Disclaimer: The characters and premise of "Prey" do not belong to me, they belong to William Schmidt, the creator, and whoever bought the rights. I'm just borrowing them for a while.
Summary: This story takes place immediately following episode 13 of the show. For the purpose of my story, the beginning timeline is set roughly 6 months before Kewley's comet.


Part 1: The Calm Before The Storm

The speeding black van is barely noticed as it races west on the Santa Monica Freeway. Little does anyone know the cargo held within, a steel cage containing a lone man ... unconscious, bound and gagged. It takes the Long Beach exit continuing south to the Santa Ana exchange. Within an hour it pulls up to a facility surrounded by a chain link fence and razor wire.

WARNING

MILITARY INSTALLATION

Off Limits to Unauthorized Personnel

The van enters through the gate and heads for a plane waiting on the runway. The cage is swiftly loaded onto the aircraft. Four men clad in black, armed with automatic weapons follow behind. The van pulls away as the plane taxis down the runway and is quickly airborne. Heading east toward the desert, it disappears into the night sky.

x.x.x

She is still standing in the middle of the street as though frozen in place. Her mind replaying the scene her eyes have just witnessed. Tears run down her face as the reality of what has happened slowly sinks in, Tom is gone. She jumps when she hears a car honk as it swerves to avoid her, continuing on its way. Turning slowly, she sees her car still idling in the street where she'd left it with the door ajar. Dazed she walks to her car, gets in and pulls it to the curb. Parking completed, she kills the engine, gets out and heads to her apartment.

When she gets to her door, she sees Ed lying on the floor unconscious amid overturned chairs and broken glass. Her heart races as she rushes to his side and bends to feel for a pulse. Sloan sighs in relief when she finds one, although it's weak. Mere tears have now turned to full out sobs as she frantically fumbles around looking for her phone. Finally finding it on the floor, she picks it up and dials 911.

x.x.x

The two men drove in silence, each wondering what their next move should be. They both know they are marked and can no longer go back to their normal lives. Their entire world has turned completely upside down within the last twenty-four hours. Almost without conscious thought, they pull into the parking lot of a rundown motel. Parking in the shadows, the smaller of the two walks into the office while the other waits in the car.

The man reappears with a key and walks toward a room. The other steps out of the car and follows. They open the door to the motel room and disappear inside, securely locking the door behind them.

x.x.x

The aircraft touches down on a dark airstrip in the middle of the desert. The black outlines of mountains in the distance are visible on the horizon. A few scattered hangars are the only structures to be seen. There are no lights besides those few in front of the buildings. The area is silent except the sound of the wind howling across the desert floor. A truck pulls up to the cargo door of the plane and the cage is unloaded. The unconscious man held within, dressed only in a pair of lightweight pants, shivers slightly as the cool desert wind hits his skin.

The truck turns down the runway and drives the short distance to what appears to be a bunker carved in the side of a hill. The runway dips down toward the underground facility and disappears within. The massive steel doors slide open and the truck vanishes inside. The doors close, appearing as though the mouth of a giant beast had just swallowed its prey.

x.x.x

Sloan follows the stretcher as it is unloaded and wheeled into the emergency room. She tightly hangs onto the thin thread of composure she has managed to regain. She watches as the ER doctors rush to Ed's side and begin their assessment of his condition. They ask her what happened and she relates what little she knows, not mentioning anything about Tom's abduction. They dismiss her, telling her they will advise her of his status once they've completed their exam. She slowly walks toward the lobby to begin her wait.

Sloan grabs a cup of coffee from the machine and settles into a chair. She stares at the wall unseeing as she begins to replay the events of the day in her mind. In spite of herself, fresh tears start to fall as she remembers Tom's reaction to the serum. First the fever and his confession as they both feared he'd die. Then his contagious excitement at all the new sensations associated with being human. Finally, the horror of watching him shoved into a van by soldiers and finding Ed out cold on her apartment floor.

Sloan can feel it in her gut that their situation is desperate. She fights to keep the terror she feels at bay... and she waits.

x.x.x

Inside the motel room, the two men discuss their quandary. Both are tense with the knowledge that the government is trying to force an all out war. Neither are sure what they should do next but both agree they must do something.

Looking at the phone he still has in his possession, Walter decides the place to start is with the numbers it contains. He scans through its memory, reading them off as Ray writes them down. He removes his laptop from his briefcase and connects it to the line next to the phone. Dialing into the Internet, he starts researching the area codes and prefixes to determine who the numbers belong to.

He discovers the calls are divided between Washington DC, Virginia, Nevada and Colorado but he's unable to get a fix on exact locations. He tells Ray that there are several highly classified government installations in these areas. They conclude that they are all indeed in grave danger. Deciding it's time to warn the others, Walter reaches for his phone. He dials the number to Sloan's home ... and he listens as it starts to it ring.

x.x.x

Sloan starts when she hears her cell phone ring. She absently looks at her purse and then reaches for the offending device. "Sloan Parker" she answers.

"Sloan, this is Walter. There have been some developments; I need to talk to you and Ed as soon as possible. I tried calling you at home, where are you?"

"Walter! Oh my God Walter, they've kidnapped Tom! Ed ... I'm at the hospital with him now waiting to find out if he'll be OK!"

"Sloan, slow down! Who kidnapped Tom ... and why is Ed being treated at the hospital?"

"I'm not sure who grabbed Tom. They looked like soldiers; they were shoving him into a van just as I pulled up to my apartment. When I went upstairs, I found Ed lying in the floor knocked out. Whoever they were, they broke in. I called an ambulance and had Ed brought here."

"Ok, I want you to stay where you are until I contact you. We obviously need to talk, but I want to get in touch with someone else first."

"Oh and Sloan?" he continues. "Be very careful, we are all in a lot of danger right now."

x.x.x

Ray looks at Walter expectantly, "Well? Are you going to tell me what's going on?"

Walter sighs as he drops his phone, still in hand, to his lap. He looks pointedly at Ray, "Sloan's apartment was invaded. Tom has been abducted and Ed is in the emergency room."

Ray whistles and gives Walter an exasperated look. "Do you think your boss had anything to do with this?"

Walter nods his head, "I wouldn't be a bit surprised. One thing is for certain, we all need to find somewhere more secure to hold up until we can work out a plan of action."

Ray agrees, "Walter, she knows that I'm also involved in what happened last night. I have to find a safe place for my family before she comes after them too."

"I think you have good cause for concern there." Walter agrees. "Let me try and get in touch with Mark Ward."

"The dominant from the peace faction?" Ray asks with surprise. "Why? We don't know that we can trust him!"

"Because," Walter answers "At this point we are out of options and he is the only one left we CAN trust."

