Title: Welcome To Cascade: The Broken Snow
Fandom: NCIS, The Sentinel, Profiler, CSI, CSI: Miami, Las Vegas, White Collar, Profiler, Without A Trace, Criminal Minds, Wind River, Sleepy Hollow
Characters/Pairings: Jim Ellison/Blair Sandburg, Anthony DiNozzo, Tobias Fornell, Jethro Gibbs, Samantha Waters/Nick ‘Coop’ Cooper, Nick Stokes, Calleigh Duquesne, Danny McCoy, Cory Lambert, Wilma Lambert, Dan Crowheart, Alice Crowheart, Original Characters, Ichabod Crane, Abigail Mills, Jenny Mills
Author’s Notes: Alternate Universe – Sentinels and Guides are known. Artist prompt from Red_Pink_Dots, Chapter 9. I’ve taken characters from The Sentinel, Las Vegas, and Profiler and plunked them into the present-day at the ages they were during their shows. Tony is the age when he left Baltimore.
Summary: Tony and Danny bond. Life should settle into a routine for Tony and the newest member of the Sentinel/Guide Investigative Services … Right? While Danny completes training at the FBI Academy, Tony comes across information that piques the investigator and angers the Beta Prime Sentinel.
FBI Agent Jane Banner sipped her excellent cup of coffee while the men read the two files.
“How are you healing?” Danny asked.
“I go next week for my firearms re-qualification, so I can get back in the field.”
“Staying in Denver?”
“I’m still weighing my options. The brass is treading carefully since they sent a rookie out by herself on what they thought was a milk run. Not only wasn’t it a milk run but the Wind River Tribal Police force was nearly wiped out along with a rookie FBI agent.”
“Damn, you ought to be able to get a transfer to Hawaii with that FUBAR.” Danny grimaced.
“I’ve got a few ideas, plus there’s an investigation into the hiring practices of the oil company that I’m watching.”
“So tell us about these young women. I see the Lambert girl was a latent Sentinel.”
“Her father, Cory was my only back-up on the Reservation. He’s a Sentinel and tracker working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. His father was a teacher at the Reservation’s high school, so he’s lived there most of his life.”
Tony arched an eyebrow at the FBI agent. “Special Agent Lambert doesn’t look like someone that tells his life story to strange FBI agents.”
“My supervisory agent gave me his USFW personnel file before he shoved me on a plane to Casper, Wyoming.”
“Anything else you can tell us about these files?”
“Rumor around D.C. has it that advocates like the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women got the ear of the Bureau of Indian Affairs after this clusterfuck between the FBI, the Tribal Police, and the oil company, whose field workers were responsible for the death of Natalie Hanson and her boyfriend, Matt. They’re drawing up an Executive Order to establish a task force that will be sent to President Trump in November for his signature. If he signs it, I’m thinking of telling my bosses I want to be on the task force. Getting shot and being part of political hot potato ought to be good for something.” Jane’s chuckle had a bitter tone to it.
Looking at the pictures of the beautiful winter wilderness marred by broken blood-stained snow, Tony came to a decision. Looking up to meet the hazel eyes of his Guide, Danny nodded his agreement.
“Agent Banner, do you have a place to stay?”
Jane blinked several times at the rapid change of topics. “Uh … No. I’ve been in town long enough to check-in at the local office and talk to the liaison agent to your office.”
“Not to be nosy, but what are plans after we finish here.” Danny prodded.
Confusion filled the woman’s face. “Other than scheduling my re-qualification, I don’t have any plans.”
“We have a very nice guest room and a housekeeper who’s an excellent chef. Why don’t you rest for a few days while we look into things?” The Shaman’s voice was like a quiet pool to the exhausted young woman.
“I don’t want to impose.”
“No imposition. This place is meant to be a haven to those that need it.” The two men stood. “Come. We’ll introduce you to the other teams then get you settled.”
“Thank you. It’s been a long trip.” The men didn’t think she was talking about her flight to Denver.
After leaving Jane to the tender mercies of Pete and Julie, they gathered everyone together to brief the others.
“So, what is it she wants done?” Martin leaned back in his chair. “Case is solved, all the perps taken out, the oil company gets slapped on the wrist for hiring dirtbags because they work cheap. We used to see stuff like this in El Paso all the time. The young folks would come to El Paso out of the Mescalero Apache Reservation for work or school. If they didn’t come to El Paso, they went to Albuquerque.”
“Did your department work with the tribe?” Danny asked.
“A lot of the tribe have Hispanic last names, so the cops don’t think about them being Native. If they had tribal ID we’d call the Rez, but if they’re grabbed up by the cartels running Juarez there isn’t going to be a body to find.” Duke shrugged.
Through their bond, Tony could feel Danny’s temper start to flare. Both the Shaman and Marine parts of his Guide wanted to rail against the injustice of anyone not giving 100% to solving a crime. Placing his hands on Danny’s shoulders aborted the rant that was about to erupt.
“It seems some the victims of these crimes are Sentinels and Guides, so I want you and Duke to pay a visit to the S/G Centers in the major cities in Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico. Get Casey to set up your plane tickets and hotels. See what they’re doing about this problem. They should be working with the tribes’ Sentinels and Guides.
“Raylan … Tim, I want you to stay here. We invited Jane to stay here until she decides to go somewhere else. She’s in the guest room across the hall from the office. Get with Vin and Ezra to see where Colorado is with working with the tribes and their Sentinels and Guides. Maybe we can come at this problem from the side to keep these cases from falling through the cracks.”
“Where are you going, Boss?” Martin and Duke stood giving a side-eyed look at the fuming Guide, who looked more like the Marine he once was than the Beta Prime Shaman.
“Wind River. We feel the need to visit the tribe’s Alphas. We’ll also be going by the S/G Center in Cheyenne. Tell Casey to set up temporary computer access for Jane.” Tony slapped Riggs on the shoulder as he headed for Casey’s office while Duke went up the stairs to their suite.
