Of Links and Laws
Rescues and Retribution
James and Rose had been flying for over an hour when they made their first stop. They had been flying over forest until now, but that was about to change. As they approached the Idaho border, they would start running into towns and farmlands and they had to be careful. Being seen by Muggles would be bad, but being seen by Wizards would be worse right now. They ate the food that they had brought for breakfast and then James pulled two disks out of his pouch.
They attached the disks to their broomsticks and waited for them to activate. The activation created a sphere of "don't notice me" around the Broomsticks that would prevent all but the most strong-willed people from seeing them. Anyone else would simply not notice them.
"Rose, look at this. We're here," James said, spreading the map out. "Here's where they are. We should be in the vicinity in about two hours. Then, I want to hole up and scout around a bit. We think it's only Muggles, but I want to be sure about that. Plus, you said that the Spirit you called told you that this was a place 'where armed men hide', and that makes me nervous all on its own."
Rose nodded emphatically. "It makes me a bit more than nervous."
The two of them took off again, using an old compass to maintain their direction. No one who spent as much time in the woods as James could do so without being able to read a map, and they took full advantage of that to skirt the most populated areas, where they stood the most chance of being seen.
It actually took them more than three hours to get to the area they wanted, but only because they stopped to stay dry during a short rainstorm. When they reached the area they wanted to be in, they slowed and James soon found an abandoned den.
"What is it, with you and the animals?" Rose said as she looked at the den. "I swear, you're more comfortable with them than you are people."
"They're honest, with no hidden agendas, no lies or false faces to say one thing while doing another. If they don't like you, they let you know right up front. If they want something, they tell you. No fugue, or doubletalk, just pure honesty." James looked at Rose. "Do you remember meeting that one idiot, the one who was so proud of being royalty?
Rose grinned, as she remembered it. "You mean James Scott the fourteenth, the one that claimed he was descended from the Duke of Monmouth. The one that tried to get some backing for his claim on the throne?"
"That's the one. Remember how he said we were 'colonial whelps' until he found out how much money the family has?" James looked disgusted. "Then it was a different story."
"I also seem to recall that he had a few problems with the wildlife. How did you get Silverpaw to pee on him anyway?"
"I was the one that freed him from that trap, remember? I just asked him." James grinned at the memory. "Anyway, the animals aren't like that. They let you know right away what they think of you, and that doesn't change unless your actions do something to make them change their opinions."
Rose sighed, remembering the times people had changed when they found out how rich they were, or how high their family stood in the Book of Gold. The twins had learned quickly that not everyone wanted to know them for who they were, but for their things or bloodlines. "You're going to have to deal with it, James. It isn't going to change any time soon."
James turned to Rose and grinned. "I may have to deal with it, but I can be any way I want to be, because we are rich. It will just be written off as a quirk." James looked bitter for a second. "Simply because our ancestors made money, people will allow us to get away with things that people with less money can't. He smiled then, a sneaky smile with definite overtones of smirk. "I'm going to cram that right down their throats. I'm going to be as brutally honest and upfront as a wolverine."
Rose sighed. "James, we do have to be polite to the people we're going to be doing business with. We have a responsibility to the family and the company."
"That's why I have you. Do you remember that show we watched at Michael's house? That movie about the policemen?"
"Yes, why?" Rose thought as James grinned at her. "You want to play that good guy/bad guy thing. You'll be the rude one, making them eager to deal with anyone else."
James smiled. "Except I won't be rude, just honest. James sighed and returned to their current situation. "Nothing personal, but you should stay here. You just don't have the experience to sneak around the woods."
"Maybe that's because I don't want to be Tarzan?"
James blushed. "Flower Child, you remember too much. That was a passing desire. Anyway, I'll go scout around. If there are Muggles with guns, this is going to be a bit harder."
"James, we already know that there is at least one Muggle with a gun, and he's used it."
"I know." James left his haversack with Rose. He hugged her briefly, surprising her. James wasn't a physical person. "You be careful, sister mine."
James slipped out, using the 'don't notice me' disk that had been on his Broomstick to help him hide. As soon as he was out off Rose's sight, James stopped and used the Shaman skills Rolling Thunder had been teaching him. He found a hawk and used its eyes to look for signs of humans.
It didn't take long for the aerial survey to find something that didn't look natural. James noted the distance and direction and headed that way, telling Rose what he was doing. It took about twenty minutes to get to that area, and as he got closer, James stopped again and found a chipmunk.
