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A Runed Reputation (2/2)

Title: A Runed Reputation
Fandom: The Sentinel
Characters: Jim, Blair, Simon, OCs
Word Count: 11,253
Rating: PG-13 ?
Notes: I wrote this a number of years ago and just realized I never posted it here. (Posted on FFN in 02!) My original character of Steven was created around 1980 His stories can be found here: The Eagle Chronicles. Kendra appears in the last one. I think this can be set in either season of The Sentinel. I did start a sequel but now I can't remember where I was going with it. If anyone wants to give it a read and help me finish it, that would be welcome.




********************************************

Kendra followed Jim down the halls and into the cellar, using her torch to help him. Guesswork helped fill in the gaps she couldn’t remember from the plans. “Can you see all right?”

“I can see fine. Are you sure this is the way?”

“It’s the shortest route within the museum, plus,” she moved the light towards a large grate in the wall, “ready-made escape tunnels.”

“Sewers. I should have guessed by the smell.”

She sniffed. “I can barely tell.” She tested the grating. “Locked.”

“Let me.” Jim made an effort to kick it down.

“If you keep that up, he’ll know we’re on to him.”

“You have something else in mind?” he asked as she knelt in front of the grate.

She didn’t answer him but pulled her bag around to the front and removed a zippered case. She took out two metal picks, put her torch in her mouth, and set to work on the lock. She could feel his eyes on her and hoped she wasn’t giving much away. Soon, it opened. “Et voila.”

“How did you learn that?”

“You forget who my grandfather is,” she answered with a smile as she replaced her picks.

Jim entered the sewers first and Kendra watched him as he seemed to listen to the reverberating sounds of the tunnels. He turned his head a number of times and chose their direction. “This way.”

“So, how did you get into law enforcement after the army?” she asked.

“Not much else that I could do without going crazy.”

“Needed the action? I hate the slow times as well.”

“I would have thought you would have had more of those.”

“Less than you think,” she muttered.

Jim stopped and held up his hand. “This way,” he said, turning right.

“We should be well clear of the museum. What is he still doing down here?”

“Why don’t you ask him when we find him?”

“I assume that’s your own way to say ‘I don’t know’.”

He had the good sense to look guilty. “Sorry. Maybe he knows we’re following and wants to get us lost down here.”

“By my guess, he’s already done that.”

“He’s too far ahead of us now to even bother. We’ll head up the next ladder we see.”

“Just make sure it’s not in the middle of downtown traffic.” She hated acting the hapless female but she couldn’t let him know about her real reason for being in Cascade, not just yet.

They soon found a ladder and Jim climbed up first. Close to the top, he tilted his head as if he was listening. She wondered how much he could hear through the road and the cover. “Doesn’t seem to be a road. A parking lot, maybe.” He lifted and pushed the cover to the side. “Looks like I was right,” he called down.

“How far from the museum?” she asked as she began the climb.

“I’m not sure. A couple of blocks.” When she was out, he replaced the cover.

She breathed deep. “Fresh air. Nothing like it.” She turned back to him and saw that he had taken out his cell phone. “Sandburg. Yeah, we’re fine. We lost him in the sewers.” He laughed. “I’d like to see you do better.”

Kendra smiled at the easy banter these two shared. She also noted that this bond had gone beyond detective and observer. She wished she could have such a friend to share stories and secrets with. However, friends from work only talked work and outside work, no one treated her like a real person. She was a royal, not just another person, not Kendra Stuart.

“They’ll come pick us up,” Jim said, interrupting her thoughts.

“So you know where we are?”

“Street sign.”

Kendra looked about and the only street sign she saw was metres away.

********************************************

Blair watched Kendra’s grandfather as he carefully approached the fuse box. “Don’t want to trigger any little surprises he may have left.”

“So this is definitely the source of the problem? No cut wires anywhere?”