“Good luck with that.” Duke bent his head toward Danny.
“You guys stay safe. Don’t be shy about calling Cascade for back-up.” Tony admonished thinking he needed to call Blair and warn him of the fire ant hill he was about to kick up.
With Martin and Duke’s attempts to smile innocuously, their teammates broke out in disbelieving chuckles, lightening the dark mood of the room.
Tony pulled Danny to his feet. “I think we need a little bonding time before even contemplating letting you out of the house.” He sent a warm smile to Danny to soothe any rebuke his Guide might interpret from his words.
Danny gave Raylan and Tim a wink to tell them he knew what he was doing. For all his calm words, his Sentinel was walking as close to the edge of an explosion of temper as he was. Besides a little bonding time was never to be turned down.
Martin Riggs was having a frustrating day. He was trying to keep a check on his infamous temper, proud that Tony and Danny trusted him and Duke to get the job done. This was their first real case since leaving El Paso and the pair had vowed to do everything they could to help the Primes advance team concept work. So, he relaxed the muscles in his jaw, grounded himself in his Guide, and returned his attention to the object of his frustration.
“You’re telling me you know … All by yourself … What is happening with every one of the 36 tribes in the state of Oklahoma?” Martin’s tone was incredulous.
“Yes.” Greg Jenkins was a middle-aged officious sounding Guide, who was so uptight, his ass probably squeaked when he walked.
“You don’t delegate to the regional Centers to gather information for you?” Duke threw in while looking at the papers in front of him.
“No. There’s no need.” The Jenkins leaned away from the glare Martin sent his way.
That same glare turned on to Eugene and Martha Evans, the Center’s Alpha pair. “How’s that working out for you?”
“Perfectly well.” The pompous pencil pusher announced.
“Not well.” Eugene glared the liaison to the Oklahoma tribes into silence.
“Perhaps a visit from the National Auditing team would help that.” Duke’s glare joined his Sentinel’s. “It seems your service to your community is not what it should be.”
The Alpha pair exchanged a look. “It seems we’ll be revamping our liaison program with the regional centers and the tribes.” Martha clasped her hands in her lap to keep from giving away her nerves by wringing her hands.
“Perhaps you could find a qualified pair in the Center’s records that already have a connection with the tribes. I’m sure you’ll find that to be helpful.”
“But …” The current liaison started to sputter at the thought of losing his cushy position.
“Shut it, Greg.” The Eugene growled.
“So.” Martin pushed back from the table and slapped his thighs. “Here’s what’s going to happen.” He pulled a business card out of his shirt pocket with Casey’s contact information. “You will gather all the information you have on crimes against members of the Indigenous community, not just Sentinels and Guides. Email an initial report then send an update every two weeks. We expect to see what progress there is on all the cases, not just the ones against Sentinels and Guides.”
“We should have an initial report by the end of the week.” Martha assured them.
“Great.” He gathered Duke with a glance. “Since you’ll be coordinating with your regional centers, we’ll skip all the stops we were going to make on our way to Dallas.” Martin glared at the people remaining at the table. “Have a wonderful day.” His smile was wide, and his eyes twinkled with humor as they gathered their jackets and reports. “We’ll show ourselves out.”
Silence reigned between the pair until they were several miles away from the Tulsa Sentinel-Guide Center. Laughter filled the rental car.
“You totally Tom Sawyered them.” Duke wiped the tears from his eyes.
“Yeah. What do you think of driving to Dallas by way of Tahlequah?”
“Since that’s where the headquarters for the two major bands of the Cherokee tribe, I think it’s a great idea.”
“You call the Bosses and the office, and I’ll find us a Chicken Express for lunch.”
“I’m not eating there for every meal because you’ve been having withdrawal. Julie makes better cream gravy.” Duke teased as he dialed the office.
“I know, but it’s not the same.” Riggs pouted as he scanned the streets for the big yellow sign with a running chicken.
Thankful it was the tail-end of tornado season, but not full-on summer heat, Martin and Duke enjoyed having the afternoon to themselves to unwind after meeting with the Oklahoma Primes. Their meetings with the Cherokee Nation and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee were certain to be nerve-wracking, so the hour and a half drive from Tulsa to Tahlequah with the windows down to enjoy the early summer day was a blessing to the Sentinel and Guide. The phone call to update Tony and Danny on their plans was thankfully brief as was their call to Casey to find them a place to spend the night between Tahlequah and Dallas and to warn her of the flood of emails that should soon be arriving. The only thing faster than gossip between the Sentinel/Guide Centers was the space shuttle, so after they made sure that the Dallas Center would be spreading the word throughout Texas, they would be catching a flight out of DFW to El Paso.
From El Paso they planned to drive through New Mexico, visiting the Mescalero and Jicarilla Reservations and the S/G Center in Albuquerque. Once business was handled, they hoped to have a leisurely drive from the Jicarilla Reservation in northern New Mexico, home.
After Tony, Danny, Martin, and Duke left the house, Casey, Tim and Raylan got on the phone with Kansas, Utah, Nevada, and Arizona gathering information from the Centers. Raylan had fielded several calls from an irritated Blair Sandburg after Tony had dropped his bomb in the middle of the North America Alpha Primes’ desk. As an anthropologist, Blair had been ready to go on a tear through every Governors’s office and Sentinel/Guide Center in the country but told Raylan he and Jim would be handling the Canada and Mexico Centers while the Cascade teams would handle the West Coast in between their cases.