With that Walters returns his attention to his phone and dials the number.

x.x.x

Dark dense slime surrounds him. Thunder, felt rather than heard, rolling faraway. He is floating through space and time; swimming through the thick murk toward the light, faint in the distance. Bit by bit, the black gives way to gray. Tom opens his eyes.

He blinks still uncomprehending. Gradually realization dawns on him. He's on his back staring at a bare light bulb above him. Turning his head he sees he's in a cage. Startled, he tries to sit up and finds he can't. The enclosure is too small. Twisting within its confines, he manages to kneel.

Still foggy from the drug, he tries to think. He remembers being in Sloan's apartment ... with Ed. A sudden, loud noise ... someone breaking in. Arms seizing him, forcing him toward the door. Someone grabbed Ed ... he hits the floor. A pain at his neck ... someone injected him with something. A drug? Someone dragging him outside ... Sloan! Sloan screaming for him, but he can't fight them. Too hard. Arms and legs are too heavy. Then ... nothing but blackness.

He shakes his head to try and clear his mind. Looking around he sees nothing except the cage and the light above. He tries to "sense" but comes up empty. Fear begins to seep in as he realizes he's alone ... and caged ... like an animal.

x.x.x

Sloan looks up and notices a doctor walking with purpose towards her. She stands, anxious for news on Ed's condition.

"Ms. Parker?" He reaches out to shake her hand.

Sloan absently accepts his handshake, "Ed, how is he? Can I see him?"

"Mr. Tate was injected with a very strong sedative. He sustained a blow to the head, but he has no major injuries. He's out of the woods, but we want to keep him overnight for observation. He's being taken up to his room now. The nurse at the admissions desk can give you his room number."

"Thank you." Sloan replies as she grabs her coat and purse, rushing to the admissions desk.

Upon obtaining Ed's room number, she heads for the bank of elevators and rides to the 4th floor. She enters his room and sees he is still unconscious. Grabbing a chair, she sits next to his bed to start her long vigil.

She wonders to herself when their lives would ever be normal again ... and she worries about Tom.

x.x.x

Walter opens the motel room door to the dominant from the peace faction. "Mark please come in." He closes the door and extends his hand, "Thank you for agreeing to meet with us. I have information and news that I felt you should hear. Both are disturbing."

Mark hesitantly shakes Walter's hand, "Dr. Attwood, I must admit I was surprised to hear from you so soon. Though I am pleased to know you followed through with your pledge to get answers."

Walter motions for Mark to take a seat, "Well, I'm afraid the answers I got are not good news. If anything, they raise more questions. I also received news about three of my people that quite frankly scares the hell out me. It may be related, it may not, but my gut instinct tells me it is."

Glancing at Ray, Mark returns his attention to Walter and sits in a chair next to the table.

"Ray and I cornered my contact at the university's lab. She admitted that my government was in fact behind the attack on our meeting. We took her cell phone which I was able to use to track down some of her recent calls. While I was not able to determine exact locations, all her calls were to areas with highly classified government installations. " Walter states.

"I also got news a short time ago that, coupled with what we already know, greatly disturbs me." Walter continued. "I assume you are familiar with who Dr.'s Sloan Parker and Ed Tate are, as well as Tom Daniels?

Mark nods, "Tom Daniels is the Chameleon that turned his back on my people and started working with you. The doctors are the ones that discovered my species existed."

"Yes. I spoke to Sloan a couple of hours ago and found out that her apartment was raided last night by what I suspect were soldiers acting on orders from my government." Walter adds. "Apparently, while she was out, Tom Daniels was abducted and Dr Tate attacked. She was at the hospital with Ed when I talked to her."

"If that's true Dr. Attwood, your scientists are in as much danger as we are." Mark replies.

"Yes," Walter agrees. "That is why I'm going to ask for your help. We are out of options here and I would like for us to work together; that is if you will agree."

Mark's expression changes to one of surprise, "Dr. Attwood I'm not sure what help you want from me... or what I can possibly provide. My people have scattered since the attack last night. I'm not even sure who is left."

Suddenly Ray jumps up and turns up the volume on the television which has been playing quietly in the background.

... This is CNN Headline Reports...

CNN has uncovered reports of secret peace negotiations between the US government and the newly discovered species labeled Homo-Dominant. Further reports indicate a secret meeting took place last night between representatives of the two groups, but that the meeting ended in violence. Insiders state that members on both sides were killed and that evidence points to the Homo-Dominant faction as those responsible for the bloodshed. When asked for comment, the National Security Adviser, John Maxwell, stated that this action provides further proof the new species is a threat to the human race...

The three men sit in stunned silence staring at the television screen. Finally, Ray rises from his chair and turns the volume down.

Mark turns to Walter, "Dr. Attwood you do realize what this means. We are now one step closer to war between our people."

Walters sighs and looks at Mark, "Yes if we let my government win, but if we work together maybe there is still a chance we can sway public opinion to one of peace before its too late."

Mark nods his head, "Do you have any ideas on where we go from here?"

"I think the first step we should take is getting both our groups to someplace more secure." Walter replies. "I know of a place near Palmdale that would be safe. It is isolated and would allow all of us some time to regroup and plan our next move."

"Walter, what about my family? Is it safe to bring them there as well?" Ray asks.

Walter looks at Ray, "Your family is in as much danger as the rest of us. We should get them to safety as well."

Walter pulls a piece of paper from the desk. Writing a note and handing it to Mark he says, "This is the address of the location I was referring to. Can you get your people together and meet us there? In the mean time, I have to go to the hospital to advise Sloan and Ed."

Taking the slip of paper from Walter, folding it and placing it in his pocket, Mark stands and faces the two humans. "I'll gather my people and meet you there in say, six hours? I can't guarantee how many will come, but I'll do what I can."

Walter nods, "I understand." Turning to Ray, "Let's get out of here and go to the hospital. We can tell Sloan where to go and then go collect your family."

Ray agrees, standing as well. The three men shake hands and leave the room.

x.x.x

Sloan is still in shock, having just watched the same CNN broadcast. She turns to Ed who looks at her from his bed in confusion.

"My God Ed! What the hell is going on?"

Ed shakes his head, "I have no idea. First Tom and now this. I don't know what to think."

Hearing the door open, they both look up to see Walter and Ray walking in. Sloan jumps to her feet, "Walter! Ray! Where the hell have you two been? Have you seen the news! They're saying the dominants opened fire on peace talks last night!

Walter puts his hand up, "Yes I've seen it. The report is false. I was there and so was Ray. That's why I'm here."

Sloan stops and looks at Walter, "Maybe you can explain that a little further?"

Walter states, "Sloan, there is no time for that right now. You are going to have to trust me. The two of you need to get out of here before you're found." Handing Sloan a piece of paper, "This is the address of the location where we are meeting near Palmdale. I want you and Ed to leave the hospital and meet us there. Ray and I are going to his home to get his family."