“No, that’s too crude for our boy. Would you hold that light a little closer?” Blair did so as the duke ran his fingertips lightly along the edges. “Looks OK. Just stand back while I open it.”

“Shouldn’t I do that?” asked Blair nervously. “I mean…”

“Do you really want to, Mr. Sandburg?”

“Um…”

“Then it’s settled.” He slowly opened the fuse box.

When it didn’t go BOOM, Blair slowly released his breath.

The duke wiped his palms against his pant legs. “Now that my heart has started up again, let’s see what we can do here.”

Blair returned to his position behind the duke, the flashlight shining into the fuse box. He could not believe that he was watching a living legend in action. He knew he would be reliving this moment over and over for years. He had read all the books-fiction and non-fiction-plus had seen all the movies based on his life. Still, none of them had prepared him for being in the same room with him under these conditions.

“Just a simple timer and bypass,” said the duke peering into the box. He wanted just enough time to get in and out without causing much of a fuss.”

“How much longer before the lights come back on?”

“About now,” he said as he removed the items with a flourish.

Blair blinked at the sudden brightness. “Have you always been such a showman?”

“Only when there’s an audience. Don’t get much of a chance these days. It was rather fun.”

Blair’s cell phone rang. “Sandburg. Oh, Jim. You OK? You lost him? Guess your sense of direction was on the fritz,” he laughed. He listened as Jim told him where they were. “Sure, we should be there in ten minutes or so.” He shut off the phone and put it in his pocket.

“Lost him in the sewers, eh?” questioned the duke as he stood beside him.

“Yeah. They’re about five blocks away and want us to pick them up. Good thing I have a spare set of keys.”

“Before we go, I’ll tell security to keep an eye on that entry.”

****************************************

Ellison checked his reflection in the mirror and straightened his bow tie. He really hated dressing like a penguin. All these galas were just a chance to show off jewels, gowns, and trophy wives. And a chance to rub shoulders with royalty. He would have preferred to be at the museum, but this assignment predated that. Maybe he could sneak out and leave Simon to deal with the gala…

He could hear Sandburg moving about in his room. “C’mon, Chief. You’re not gonna be on display.”

“You never know what connections I could make so I need to make a good impression.” He came into the living room also in a tuxedo. He had his hair pulled back in a ponytail and had a simple stud earring in his lobe. “So, how do I look?”

“Pretty as a picture. You know the Stuarts won’t have much time for you tonight. We’re just the hired help, Sandburg.”

“It was so amazing spending time with them today. It was almost as if we were all working on the case together.”

“It did, didn’t it?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I think there’s more to this than either of them is saying.”

“What makes you think that?”

“Little things she did. Stuff she said when she thought I couldn’t hear. I did some checking up this afternoon. The two of them were in D.C. when the Hope Diamond was stolen from the Smithsonian in ’97. Police thought they had something to do with it until some man named Scott was arrested.”

“See? They weren’t guilty.”

“They could have set the guy up.”

“What is with you? Now not only are they thieves, but they frame people too? You had better not say a thing about this to anyone else tonight.”

“Yeah, you’re right. What was I thinking?”

“Good.”

“I need proof first.”

************************************

"Are you ready yet?” came her grandfather’s voice from the suite’s sitting room. “There’s a slim line between being fashionably late and rude.”

“We’re the guests of honor so I don’t think they’ll do much without us,” she called back. She took a final look in the mirror; smooth gown, sparkling jewels, subtle makeup, and not a hair out of place. She walked out with a swish of material. “Was I worth the wait?”

“You always are. However, I don’t think you’re dressing to impress me.”

“Whatever do you mean?” she asked innocently.

“I mean a certain detective.”

“You mean Jim? Yes, he’s handsome, but I am in no way attracted to him. On the contrary, it would be rather dangerous, considering.”

“I thought you were going to tell him.”

“I was thinking about it, but there’s something strange about him. The way he could hear things in the sewers and how he saw a street sign that was over 50 metres away.”

