The Sentinel spied his quary, still brandishing his weapon, headed for the cruise terminal at the end of Broadway. If he was allowed to reach a ship before disembarkation, he would be lost for good. With a terse “I got him” to his interim Guide, the Sentinel launched himself into the quickly moving traffic, jumping over cars and bounding off the front of at least one bus, never taking his eyes off the armed gunman several blocks away.
The Sentinel dialed his senses of touch and hearing down low so as not to be distracted from his chase. He placed his hands flat on the hood of a passing taxi and vaulted over it as the startled driver slammed on the brakes, and the Sentinel was once again foot-bound and running along the busy coastal streets. Pedestrians parted way for him as he neared the Broadway Pier, and he gained much needed ground on the fleeing criminal.
The Sentinel reached out both arms as the criminal neared the boarding ramp of the Crown Princess, and he grabbed the man and flung them both off the end of the pier and into the water.
A very dry and weary Guide called in support from the San Diego Police Department and the Sentinel/Guide Center and then he strolled to the deep ladder to retrieve both Sentinel and prey from the cold ocean below.
“I see that you’re requesting a transfer, Guide McCartney?” Director Angela Carter, of the San Diego Sentinel/Guide Center was seated behind her impressive oak desk, carefully reading the official paperwork. “I thought Sentinel McGarrett was happy working in San Diego, since our Center works closely with Coronado and Halsey Field?”
Guide McCartney shifted slightly in his seat. “Yes, well, Sentinel McGarrett is extremely happy to be working with the Navy again. But I’m not sure this is enough for him.”
“So you want to move the two of you to a different Center so that he can become more fulfilled?”
Director Carter looked at the man seated in front of her. He appeared to be incredibly uncomfortable in his tailored suit. His face was flushed and his heart-rate was high. “I don’t understand. What do you mean ‘Not exactly’?”
“I mean, Director, that I’m requesting a transfer. For me. I’m sure you can find someone else to work with Sentinel McGarrett. Someone with psychiatric training, perhaps?”
Director Carter folded her hands together and leaned over her desk. “You’ll have to explain better, Guide McCartney, why you would seek a transfer away from your Sentinel. Breaking a Bond would be catastrophic for both of you.”
Guide McCarthy swiped a hand across his brow and swallowed deeply. “Yes, well, that’s part of the problem. We don’t have a Bond to break. He barely lets me near enough to touch his hand, and he’s never tried to imprint on me. I understand that his Emergence happened in some incredibly traumatic way, but since he’s been online he’s been very insular. Surely you’ve noticed? I’m the third Guide in seven months that he’s worked with!”
The Director sat back in her plush leather chair and sighed. “I had hoped that he was only reticent about working with a female Guide. The first two Guides we found for him were…delicate, if that word fits. McGarrett was a Navy SEAL—a highly decorated one at that—and he is an incredibly physical man. Guide Robbins was trained as a pediatric nurse before her Emergence, and Guide Patrick was a secretarial student when she volunteered to work with him.”
Guide McCartney snorted. “He’s physical all right. He may also be suicidal.” The man leaned forward and sighed. “Honestly, the last straw for me happened yesterday, during that foot chase after the bank robbery and shooting. McGarrett was outstanding during the stand-off, right until the ringleader ran out the back door and headed for the cruise ship. McGarrett left me standing with the local LEOs and he ran into heavy traffic chasing the guy. By the time I caught up to them, it was just in time to see McGarrett tackle the guy off the end of the pier. Since we have no Bond, I didn’t know if he was alive or not until I saw his head pop out of the water. I just can’t work like that anymore. So, I’m requesting a transfer back to Boston, where I know I can work as a counselor in that Center.”
Director Carter reached for a pen and signed the request form. “Very well. I’m sorry to see you go, Guide McCartney. You are a calming force and you will be missed.”
“Thank you Director Carter. San Diego is lovely, and I’ll probably miss it in a few months when winter sets in, but I need to go back home.”