Sloan takes the paper and glances at Ed. Looking back at Walter, "Who's 'we' Walter? Who are we meeting up with?"

Walters looks first at Sloan, then Ed, then back to Sloan, "The dominant peace faction, or what's left of them."

"What!" Ed bolts upright in his bed. "Have you lost your mind? If the dominants are the ones that attacked that meeting last night, they'll kill us if they find us!"

Sighing, Walter sits down in the chair next to the bed, "Ed, it wasn't the dominants that attacked us last night. It was our own government and they are trying to pin the blame on the dominants."

"Why?" asks Ed.

"To start a war of course." Walter replies in answer. "Now ... we are out of time. Get your things together and meet us there. We'll see you in a bit." With that, Walter and Ray both turn and leave the room.

Sloan looks at Ed, "Well come on, get dressed. I don't understand all this but I want to get out of here. The sooner we get there, the sooner we'll get the whole story."

x.x.x

Tom raises his head at the sound of approaching foot steps. He looks to see a man in black suit, holding a clipboard, walking toward him; accompanied by four heavily armed soldiers.

"Well Mr. ..." the man raises his clipboard and looks at it, lowering it again, " ... Daniels is it? Welcome."

"Where am I?" Tom asks maintaining his cool exterior. "Who are you? Why have you brought me here?"

"A lot of questions Mr. Daniels." the man replies. "We have questions we'd like answers to as well. As a prisoner of war, it would serve your best interests to cooperate with us."

Tom calmly looks the man in the eye, "What do you mean 'prisoner of war'? We aren't at war with humans."

"On the contrary, that is about to change. The first wave of the plan was put into motion today." the man states. "You were just an obstacle that had to be removed." he turns and walks away.

Tom stares after him in disbelief. This is obviously a government facility he decides after seeing the soldiers. Why would they take him when he'd been assisting Walter, who worked for them? Was this some kind of covert operation that wasn't sanctioned by the government?

Then a thought slammed into him like a freight train ... What about Sloan? What has happened to her? And Ed? Were they in danger too?

"Daniels!" one of the guards barks at him. "Turn around with your back to the door and place your hands behind your back!"

Tom hesitates, looking at the guards. "Do it! Do it now!" the guard yells as weapons are raised pointing directly at him.

Slowly Tom turns in his cage with his back to the door and the guards. He puts his hands behind his back and closes his eyes.

He suddenly feels something slip around his neck and tighten. The back of his cage starts to move toward him, pinning him against the bars. He starts to panic and grabs at the noose around his neck. The more he struggles the tighter it gets. Everything begins to swim in front of him as he loses consciousness.

The guards quickly rush to the cage and open the door. With two having weapons still trained on him, the other two guards proceed to remove his clothing and shackle his hands and feet. Having accomplished that, a collar is placed around his neck with a chain going down his back. The cuffs around his wrists and ankles are then attached to this chain; then the entire apparatus is finally attached to the cage itself. Finished with their work, the guards slam the cage door closed and lock it.

A forklift appears and lifts the cage. The driver turns toward a long passageway and drives deeper into the facility. Arriving at a large set of doors constructed of steel bars, it pauses while the doors are opened remotely. Proceeding forward, the cage is placed in its compartment. Completing its task, the forklift turns and drives out of the room, the barred doors slamming closed behind it.

Tom didn't see the multitude of other cages, many containing dominants, also occupying the room where he now resided.

x.x.x

Following the directions Walter had given her; Sloan took the Crown Valley Road exit off of State Route 14. Ed dozed in the passenger seat while she drove. The only thing she had to keep her company were her thoughts, which turned again to their situation. She tried desperately to focus only on facts and specifics rather than Tom or her terror, knowing the later would consume her if she allowed it to get a foothold.

After traveling about five miles, the road dead ended at a sprawling ranch house. The property was fairly isolated which would allow them some privacy. She pulled up the driveway which led around to the back of the house. Ed awoke just as Walter and Ray came walking out of the house.

"Sloan, Ed, I'm glad you made it. I trust you didn't have any trouble?" Walter asked opening Sloan's door.

"Your directions were easy to follow." Sloan got out of the car. "Have the people from the peace faction gotten here yet? And when are you going to explain what's going on?"

"They should be on their way." Walter replied. "Let's get you and Ed inside and I'll explain everything."

"Grace and Matt are inside." Ray stated. ""Come on in and I'll introduce you."

Sloan and Ed followed the two men into the house. Setting their bags next to the door, they followed Walter into the living room and took a seat on the couch.

"Ok Walter, out with it. I want to know what's going on ... everything, starting at the beginning." Sloan said as she leveled a look at Walter.

"Yeah, me too." Ed added. "I want to know who those guys were that came crashing through Sloan's door last night and knocked me out. They knew Tom was there."

Walter sat down and proceeded to outline the entire story for them. Ray interjected when necessary.

" ... So you see, we are on the run. Our only chance is to actively work with the remaining members of the dominant peace faction and try to circumvent what she and our government is trying to do." Walter finished. "Mark says he's not certain how many members are left. They're scared and understandably so."

"Walter they've closed down the lab." Sloan stated. "That's where I was coming from last night when I saw them take Tom."

"Why were you at the lab that late at night?" Walter asked.

Looking at Ed who shifted uncomfortably in his seat, Sloan continued. "Ummm ... I went to get a booster shot for Tom."

Walter shakes his head. "I don't understand."

"We tested the genogenesis therapy on Tom." Ed reluctantly volunteered. "He was reverting back, he was at 1.4. I decided to try a booster shot."

"YOU DID WHAT!" Walter boomed. "Have you any idea how dangerous that was? You weren't ready for hominid testing yet! You hadn't even completed live testing on a monkey! What you did ... both of you ... was completely irresponsible! You're lucky Tom didn't die!"

"Well if it makes any difference, Tom volunteered. Sloan was completely against it." Ed retorts. "But it worked. Tom was at human baseline, until he started reverting."

"That explains why they were able to capture him. I wondered about that." Walter responds. "Well ... we can't do anything about that now. We have to focus on the situation at hand. That being, our government is trying to start a war with the homo-dominants and we have to find a way to stop it."

"Walter, do you really trust this Mark?" Sloan asked. "Do you really think there are others out there that want peace ... like Tom?"

"Well Sloan, you can judge that yourself." Walter replies standing. "Allow me to introduce you to Mark Ward."

With that, Sloan and Ed turn to see a tall black man standing just inside the living room door.

"Dr. Attwood." Mark says stepping forward to shake Walter's hand. "I see you managed to get the rest of your people together. Mine are here as well, they're just outside."

Walter clasps Mark's outstretched hand with both his own, smiling. "Mark, I'm glad you made it. Please, have your people come inside. I think it's time everyone meets."