By the end of the day, they had done all they could to get the ball rolling in their information gathering. After Casey had left, the men joined Jane in the backyard to enjoy the early summer afternoon and the heated pool. The FBI agent had taken advantage of the workout equipment in the basement before settling down in the conference room to work on her computer and make calls. By the time Pete and Julie gave them the 10-minute warning before dinner would be ready, Jane had convinced Tim and Raylan to accompany her to the gun range the next day to do some shooting while she re-qualified. Even though she had gotten used to being alone since she had started the process to get back to work after her injuries, the easy friendship offered by the six men of the SGIS reminded her of Cody and was a balm to her spirit. Thinking of Cody made her smile at the thought of the quiet buzz saw Tony and Danny were walking into.
A soft smile crossed the rugged face of US Fish and Wildlife Agent Cory Lambert when he saw the sender’s name on his email. When he first met FBI Agent Jane Banner, he figured it’d take her about five minutes to call her boss to rescue her from the arctic hellhole that was Wind River at the height of winter. He’d been pleasantly surprised when despite the quiet hostility from the local population and the Tribal Police, she found the grit in her craw and helped them solve the murder of his best friend’s daughter, Natalie Hanson while nearly losing her own life.
Opening the email, Cory experienced several emotions all at once. He was happy the young woman had healed enough to be preparing to return to work. He was proud Jane was continuing to work with the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women organizations, but what the hell was the SGIS and why were they coming to Wind River. He assumed the SG in SGIS stood for Sentinel/Guide, and it caused his Sentinel to bristle in the back of his mind at the thought of a strange Sentinel invading his Alphas’ territory.
A small, quiet child, Cory hadn’t been that affected when his family moved to the Wind River Reservation so his father could teach at the tribal school. The taunts and jibes about being the token white boy at the tribal school eventually became terms of friendship as the members of the tribe got to know him.
The wilderness surrounding the town of Ethete was the perfect environment for the latent Sentinel, and when Dan and Alice Crowheart, the Reservation’s Alphas and tribal leaders took him in to learn the ways of Guardians and Guides with the children of the Reservation, Cory soon forgot he’d ever lived anywhere else.
High school meant dating Wilma Crowheart, coming online while hunting a lone wolf with the Alphas that had been killing the Shoyo family’s sheep, and deciding he needed to find a job that allowed him to work in the western wilderness. Cory and Wilma attended the tribal college before transferring to the University of Wyoming in Laramie.
Not having found his Guide, the couple married after graduation. Cory had gone to work for US Fish and Wildlife and Wilma had become a teacher at the tribal high school. Life had been good until their teenage daughter Emily had been found dead a few hundred yards from a friend’s house where she’d been attending a party while her parents were out of town. Instead of bringing the couple together, Emily’s death had driven a wedge between them. Wilma had felt Cory being a Sentinel and trained tracker should have been able to find the people who killed their child. Though Dan and Alice tried to counsel the couple, they soon separated and divorced.
Cory was pulled from his thoughts when a phone call from the Alphas’ assistant, Joyce, told him the SGIS Sentinel and Guide were in a meeting with Dan and Alice, and they wanted Cory to join them. Surprised, he gathered his weapons and gear. If he had to leave the house, he might as well do his rounds, and check with some of the ranchers that lived out where people, cattle, and sheep were not the top of the food chain.
He got his next surprise when he headed to his truck to find, his spirit guide, a northern harrier hawk, Ash, perched on the edge of the truck bed.
“Ah hell to the no.” Cory grumbled as he loaded his truck. “Things are just fine the way they are. I do not need strangers coming here to stir the pot.” The gray hawk mantled his feathers before reaching over to nip his Sentinel’s ear as he tossed his pack in the bed. “Smartass.”
The closer he got to the tribal offices the more oppressive the air became. Parking his truck, Cory didn’t think he had the energy to get out until the pressure suddenly lifted, and he drew a deep breath. *What the hell was going on today?* Making his way to his former in-laws’ office, he noticed how quiet the entire building had become.
Joyce was waiting inside the door and without a word led him to the conference room. Cory stopped in the doorway when he saw his son, Casey, sitting with his grandparents and two men he assumed were from this SGIS everyone was talking about.
“Cory.” Alice greeted her son-in-law, the Guide in her wanting to soothe the confusion that rolled in the room ahead of him.
“Dad.” Casey went to hug his father, then pulled him into the room where Alice also hugged him.
Dan grabbed his shoulder then directed him to the chair between him and Alice.
“Dan … Alice … What’s going on? Did something happen to Wilma?”
“Everything’s fine, Son.” Dan assured him. He and Alice didn’t care that their daughter had divorced Cory, they still considered him family. “First, I want to introduce the Beta Prime pair for North America, Sentinel Tony DiNozzo, and Shaman Daniel McCoy.”
“Tony. We’re also an advanced team for the Sentinel/Guide Investigative Services out of Denver. Your friend, Jane, pointed us in your direction.” Tony shook hands with Cory before stepping aside for his Guide.
“Danny.” He offered his hand. “Congratulations, it’s a Guide.” He offered the confused Sentinel a wide smile.
“Dan said you were a Shaman. Was that you, I felt when I was driving in?”
“Yeah. I gave Casey a hand until he could get his shields in place, but everything’s as it should be, and his grandmother is going to tutor him.”
“Thanks.” His gaze went from Dan and Alice to Casey. He gave a tired sigh at the thought of dealing with Wilma. She’d never gotten over Emily’s murder and held on to Casey with a death grip. “Does your mom know?” He asked his son.
“Not yet.” Casey flicked his eyes toward his grandmother.
“I will handle my daughter.” Alice’s voice was firm.
“I know you didn’t drive all this way because Jane asked.” Cory pulled everyone’s attention away from Wilma’s continuing grief. They had both moved on after the divorce, but Cory still felt the need to shield her from the criticism of others.
“Basically, we came to touch base with the tribal authorities to discuss getting in the loop of being advised when an abduction occurs.”
“But just Sentinels and Guides … Right?” A sneer twisted Cory’s mouth. Dan and Alice both reached out to the tracker.