“That is strange, but not unheard of.” She looked at him questioningly. “I’ll tell you the rest on the ride to the consulate.”

Kendra picked up her wrap and her grandfather help put it on but she barely noticed as her thoughts went over what she knew of James Ellison and wondered just what it was that her grandfather had to share. Once inside the limo, she turned to him. “So, tell me what you’ve heard.”

“There have been a few reported incidents where Ellison has picked up on things that no one else had. He would spot evidence at a crime scene after a forensics team had completely combed it. There was also a time when he was the only witness to a murder: he claimed to have seen a body dropped from a helicopter but no one believed him as he was ____ feet away at the time.”

“So this isn’t just me. Other people have seen him do weird things. That’s a relief. I just wish I knew how.”

“I might have a lead on that thanks to Mr. Sandburg.”

“What does Blair have to do with it?”

“A paper he wrote as an undergraduate regarding a theory first put forth by Burton. It goes that certain jungle cultures had guards or protectors who watched over the tribe with heightened senses.”

“So you think Jim is one of these protectors?”

“They’re called Sentinels and it would explain a lot.”

“Great. I wonder what he heard me say this whole time.”

“We’ll just have to be extra careful tonight. Let me know when the call comes from the museum and I’ll do my best to keep him off your trail.”

********************************************************

Simon self-consciously straightened his tie as he watched the Wealth Parade enter the British Consulate. At least security was tight. He had arrived early to check over everything and could see that Jim and Lady Kendra had done a good job. Everyone seemed to know his or her duties. He checked his watch again. Dammit! When is Jim gonna get here?

“Hey, Simon, calm down. I could hear your heartbeat all the way down the road.”

Simon turned to see Jim and Sandburg just entering the building. “I would be calm if you had been on time!’ he said in an angry whisper.

“We’re not that late,” said Sandburg. “Lady Kendra and her grandfather aren’t even here yet.”

“That’s beside the point. You should have been here to set security.”

“I stopped by earlier today before heading back to the loft and checked the locks on all the windows, doors, and gates myself. The staff here at the consulate knows exactly what to do and what to watch for. However, if it’ll help, we’ll go check around now.”

Simon continued his vigil at the entrance and was rewarded after fifteen minutes when the guests of honor arrived. Lady Kendra was the first to step out of the limo and Simon could almost see the woman who had walked into his office two days ago. She was followed by an older man who could only be her grandfather. Simon only hoped he would look that good when he hit 75.

“Grandfather, this is Captain Simon Banks of the Cascade Major Crimes Division.”

“An honor to meet you, sir.”

“Captain Banks. I understand you and your men worked on the security detail for tonight.”

“We only provided local assistance and extra men. Most of the arrangements were made by Lady Kendra.”

“Do enjoy yourself tonight, Captain,” said the duke before they went inside.

“Thank you, sir,” said Simon to his back.

*****************************************

As they passed a server, Blair helped himself to a glass of champagne. He took a sip and savored it, guessing it came at $100 a bottle. He saw Jim making his way back. “So, sense anything out of place?”

“No, nothing.” He was quiet for a moment, and then sniffed. “Sandburg, it’s that perfume. Our thief is here.”

“Are you sure?’ Jim turned and looked at him as if that were too stupid a question to deserve an answer. “OK. OK. Can you tell which way it’s coming from?”

“No, not yet. I’ll walk around a bit to see if I can narrow down who it is.”

“I’ll just stay here and watch.” Blair took another sip of champagne as Jim walked away.

“Is the vintage to your liking, Mr. Sandburg?”

Blair turned to see the duke and Kendra. “I can’t even tell you the last time I had champagne, but I know this is top grade stuff.”

Kendra smiled. “Are you enjoying your evening, Blair?”

“So far. Jim and I only got here twenty minutes ago.”

“Where is the good detective?” questioned the duke.

“He thought he had a clue to our thief.”

“Séntanta?”