Mark nodded and turned to the door, calling out to the others to come in. Ray in turn calls out to Grace and Matt to join them in the living room. The humans stand and watch as the rest of the dominants file through the front door. Eight people total make up Mark's group, six adults and two children. The two groups stare at each other momentarily.

Walter is the first to speak. "I'm Walter Attwood. Allow me to introduce you all to the rest of my group." Walter indicates each with nod and wave of his hand. "Sloan Parker, Ed Tate, Ray Peterson and his family Grace and Matt."

Following Walter's lead, Mark moves to each member of his group as he introduces them. "This is Dennis Collins." He indicates to a tall man with dark hair and intense brown eyes. "David Filben." A young man with dark hair and green eyes nods his head. "Mari Kaplan." A tall, robust woman with blonde hair and blue eyes smiles. "Alan and Debra Denton and their children, Randy and Susan."

Upon seeing the other two kids, Matt steps forward. "Hey" Matt says to them smiling. "Wanna go check out the stables in back? It really looks pretty cool back there. I brought my basketball and there's a hoop out on the barn."

Randy and Susan both look to their parents barely concealing their excitement. Alan addresses Walter. "Are you sure it's safe here?" Seeing Walter's nod, he turns back to his children. "Ok, but stay close to the house. Don't wander off." The three young people race out the door before anyone has a chance to change their minds. All the adults could hear them laughing and chattering at once as they ran for the stables and barn.

Turning back to Walter, Alan says, "They don't get a chance to act like children often. We've never been someplace where they could relax."

"... or where it was safe." Debra adds. Grace came forward then, "Children need that play time. Time to investigate and learn about the world around them. Maybe ... maybe things can be different for them here." Debra smiles at Grace nodding her head.

Walters clears his throat and addresses the entire group. "Let me assure everyone, this place is safe for the moment. My government doesn't know about it, it actually belongs to an old friend of mine, someone who doesn't work for the government."

"I'm sure I speak for all of us when I say that, while we may not have much reason to trust each other now, we want this to work." he continues. "I think the best way for us to build trust between our groups is to take some time to get to know each other."

"Well how about we do that over dinner?" Mari speaks up. "Cause I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm starving!"

"Yeah! Walter, you got any food in this place?" Ed joins in.

Grace starts to head for the kitchen with Debra following along. "How about we see what ya got in here and we'll make us all some dinner."

x.x.x

Tom awakens with a start, his last memory that of being choked by the snare. He reaches up automatically to feel his neck and finds the collar he's now wearing. He quickly turns and sees the shackles and chains as well as the other cages. Remembering the back of the cage moving, he starts to inspect it a little closer.

"It's a squeeze-back cage Tom. They use them in primate labs for their test animals."

Tom jumps recognizing the voice. He quickly looks around and spots him in one of the other cages. Lewis.

"How does it feel Tom? Knowing the humans betrayed you." Lewis says. "Do you still think coexistence is possible now that they have you locked up like a monkey in cage."

"Kinda ironic don't you think? That they are using snares and cages designed for lab animals." Lewis continues. "Very telling about what they think of us ... your humans."

"Lewis, do you have any idea where we are?" Tom asks ignoring the snide comments.

"How would I know that Tom? I've been in here since you turned me over to the humans." Lewis replied with much malice. "This is what you did to me. I'm going to enjoy watching you go through the same thing. Very fitting punishment I think."

"Lewis do you think we can postpone this?" Tom replied with irritation.

"Of course." Lewis states blandly. "We have plenty of time to discuss the humans' and your betrayal. We aren't going anywhere I assure you. They don't let us out of these cages without those doors being locked."

"Right after I got here, a man came down to speak with me briefly." Tom says to Lewis. "He said I was a prisoner of war; that the first wave to start a war between us and the humans had been put into motion."

"Interesting." Lewis said. "I think the humans will find they'll get more than they bargained for."

"What's that suppose to mean?" Tom asked.

"Simple. We've been getting ready for this for a long time Tom." Lewis answered. "It's unfortunate that our hand will be forced, but we have more technology and firepower at our disposal than they think."

Tom settled back into as comfortable a position as he could find to think about Lewis's remarks. He'd never been privy to the master plan so he had no idea what his species was capable of in regards to fighting a war. He thought about his situation, wondering what they would want from him and if he could find a means of escape.

He finally closed his eyes and thought about the day before. He'd been human and the sensations associated with it were incredible. He finally understood what he felt for Sloan. He'd always known he felt strongly about her ... protective. Hell, he'd give his life to keep her safe. But he hadn't realized what he felt was love, not really, not until he felt it as a human. Sloan ... God he hoped she was ok ... and safe.

x.x.x

The group spent the last few days trying to settle frayed nerves and get to know each other. They'd discovered that despite their differences genetically, they really weren't that different at all. They wanted to live normal lives, safety for their children, the chance to purse their desires, and peace.

The children did as children always do, ignoring their differences in favor of running in the sun; laughing as they raced each other to the stables; and discovering the secret hiding places of the rabbits in the barn.

This morning found Sloan and Walter talking quietly and watching the news on television. Sloan was still frantic with worry about Tom but they had no way of finding him, let alone getting him back. Walter noticed scenes of rioting on the news and a caption caught his eye. He silenced Sloan and turned up the sound.

... More rioting broke out in cities across the country today as the public called for an end to the Homo-Dominant threat. Members of White Supremacist groups marched, calling for the death of all dominants while members from the NAACP and Animal Rights organizations advocated a softer approach. People from both groups battled in the streets as the demonstrations turned to violence. ...

...Four suspected members of the new species were found hanged in a public park in Los Angeles. Authorities there believe the deaths were the result of increasing public opinion against the Homo-Dominants. The bodies have been taken to a nearby government lab for testing. ...

...In other news, in an effort to increase security in the wake of the growing threat, federal officials have announced a new policy of routine DNA testing for all government employees. A spokesperson for the government says the testing will go into effect immediately. ...

"My God Walter! What's happening!" Sloan cried after what she just heard. "This is snowballing."

Neither noticed Mark and Dennis who'd walked in behind them and had heard the news broadcast. They stood watching the humans, sensing their concern over the news they'd just learned. Both could also sense the terror and worry coming from Sloan over Tom.

"It seems the situation is escalating." Mark stated as he walked the rest of the way into the room. Dennis stayed where he was, folding his arms across his chest and leaning on the door frame.

"I'm afraid you're right about that." Walter sighed. "I just wish there was something I could do! However, after being cutoff from any of my contacts, not that I could trust any of them now anyway, and being locked out of the lab, I'm completely powerless."

Mark felt sympathy for the man. It was obvious he was appalled at the turn of events. He felt the need to give Walter some relief for the helplessness he was obviously feeling. "You are doing something whether you realize it or not. You've given all of us a safe haven. While you may not feel that is much, it means a lot to us. It also goes a long way toward establishing coexistence between our peoples.

