and Blair headed for the parking lot where he had left his rental car. Higgins followed discreetly, hoping, if the gunman spotted him, that he would believe Higgins had gone briefly to his office to pick up or leave something. Better not to be noticed, but that ran the risk of losing them.

Fortunately, they went to the other end of the lot and Higgins was able to slide behind the wheel of the Taurus while Blair and the gunman got into a black Caravan with a distinctive red stripe running at an angle down each side. When they set off, Blair at the wheel, Higgins waited long enough to lull suspicion then he followed them.

Cascade was new to him, but he was fortunate. He was able to hang back a whole block most of the time, sometimes letting one or two cars come between them, sometimes dropping back still further. When the van turned, he was always able to spot it again when he reached the corner. He was glad of that brief Sentinel practice with Blair. It helped him once to spot the van in the distance and allowed him to maintain pursuit.

The kidnapper directed Blair to a warehouse district near the waterfront, parking the car outside a specific warehouse that appeared unused if not run down. Higgins pulled up to the curb three blocks away, grateful for his farsightedness, and watched the man unlock the door with one hand while balancing a gun in the other. Even with a fading near-Sentinel ability Higgins was too far away to identify the weapon but the gunman had compensated for the distraction spent on the lock by keeping Blair's arms full of books.

The door opened inward, and Higgins winced as he saw the man give Blair a shove inside, his gunhand coming up and descending in a trajectory that must have ended with a blow to the back of the anthropologist's skull. The door closed, sealing both of them inside.

Higgins looked around urgently for a pay telephone.

Concluded in Part Three...