“Any abduction.” Tony thinned his shields so Cory could feel the power behind his statement.
Cory blinked at the Beta Prime’s display that lasted until Cory gave a nod to acknowledge Tony’s pledge. “I’ll be leaving contact information for the Cascade office in the off chance you can’t get in touch with any of the three teams in Denver.” Cory settled back in his chair.
“Now that’s settled and as great as it was to be here for Casey’s emergence …” Danny drew everyone’s attention. “There’s another matter that needs to be addressed.” He pulled the maps that Cory hadn’t noticed toward him. “As we were driving here from Casper, I got the feeling I need to go here.” Danny pointed at the map.
“It’s not that far from here, but it’s fairly rugged.” Cory studied the area around Bull Lake. “Why do you need to go there?”
The question elicited a shrug from the Shaman Guide. “I’m not getting anything concrete … Just that I need to go there. I’m hoping it gets clearer once I get closer.” Danny’s tone was frustrated.
Tony reached out to grip his Guide’s shoulder in silent support. Cory smirked at the two agents.
“You city boys ready to rough it a few days in the Tetons?”
The Crowhearts looked like they were about to admonish their Pride member when both agents chuckled, and a large white wolf appeared next to Danny along with a black leopard.
“Marines. Counterintelligence and guerrilla warfare.”
“Wilderness training with the Alpha Primes.” Tony winked at the tribe’s Alphas.
“Then we need not worry.” Dan nodded with a smile as they studied the actions of the spirit guides. “Cory is our best tracker. He is the one good thing your government has sent us.”
Casey snickered at his father’s discomfort as a light blush crept up Cory’s neck. He grabbed a pen and wrote an address on a pad lying on the table.
“Be at this address at 7 in the morning. We’ll use your rental since three men and gear won’t fit in my truck. My number’s on there, too.”
“We’ll be there.” Tony entered the information in his contacts, and Danny grabbed the paper. If there’s anything else you think we need to discuss, you can call Blair or Jim, or wait until we get back.”
“We will wait until you have brought us back news of what you have found.” Alice announced. Perhaps these young men would begin to rebuild the trust between their people.
Stopping at the local sporting goods store, Tony and Danny stocked up on items they might need for back-country hiking. They stopped on the way to Cory’s to fill their new thermoses and pick up breakfast at the local drive-through. The USFW Agent was coming out of his house when they pulled in the driveway, so it didn’t take long to load his gear in the SUV and get on the road to Bull Lake.
Pulling into the parking area at the lake, the three men got geared up for a hike to a crime scene.
“Which way?” Cory looked at Danny.
“Take the path closest to the lake. Whatever we’re looking for feels part water, part land.” The Shaman Guide shook his head.
“Well, that’s clear as mud.” Cory chuckled.
“That’s the spirit plane for you.” Tony grinned at his Guide.
“Laugh it up.” Danny was glad to see Cory relaxing around them. He had a feeling the Sentinel would be a good asset for them in the future.
They had gone almost a mile when Danny turned down a trail used by fisherman to get to the lake.
“Danny?” Tony got concerned when Reno and Faro appeared as Ash, Cory’s Northern Harrier hawk settled in a nearby tree.
“That can’t be a good sign.” Cory sighed.
At the water’s edge, Danny stopped. Cocking his head in what reminded the watchers of a listening Sentinel, he pulled a notepad and pen from his vest pocket. Seven names appeared on a list. Seeing the names, Cory shook his head while pulling a roll of surveyor’s tape from his pack to mark off the area. When they were finished marking back to the main trail, Danny stopped Cory from calling the Tribal Police.
“One of the spirits said you need to take us to ‘the three-sided cabin’.”
Cory pulled off his Stetson and rubbed a hand over short-cropped hair. Ash landed on his shoulder to offer comfort.
“It’s a place teenagers used to go to have parties or to get away from town. They stopped using it about three years ago, said the place was haunted.”
“How far?” Tony asked.
“Take a right when the trail forks. It’s a natural rock formation that looks like a roof and three walls. Probably half a mile off the main trail.”
It was a quiet walk to the distinctive formation. A few hundred feet from the rocks was an area that had been cleared of rocks and debris. Inside were three mounds. Danny wrote down three more names as Cory and Tony marked the area.
“Do we need to go anywhere else?” Cory asked Danny as they noticed Tony and Faro moving down a game trail that traveled along the middle of the mountain. The breeze shifted and Cory caught the scent of death.
With the number of predators in the area, the smell of carrion wasn’t that unusual, but being close to the graves made it worth checking out.
A quarter-mile from the ‘three-sided cabin’ they found two bodies. A white man and a Native woman. There were no signs of manmade wounds on either body, so the men assumed an animal attack to be the cause of death.
“How long do you think they’ve been here?” Tony asked Cory.
“I’d say six weeks. Looks like a bear kill. Maybe came up on a sow with cubs. Even though we’re on a game trail it doesn’t look like one used by many predators since the bodies aren’t too chewed on.”
“We’ll check them for ID and snap some pictures while you call the Tribal Police.”
“What about you guys? You’re Feds. Can you handle it instead of calling the FBI?” Cory’s expression said he’d rather deal with them, which made Tony feel like he and Danny had made a lot of progress.
“Let me call our FBI Liaison in Cascade. He’s a good guy and will send us someone good if we can’t work the case.”
“Since we don’t know if there are Sentinel or Guides involved, we could let them assume, and request Aaron and Martin’s team. Sheldon was a medical examiner before he went out in the field, so we wouldn’t need to send the bodies to wherever the closest place to here is.” Danny suggested.
“Good idea.” He turned to Cody. “Think your people will go for that?”
“I can probably talk them around. They hate dealing with the local FBI office.”
“Good. Let’s make some calls.”