"Dr Attwood," Mark continued "It's clear the path to peace is not through your government or mine. It's through the hearts and minds of the common people. The more there are, the louder the voice that will stand up and call for an end to the madness."

"Mark, do you really believe that?" Sloan asked. "That more of your kind will want coexistence? That they would stand up and call for peace?"

Mark nodded his head but it was Dennis that answered "Sloan, if we didn't we wouldn't be here."

x.x.x

No one seemed to notice as, one by one, families in suburban neighborhoods quietly packed their belongings and stole away silently in the middle of the night. People would collect the newspapers and mail left in piles on their neighbors front step; wondering where they'd gone and when they'd be back ... never suspecting that their friends might be of the new species.

Corporations showed an increase in those not coming into work. Public schools and universities were less crowded as students didn't report for class. The absenteeism wasn't so high as to raise an alarm. It was spring after all. People got spring fever and played hooky, everyone knew that.

In the cities the protests and rioting steadily increased. Roving bands of skinheads and gangs roamed the streets and parks, ever watchful for suspected dominants. Violent crime was on the rise but city police departments were hard pressed to do anything about it. They had their hands full with the rioting and looting. Fire departments were kept busy with the increase of structure fires and extinguishing the crosses set to blaze in eulogy by the white supremacists.

Government officials called for calm amid the growing violence. They asked for citizens not to take matters into their own hands, but to report suspected dominants to their local authorities. Mandatory routine DNA testing began for federal employees and military personnel. State and city governments began to follow suit by testing office workers and law enforcement. Police departments were issued field DNA test kits and instructed on their use. Test results turned up very few dominants. Those that were discovered quietly disappeared.

x.x.x

Sandra Dodson pulled into the dorm parking where her friend Richard lived. She hadn't seen Richard in a couple of days and was worried about him. She got out of her car and rushed up to his room. Knocking on the door, she waited for him to answer. When she didn't get a response, she knocked again ... harder this time. "Richard, answer the door." she called out. Still getting no answer, she turned to leave and almost ran down John Taylor.

"Sandra, what are you doing here? It's late, you shouldn't be out after dark like this. It's too dangerous."

"I'm looking for Richard. He hasn't been in class for a couple days and I'm starting to get concerned about him."

John appeared nervous as he quickly looked around him "Richard is a big boy, he can take care of himself."

"John, that may be so but it doesn't stop me for worrying. I'm going to go out and see if I can find him." Sandra headed for the door.

John shook his head. Sandra was stubborn and she wasn't going to give up on her search. He'd known her a long time, once she got it into her head to do something, she didn't let go easily. It wasn't safe for anyone to be out on the streets anymore ... even humans. He ran to catch up with her.

"Sandra! Hold up!" John yelled catching up to her. "Woman! You are stubborn as a bull moose you know that? What part of 'it's not safe' did you not get?"

"John I have to find him! I'm worried about him!" Sandra was starting to get upset. She couldn't tell John what she knew, Richard's life depended on that.

John stood still and looked hard at Sandra. Focusing on her, he sensed great concern for Richard and affection ... and protectiveness. She knew! She knew Richard was a dominant!

"Come on Sandra, I understand your problem now. I know where he's at. I'll take you to him."

"What do you mean 'you understand my problem now'?" What suddenly caused you to understand so much better than what I just said?" Sandra looked at John, then it dawned on her.

"You're one of them too?" she whispered. "I didn't know. Then you know how much danger he's in? Both of you!"

John nodded to her as he steered her toward her car "All the more reason for us to go find Richard and get off the streets"

x.x.x

Bill Davidson pulled into his driveway. He was bone tired. Today had been insane at his office. The already hectic pace was compounded by the delays caused by workers having to report for DNA testing. He didn't think they'd ever meet the end of the month billing schedule. It was already late ... hell it was after 8 o'clock. He knew he'd missed dinner too. Right now all he wanted was a sandwich and a cold beer. He wearily exited his car and made his way to his house.

Looking to his left he noticed his neighbors, the Clarks, were apparently packing. The back of their SUV was open and he could see several bags in the back. He liked Mike and Amy Clark. They were quiet but friendly. They'd gotten together with him and his wife Janice several times for cook outs or to play cards. They'd lived next door now for about four years with their quadruplets. God! Four kids at one time. He couldn't imagine it, one was bad enough.

He noticed Mike coming out of the house with several large bags and began to walk toward him.

"Mike you got a load there! Let me help you with that."

Michael Clark jumped at sound of Bill's voice. He was so caught up in what he was doing, he hadn't sensed he was there. "Thanks Bill, I appreciate it."

Bill grabbed two of the bags off the top of the pile and walked with Mike to the SUV. They deposited their load and straightened to look at each other.

"You guys going on a trip?" Bill asked surveying the back of the vehicle.

Mike hesitated before answering. He considered Bill Davidson to be a friend, but he was human. He wasn't sure he should tell him the truth, he may not understand. He sighed inwardly at the current mess he found himself in. He and Amy had been happy here. The kids were happy too, they'd been able to blend in and act like normal kids.

He sensed the danger before he saw it. A police car was slowly making its way down the street. Ignoring Bill's earlier question, he hurriedly slammed the doors of his SUV. He quickly walked into his house and closed the door.

Bill stood rooted in his place slightly stunned. He wasn't sure what to make of what had just happened. He turned in time to see the patrol car stop next to the SUV and shine a flashlight into the windows. "Evening officer, something wrong?"

The cop lowered his flashlight and looked at him suspiciously "Is this your vehicle? Looks like you're planning a trip."

"No sir, it belongs to my neighbor. He's letting me borrow it. I'm taking my family camping for the weekend."

"Sir, would you mind stepping over to the car?" the cop asked getting out and walking to the front. "I'm afraid I have to ask you to submit to a DNA test."

"Sure officer, that's not a problem." Bill replied. He stuck out his arm and submitted to the test. Within five minutes his DNA cleared as human.

Satisfied with the test results, the cop packed up the kit and got back into his car. "Sorry to have troubled you. We got standing orders to test anyone that looks suspicious."

"I understand, it's no trouble officer. We can't let those dominants win can we?" Bill stated backing away and turning toward his house.

He watched as the cop drove away, waiting till he was out of sight. He then walked across the lawn to his neighbor's door and softly knocked. When Mike answered, Bill looked at his friend "You want to tell me what the hell that was all about?"

Sighing Mike ushered him into the house and closed the door. "Bill, I saw what you did. You didn't have to do that ... thank you."

"To tell you the truth I'm not even sure why I lied to that cop." Bill stated running his hand through his hair. "I mean the only way you got anything to worry about these days is if you are a member of the new species."

Mike's silent stare told Bill everything he needed to know "That's why you guys are packing isn't it? You're leaving for good?"