After the Guide left her office, Director Carter sent a call to her partner, Guide Margery Carter, and called for tea to be brought to her office. Margery followed the Personal Assistant into the office and busied herself with the tea service, fixing two steaming cups to exact specifications.
“Angela, love, what has you so stressed?” Margery carried the teacups to the cozy seating area near a large picture window overlooking part of the San Diego Zoo. “I could feel you all the way down in the Art Shoppe.”
Director Carter, Angela, looked at her wife and partner with affection, mentally thanking every deity that she could think of that she found the other woman and that they were so compatible. Apparently, compatibility was something some Sentinels had trouble with.
“Guide McCartney was here, requesting a transfer back to Boston.”
Margery frowned as she sipped her milky tea. “I wouldn’t think Sentinel McGarrett would be happy in such a crowded city as Boston.”
Angela snorted. “I’m sure he wouldn’t be. But as he isn’t going, I doubt it will be a problem.”
“Oh, dear, he’s lost another Guide? I thought for certain that a man was the way to go with him.”
“According to McCartney, Sentinel McGarrett is reckless and slightly suicidal, and that’s the reason he’s pushing Guides away. He didn’t even try to Bond with McCartney; he barely let McCartney touch him at all, in fact.” Angela looked at her more reasonable half. “So, what do we do, other than forcing him into a major Zone and hoping he’ll wake up more compliant?”
Margery hummed for a moment. “Well, he came online quite suddenly during a military operation, correct?”
Angela nodded. “He was tracking a terrorist—had, in fact, caught him—when he got word that his father was killed in a car accident.”
“And he was last in Hawaii for his mother’s funeral when he was a teenager?”
Angela stood and crossed to her desk, where Sentinel McGarrett’s file was open. “His mother died of a brain aneurysm when he was fifteen. His father moved the family back to the mainland shortly after her death, so that McGarrett and his sister could have a female influence in their lives. McGarrett Senior has a sister in Los Angeles. Sentinel McGarrett graduated from Huntington Park High School and entered the Naval Academy with a double major in Operations Research and Computer Science. He graduated with honors and began training for a career in Naval Intelligence when the opportunity for SEAL training came up. His father joined the LAPD and his sister went into nursing school after she graduated high school. Sentinel McGarrett was based here in San Diego when he wasn’t aboard a ship, so that’s why he was brought here after Emergence. This place is familiar for him.”
Margery had abandoned her tea to stand beside her wife as they looked over the file. She leaned her head against Angela’s for a moment before straightening. “Perhaps familiarity is not so good for the man after all. While he’s here, he has memories of the SEALs, which he can’t rejoin without a Navy Guide, and his father, who passed on nine months ago. His sister is married and living in Honolulu, correct?”
“Yes, Mary McGarrett married Lt. Adam Charles, who is stationed at Pearl Harbour-Hickam.”
“So,” continued Margery, “He has no recent memories of Hawaii, and his only living family is there. Plus, the Center works often with Operations at Pearl Harbour-Hickam, so Sentinel McGarrett could have contact with the Navy as much there as he can here.”
Angela smiled at her wife and leaned in for a quick kiss. “You’re right, as always. I’ll place a call to the Center this evening. I should at least warn them of what they’ll have to deal with.”
Guide Danny Williams had certainly had better days.
Sure, the sun was shining, and only wispy white clouds could be found in the sky, but there was a storm in his heart.
“You’re moving to Hawaii?” He could not have heard that correctly.
“Yes, Daniel,” said Rachel Williams, Danny’s recent ex-wife, “We are moving to Hawaii. Stan’s employer offered him a wonderful opportunity, and we’re taking it. Grace, of course, will be coming with me.”
Danny shook his head. “No! No, no, no! The divorce decree said I would be given more than partial custody because of my Status and the fact that Grace was Latent. You can’t move her to Hawaii! I’ll take you back to court if you try!”
Rachel’s face fell into the perfect pout that always got her her way in an argument. “Danny, the move has already been planned. And there is nothing that says you can’t also move, so that you can be near her. You know this will be good for her.”