“I don’t think so. It ties in with another case.”

“Oh, really?” Kendra’s hand reached up to the emerald about her throat. “Then I guess we’re all lucky Jim is so observant.”

“I suppose we are,” he said slowly.

“We must continue on, Mr. Sandburg. Do keep us apprised of what happens.”

After they walked away, Blair caught the lingering scent of flowers. He knew he knew what it was, he just couldn’t place it. If only I had smelled it at Covington’s, then I would know if it’s the same scent! But, that would mean the thief is Lady Kendra! He looked over at the woman who was laughing at some comment offered by a Society matron. He then saw Jim making his way towards her. She waved him over, they exchanged a few words, and he joined Blair.

“I think I know who our thief is,” Jim said.

“Lady Kendra.” Jim looked at him. “I could smell her floral perfume. Gardenia. That’s what it is!”

“Right. We need to get some evidence. We can’t just accuse royalty.”

“There may be extenuating circumstances.”

“What are you saying, Chief?”

“Take a look at her family. There may be more to this than we think.”

“Let me see what I can find before we confront her with what we know.”

“Where are you gonna look?”

“Her office. Cover for me.”

“Sure,” he said as Jim walked away. “Though I don’t know how.”

********************************************

Kendra listened as the people around her chatted on anything from social causes to the Mideast. As long as she remembered to nod politely and uttered a few non-committal phrases here and there, no one would realize that her mind was elsewhere. Why is it that I always have to sneak out during important functions? At least I have someone to cover for me. Over the shoulder of a woman who was relaying her British holiday in detail, Kendra caught her grandfather’s eye. He had the nerve to wink at her before returning his gaze to the group about him.

When she next gazed about the room, she could see Blair but not Jim. Had he found out her little secret? She closed her eyes and prayed that wasn’t the case. She wanted to tell him herself.“Excuse me, Lady Kendra.” She turned to see Manisha at her side. “I have a message for you. The man you’ve been expecting has come to pick up his package.”

“Thank you, Manisha.” She turned to the group gathered about her. “If you will please excuse me.”

She left the ballroom and headed for the ladies’ room where she quickly changed before slipping out a back door.

On the next street over, she got into a waiting rental car and headed for the museum.

*************************************

Ellison strode down the hall that led to the offices. The two guards in the hallway recognized him and let him pass when he said he needed to make a call from Kendra’s office. Once inside, he headed for her desk, turned on the small lamp and began to go through her drawers. He didn’t expect to find anything that would implicate her outright. Even if he did, there was the matter of diplomatic immunity. If he could only find something to confirm his suspicions, then they might be able to catch her red-handed.

He opened the top right desk drawer and spotted what he needed: a small bottle of gardenia perfume. He had to return to the party now before she noticed he was gone. As head of security, she would be watching the room; he knew that his absence would be noted.

He found Sandburg on the sidelines sipping a soda. “Did I miss anything?”

“Nope. Just mingling and grazing. Did you find anything?”

“A bottle of gardenia perfume in her desk drawer.” He looked around the ballroom. “Where is she?”

“She was right over by that giant urn of geraniums.”

“Well, she’s not there now. She better not have given us the slip.”

“Jim, she could be in the bathroom or something. No need to jump to conclusions. Look, there’s the duke. We’ll ask him if he knows where she is.”

“He probably does know where she is but it doesn’t mean he’ll tell us.” Blair looked at him. “C’mon, he’s the one who taught her everything. Of course he’ll cover for her.”

**********************************

Steven saw the detective and the student on their way towards him. Ellison didn’t look too pleased. He decided to head them off. “What can I do for you, gentlemen?”

“Have you seen Lady Kendra within the last five minutes?” asked Ellison.

“I did see her conversing a moment ago, but I think that was more than five minutes. Is there anything I can help you with?”

“We do really need to speak with her.”

That doesn’t sound good. “She must have just gone to the rest room. She shouldn’t be too long.”