In the end, Danny and Tony borrowed Forensic kits from the Sheriff’s Department and worked the bodies and graves while the Tribal Police worked the lake. Luckily one of the new officers had been a diver in the Navy so they could get started searching the lake. Aaron’s team had flown into Casper and were on their way to the Reservation. After what happened the last time an FBI agent investigated a crime on the Reservation, Tobias was more than happy to let SGIS handle the case. The FBI higher-ups were still dealing with the fallout from Wind River.
When Aaron called to say they were their way, Danny suggested they meet at the Wind River Hotel, so they could check into their rooms before heading out to meet with the Tribal Police at Fort Washakie. Aaron and Martin would be meeting with the Police Chief and tribal leaders while Sheldon and Kono went to the hospital morgue. Sheldon could autopsy the bodies and collect evidence while Kono searched for anything the field team may have missed.
Olivia and Astrid rode out to the lake to help Tony and Danny process the scene as they excavated the graves. Aaron and Martin would check both scenes as soon as they finished their meetings.
After explaining what was happening, Tony and Danny went to the lake to catch up on the progress of the Tribal Police diver. He had found four bodies that were then pulled from the lake and sent to the hospital morgue in Lander. Once everyone was back at the station, they worked to match the names Danny had written down to the fingerprints Sheldon and Kono provided while Cory and the other officers went through photographs to see if they knew any of the faces. DNA from the skeletal remains would take longer. Cody had identified one of the girls as a classmate of his deceased daughter, and another officer identified a girl as his cousin. The young woman had gone missing eight months earlier when she had gone out with a group of friends to celebrate their admission to college.
After taking recommendations for the best places to get food, the SGIS sprang for dinner for all the officers. Though there was still an air of distrust between the locals and the SGIS, the mood was nowhere near as hostile as it had been. A cloud of grief hung over the station for lives lost, but there was also a sense of relief that ten families would have closure. Cody called Dan and Alice to update the Alphas on what they had found. Since all ten families still lived on the Reservation, the Crowhearts offered to call the families and have them come to the community center. That way the tribe’s spiritual leaders could be there to help the families process the news.
With Aaron’s team on the scene, Danny and Tony restocked their supplies in the SUV then grabbed Cody to check out several more reservoirs.
“Thank you, guys, for not stepping on Dan and Alice’s place with the tribe.” Cody kept his eyes on the road so he wouldn’t have to see the North American Beta Primes’ reaction to his comment.
Danny and Tony exchanged a look. “Not to be obtuse …” Danny’s confusion was plain on his face. “Could you explain that comment?”
You’re the Beta Primes. It would be your right to come in and assert your authority over the Sentinel and Guides, who would then make sure everyone else toed the party line.” Cody turned his head enough to catch the look on Danny’s face.
“What is it you think the Primes do?” Tony asked.
“They come in and take over when things are screwed up.”
“At the S and G Centers, but there’s no way we’d ever think we know better how to take care of the needs of the tribe. From what we can see the Crowhearts are doing the best they can with the resources they have. Do I wish they were more involved with the entire community as a whole … Sure, but if this is a first step to building bridges, I’m good with it.”
“We have teams of auditors tearing through the Sentinel/Guide Centers across the country. We’re hoping to weed out the bad actors and get everyone where we should be. It seems not all Sentinels and Guides are immune to a thirst for power, greed, and avarice. We are Human after all.”
“If the tribes know the effort’s being made, maybe the Tribal Police will be more willing to work with you guys. I’m not saying the local Sheriff and deputies aren’t good people, but memories are long, and people tend to carry on their family ideologies.” Cody finally turned his head enough to see the two younger men taking him seriously.
“All we care is that the criminals get caught and the families can heal.” Danny turned to stare out the windshield. “We need to turn here.” He braced his hands on the dash.
The ABS chattered as Cody came down hard on the brakes and slung the big vehicle to the left. “Good thing no one was behind us.” Tony growled but neither man in the front seat paid any attention to his complaint.
“Stop.” Danny was unbuckling his seat belt and reaching for the door handle.
Tony grabbed his backpack and was on Danny’s heels as the Guide took off like a hound on a hot track. “Fucking Marines.” The Sentinel growled as he extended his senses to see what had Danny so worked up. “I’ve got blood scent.” Tony narrated as he ran knowing Cody wasn’t far behind.
Three spirit guides appeared as the three men all pulled their sidearms. Hearing a scream after hearing Faro’s roar and Reno’s howl, they broke into a small clearing to find a man babbling in Spanish as the three spirit guides surrounded him.
“SGIS! Drop the shovel and get on your knees with your fingers laced behind your head!” Danny yelled in English while Tony repeated it in Spanish.
The man immediately complied shaking and babbling about the animals. While Danny handcuffed the man, Tony and Cody went to check on the body rolled up in a blanket. The Sentinels could hear the labored heartbeat and breathing. Getting the blanket unwrapped enough to check for injuries, they found a nude female in her early twenties showing evidence of rape and a beating. They treated the worst of her injuries with the first aid kit Cody had grabbed from the SUV, before re-wrapping her nude body. Danny was already headed back to the vehicle with their suspect. Tony taped off the area with crime scene tape from the backpack he had grabbed as he dived out of the SUV after Danny, then snapped a few pictures before following Cody. They didn’t have time to spare if they wanted to get the victim help.
They put the suspect in the back with his hands and feet cuffed while Tony got in the backseat to provide a cushion for the young woman for the ride back to town. Luckily, they had a cell signal, so while Cody was turning around, Danny was on the phone with Aaron while Tony was calling for an ambulance. Being so far away from medical help, they arranged to meet the ambulance at the gas station in Crowheart.
Twenty minutes later the paramedics were working on their victim. Danny climbed in the back of the ambulance to try and keep any viable evidence from being contaminated as well as being there if the woman should regain consciousness. Cody and Tony followed the ambulance but split off to take their perp to the Tribal Police.
