FURTHERANCE

By Sarah (winks7985)

 

Part 4

 

 

Darryl sat at the table in the cabin that was serving as a command post.  His hands were folded in front of him, and he wore a look of indifference on his face.

When he had first surrendered himself, he had asked to speak with whoever was in charge.  As he was being searched, Standish’s badge had been pulled from his coat pocket. That’s when the search team had called it in.  Less than twenty minutes later, Darryl was seated at this table.

 

By the time he had arrived in handcuffs, everyone had heard about Standish’s disappearance and how this guy had his badge.  Darryl had been met with deadly glares as he was marched along to the cabin, but his mask of indifference did not crack.

 

Now he waited.

 

Chris Larabee and the rest of his team gathered outside the cabin, talking with Murph.

 

Murph handed him the Badge and credentials, along with the patch from Standish’s Kevlar vest.  He then handed Larabee the now empty gun that Wickwire had on him when he’d surrendered.  A nod from Chris confirmed that it was Standish’s as he passed it off to Buck.

 

“That’s all the son of a bitch had on him when he was picked up.  That and his cell phone, which doesn’t work up here,” Murph said. 

 

Chris blew out his breath as he turned and looked behind him at the cabin.  God, he hated this.  “Ok boys, let’s see what he knows.”

 

Inside the cabin, the two men who had brought in Wickwire stood guard over their captive.  When the six men of Team Seven, along with Detective Murphy entered, they quickly made their way out.

 

Chris pulled up another chair to the table and sat down.  He kept his head bowed , waiting for Wickwire to make the first move.

 

Darryl cocked his head to the side and asked, “You in charge?”

 

Chris nodded, his head still down.  He was looking at the object in his lap: Ezra’s badge.  He also loosely fingered the patch of kevlar, noticing now for the first time the frays from where it had been cut away from the vest with a knife, but also some more serious fraying at the bottom of it, under the “N”.  Most likely from a bullet.  Looking up and meeting the eyes of the captured man, he smiled a cold smile.  Without breaking his gaze, he laid the badge and credentials out on the table, followed by the patch.  The items were facing Darryl so he could see them clearly.  Chris folded his hands on the table, mirroring Darryl.

 

“Where is he?” he asked plainly.

 

“He’s alive,” Darryl answered. 

 

“He damn well better be,” Buck growled from behind the seated blond.

 

Where is he?” Chris asked again, the menace in his tone unwavering.

 

Darryl smiled and stated just as plainly, “I am here to barter a trade: your agent for Tripp’s niece Shannon.”

 

“No trades.”

 

“Mister,” Darryl said as he leaned a little closer.  “You don’t have a lot of time here.  If I don’t return by 1700 hours, your man will be executed.  Slowly.”

 

 “How do I even know he’s alive?” Chris asked after a moment of thought.  Sure, the badge and patch were obviously from Standish, but they did not attest to the condition of the agent.

 

“Do you have my phone?” Darryl asked the entire room.

 

“No time for phone calls,” Murph piped up.

 

Turning his glare on the man, Darryl announced, “There’s something on it you need to see.”

 

Chris turned to Murph and held his hand out to him.  Without comment, Murph gave the man’s phone to Larabee, who in turn presented it to the captive. 

 

As he worked his way through the phone’s menus to get to where he wanted, Darryl spoke, “These pictures were taken a little over an hour ago.”  He presented the phone to Larabee and folded his hands again.

 

Focusing on the images on the phone, Larabee swore under his breath.  They depicted Ezra, lying on his side, obviously unconscious.  A dressing was wrapped around his thigh.  Another picture was of his face, and another phone, clearly displaying the time as a little over an hour ago, like Wickwire had said.  “JD,” Chris spoke over his shoulder.  “Can you get these printed out?”

 

JD took the phone from his leader, glanced at the display, and said, “Give me three minutes,” and left the cabin.

 

It was quiet for a moment after JD had left.  Chris continued to stare at this man, who seemed not the least bit rattled by the situation. 

 

“So how is this supposed to work?” Chris asked.

 

“You agree to make the trade, I go back to Tripp, relay the message.  And if I am followed, we’ll know, and he will be executed.”

 

“We’re just supposed to let you go?” Buck asked from behind Chris.

 

“If you want him to live, yes.  He wasn’t looking too good when I left,” Darryl smiled.

 

“You son of a bitch,” Nathan said as he lurched from his spot against the wall, Josiah catching him and holding him from advancing.  “How bad is he hurt?”

 

“Bad enough.”  He unfolded his hands and pointed at his coat pocket.  “May I?”

 

“Slowly,” Chris answered.