Mike wasn't sure how to respond, but the secret was out now. There was no going back, Bill had guessed the truth. He looked at his friend and slowly nodded.

"Christ Mike! You got somewhere to go? What are you going to do about the kids?"

"Amy and I figured we'd head for the mountains. There are plenty of places to hide up there and the kids would be safe. They aren't safe here anymore."

"But where will you stay? In tents? What about food? What about when winter comes?"

"We'll think of something. Bill we can't stay here any longer. We have to get out now while we still can." Amy had heard the conversation in the front of the house and had walked in to join Michael, putting her arm around his waist.

"While I agree with you on that front, I think you need a little better plan Mike." Bill thought for a minute and continued. "Listen, I think the first thing we should do is get you all out of sight. I have a fully finished basement, we could hide all of you down there. We'll pull your car around back where no one can see it. That way everyone will think you've all already gone."

"Bill you are putting yourself at great risk, we can't let you do this."

"Oh bull! You guys are my friends, Janice feels the same way. And we both love those little girls of yours like they were our own, you know that. If you won't let us do this for you, let us do it for them."

Michael and Amy Clark both looked at each other and then the man standing before them. They nodded their heads in agreement.

"Ok, then it's settled. I have a cabin up in the mountains, we can all go up there and stay until this mess gets resolved."

"Bill your family can't go with us! What about your job?" Mike exclaimed.

"What about it? Everything here is going to hell in a hand basket. We got a war brewing, I'm sure of it and I don't want to be anywhere near when it starts. Besides, you guys are going to need humans with you to cover your asses."

With that Bill headed out the door and across the lawn to his own house to fill in Janice with the plan.

x.x.x

John and Sandra pulled up in front of an old house. There didn't appear to be anyone here. The lawn was overgrown and windows were dark. John got out and motioned for Sandra to follow him. He walked around to the back of the house and pulled out a key opening the door. Sandra followed John inside sticking close behind. It was pitch black and she couldn't see a thing. She knew Richard could see in the dark and figured John probably could as well.

John stopped suddenly in the middle of a room. "Richard it's ok, I have Sandra with me."

Richard came out into view, the room lit slightly by moonlight streaming through the windows. When Sandra saw him she immediately ran to him throwing herself in his arms.

"Sandra, you shouldn't be here. It's too dangerous." Richard said still holding her in an embrace.

"I was worried sick about you! How could I not try and find you! I was afraid you'd gotten caught or you were dead! Why didn't you tell me you were going into hiding?"

"Because I didn't want to put you in danger. I've been holding up here until I could figure out a better place to go. Once I had that worked out I was going to come and say goodbye."

"Well I have some news for you on that front." John stated. "I found them."

"Found who?" Sandra asked.

"Yeah, found who?" Richard echoed.

"The remaining members of the peace faction. They've gone into hiding ... out of the city. They're our best bet."

"Peace faction? What peace faction?" Richard asked in confusion.

"Richard, there is a group of us who are advocates for peace. I've been working with them for about a year now. They disappeared suddenly a couple of weeks ago and I had no idea where they were."

"Are you serious? I thought most of our species was out for blood." Richard stated

"Nope. Believe it or not there are a lot more out there that feel like you and I do. But we need to get going. It's almost dawn and we want to get on the road before the morning rush hour starts."

"I'm coming with you." Sandra states with determination.

"Sandra you can't. You'll be leaving everything behind, I can't ask you to do that." Richard replied looking at her.

"You're not asking, I'm telling you. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. I'm coming with you and that's that." Sandra said daring Richard and John to argue with her.

John chuckled to himself "Stubborn. You are the most stubborn woman I've ever met. You sure you aren't one of us?"

x.x.x

The morning sun was just starting to crest above the horizon, sliding up between two peaks of the San Gabriel Mountains. Flecks of orange and gold reflected off the clouds as they floated on a sea of blue. Streaks of purple danced and swirled around the gold as the two coaxed the orange orb higher into the sky.

Sloan quietly opened the door and walked out onto the porch. Carrying her large cup of steaming coffee she sat in a chair and prepared to greet the morning. The air still held a chill which was common for spring desert nights. Birds were chirping merrily somewhere in the trees as they busily started their day and fed their young.

She set her face toward the sun and closed her eyes. Taking a deep breath, she enjoyed the warmth on her face and the peaceful silence surrounding her. She wondered to herself where Tom was at this moment. Could he see the sunrise? Could he feel the warmth on his skin? Somehow it made her feel closer to him when she thought about them sharing the same sky. She stubbornly refused to acknowledge the possibility that he could be dead, as though she could will him to stay alive with her thoughts alone. She ached with missing him.

Sloan didn't notice as David Filben slipped outside. He stood silently taking in the sunrise. Mornings had always been his favorite part of the day, making a point to rise before everyone else so he could enjoy it in peace. He looked at Sloan and saw she was a million miles away. He focused on her and sensed her anguish. Her emotions were so strong he could feel them as though they were his own.

He sighed breaking the silence "It's beautiful isn't it? I love watching the sunrise. Would you mind sharing it?"

She looked up as he walked toward her "Pull up a chair. I think there's enough to go around."

He settled into a chair next to her and smiled. She smiled in return. She liked David from what she'd gotten to know. He was relaxed with an easy going sense of humor. Much different than the other dominants she'd met so far. Well... except for Mari who was in a class all her own.

"You miss him don't you?" David suddenly asked looking at Sloan. "I don't mean to intrude, it's just that I can sense the emotions rolling off you in waves."

Sloan sighed looking at him, tears welling up in her eyes, "Yes I do, terribly. For the hundredth time I wish there was something I could do. I feel so helpless."

David nodded "Well, I know it's a small consolation, but don't give up on him. From what I know about Tom Daniels he was Chameleon and a damn good one at that. He's tough and I'm sure he'll be just fine."

"Thank you." Sloan replied a single tear rolling down her cheek. "I needed to hear that."

David smiled "Anytime."

Suddenly the peace of the early morning was shattered as Mari boomed "Good Morning you two!"

Mari strode over to the pair, took one look at Sloan and chided David. "Jeez David. I can't leave you alone five minutes and you got this poor girl in tears. You sure know how to impress a lady!"

Both David and Sloan laughed. Mari smiled back at them. She could sense Sloan's mood and knew she'd needed some cheering. A good hearty laugh would do the trick. "I keep telling him the way to impress a woman is through something positive. Flowers ... a romantic evening ... a good dinner. But NOOOOOO! You think he listens to me? Never."

David smiled wider, shaking his head at Mari's antics. Sloan giggled uncontrollably letting go of her somber thoughts. Mari spoke with just a touch of a southern drawl. That combined with her mannerisms was just too comical for anyone to resist.