Danny’s eyes narrowed. “I’m sure you think this will be good for her. We’ll see how this pans out. I’m not giving in so easily, Rachel. You might win the move, but it will be on my terms, just you watch!”
Daniel found himself, three days later, seated in the main office of the New Jersey Sentinel/Guide Center, going over his options with the S/G appointed attorney that helped him during the divorce.
“Of course, she can plea that the move is necessary for her new husband’s employment. She needs to show that she can support her child, and since she has not job of her own, Stan Edwards is the main source of support in that union.” Sentinel Marc Jacobs was displeased with the new conflict, but not too bothered.
Danny leaned forward to better see the papers on the desk. “But you have something, right?”
Jacobs smiled. “Of course we do. The major change in environment may throw Grace into Emergence earlier than expected. This has almost always been the case. Since Rachel is Mundane, and she clearly abandoned you after living with you being Online for four years, she has proven to be unable to deal with an Online Guide. I’ve already contacted the S/G Center in Honolulu, and they have several openings for you in the Law Enforcement department. You can work directly with the Honolulu Police Department, if you choose, or you can be based out of the Center. Also, there is a strong child-care facility in the Center, for when Grace is out of school and you are at work. We’ll have to go back to court, of course, but our case is strong.”
“How strong? I don’t want to take Grace from her mother, but I can’t lose her, either.”
“You won’t lose her, Danny. I’ve interviewed several people since Rachel’s announcement, and the consensus is that you will most likely gain primary custody, and Rachel will have visitation. Yes, you will be moving to accommodate her and Edwards, but the move and custody will be on your terms.”
Days later, the tension in the courtroom could be cut with a knife. Danny sat with Sentinel Jacobs at one table in front of the judge, and Rachel and Stan Edwards sat at the other. Grace had been taken to the Judge’s Chambers for the duration of the hearing, and an S/G pair was sitting with her to keep her calm and entertained.
Rachel was far from pleased; her demeanor was clear even to the Mundanes in the courtroom. Even the judge was eyeing her with concern.
“A custody hearing is always a sad and tense affair, and this one is even more so.” The judge was not the same one that had overseen the divorce, and Danny was grateful for that. He had lost more than custody of his child in the divorce, and his own income had suffered from the ordered support that Rachel hadn’t actually needed. But he would pay anything for his daughter, and this new judge seemed to understand that.
“Guide Daniel Williams has proven that his main concern has always been his daughter, and he is willing to make the move to Hawaii—thousands of miles from his home territory—in order to accommodate Mrs. Edwards and her husband. However,” the judge quickly added as Rachel started to preen, clearly thinking that she had won,” Mrs. Edwards has not shown that she completely understands how such a move can impact a Latent Sentinel or Guide. In fact, Mrs. Edward’s disregard toward Guide Williams’ status is what led to the split between them in the first place. I have interviewed several experts in Sentinel/Guide relations and psychology, and I have determined that Mrs. Edwards is not the best choice for custodial parent in case Grace Williams Emerges from the stress of the move.”
The judge leveled a severe glare at Rachel. “Mrs. Edwards, in your own testimony, you said that you feel a Guide is too high-maintenance for any inter-personal relationship, and that is why you left your husband and sought a Mundane partner outside of your marriage. Since recent testing of your minor child has proven that Grace is Latent and shall one day come Online, most likely as a Guide, this court finds that your attitude is not conducive for Grace’s proper development. If she does Emerge at an early age because you are uprooting her now, we order that primary custody will transfer to Guide Williams, who will be better equipped to raise a Guide. We have already forwarded our ruling to the S/G Center in Honolulu, and they will be monitoring the situation from the moment you set foot on the Island. Do you understand this ruling?”
Rachel was livid. Her face looked composed, but she was vibrating with rage. Even her Mundane husband could tell that she was close to a major breakdown. “Of course I understand the ruling, Your Honour. You’re basically preparing to take my child away due to a genetic aberration that hasn’t even occurred yet!”