“Thank you, sir,” said Sandburg. “We’ll wait.”

The two men walked away and Steven wondered if Kendra knew what she was doing, keeping the man in the dark.

************************************

Blair led Jim out of the ballroom. “Calm down and concentrate.” He watched as Jim took a few deep breaths. “OK, now concentrate on her perfume. You can find her if she’s still here in the consulate.”

“And if she is in the bathroom?”

“We’ll ask someone to look for her. Now go on.”

Blair gently guided him out of the way of traffic as the Sentinel concentrated on picking out the scent of gardenia from the myriad of aromas in the room.

“This way.” Jim strode down the hall.

After a number of pauses, they found themselves outside the ladies’ room. “Seems you were right, Chief.”

“I hate to see it, but happy just the same.” A young woman came out of the room. “Excuse me, but is Lady Kendra in there?”

“No, there was no one else.”

“Thank you!” he called after her. He turned to Jim saying, “I guess you were right after all. But where is she?”

“I have an idea.” Jim rushed out of the building and around to the side, stopping underneath the bathroom window. “I can smell her perfume. She probably had a car waiting for her somewhere.”

“So, you’re going after her.”

“What? You want me to let her get away with…whatever she has planned?”

“No, of course not, but-“

“Just tell Simon and have him pull what men he can spare and send them to the museum.” Jim ran down the drive to his truck.

**********************************************

Kendra took up position from where she could see all of the display room but not before checking with the guards to make sure they knew what to do. Séntanta was to be lured into the trap without realizing it. She knew from research that he did not use lethal force so she had no qualms about the guards going about their normal duties. At first they were hesitant, taking orders from her, but once they had seen the logic of her plan, they were behind her 100%.

Now that they had covered his way in, Séntanta had to choose the way of least resistance. And to her, that could only mean the roof. Hence, her sitting out in the damp Cascade evening near the skylight that he used to enter. When he reached the roof with whatever treasures he carried, she would make her arrest.

She then felt something cold press against the back of her neck. “Lady Kendra, what’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?”

Ellison. He must think her a thief. She couldn’t have him ruin all that she had worked towards. She took a deep breath and began to speak in a soft whisper.

**********************************************

Ellison raced over to the museum. Senses on alert, he scanned the building. At the rear of the museum he climbed a fire escape he found. There it was: gardenia. On the roof, he could pick out a heartbeat and saw movement in the shadows near the skylight. He crept up behind the figure and placed his gun at the back of her neck. “Lady Kendra, what’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?”

He heard a sigh and barely audible whispering. He tuned her in better. “I know you can hear me, Jim,” she was saying. “My grandfather looked into Blair’s background and learned about his research into Sentinels. We pieced together what we had witnessed about you and…”

“And I know you’re a thief,” he whispered back.

“You only know part of the story. I am here to catch Séntanta who is at this moment down there,” she said, pointing to the skylight.

“Are you with Interpol?” he asked, lowering his gun.

“I do work for them upon occasion, but I mainly work for MI6.” She smiled. “Combining my grandfather’s talents with my father’s diplomatic ties.”

Ellison looked at the woman in front of him. She truly led a double life, keeping the fact that she worked for British Intelligence a secret from the world. Made his secret seem like _______. After all, his two lives went together, complimented each other. “How long have you done this?”

“About five years. It seems we both have secrets, Jim.” She turned and looked at him. “I think now it becomes a matter of trust.”

****************************************

He did what?” demanded Simon in as loud a whisper as he dared.

“He went to the museum because he believes the theft is happening now. He had me come to you to pull as many men as you could and head for the museum.”

Simon spoke into his concealed radio microphone, detailing what men were to meet him outside. Blair made to follow him. “No way. You stay here. I don’t want to have to keep an eye on you too.”

“Simon…”

“I mean it. Someone should enjoy this night.”

Blair watched the captain leave the building and let out a sigh of frustration.

