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Daring From Within

By Lyn

Part 3

“Why are we stopping here?” Blair asked.

Stone grinned. “This is your escape route.”

“A laundry chute?” Blair gaped and held up his hands. “You do realize how far down these things go?”

“Right to the basement. You got a laundry truck waiting for us?” Jim asked. He froze and held a finger to his lips, waited a moment then nodded. “They went straight past. So…” He pointed at the chute.

“No truck,” Stone said, “but according to Joel Taggert, whose father worked here many years ago, this place was built on an old subway.”

Jim smiled. “Tunnels.”

“Yep,” Stone agreed, “that lead out to the harbor. Look, they’re likely to notice I’m missing so we do have to do this now. Oh, there’s a bit of a survival kit in the laundry cart down there.” He shook Jim’s hand once again. “Good luck, Jim. You too, Sandburg.”

“Thanks, John, for everything. Take care of yourself, okay?” Jim replied.

“I’ll be fine. Just get out and spread the word of what these animals are doing.”

“Thanks. See you on the outside.”

Blair turned back and stared at the chute door. “Look, I don’t know if this is such a good idea. I’ve got this thing about heights—“

“Sorry, Sandburg.” Before Blair knew what was happening, Jim hoisted him up, pulled the door open and shoved him through.

Blair’s stomach lurched as he felt himself in sudden freefall. He fought not to scream, which only made his rapid descent all the more frightening. It was over quickly and just as he got used to his downward slide, he was launched again into the air to land with a bone-jarring crash on the ground. He lay for a moment, winded and dizzy then a whooshing sound alerted him to the fact that he was about to get crushed. Rolling to one side, he just avoided Jim’s body as it hurtled out of the chute. Jim, however, rolled with his fall and then got smoothly to his feet, as gracefully as a cat.

“Wish they’d thought to leave a laundry cart there,” he said ruefully, rubbing at his left shoulder. He held out a hand to Blair, who still lay on the ground. “You okay, Chief?”

“No,” Blair replied, though he was able to finally draw a breath. He ignored Jim’s proffered hand and levered himself up, only to collapse back onto the ground as white-hot pain shot clear through to his knee. “Oh god,” he moaned.

Jim reached out and cradled Blair’s foot in his hand, gently running his fingers over the bones in his ankle. “I can’t feel any breaks,” he whispered. “Hopefully it’s just sprained. You think you can walk?”

Cold sweat beaded Blair’s forehead and his head spun for one dizzying moment. He sat up and took a slow deep breath. “I’m okay,” he said finally. Straightening, he looked around the basement. The roller door to the outside was shut and no doubt bolted from the outside. He could see no other openings or means of escape. “Where?”

Jim scanned the area and shook his head. “I don’t know. I mean, if there are old tunnels, there’s got to be a way into them but I can’t see anything.”

“Use your senses,” Blair said. He rested his hand on Jim’s shoulder. “Check for… I don’t know… drafts of air, maybe?”

Jim raised an eyebrow but then closed his eyes and took in a low, measured breath. “Nothing, Chief. Maybe I can jimmy the door.”

“No!” Blair protested. “There will probably be guards outside.” He thought for a moment. “Okay, check the floor. Use your sight to see if there are any uneven places that might indicate a trapdoor or something.”

“Sounds like a plan.” Jim started a slow pace of the room, stopping from time to time, In the far corner, he froze then nodded. “Got a trapdoor here.”

Blair stood and tested the weight on his injured leg. It felt heavy and still incredibly painful but there was no way he was staying behind. He limped over to Jim and together they pulled away a laundry cart. A large square door lay beneath.

Jim looked at Blair. “You ready?”

“As I’ll ever be,” Blair said. “I just want to get as far away from this place as I can.”

“Then let’s do it.” Jim held up a hand. “Wait a minute.”


“Better get our survival kit first.” He rummaged around in the laundry cart and pulled out a cloth sack. Opening it, he smiled. “Nice!”

Blair watched as Jim pulled out a handgun, which he checked then stuffed into the waistband of his pants. Next came a clip of ammunition and a flashlight. Jim pocketed the ammo and handed Blair the flashlight. “Think you might need this more than me, Chief.”