A phone call from Danny, while they were processing their suspect, gave them the name of their victim. The young woman had been identified as Talia Fast Elk by one of the Emergency Room nurses. No one knew she was missing because she was supposed to be spending the night with a friend. Her family had been notified and were on their way to the hospital.
Hugo Sanchez was in the country illegally and feared that his crew members would turn him into Immigration authorities if he did not do as they told him. He had no idea who had beaten and raped the woman, but he was able to give them the names of his crew members, and where they were staying to the Tribal Police. Not wanting a repeat of the shootout that occurred during the investigation into the death of Natalie Hanson, that resulted in the near-death of FBI Agent Jane Banner, and the death of four members of the Tribal Police force, the Police Chief asked for an assist from the SGIS team to bring the drilling crew in for questioning.
Danny and the officer that had picked him up from the hospital entered the bullpen from where they’d dropped the scant amount of evidence that had been collected from Talia Fast Elk to see everyone strapping on their vests, and checking their extra ammo.
“Got room for one more?” Danny grinned at his Sentinel.
Tony tossed him his vest. “Always.”
The adrenaline that had been pumping as they geared up at Tribal Police headquarters settled down to a hum under their skin as they drove the thirty-five miles to the trailer housing the drilling crew. Tony had asked Sanchez if there were any Sentinels on the crew. At his negative answers, they decided to leave the vehicles a half-mile from the trailer and travel the rest of the way on foot. They gave Cory a head start so the USFW Agent could set up his sniper’s nest. The agents’ earth-toned clothes mixed well with the late summer mountain meadow giving camouflage to the Sentinels and Guides moving silently toward the trailer trailed by the mundane officers. Once everyone was covering both sides of the trailer, Tony gave the nod to the Chief of the Tribal Police to make the call.
“TRIBAL POLICE! EVERYONE OUT OF THE TRAILER!”
“SGIS AGENTS!” Tony added.
The Sentinels tensed when they heard the sound of a window opening, but a warning shot from Cory had everyone inside yelling, “Shit, they’ve got a sniper. DON’T SHOOT, WE’RE COMING OUT!”
The arrests seemed anti-climactic after that and everyone going back to Fort Washakie healthy and whole was a win in anyone’s book. Everyone pitched in, so it didn’t take long to get the drilling crew processed and in separate interrogation rooms.
As the case progressed, and Danny’s Shaman abilities no longer needed, they moved into the background, allowing Aaron and his team to take the lead on the case. Now that the arrests had been made, the Beta Primes made plans to head back to Denver with Hotch’s thanks for helping with the arrests.
“Seems like this brainchild of yours is going to work out.” Aaron took the reports Tony had received from Raylan, Tim, Martin, and Duke.
“We covered a lot of ground, but I’m thinking I’m going to need one or two more teams. We could have covered the east coast with a few more boots on the ground.”
“Better you than me trying to work that into your budget.” Aaron teased.
“I think I might have an ‘in’ to a bit more money.”
“I used to think the DiNozzo Network was some kind of inside joke, but you’re making me a believer.” The former BAU Sentinel chuckled as he headed to the conference room where the rest of the team waited for him.
Heading for the parking lot, he watched his Guide pack their gear while talking with Cory. The USFS Agent had finished his reports and would be heading home after making his goodbyes. Shaking the Sentinel’s calloused hand, Tony made his pitch to the hunter.
“You’re welcome at the house anytime you come to Denver. We could certainly use your talents on the team.”
Cory gave them a sly grin. “I’ll be happy to take you up on your offer of a bed when the bosses make me come to the big city, but this is where I belong. With Casey coming online, he’ll need me here to help his grandparents battle his mother. She’s always been bitter about the whole Sentinel thing even with the slim chance I’d meet my Guide on the Rez considering I’ve lived here since I was a kid.”
“Hey, you’ve got a direct line to us. You have any problems we’ll be here before you can hang up the phone.” Danny assured Cory.
“I appreciate that more than you know. The wind is whispering about a soon-to-be audit at the S/G Center.”
“We’ll put in a word for the team to pay a visit to Dan and Alice.”
“I’ll be happy to be a point of contact.” Cory’s smile was nasty.
“You got it, Man. We’ll keep you in the loop. I think we’ll be sending Vin and Ezra your way. This is a part of their territory after all. Just because there are more elk than people doesn’t mean you can be ignored.”
“Be safe going home. We’ll talk soon.” Cory slammed the driver’s door as Tony slid behind the wheel.
There was a feeling of sadness at leaving the new friends they made on the Reservation, but also a feeling of satisfaction that comes with solving the case and getting closure for a few of many families of indigenous women that disappear without a trace. Even with the positives, it would be good to get home.
Rolling over, Danny’s nose buried in the hair covering his Sentinel’s nape. It wasn’t often they got to sleep in, so he intended to take full advantage. Wrapping his arms around Tony, he began to kiss and nibble the same neck. As he traced down the nobs of the beloved spine, muscles began to twitch and stretch as Tony came awake.
“This is the way to wake up.” Tony rolled over and caught Danny’s lips in a kiss.
The men began to re-acquaint themselves with each other’s bodies, taking their time, reconnecting emotionally as well as physically. Dealing with the spirits of the murdered native women had taken a heavy toll on the Shaman, and these intimate moments with his Sentinel were exactly what they both needed.
When they finally made it downstairs, they found everyone enjoying a leisurely breakfast. By the time they got their coffee, Julie had two plates made up for them. The three pairs kept the conversation away from work until they were all settled in the conference room with files and fresh tea and coffee.
“Since this was our first case, I want to do an after-action critique of what happened, what we could have done better, and what was happening here while we were at the Reservation.” Tony had his ever-present legal pad and pen ready for their reports and ideas.