“Have you been abandoned, Mr., Sandburg?”

Blair turned to see the duke of Edinburgh standing in the doorway. “So it seems.”

“As we both seem to be alone at the moment, why don’t we have a little chat?”

This is just too much thought Blair as he followed the duke to one of the reception rooms at the front of the consulate. He watched as the duke relaxed in a large armchair before nervously sitting in a matching chair across from him. “I don’t know what we have to talk about, your grace.”

“I’m very interested in your doctorial thesis.”

“Well, I’m studying how the quality of evidence gathering at a crime scene can affect the capture of a perpetrator and ultimately the outcome of the trial.”

“Yes, so you said the other day--word for word. No, I mean your real thesis: Sentinels.”

Blair looked at those intense blue eyes and swallowed. Oh, man!

********************************

Kendra sat there looking at Jim, waiting for a response from him regarding trust. Perhaps with his secret he found it hard to trust. She didn’t know exactly how he and Blair came to be together, but since the grad student knew about Jim’s “abilities”, it had to make it easier for him.

“How long have you known?” he asked.

“Grandfather mentioned it tonight on our way to the consulate. He had heard certain things about you then learned of a paper Blair had written some years ago about Sentinels. It does explain a few things.”

“Why did you get into this?”

“Thievery or Intelligence?” she smiled. “The Social rounds are so dull when you keep meeting the same people and keep discussing the same things. I wanted to do something worthwhile. Grandfather had taught me all he knew as I was growing up and I knew I could use them. With a few connections, I became attached to the diplomatic corps and act as something of a freelance, going to different consulates and embassies throughout the world.”

“With only a few people knowing the truth of what you do.”

“And as of tonight, two more people know.”

“And two more know about me.”

She saw a distant look come across his face. He must be using his senses. “What is it?”

“Sounds like he’s on his way up.”

***************************************

Steven enjoyed the look on Sandburg’s face. It had been a long time since he had made someone that afraid of him. He could tell Blair was torn between telling all and the need for keeping Ellison’s secret. “You can trust me, Blair. I’m good at keeping secrets. I’ve kept some close to fifty years, I’m sure I can keep one more,” he said with a smile.

Blair answered with a small smile of his own. “Well…”

“If Ellison has gone to find Kendra, she’s probably already told him we know.”

“Since you put it that way…” Blair then opened up and told him the whole fascinating story of how he and Ellison got together.

“With experiences like that, he would have gone mad if you hadn’t found him.”

“When we first started, Jim wanted my help to get rid of them, not harness them. I think he’s come to accept them now.”

“No wonder you were quizzing me about my life when everyone found out about me. You were thinking about Ellison.”

“I’m just worried about how he would be treated should this get out. He’d probably be poked and prodded in some lab or considered a freak by everyone.”

*************************************

Kendra slipped her mask into place as Jim took up position further along the roof to act as backup. Knowing he would catch any small hand signal helped her to relax-as much as she could anyway. She looked at the rope dangling through the skylight, could see it sway slightly, and prepared to confront Séntanta. This could be a grand feather in her cap, though only a handful of people would even know it was her. The reports would only mention her codename.

She then saw a hand on the rope and motioned to Jim to be ready.

Soon a head appeared, a ski mask covering the face. Séntanta clambered onto the roof and when he turned to retrieve the rope, Kendra could see the pack on his back and it looked rather full.

While his hands were still busy with the rope, she walked up behind him, gun at the ready. Disguising her voice, she said, “If you had wanted a private showing, I’m sure the museum would have arranged it.” She then quickly pulled off his mask, exposing a fair face framed by auburn hair.

Séntanta looked over his shoulder, not even trying to hide his features. “I knew someone else was after them.”

“Of course I want them, but not for the same reason you do. Now turn around slowly, hands where I can see them.”

Séntanta turned, hands just above his shoulders. “This seems a bit hackneyed, doesn’t it? All that was missing was you saying ‘Freeze’.”