Keeping the small creature high in the trees, he used it to look ahead, and he was soon glad he'd done so. Barely a hundred meters in front of him was a hidden deer stand with two armed men in it. James sent the chipmunk as close as he dared, trying to overhear the men.
"What do you think of that new guy?"
"He knows his weapons, but he's an as." The man stopped. "Here comes our relief."
"These four hour shifts are a lot easier to do, aren't they?"
"No shit. Those eight hour shifts were killing me."
The two men climbed down out of the stand and two other men climbed up. James watched them for a few minutes, but all they talked about was some woman and her tits. He sent the chipmunk away with his thanks and thought.
He started down the path, whistling and being as obvious as he could. He stopped and threw a rock, and started back down the path.
James jumped as if he was startled and looked around, pretending not to see the man in camouflage clothing standing by a tree. "Who said that?" he called. He didn't even have to pretend to be nervous, as he was very aware of the other man pointing a gun at him.
The first man stepped out from behind a tree. "What are you doing here, boy?"
James looked at him, and shrugged. "Just walking the path. My family is back that a way. I just wanted to see what was out here."
The man looked back the way James had come. "I suggest that you go back that way. There are military ranges this way, and you might get hit by a stray round."
James frowned. He took a chance. He looked at the man's uniform carefully. "Uncle Alexander has taught me to recognize the uniforms of the military. You're not wearing one." He looked at the man. "You're a militia man, aren't you?"
The man looked at him. "And if I am, boy?" His voice had changed, growing colder.
James shrugged again. "No skin off of my nose. Uncle Alexander says that most of the Militias are good people."
The man grinned. "We like to think so. Your Uncle sounds like a smart man. You should be as smart, and avoid this area. It may be a Militia range, but a stray round is still a stray round."
James nodded. "OK," he said. "Hey, what kind of gun do you use?"
The man looked at him for a minute, weighing him. "Do you like guns, boy?"
James shrugged. "Like them? No, but that are a fact of life, and a tool. Like any other tool, everyone should know how to use them. I was just hoping you had one I hadn't seen before." James was actually hoping to find out if the group had civilian weapons or the illegal automatic weapons.
The man reached behind the tree he was standing next to and pulled out a rifle. "Do you know what this is, boy?"
James looked at the weapon and his blood chilled. He took a step closer, looking at the side of the weapon. "Yes. Uncle Alexander showed me one similar. You have a Russian built AK-74, one of the good ones, made in Russia of milled steel, instead of one of the foreign copies, which are stamped." James gave silent thanks to Uncle Alexander's belief that everyone should know about firearms, even if they would never use them, and the lessons on the most common ones.
The man grinned at James. "You do know your weapons. That's a good thing."
James nodded, looking around suddenly. "Rose, use the beeper, I need to get out of here."
He finally looked up. "I knew there had to be more than one of you." He waved at the man in the tree, who had put his weapon away when it became apparent that James wasn't a threat.
Just then, James' pocket beeped. He pulled out a pager and looked at it. "I have to go. See you later."
The man waved at him. "See you around, kid, but don't forget what I said about this area."
"I won't," James called as he started jogging back down the path. He went about a hundred meters down the path and looked back. He hadn't been followed. He found another chipmunk and sent it close to the men.
"Every child should be as well trained as that one was."
"Yeah, but the government would never allow it."
"That's why we're out here, isn't it? Because we believe in the Constitution as it was written, not as some knee-jerk liberal thinks it was written?"
"Yeah, but we'll have to wait for the rest of America to see what the liberals are doing to us before we can act."
James left the chipmunk and started back toward Rose. "Good news and bad news. They're Militia men, but not one of the paranoid freaky groups. They sound like Constitutionalists."
"James," came Rose's weary thought, "how is that good news? Uncle Alexander said they are well equipped and trained. That means automatic weapons and skill."
"It also means that they won't start shooting without a target. That gives us a bit more leeway in what we do."
James got back to the den without encountering anyone and crawled inside. "That was interesting," he said mildly. He used the link to tell Rose everything. They started planning the rescue.
In little more than an hour, they had the basic plan mapped out, with a couple of options, in case something went wrong.
It wasn't elaborate, it wasn't even all that sneaky, but it did depend on the group being Muggles, and since James hadn't seen or sensed any kind of ward or magic, they were assuming that.
They waited for dark and started out. Both of them were wearing the 'don't see me' disks and they had added another disk, one that made any sound they made seem to be sounds that small animals would make.