 

Darryl moved purposefully slow, reaching into his coat pocket and fumbling with what sounded like a bunch of change.  Removing his hand from his pocket, he sifted the contents of his palm until he found what he was looking for.  He held it up for everyone to see, then placed it on the table.

 

Nathan knew what it was instantly.  “You bastard!” he boomed as he advanced on the seated man.  Josiah halted his advance again.

 

Darryl grinned.  “That Kevlar got a workout.”

 

Vin moved forward and picked up the misshapen piece of metal.  Turning it over several times, he quietly announced, “Rifle slug.  Can’t tell the caliber… it’s too deformed.”  He gave an apologetic look to his leader.

 

JD came back into the cabin that very moment, with two copies of each of the pictures from Darryl’s phone. 

 

Nathan angrily took one copy of the pictures from JD and started flipping through them. 

 

“What do you see Nathan?” asked Chris, still seated at the table, staring at Darryl.

 

“Vest looks damaged in a couple of places.  Even if it didn’t puncture, it ain’t good.  He could have broken ribs, bruised lungs… He’s gotta be in a lot of pain, if he can feel anything right now.  If he broke ribs he could end up with all sorts of other problems.”  He looked at Chris.  “I have no idea.”

 

“Murph, watch this fuck,” Chris said as he stood and strode out the door of the cabin.  The team followed.

 

7777777

 

Ezra rested his head on his knees, trying to control his breathing.  If he took too deep a breath, he would start coughing again, leading to more pain, and possibly more damage.  For all of his aggravating moments, he really wished Nathan were here.  The pain in his chest had yet to subside.

 

He drifted, trying to conserve his energy as much as possible. 

 

In the midst of one of his drifts, he felt a nudge.  He looked up with pain in his eyes to see Tripp offering him a canteen.  “Water?” he asked.

 

Ezra nodded, then winced in pain.  His muscles were starting to stiffen up in his chest, and even nodding was causing undue pulling.  “I’m afraid… you’ll have to… help me…,” he rasped out.

 

Tripp nodded, then squatted down next to his captive, opening the canteen and pouring some water into the greedy mouth. 

 

“Thank you,” Ezra said, a bit louder this time.

 

“You’re welcome.”

 

Ezra took a deeper breath and held it, suppressing the urge to cough.  “Why are you doing this?” he asked quietly.

 

“I’m not an animal,” Tripp said, sounding almost hurt.

 

“No, not the water.”  He paused.  “Why do you want the girl?”

 

“She’s kin,” he said, as if it were the most obvious answer in the world. 

 

Ezra nodded absently.  “You know they won’t just give her to you, right?”

 

“It’s not going to stop me from trying.  She’s family.  I was never lucky enough to have children of my own.  I can rebuild all of this,” he nodded to the opening behind him.  “I can’t replace blood.  And with my brother gone, she’s all I have left.  I’m all she has left.”

 

“Because you killed her mother.”

 

“That bitch wasn’t her mother.  Her mother was a sweet woman.  That one, she was trash.”  He sat down across from the agent.  “She didn’t understand family or tradition.  She never did.”

 

“Tradition killed her husband.”

 

“Yes it did.  As I’m sure the Law Enforcement Tradition has killed other husbands.”

 

Ezra groaned as he rested his head back against his knees.  He was too tired to argue.

 

“Concede the point,” Tripp said.

 

“Whatever you need to tell yourself…”

 

Tripp chuckled.

 

“So how is this going to work?” Ezra asked, not raising his head.

 

“Simple.  You for her.”

 

Ezra brought his head up off his knees.  “So what, we find an open space and the two of us walk across, meeting halfway, and continue to our respective parties?”

 

Tripp chuckled again, a half smile on his face.  “Something like that.”

 

Resting his head back on his knees, he muttered, “You watch too many movies.”

 

7777777

 

Congregating outside the cabin, the six men stood in a loose circle. 

 

“JD, you plant it?” Chris asked

 

“Yup.”

 

“Plant what? Buck hissed.

 

“Tracker,” JD replied quietly.

 

“Come on, he’ll look for it.  He’s militia,” Vin stated.

 

“That’s why there’s three,” JD said knowingly.

 

“One that he’s expecting,” said Vin.

 

“Another for him to find…” Josiah said thoughtfully.

 

“One to track him. The third one is one of JD’s toys.  He won’t find it.”  Chris finished.  JD smiled as he stood next to the leader.

 

“Reception sucks up here though,” said Nathan.  “We’ve been having trouble with the comms all day.”

 

“That’s why Vin is going to follow him,” Chris announced.

 

Vin just smiled.  He figured as much.

 

“Can you follow him up here?” asked Buck.  “No offense Junior, but there’s been people through here all day.”

 

“Won’t be easy, but I reckon it’s our best shot.”