“Ya think?” Blair took the flashlight gratefully, figuring it would come in handy as a weapon if needed as well. Not that he really wanted to have to do that. Schoolyard bullies he could handle, crazed egomaniacs were a totally different matter. His heart pounded as they lifted up the heavy trapdoor and he jumped as he heard muffled gunfire from above them.

Jim gave him a stern look. “You sure you want to do this?”

Blair didn’t hesitate. “Hell yes. Let’s go!” He froze for a moment when he looked down the darkened steps that led god knew where. “Uh, Jim?”


“Well, it’s just you’re bigger than me, and I’ll be right behind you, man, backing you up all the way…”

“Sorry, Chief.” Jim gave him an apologetic look. “Guess I’m out of practice with being in charge.” He pushed in front of Blair and stared for a moment into the inky depths. “Okay. Hang onto my jacket and don’t let go.”


If anything, the darkness was more suffocating once they were in the tunnel. Blair scrabbled for a hold on the back of Jim’s jacket then tugged it once. “Should I use the flashlight?” he asked in a hoarse whisper.

“Probably not a good idea right now, Chief. We don’t know if there’s anyone else down here.”

“Can you see?”

“Can I see?” There was a hint of sarcasm in Jim’s voice. “Sentinel, remember?”

“Oh right. I forgot.” Blair felt Jim move forward a few steps and tried to follow smoothly but his lack of sight and injured ankle impeded his steps and he stumbled and shuffled along in Jim’s wake. Jim stopped suddenly and Blair bumped into his back. “What?” he hissed. “Is somebody down here?”

“No. It’s just… I’m not even sure what direction we should be going.”

Blair thought for a moment. “We tried this in a few tests. Try dialing up your hearing, see if you can hear any sounds.”

“Like what?”

“People… oh, the water! Then try piggybacking your sight onto your hearing.”

“I zoned every time we tried this,” Jim grumbled.

“But you got a little better every time,” Blair said. He shifted his hand from Jim’s jacket to his shoulder. “Let your hearing range out.” He felt Jim still totally and take a deep breath. After a moment of silence, he asked, “Anything?”



“Yeah, I can hear something. Can’t quite make it out. Wait! That’s Simon’s voice!”

“Okay, piggyback your sight but don’t concentrate on either sense too hard,” Blair said. “Which way?”

“Dead ahead,” Jim said. “Let’s move it, Chief.”

Jim was walking faster now and Blair marveled once more at the awesome innate ability Jim had been gifted with. He struggled to keep up and hobbled along, knowing that he had to trust Jim to get them to safety. Once he tripped on something and turned his bad ankle, hissing as pain shot through his leg once more.

“You okay?” Jim asked.

“Yeah. Keep going,” Blair replied through gritted teeth. He limped on, hoping the end was near. He felt exhausted already and his pounding heart kept time with a throbbing in his head that marched in rhythm with his stumbling feet.

“We’re almost there, Sandburg,” Jim whispered.

Blair barely heard him, just kept himself to keep going, knowing each step took him further away from the Institute. He didn’t care now what lay outside. Any escape at all was okay with him.



“We’re here.”

“Oh. What now?” He felt Jim grab his arms and steer him to one side until his back was pressed against a wall.

“Stay there while I check outside.”

“I’ll come with you,” Blair said.

“I’m just going to poke my head out and take a look,” Jim assured him.

“Just don’t get it blown off,” Blair replied. He waited, aware he was holding his breath but unable to stop himself from doing so. Just when he thought he’d pass out from lack of oxygen, Jim tapped his shoulder.

“All clear, Chief.”

Blair followed Jim out of the tunnel. The dockyards lay just ahead of them and Blair squinted against the seemingly blinding brightness of the full moon. Someone moved out of the shadows on the right hand side and Blair froze, his hand clenching around the flashlight.

“Simon,” he heard Jim say.

The relief Blair felt turned his legs to jelly and he sagged for a moment against Jim’s side.

“Jim!” Simon Banks strode forward, clasping Jim’s hand in a two fisted shake then nodded curtly at Blair. “What’s he doing here?”