“The Centers in rural areas are disconnected from the Centers in the cities, even the ‘Alpha’ Center.” Martin wanted to get the book closed on this case though he had a feeling these types of cases would continue to land on their desks.
“We’re dropping that problem in the Alphas’ laps. Along with the Auditors, they’re working on clearing out the deadwood.” Tony made a note to get an update from Blair.
“It’s a work in progress. I’m sure Blair has already put together a team to drag all the S/G Centers into the 21st century.” They all chuckled at the thought of the small town bureaucrats being ground under the wheels of the Alpha Guide’s smiling determination.
“We need another team.” Raylan’s drawl cut through the laughter.
Tony and Danny nodded their agreement. “We’ve got you and Tim for the Southeast, Martin, and Duke for the Southwest, the Cascade office covers Northwest, we cover the Midwest or wherever we might be needed. We need someone to cover Northeast.”
“We can put the word out on the message …” Tim’s voice trailed off as all three Sentinels stood and moved to the windows that showed different views of the property.
“Why don’t we let whoever’s here ring the bell before we rush the door?” Duke teased.
They waited until they heard the slam of three car doors before they moved to the entryway. They heard two women’s voices and a male with an English accent approach the house. Tony went on alert and moved so everyone was behind him. Along with the scent of the three people was also the smell of gun oil. Tony pulled the snap open on his holster. The rest of his team spread so they each had a clear line of sight to the door.
Tony opened the door before they could ring the bell. The three strangers noted the alert status of the Sentinel that opened the door. “Can I help you?” Faro appeared at his Sentinel’s side.
The young black woman standing at the right shoulder of the woman on point, who was probably her sister if you went by looks and scent. The man carried himself like a soldier though he was dressed as if he’d stepped out of a production of Hamilton. Tony wondered which female Sentinel was his, or if this was a rare case of a Triad. She acknowledged the information with a nod.
“Sentinel FBI Agent Abbie Mills.” She turned to the man on her left shoulder. “FBI Consultant Ichabod Crane, and my sister, Jenny Mills.”
Hearing the introductions, the teams backed off the entryway and return to the conference room. They found it interesting Agent Mills hadn’t said that her sister was also a Sentinel, or that Crane was a Guide.
While they waited, Duke and Martin slipped into the kitchen to find Julie had prepared a fresh coffee and tea tray. Placing the trays on the table, they all settled back to wait.
“Anthony DiNozzo, Jr., Agent in Charge of the Sentinel Guide Investigative Service Advance Teams, also Beta Prime as Jenny informed you. Beta Prime Guide and Shaman, Daniel McCoy. Follow me to the conference room, and I’ll introduce you to the team.” Once everyone was settled, Tony continued with introductions. “Sentinel Raylan Givens, Guide Tim Gutterson, Sentinel Martin Riggs, Guide Duke Crocker. Now, why have you shown up on our doorstep today?”
While Crane and Abbie were exchanging looks, Jenny rolled her eyes and grabbed the bull by the horns. “This SGIS gig has lit up the grapevines like fourth of July. You seem to have a lot of autonomy to get the job done.”
Danny opened his Shaman senses to the trio. Keeping his hands under the table, he squeezed Tony’s thigh. Not taking his attention off the sisters and their Guide, Tony let his expression show they weren’t fooling anyone.
“And you need more autonomy to do what you need to do?”
“What about the law?”
“I assure you, Sir, that we always strive to stay within the bounds of the law.”
“Wow. I feel like I’m sitting in my family’s Manor.” Tony studied Crane. “With a name like Ichabod Crane I was guessing it would be a New England accent, not British Blueblood.”
“Your family?” Crane asked.
“I am aware of your family. Though I spent my formative years in Britain, I have been in these United States for many years.” Little snickers from the sisters followed Crane’s proclamation.
“Would it be wrong to assume Agent Mills and Consultant Crane have been through the FBI Academy?” Raylan put his arms on the table to lean forward.
“Crane and Jenny are trained in weapons and tactics but have not been through the Academy.” The scent of nerves filled the room.
Danny could feel Tony’s brain clicking through scenarios. “Jenny, what’s your specialty?”
Caught by surprise, she answered truthfully. “Occult artifacts, acquisition, and weapons.”
“The same with the addition of spycraft and history.”
“If we run background checks?” Tim leaned against Raylan. He could feel his Sentinel losing patience.
“It makes for interesting reading. We’ve been involved in some … Unusual cases.” They could hear the slight growl at their questions.
“Regular Mulder and Scully?” Martin drawled. His teammates turned to stare at the former SEAL. “What?” He blushed a deep red. “Tony said we could watch his DVDs.”
“A little bit, yeah.” Abbie frowned at Jenny’s snicker and Crane’s confusion. “A television show.”
“Ah. I shall have to indulge one day.”
Tony looked at his watch. The wonderful smells wafting through the house told him lunch was going to be one of Julie’s masterpieces. “You’ve had a long trip, so we’ll give you a tour of the house after we get your luggage and show you to your room.” He moved to the door that led to the kitchen. “Julie?”
“All the suites were freshened yesterday.”
“Grab your gear. That will give you time to freshen up for lunch.”
When they came back carrying their bags, Tony was waiting to show them to their suite. “King, queen, or single?” He arched a questioning eyebrow at the trio.
“Tony!” Danny elbowed his ribs.
“What? I didn’t want to make assumptions.”
They all three flushed. Jenny and Abbie exchanged a look with Ichabod. “King. Things are … Fluid at the moment.” Abbie glared at the Primes as if daring them to object.
“Whatever works for you.” He gave them a bright smile. “Follow me.”
Stepping into their suite of rooms, all three looked around in awe. “I do not believe our last abode was this size.” Crane dropped his bag on the bed as he headed for the door leading to the balcony.
“Make yourselves comfortable. Lunch is in 15.” Tony closed the door behind him to the sound of Jenny exclaiming over the bathroom.