James led the way to where the stand was hidden and stopped. Rose sat down and waited while James found an owl. He checked the stand and grinned. There was only one guard and he was using a small flashlight to read a girly magazine.
He let the owl go and they started down the path, staying off to one side, using the trees to stay out of the sight of the man in the tree.
Once they were a good distance past him, James moved about ten meters in front of Rose and started using the skills the Indian children on the Reservation had taught him, and Rolling Thunder had expanded on when James started training with him.
It was about ten minutes later that they saw the first lights of the camp, and James had Rose sit down while he went ahead.
They had a stroke of luck this night, as all of the adults except one guard at the front gate were in a central meeting place, listening to a man talk about the Constitution. James growled softly as he saw the man they had chased this far sitting in the audience looking bored. "Rose, can you find the girls?"
Rose pulled out the doll and chanted something softly in Lakota. A few seconds later, she felt a warmth on one side of her face. She turned in the direction until the warm feeling was on her face. "I can."
"Then let's go get them, while the adults are busy."
The two of them followed the warmth on Rose's face until they reached a dozen small shacks. Some of them had lights on and they avoided those until Rose stopped before one. "They're in there."
James sighed, looking around. "When we have them, we'll have to go around back and go straight through the woods. I don't think they will be very good at sneaking around. We'll have to get far enough away that we can get them on the Broomsticks and get out of here."
James had Rose wait while he scattered a couple of the barking dog disks and approached the door. As he'd suspected, it was locked, and James used the same disk he'd used to break into the Muggle house. The door opened and James peeked around the corner. He frowned as he saw nothing.
The two of them slipped inside and shut the door. James pulled a chem stick from his haversack and broke it. In the dim glow they searched the house, becoming more worried as they didn't find the girls. It wasn't until they were nearly done that James stopped Rose.
He could almost hear something, but his ears weren't good enough to make it out. He reached, looking for an animal nearby and he found one, a mouse that was in the kitchen. He entered its mind and started using its ears. The sounds were much clearer to the mouse, and James sent the mouse looking for the source. The mouse quickly found a crack in the floor and James released it.
He went to the crack and examined it. It was a carefully concealed trap door, and they soon had it open. Under it was a small space, apparently designed to hide in during emergencies.
James tossed a chem stick in the hole and the two children paled at what it revealed. Mary and her sister were in the hole, lying on the bare dirt. Mary was looking at them in fear but her sister was calmly ignoring them, and humming softly to herself.
Mary recognized them. "Rose? What are you doing here?"
James turned away. "You explain it to her, I'm going to find their things." James was beginning to seethe with anger. The two girls in the hole were as bare as the dirt they were on.
James went in the back as Rose started getting the girls out of the hole while she explained what they were doing. James found a small knapsack with some clothes in it and was just heading back when the front door slammed open and the lights came on.
James ducked behind a door and looked out. Mary's father stood there with a gun pointed at the three girls.
Rose stepped in front of the other two girls as Mary's father looked around. "I know you, girl. You're one of the Evans brats. What are you doing here?"
Rose squared her shoulders. "I came to take the girls away from you."
Mary's father stared at her for a minute and laughed. "You didn't even see the alarm on the trapdoor. How were you planning on getting out of here?"
He frowned. "For that matter, how did you get in the camp?"
James was digging through his pouch. This disk was not one he wanted to use, but he didn't have a choice right now. "Rose, don't show any surprise." James waited for her acknowledgement.
He activated the disk and stepped out from behind the door. The man turned and paled. James didn't know what he was seeing exactly, but he knew what the disk was supposed to do. It would read your emotions and show you a supernatural aspect of whatever God you believed in.
"I guided her. You have lost the right to have children with your actions." James supposed the manifestation's voice matched whatever the man saw.
The man stared at whatever he saw and shook his head. "You can't be real." His gun came up and he fired at the thing he saw.
James nearly fainted as he felt the bullet pass over his head by an inch or so. The manifestation was taller than him, and the man had fired at its chest. "Put that away. You cannot hurt me with it, and I am not here for you, yet."
Keeping his voice steady just then was the hardest thing James had ever done, and only the knowledge that Rose's life hung in the balance here kept him from fleeing.
The man stared at the unhurt thing before him and looked around wildly. He saw the girls and a maniacal look crossed his face. "If I can't have them, no one will have them."
He raised the gun again and fired before James could do anything. He was aiming at Mary and Rose pushed her out of the way.
James froze as pain boiled up in Rose and she disappeared from the new link. He looked, and Rose was lying on the floor.
Blood was pooling around her.