Blair gaped, his exhaustion forgotten momentarily but before he could speak, Jim held up a hand.

“If it wasn’t for Sandburg, I’d still be locked up in that hole.”

“Stone would have gotten you out, Jim,” Simon replied. He held up a hand and cupped the other around his earpiece. “Damn! All right, everyone, fall back – and make sure you’re not seen. We don’t want them knowing we had any part in this.”

“What?” Blair stared at Simon then at Jim. “What about the others?”

Simon merely glared at him then looked at Jim. “We need to get you somewhere safe,” he said, and Blair knew the captain wasn’t including him in the equation. Fear rose up to choke him and he fought not to gag. The Institute would have to know he’d been instrumental in Jim’s escape and he’d probably disappear just like John Thomas had.

“What happened?” Jim asked.

“The military’s been called in to assist in quelling the riot, along with the entire SWAT team.” He glanced briefly at Blair then sighed and led them over to the shelter of a high stack of shipping crates. “Kelso’s dead and so are several of his men. Stone was just dragged out, handcuffed and thrown into a police car. It’s all gone to hell in a handbasket.”

“Jack’s dead?” Blair asked. Tears stung his eyes. He’d been so certain this would work.

“We can’t let them know we had a part in this,” Banks continued as though Blair hadn’t spoken. “It’s the only chance we have of staying under the radar, maybe finding another way to bring these bastards down.”

Blair felt Jim’s hand on his shoulder, squeezing gently and he took comfort in the warmth and support. “So where do we go?” he asked Jim.

“I’ve got an alternate escape route worked out for you,” Banks continued, “Rafe’s organized a boat to get you across the bay. It’ll be one hell of a trip but the weather’s good and if you stay here, they’re bound to track you down eventually.”

Blair tapped Jim’s arm. “There are rumors of a group of Sentinels who escaped once before and headed to Canada.”

“As far as I know, no one who ever got locked up in the Institute ever came back out,” Simon growled.

“You weren’t in there,” Blair retorted then sighed. “Look, it was just a rumor but…”

“We’ve got to go somewhere,” Jim finished for him, “and Canada’s as good a place as any. I always knew it might come to this.” He looked at Blair. “Hope you don’t get seasick, Sandburg.”

Blair smiled and pushed his nervousness aside. “Well, actually—“

“Do you think that’s such a good idea, Jim?” Simon asked. “We know there was a mole in Kelso’s group. For all we know, Sandburg could have—“

“Enough!” Jim’s hand cut through the air, silencing the accusation. “Blair got me out of there, Simon, kept me alive. He’s in as much danger as I am, maybe more. We go together.”

Blair sagged with relief though the glare from Banks told him the captain wasn’t convinced.

“Say thanks to the guys for me,” Jim said, and those words made Blair realize just what he was leaving behind. His friends, his mother… “My mom,” he said, “I need to let her know I’m okay.”

“Not a good idea, Chief.” Jim turned to face him and rested both hands on Blair’s shoulders. “It’s too risky. She’s going to be the first person they interrogate when they realize you’re gone.”

“We could go get her!” Blair suggested though he knew they couldn’t. Summoning up his courage, he looked at Simon. “If I give you her address, could you check on her? Make sure she’s safe… please?” He felt tears sting his eyes and swallowed around the lump in his throat. Banks might not trust him but he knew the captain was a good and honorable man. Jim wouldn’t have him as a friend if he were not.

Banks nodded. “I’ll see to it someone keeps an eye on her, Sandburg.” He turned his attention back to Jim. “Much as I hate to rush this, you’d better get going. There’s still several hours of darkness left so with any luck, you’ll make it to the other side before daylight.” He held out his hand and Jim took it then pulled him into a brief hug. “Stay safe, my friend. If we’re ever able to shut these bastards down, I’ll get word to you somehow that it’s safe to come home.” Blair took a step back when Banks held a hand out to him then hesitantly reached out and shook it. “Good luck to both of you. Rafe’s waiting at the far slip.”

Jim looked at Blair. “You ready, Chief.”

Blair smiled and nodded though his heart pounded with renewed fear of the unknown. “As I’ll ever be, man.”

End… for now

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