The judge banged his gavel on the desk. “Mind your attitude, Mrs. Edwards! I’ve been around many Guides in my lifetime, and even I can tell that the stress of your divorce is bringing Grace Williams close to Emergence! If you consider this to be an aberration now, I hold no hope that you will be any kind of an understanding parent when she does Emerge. And since from all accounts Guide Williams has been the one to try and keep the peace between the two of you, I’m seriously considering granting him full custody now instead of waiting for the inevitable to occur in Hawaii!”
Rachel took a deep breath. “I apologize, Your Honour. This is coming as a huge shock.”
The judge frowned. “I don’t see how, Mrs. Edwards. You lived with Guide Williams for four years after his own Emergence, and you know that Grace has tested high for a Latent. You know you aren’t capable of dealing with Online Sentinels or Guides. If you were, I’m certain you would not have divorced your ex-husband. You’ve had two years to deal with Grace’s status, yet you’ve ignored any outreach of support from the local Center and you willfully removed Grace from elementary school classes about Sentinels and Guides.”
Even Stan Edwards looked discomforted by that, as if this was the first he had heard about Rachel’s bias against Sentinels and Guides. Danny had protested the removal from the classes, but Rachel’s wishes were granted because she was the main custodial parent. Danny and his family spend a lot of time educating Grace about her Latent Status during her visits with him, and she wisely never mentioned it to her mother.
“I just want my child to have a normal childhood, Your Honour,” said Rachel tensely.
“Being a Sentinel or Guide is normal, Mrs. Edwards. Your prejudice against them, however, is not. This is why, until her Emergence, this court has changed custody to a 50/50 agreement rather than the partial custody that now exists. Guide Williams will be free to enroll Grace in the proper classes at the S/G Center in Honolulu, and you will not protest! That is the final decision of the Court. Court is now dismissed!”
With a final bang of his gavel, the judge rose from his seat—forcing everyone in the courtroom to stand with him—and he left to enter the private chambers, where he would presumably explain the ruling to Grace in a gentle manner so as not to alarm the girl.
Danny was shaking the hand of his attorney when he was approached by Stan Edwards, who was frowning greatly.
“I’m sorry about this, Danny,” said the contrite man. “I really had no idea…”
“No, it’s…well, it’s not okay, but it’s done.” Danny was almost speechless. Stan had never before sought him out for conversation. “I’m sorry I had to drag you to court again.”
Stan shook his head. “I understand why you did. I never knew how much Rachel disliked Sentinels and Guides. Hell,” Stan threaded a hand through his hair in agitation, “My older sister is a Guide. She lives in Colorado with her Sentinel/Wife, and Rachel has never met them.”
Danny gave a rueful grin. “I suggest that you never introduce them, then. I don’t have any Sentinels or Guides in my immediate family, so my Emergence was a shock to us both. Grace was four years old and had been admitted to the hospital with appendicitis, which triggered my Emergence, and I thought we were both dealing with it just fine. I was proven wrong, and now she has you. I don’t blame you, Stan, I hope you know that. Grace is always telling me how much you love her.”
Stan smiled. “I really do. I had hoped that Rachel would want more children, but now I’m not so sure.”
Danny clapped Stan on the shoulder. “It’ll work out. I can share my awesome daughter with you, as long as you can deal with her Status.”
Stan nodded. “I’ll try to work with Rachel on that.”
Rather than agreeing to work directly with HPD and obtaining civilian housing, which was freaking expensive on this god-forsaken island, Danny had opted to work within the S/G Center and was given housing in the complex.
The Honolulu Sentinel/Guide Center actually had a complex!
Several acres in the Haloha Park area were fenced-off and there were several apartment-type buildings around the Main Center. It was adjacent to the Honolulu Country Club and near several good schools. The grounds were beautiful and the apartment was tastefully decorated, and Danny had no complaints about the new housing.