 

“Once we get close,” Chris said, “we can use dogs.”

 

“You think dogs will work?” asked Josiah.  “The woman said that the area was dense and laden with traps.”

 

“Any better ideas, I’m willing to hear them,” Chris said.  “Now let’s go see how this shit is supposed to work.”

 

7777777

 

Darryl set out to meet up with Tripp, having gotten the Agents to agree to the trade.  He had found the first tracking device inside his phone while still sitting at the table.  He had held it out to the youngest agent, returning it to him with his most helpful look on his face.  The kid looked shocked.  Darryl smiled at the memory.

As he got further away from the agents’ camp, he found himself looking over his shoulder repeatedly.  He swore he was being watched.  He stopped in a small clearing and pulled his phone out of his pocket.  Looking at it intently, he ripped the back off and removed the battery.  It looked like it had been messed with.  Shit, a second bug?  Looking over his shoulder again, he smiled.  He put the small phone on the log he stood near, then reached to the ground and picked up a good sized rock.  He smashed the phone into tiny bits in a matter of three blows.

 

“Track that,” he said quietly.  Then he left the clearing, feeling pretty clever.

 

Vin stood in the stand of trees, watching Darryl a hundred yards away smash his phone with a rock.  “Guys,” he cued his comm.  “We might have a problem.”

 

What’s up Vin?” Chris asked.

 

“He just smashed his phone.”

 

Third tracker isn’t in the phone.  It’s on him.”

 

Vin chuckled.  “Kid’s been practicing some sleight of hand with Ezra, huh?”

 

And he’s getting pretty good at it too.  Which way was he headed?”

 

“Changed direction to North.”

 

Keep on him.  We’ll stay about five minutes behind you.”

 

“Right.  I’m gonna leave the comm line open.”

 

Understood.”

 

7777777

 

Tripp paced back and forth, looking at his watch periodically.  Darryl should have been back by now.  It was 16:47, and the plan had been if Darryl wasn’t back by 17:00, then the agent would be executed. 

 

Tripp glanced over at his prisoner, who kept his head on his knees and breathed as shallowly as possible.  He looked back to the cave opening and shook his head.  How had it gotten to this

 

“Somethin wrong?” drawled the agent.

 

Turning to his captive, he met pained green eyes.  “No.  I was just thinking about something.”

 

“You and me both,” the agent muttered.

 

Jerry shook his head in askance.

 

“You have no intention of letting me live,” the agent responded.  “For all your ‘Tradition’ and ‘Livelihood’ ramblings… I think you’re full of shit.  You killed a woman… while her daughter was in the room.  So, I was thinking… about how this was going to be… where I die.  In some backwoods shit hole.”

 

Jerry stood shocked.  “Shannon was there?”

 

The agent nodded slightly, then winced.  “Under the bed.”

 

Tripp sighed loudly and ran his hands through his hair.  “She…” he stammered.  “She knows?” he asked, his eyes begging for the honest answer.

 

Ezra sat as still as possible, controlling his breathing.  Lord, he was starting to get tired.  Nodding, he said, “She’s a very smart little girl.”

 

Closing his eyes in what looked like pain, Tripp hung his head.  There’s no way she’ll come to me now.  I’ve lost her.  Even if I get her back with me, I’ve lost her…

 

Leaving the man to his inner demons, Ezra rested his head back on his knees. 

 

7777777

 

Darryl checked his watch again.  Shit.  16:51.  If he was going to make it back in time, he would have to huff it.  Wouldn’t do anyone any good if they showed up to do a trade with nothing to trade because he had been late!

 

There it was again.  That feeling of being watched.  Hunted.  Darryl spun around in a circle, looking for the hunter.  He didn’t have time for this.  He could make it back to the cave in five minutes if he ran.  But if he was being followed, he would be leading the hunter right along with him…

 

Well, he wasn’t going to let that happen.  Shrugging out of his jacket, he balled it up and left it on the ground.  He then ran ahead and circled back amidst the thick trees.  He would stalk his own stalker.

 

Vin came to the edge of the small clearing and paused.  Something had changed.  He didn’t know exactly what, but he felt… exposed.  Looking ahead, he saw an object on the ground that looked suspiciously like Darryl’s jacket.  

 

“Guys, we’re made.  He knows he’s being followed.”

 

Has he seen you?” asked Chris.

 

“No, he’s laying in wait.  Trying to trap me.”

 

We’re less than five minutes from you.”

 

“I don’t know if we have five minutes to spare.”

 

So what are you thinking?”

 

Vin smiled.  “I’m gonna flush him out.  I’ll get answers.”

 

There was a moment of silence as Chris pondered the situation.  “Watch your back.  We’re almost there.”