“I’m not with the police. Now, slowly lower your pack then move away from it.”

“I have no gun,” he said in a calm voice.

“But you do have a tazer with which you could knock me out and make your escape. So, lower the bag.”

******************************************

Ellison watched the encounter from his position near the fire escape. He knew that Kendra wanted this collar for herself and that he was only acting as backup, but then he was never one for waiting in the wings. He listened as she spoke with Séntanta, handling the encounter like a pro with just a touch of sarcasm. He watched as Séntanta lowered his bag slowly then straightened, his hands once again raised. Kendra reached for the bag and that’s when it happened.

Séntanta grabbed her from behind, pinning one arm behind her back, his right hand holding a knife of some sort to her neck. Possibly the blade he used to cut the canvas from a frame.

“Why are you doing this?” he heard Kendra ask. “You’ve never threatened or hurt anyone before.”

“At this point, what have I to lose? You’re not going to look the other way.”

“Theft without battery is not as serious an offense. Your sentence would have been less. You could be in prison for something like 25 years now.”

“Only if someone else catches me and that’s not going to happen.”

Ellison could smell the copper as Séntanta dug the blade into Kendra’s neck, drawing blood. He couldn’t wait any longer and aimed his gun at Séntanta’s right arm. A shot there should be enough to make him release his grip. Now, if only Kendra could move slightly to the left. She remained passive in his grip, trying to talk him into releasing her. He had to wait until he had a clear shot. Maybe now that they were heading towards him…

Then he heard sirens. It had to be Simon. That would cut down any chance of escape. They must have been closer than he realized because Kendra and Séntanta heard them too. Taking advantage of his momentary distraction, she jammed her head back into his face. As he staggered back, she pulled away, turned the tables, grabbing the hand with the blade and forcing him to drop it.

Ellison walked forward, his gun on the man. “Nice work. You OK?”

She looked over at him. “Fine, thanks.”

“I thought he almost had you there. I was ready to shoot.”

“Thanks for waiting it out.” She spotted her gun and picked it up. “I’ll cover him while you get out the cuffs.”

Ellison grinned as he retrieved his handcuffs. “We’re not all Starsky and Hutch.

“But the language is so colorful and I don’t get much of a chance to use it.”

Ellison hauled Séntanta to his feet and recited his rights. He then turned to Kendra. “You had better get going. You don’t need anyone else seeing you here.”

“Thanks.” She made use of the rope near the skylight and slid back into the museum, avoiding the police making their way up.

******************************************

A few days later, Ellison found himself walking into the British Consulate. He nodded to the receptionist who just waved him on. He continued down the hall and stopped at Manisha’s desk. “She’s expecting you,” the woman said.

“Thanks.” He walked into the office and saw Kendra sitting at her computer. She was dressed casually in khakis and a blue Polo shirt.

She looked up and saw him. “Jim, I’m glad you came. Won’t you sit?”

“I didn’t think it wise to refuse a royal summons,” he said with a grin as he sat down. “I take it you’ve seen the papers.”

“Yes, and I want to thank you for taking the credit and not revealing my involvement.”

“You would have done the same.” He leaned forward. “There is something I was hoping you could tell me.”

“What?”

“Where is Séntanta-sorry, Sean O’Malley-being taken? I keep getting the bureaucratic run-around.”

“I think Britain has claimed the right to charge him first. I only wish I could be there.”

“That would be a risk. Even though you disguised your voice, there is a chance he could recognize it.”

“But at least he won’t recognize my perfume.”

“Just make sure you don’t wear any to further B&Es.”

"Speaking of that. I wonder if you'd like to help me in a little experiment in case I meet another Sentinel."

"What did you have in mind?"

Kendra leaned over and opened the bottom drawer of her desk. Inside was a large rack filled with all varieties of perfume. She turned to him, a wide grin on her face.

Unable to hold back, Ellison burst into laughter.

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