He was assigned a spacious three-bedroom unit with a large living area and gourmet kitchen. He had a fireplace and patio and a green space for playing, and Danny thought he and Grace would be very comfortable there. The walls were rather plain and neutral-colored, and Danny was encouraged to decorate to his own tastes, so Danny’s family loaded him down with photographs and posters depicting his family and friends and favorite New Jersey landmarks. Danny also helped Grace pick out some personal touches for her own room; a comforter and throw pillows in shades of pink and purple, posters of unicorns and kittens, and a set of glittery gel pens and a stationary set for writing to her grandparents.
Grace took the new custody agreement with, well, grace and maturity that belied her young age. She seemed to understand that her mother, for whatever reason, did not like the idea that Grace would someday come online as a Guide, and she tried to downplay that part of her personality. Grace was a total peace-keeper, and Danny only hoped that she would out-grow that and become a mighty force, or she would be a doormat to any Sentinel looking her way.
Working for the Center meant that Danny was often called in to calm Zoned Sentinels when their Guides could not be readily found. In a few cases, the Guide was injured and unavailable, which caused the Zone in the first place. Danny found a niche for himself, and he happily socialized with the other staff in the Center, discussing difficult cases from the distant and recent past. Danny was also called, from time to time, to deal with Emerging Sentinels on the nearby military base. The Honolulu Center was small, so the staff was intimate with each other, and Danny quickly made friends.
Two of those friends were Sentinel Adam Yung and his wife/partner Guide Catherine Yung, the directors for the Center. Adam was native Hawaiian, and Catherine was originally from San Francisco. They met while Adam was serving in the Navy, after he came online during a training exercise that had gone disastrously bad. Catherine was a nurse that was caring for Adam and several crew mates. She had been an online Guide since her late teens, and was happy to have found her Bond-mate in Adam. Twenty years later, they were offered the Directorship of the Honolulu Center, and they protected their Sentinels and Guides fiercely.
Danny wasn’t surprised when he was called into the Directors’ office to talk about an incoming Sentinel. It was a common enough occurrence, since they were so close to a military installment and military personnel often came online unexpectedly. What was uncommon was Danny being asked to personally work with the new Sentinel.
“Not that I’m not flattered, but why me?” Danny had settled himself into a firmly padded leather chair adjacent to the Director Sentinel’s desk.
Guide Catherine sat next to him and offered him a thick file folder. “Sentinel Steven J. McGarrett, originally from Hawaii until his family moved to Los Angeles when he was fifteen. He was an exceptionally bright student in high school and that followed to the Naval Academy in Annapolis. When he graduated the Academy, McGarrett served in a Naval Intelligence unit until he applied for and was granted entrance to the SEAL training program, where he served with distinction.”
Danny slowly turned page after page, quickly skimming over academic and service records, noting mission-related injuries and medals that were awarded to the man. “Is his service record related to why he came online?”
“No,” said Adam, “In fact, Sentinel McGarrett only recently came online while hunting terrorists in the Middle East. It was the announcement of his father’s fatal auto accident that caused the Emergence.”
Danny nodded. “Because he was now the oldest male in the family, so he officially became the Protector.”
Catherine snorted softly and Danny looked up with wide eyes. “Wow! That came out more sexist than I had intended.” Catherine might have been a nurse and care-giver, but she was also multi-degreed black-belt in several martial arts. “Sorry about that.”
Catherine shook her head. “I know you meant no offense, Danny. I was merely amused that you keyed in so totally on the cause of Emergence. McGarrett was tested as Latent when he first joined the Naval Academy, so he was aware that he could eventually come online. He told the S/G counselors that he always assumed he would Emerge during a fire fight.”
Danny shrugged. “Yeah, well, I’m a dad, so I can understand the ‘protect-the-family’ impulse. So what’s his deal, then?”
“His deal,” said Adam sardonically, “Is that he’s been through three Guides in the last seven months. His most recent acting Guide admitted that McGarrett never tried to initiate a Bond, and that he seemed to be trying very hard to kill himself in the line of duty.”
Danny frowned. “That’s not good. Why do you think I can help him?”
“Because,” said Catherine with a laugh in her tone, “After your ex-wife, we figure you can handle the hard cases.”
[wptab name=’Cast Pictures’]