 

“Always do.”

 

7777777

 

“You have his exact location JD?”

 

JD looked at the device he held.  “Yeah.”

 

“Guys we gotta move.  Be careful.  You heard what Vin’s doing.”

 

“What about Ezra?” Buck asked, concerned.

 

Chris turned to his friend.  “If he knows he’s being followed, he’s not going to lead us to him.  Let’s hope this guy talks to Vin.”

 

The five men took off at a run.

 

7777777

 

Vin strolled out into the opening like he didn’t have a care in the world.  He walked over to the discarded jacket and kicked it for good measure.

 

Scanning his surroundings for its owner, he caught the head peeking out from the side of the tree.

 

“I should have figured it was you,” Darryl said, walking out from his hiding place.

 

“Where is he?” Vin asked coolly.

 

“What are you, part injun or something with the tracking?”

 

Vin stared at him, a threat showing in his eyes.

 

Darryl shrugged.  “Doesn’t matter either way.  Short of sprinting there right now, your friend is dead.”  He looked at his watch.  16:56.  “Hell, I don’t know if I could make it in four minutes if I wanted to.”

 

Vin nodded smugly.  A four minute sprint to the north up this path

 

“I should just shoot you now,” Vin said with no emotion.

 

“You’d shoot an unarmed man?” Darryl answered as he slowly continued his approach, his arms open as thought to show he had no weapon.  “Not much of a soldier then, are you?  More like a coward.”

 

A predatory half smile appeared on Vin’s face.  “We’ll see.”  He opened his arms in invitation.

 

Darryl audibly growled and charged.

 

7777777

 

Tripp looked at his watch again.  17:02.  It was time to make a decision.  He pulled the revolver from the small of his back and looked at the agent.

 

Ezra had fallen to the side with a weak groan shortly after he last spoke to Tripp.  Now he lay panting quickly and quietly.  Every now and then he would hold his breath in what seemed like the smothering of an audible groan.  His eyes opened for less time than they stayed closed.  At this point, he seemed ready for whatever was going to happen. 

 

Tripp walked towards the agent and squatted down near his head.  Pain filled green eyes looked at him glassily. 

 

“I’m torn on this,” Tripp said.

 

Ezra blinked slowly at him. 

 

“I lose either way,” Tripp continued.  “They’re not going to trade her.  And even if they did, she won’t want anything to do with me because she knows I killed Jenna.  Now, Jenna wronged me, and I killed her for it.  But you…  I didn’t know you from Adam before today.  Hell, the only reason I know your name is I ripped it off your vest.”  He scratched at his stubbly beard growth.    

 

Ezra blinked at him slowly again.  He rested his head on the ground and closed his eyes.

 

Tripp nodded to himself. 

 

7777777

 

“Vin!” Chris shouted as he entered the clearing.

 

“Over here!” Vin answered. 

 

As the five men came up on the tracker, they were amazed to see that he held Darryl in some sort of lock that looked extremely painful for him, while Vin looked completely at ease. 

 

“Josiah, JD, I’m gonna let him up.  You two take care of him,” Vin said.  As Vin released his hold , Josiah grabbed Darryl and wrestled his arms behind him, securing them in handcuffs. 

 

“JD, what’s about a mile north of here?”

 

“Uhh… hills and I think a pretty big pond eventually,” he responded, trying to visualize the maps they had been looking at all day.

 

“Any buildings?”

 

“No,” he said, shaking his head slightly.

 

“What’s up Vin?” Chris asked.  “What do you know?”

 

Nodding to the cuffed man, Vin said, “He said he had four minutes to get to the place he needed to be at, and wasn’t sure he could make it at a full run.”

 

“Let’s go.”  Chris was already heading toward the path as he called instructions over his shoulder.  “Josiah, JD, stay with that piece of shit and figure out a way to get the medics up here.  We’ll keep the comms open.”

 

Buck, Nathan and Vin took off at a sprint towards the north, following Chris.

 

7777777

 

“So that’s it then?  That’s all you got?” Tripp asked his unresponsive prisoner.  He leaned forward and poked the agent in the ribs with the barrel of the gun.

 

A muffled grunt answered him.

 

He nodded in concession and sat back, leaning against the wall of the cave across from the agent.  He looked towards the cave opening, he could hear the breeze blowing through the trees, and he marveled at the color of the sky. 

 

Looking back at the agent, he pulled the hammer back on the revolver, advancing the cylinder to the next round.  He looked at the slack face before him.  He was solemn when he spoke.

 

“I’m sorry about this, I really am.”  He took a long breath, aimed the gun and fired.

 

 

 

PART 1 / PART 2 / PART 3 / PART 5 / PART 6

 

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