David abruptly stood up, all the good humor gone. Mari's demeanor too had turned to dead seriousness. The two both looked at each other. While Mari quickly went back into the house, David turned toward the road. He took the gun from behind his back and stepped off the porch. Mari returned with Mark and Dennis in tow. The four walked around the house in time to see a car pulling up the driveway. Sensing who was inside, they relaxed as David returned his weapon to the waistband of his pants. Sloan stood up after witnessing the scene. Her initial fear replaced with curiosity after watching the dominants tension subside.

Mark walked up to the car as two men and a woman got out. "John, it's good to see you." He extended his hand which John immediately took. "Please, introduce me to your friends."

John nodded as he introduced Richard and Sandra. Mark shook each of their hands in turn.

"Come on up to the house." Mari said. "Not everyone is up yet but they'll all be coming to life here shortly." The three newcomers followed Mark and Mari with David and Dennis bringing up the rear.

When they stepped onto the porch they stopped, "This is Dr. Sloan Parker." Mark stated. Turning to the other three, he completed his introductions. "And Sloan this is John Taylor, a member of our faction that we'd thought we'd lost."

"And these are my friends Richard Adams and Sandra Dodson." John joined in.

"It's a pleasure to meet all of you." Sloan replied. She was certain John was a dominant although she wasn't sure about the other two. She grinned to herself that she was going to have to figure out a way to tell who's who.

"Ok. Now that we got all that hoo-haw out of the way, let's go find somethin' to eat cause I'm starvin'!" Mari said and promptly walked into the house. Everyone else laughed and followed her inside.

x.x.x

The days and nights had all started to run together for Tom. The routine was always the same. They'd come in the morning and feed them. Food was served on a plastic plate, no utensils were provided. All of them had to resort to eating with their hands. They were given two meals a day.

After the morning meal, the cages were cleaned. The guards would force them all to turn with their backs to the doors. Their chain, which connected to the shackles and collar, would be unhooked from the cage. It was then connected to a main run in the center of the room. Once completed, the guards would open the cage doors and the dominants were forced out into the middle of the room. They had no choice — the chains were pulled by a mechanism on the run. If they tried to resist at all, the guards would hit them with an electric cattle prod.

Once out in the open, they were herded into an adjacent area while someone came in to clean the cages. This second area was where they were cleaned, if you could call it that. Showering didn't involve soap, just being hosed down with water. They were kept naked so clothing didn't hinder the process.

After their shower, they were returned to their cages where they spent the rest of their day. Technicians came in once a day and drew blood. Occasionally semen, urine or feces samples were demanded. No one asked for anything; you were told to give it and if you didn't, they took it. The cages made sure of that because they could be used to hold you immobilized.

During his first few days in captivity, the man in the black suit had come and asked questions. He'd wanted to know about his species and their capabilities. He stopped coming when Tom refused to answer him.

The other dominants spoke very little, most preferring the stay lost in their thoughts. Lewis no longer taunted him with snide remarks. When they spoke at all it was about mundane things or to provide encouragement to the other to maintain their steel resolve. Both he and Lewis, being the only Chameleons, tried to encourage the others and teach them ways of dealing with the humiliation and monotony.

Whenever Tom wanted escape, he'd let his mind wander to thoughts of Sloan. He ached to hold her. He would close his eyes and conjure up her image in his mind. He could almost hear her laugh and smell her perfume. One of his favorite memories was that of the brief time they'd spent in the motel. Although it was a fleeting moment, the memory of her kiss never failed to make him inwardly smile.

On more than one occasion Tom had caught Lewis looking at him strangely after one of his daydreams. He didn't care, they made his time a little more bearable. He swore to himself that he would eventually get out of this hell ... and he would find her.

On this particular morning something out of the ordinary happened. Shortly after the morning ritual, a newcomer was brought in. The cage was shoved into an open spot with little more than a glance by the guards. Tom looked at the young man, barely more than sixteen if he guessed correctly. He was obviously terrified as he held perfectly still — except his head which turned in fast, jerky movements as he looked at the other cages.

"I'm Tom." he called out to the young man in an effort to make him relax. The boy looked at him for a moment stunned as though he didn't quite comprehend what Tom had said. "I'm Scott" he answered quietly.

Tom nodded his head smiling slightly, "Where'd you come from Scott? Can you tell us anything about what is going on?"

"They caught me trying to hitchhike out of LA." Scott replied. "When the cops picked me up and I failed the DNA test, they locked me up. Men in military uniforms came to get me and now I'm here ... wherever here is."

Tom looked at him puzzled, "You failed a DNA test? Given by the police? I don't understand. Why would local law enforcement being doing DNA testing?"

"You've been here awhile haven't you? You don't know about what's going on right now?"

Tom shook his head, "You're right, I've been here a long time I think. I've lost track of the date. Please, tell us what's going on outside." Everyone else could be heard moving closer to the front of their cages to listen to the young man.

"Well, to start with, they picked me up two days ago ... on May 5th." Scott said. Tom let out a surprised gasp. He'd been here nearly four weeks!

"They've started routine DNA testing in all levels of government." Scott continued. "They also test anyone that they think looks or acts suspicious. We're being rounded up whenever possible. A lot of people are leaving the cities and going into hiding, which is what I was trying to do. The news is showing rioting and a lot of violence in cities all across the country. It's a scary place out there right now."

Tom was stunned by the news. He looked over at Lewis but his face was a stone mask. Tom could only guess at what his former mentor was thinking.

x.x.x

The group huddled in the living room talking amongst themselves. They'd spent most of the day discussing their options and planning their next move. It had been over a month since they'd taken refuge in the isolated ranch house. It was becoming increasing clear that they needed to get further out of the LA area, much to Ed's dismay. Sloan felt bad for Ed but even he finally agreed that, with the news reports they were seeing, they were no longer safe staying where they were.

"I feel our best option is to head into the mountains." David said. "There are a lot of isolated areas up there where we could hide."

"I think I'd have to agree with you." Walter nodded. "Our primary concern right now should be staying out of the crosshairs of my government. Did you have a specific area in mind?"

"Yes. The Sierra Nevada's." David looked at Walter, then around at the rest of the group. Slowly everyone nodded their heads.

"Ok, since we are all in agreement, I think we should begin making a list of the supplies we'll need." Mark stated. "We are heading into some pretty rough terrain, we'll all need four-wheel drive vehicles. We already have three here, I think we can get by with one more"

"We'll need camping gear." Dennis said. "Tents, sleeping bags, warm clothing, etc just in case we end up having to stay outside."

"We should take some medical supplies just in case someone is injured." Ed chimed in. "It's not like we can go to a hospital if someone gets hurts or sick, especially one of you guys."

...We interrupt this broadcast for a CNN special news bulletin...