JD and Casey joined them as everyone settled at the long dining table for lunch.
“Files are on the network including ones from Ezra.” JD informed everyone.
“It’ll keep ‘til after lunch.” Raylan added a serving of pasta to his plate.
The conversation was kept to small talk and generalities until everyone was settled in the office with fresh beverages and computer files.
“Y’all’s led an interesting life since you met each other.” Raylan drawled.
“You excel at understatement, Sir.” Ichabod reached out with his Guide gifts to learn what he could about the six men they had decided to hitch their wagon to.
“Pegged you there, Raylan.” Tim smirked at his Sentinel.
Ichabod was surprised at the feelings of ease between the six men as they read through the available files of his adventures with the Mills sisters. The two female Sentinels were exploring the house and grounds while Crane stared at the tablet the young dark-haired mundane, they called JD had provided. Thankful Abigail and Jenny had given him a thorough primer on operating such modern devices. The man out of his own time began to read through the public files of the three Sentinel/Guide pairs. Short on the paranormal adventures he and Mills sisters shared as Witnesses, their files sounded much like his own. The quiet in the office was broken when the sister Sentinels practically danced through the door.
“The pool is heated.” Jenny gushed.
“Feel free to use the pool, gym, hot tub … The gym’s in the basement.” Casey informed their guests as she delivered the day’s mail and a fresh carafe of coffee. Tony arched an eyebrow at their Executive Assistant. “Nobody’s hair on fire today.” She announced.
“Could you send me JD in …” He looked at his watch. An hour?”
At her nod, he turned his attention back to the people in the office. The sisters were reading over Crane’s shoulder while the Guide spoke to them quietly about the information he had already read. As there are few secrets in a room full of Sentinels and Guides, Tony opened the floor for discussion.
“Thoughts, opinions, yea, nay?”
“You aren’t going to tell us to leave the room?” Jenny looked astonished at Tony.
“Should we? Even though the house is pretty well sound-proofed, it’s pretty damn hard to keep secrets from Sentinels and Guides of our ratings.”
Danny laid his tablet on the desk and leaned forward. “Why did you leave your territory to come here?” The Beta Prime Guide watched them closely. Knowing hazel eyes zeroed in on Crane. “Ichabod, while others might place you as some weird guy that likes to cosplay in his real life, the cut, materials, and details of your clothes are too authentic. It’s almost like you woke up one day to find yourself a hundred or so years in the future but haven’t updated your wardrobe.” All three paled at the Shaman’s observations. “There’s a very old, aristocratic feel to your, for lack of a better word, aura.”
After an exchange of looks that spoke volumes, Ichabod folded his hands in front of him on the desk he’d settled at. The sisters each placed a hand on his shoulders in support.
“Maybe this story would be better told in a more comfortable setting and a beer.” Martin broke the tension in the room.
In silent agreement, everyone moved to the seating area on the patio. Duke pulled drinks from the outdoor kitchen’s refrigerator while everyone settled with their attention back on Crane.
“You are correct, good Sir, I am an old soul. As a young man, I came to the Colonies on the staff of General William Howe as part of the spy corps. I was the Oxford-educated younger son of the British aristocracy that was strongly encouraged to do my duty to family and king. Once in the Colonies, I was dispatched to Philadelphia as that seemed to be the nexus for most of the action and rumors pertaining to the unrest among the citizenry.”
Soothing his throat with a cold drink, Crane continued. “My family had given me a large portion of my inheritance so I might make a place for myself somewhere other than remaining in Britain to become a wastrel as did most younger sons. I passed on information I gleaned from overheard conversations in tearooms and taverns. General Howe urged me to allow myself to be drawn deeper into Philadelphia society hoping I would be asked to join in their revolutionary activities. Which I was and did. The deeper I was drawn in, the more I came to believe in their cause. After being invited to participate in the initiatory rites of the Freemasons, I was introduced to General George Washington and become a confidante and double agent for him. Like many seeking every advantage to turn the tides in their favor, the inner circle turned to all manner of the occult and witchcraft to further their cause. It was through such rites that I was brought low by my wife’s former suitor, a high-ranking officer in the British Army. As we both lay dying on the battlefield, we bled into ancient symbols laid down by the Coven. Those symbols tied our souls together when I arose dragging him from his unholy rest until I gave him his final death several years ago.”
“So, you’re telling us you’re like 300 years old?” Duke sounded incredulous as he looked to the Mills sisters for confirmation.
“Looks good for his age.” Abbie teased.
“Very well preserved.” Jenny giggled. “With years of experience, you don’t find nowadays.”
“Oxford-educated.” Tim added on.”
“Set financially if his money was taken care of and he was able to lay claim to it. When I was a kid, a Crane family came to my mother’s parties. Claimed their family tree had a British branch. The redhead running the family saw right through my father’s cons. He claimed there was something unnatural about a woman that didn’t fall in love with him after my mother died. Were you always a Guide?”
Ichabod went pale then flushed. “Yes, though I did not have a Sentinel. As high priestess of the Coven, my wife, Katrina, made arrangements which did allow me to be quite comfortable when I recovered my wits enough to check the results of her machinations. She, too, has gone to her final rest.”
“You never did answer Danny’s question. Why do you want to join our team?” Raylan’s quiet drawl cut through the quiet as the team absorbed Ichabod’s story.
“To have the freedom to be where we need to be when we need to be there. We not only have our obligations as Sentinels and Guides along with law enforcement, but we also have our duties as Witnesses.”
“Like from Revelations? End of days and all that?” Martin’s boots hit the concrete with a thump.
“You know about Witnesses?” Crane asked.
“We’ve seen some things” He looked at Duke, who gave a nod of agreement.
Tony and Danny exchanged looks with their teams.
“What’s the verdict?”
Affirmative nods were given around the circle.
“Welcome to the family.”
~ Finis ~