A startling discovery today still has law enforcement in the Washington DC area reeling. Ten US Congressmen were found dead in their homes, all apparently murdered over the course of the weekend. According to officials, their deaths were not discovered until today when they didn't show up for mandatory meetings scheduled at the White House. While investigations into the homicides continue, speculation by sources say it looks like the work of the Homo-Dominant movement. White House officials have said that the President of the United States is expected to address the nation sometime tomorrow on the growing problem...

Everyone sat stunned for a moment, not wanting to believe what they'd just heard.

"Hmmm... What do you think Mark?" Walter asked. "You really think it was your people that are responsible for this?"

Mark squinted his eyes slightly thinking, "Maybe. It would be like them to send in a group of Chameleons to take out a threat. But ten Congressmen... I don't know."

"Exactly." Walter nods. "My feeling is that is was my government trying to further their own agenda."

"Well one thing is for certain, this pushes up our timetable." Dennis stated standing and walking toward the door. "We need to be out of here and on the road by tomorrow night."

"And there is something else we need to add to our list of supplies." Ray added. "Weapons and ammunition. Anyone here that doesn't know how to handle a gun is going to learn ... real fast."

"Walter, we need to go back into the city to get our belongings." Sloan said looking at Walter and then Mark. "When we packed up to come here, we didn't exactly plan for being gone forever."

"Sloan going into the city is too dangerous." Walter replied. "What could you possibly need there that you can't replace?"

"It's not so much what I have as what Tom left."

"I'm listening, go on." Walter stated looking at Mark.

"Well, you know Tom had pretty much moved into my apartment after everything that had happened with Lynch's clone. His things are still there. While I have no idea what's in those bags, we may find something we can use." Sloan leaned forward clasping her hands in front of her continuing. "Walter, you know how Tom was. He always had whatever device or weapon he needed and he always had money. He left two bags there, I want to get those out."

"Walter, she has a point." Mark said. "If Tom left any money or equipment with Sloan, we could use it."

"I don't like it but I will agree to it on one condition." Walter groaned. "I'm going with you. I don't want you going into the city alone. I'm much more experienced at spotting the types that would be looking for us than you are. I think we should bring Ed along too. He can gather the necessary medical supplies while we're there."

"How am I supposed to do that Walter?" Ed looks to the man in surprise. "I'm kinda known around the university in case you've forgotten. No one is going to let me walk in and just take it."

"Why Ed." Walter looks at him cocking his brow. "Haven't you ever heard of breaking and entering?"

John and David had been quietly listening to the conversation. Both laughed out loud at Walter's remark and Ed's expression.

Mark turned to David, "I want you and Dennis to go with them. The two of you can sense for any members of the militant dominant group that may be waiting for them. You can also get the camping supplies and vehicle we need."

"Sure, not a problem." David looked at Ed and grinned. "Not only have I heard of breaking and entering ... I'm not bad at hot wiring a car either."

x.x.x

The next day the five got an early start into LA. Sloan, Ed and David took her car while Walter and Dennis took Ray's. The plan was to leave both cars behind after they'd gotten their hands on another SUV. They didn't want to leave the cars behind at the ranch in case anyone decided to look there for them.

They were all in shock at the destruction they saw upon entering the city. Store fronts were broken and burned; debris littered the streets in some areas. The looting actually proved to be a blessing for them. It gave them the opportunity to get some of the items they needed without drawing a lot of attention to themselves.

The first thing they did was steal the SUV. They dropped Dennis off on a street with rows of auto dealers near Compton. Most of the dealerships were closed due to the rioting. They circled the block and saw him pull out with a Ford Excursion. Driving about five miles further, they spotted an auto wrecking yard. Pulling in they swiftly abandoned Ray's car.

David and Dennis turned out to be very resourceful at finding the rest of the supplies they needed. The two were able to get camping gear and weapons at a warehouse they knew of while Ed found his medical supplies in an abandoned clinic nearby.

The only thing left to do was get Tom's bags out of Sloan's apartment. They planned on leaving her car parked on the street. When they pulled up in front, Sloan was surprised to see her neighborhood pretty much in tact. After seeing others in the city, she'd expected more of the same. Dennis pulled up across the street and parked. He stayed behind with the motor running. Ed climbed into the back of the SUV with him to wait.

Sloan, David and Walter walked up to her apartment. She found her door closed with a note from her landlord asking her to call. Opening the door, the memories of the night Tom was taken hit her with full force. Everything was exactly as she'd left it. The barstool laid on its side in the floor. The table next to the chair where Tom had been sitting was overturned, the lamp lay nearby broken. She stumbled a bit as she tried to walk forward, Walter reaching out to grab her arm. She felt herself shaking as she tried to be strong.

"Sloan we need to hurry." Walter gently prodded. He removed his coat and laid it on the chair, then walked into her kitchen to survey the damage.

She nodded her head and walked toward her bedroom. Opening her closet doors, she pulled out the two bags Tom had left behind as well as his black coat. Donning his coat, she went to her dresser. She pulled out his clothes and shoved them into one of the bags. Turning, she picked them up and headed toward her front door. David was quickly at her side, taking the bags from her. He could sense the pain she was feeling and wanted to get her out of here as quickly as possible. Sloan lifted her chin stubbornly and told Walter she was ready. The three filed out of the apartment and down the stairs.

Just as they got to the street, Walter told David he'd left his coat behind and was going back up to get it. David nodded telling him they wait for him in the truck. David deposited the bags in the back and shut the door. Sloan was standing at the rear passenger window quietly talking to Ed.

Suddenly they heard a high pitch whine and the front of the florist shop exploded sending glass and stone flying. Flames leapt out of the store front as well as Sloan's apartment windows. Sloan watched in horror. Finding her feet, she ran toward her building screaming.

"WALTER!"

David chased after her, catching her by the waist. Sloan fought him hard, yelling for him to let go. Just then another building two doors down exploded in flames, glass and cinder block sailing through the air.

"WE GOT NO TIME!" Dennis yelled from the truck. "WE HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE NOW!"

Sloan was screaming hysterically. David spun her around and threw her over his shoulder. He moved as fast as he could back toward the truck. Ed, seeing his struggle, opened the back door.

David quickly handed her off to Ed. Slamming the door, he jumped in the front and Dennis floored the vehicle.

Sloan sobbed uncontrollably in the back as Ed held her tightly, rocking her, trying to provide comfort. Dennis dodged brick and mortar and glass as he drove as fast as possible to get back to the freeway. Buildings were going up in flames behind them as more rockets exploded. Seeing the freeway entrance ahead, Dennis pushed the truck even harder. He took the entrance on two wheels and accelerated into the curve that followed.

It didn't long for Dennis to see the exit for Route 2, he took it. While it may not be the fastest route possible, it would take them in the back way and avoid any unnecessary attention. All he cared about right now was getting back to the ranch. The sooner they got the hell out of the area, the better he would feel.

x.x.x