For Disclaimers, see Part One. Comments can be sent to: email@example.com
Temple of the Sinai
Starsky nodded slowly. "All right. Hannah, do the Temple members have any firearms? Guns?"
Hannah shook her head, seeming to calm down slightly. "No. None that I've ever seen, anyway. Knives and sticks, yes."
"Well, I've got my weapon and Hutch's, back at the bunkhouse. No one's bothered his stuff yet." He took a deep breath. "Hannah, go back to your sister's house, but stay awake. Wait until about midnight, then meet me at the dairy like we planned earlier."
"You're not going to leave him here, are you?" Her eyes widened.
"No, of course not." Starsky felt his throat tighten momentarily. "He's my best friend, Hannah. We'll get him out of here, but we need to be smart about this." He put a hand on her shoulder and tried to speak reassuringly. "Meet me at midnight, but don't bring anything with you. You need to look like you're just out for a walk because you can't sleep. You'll have to leave everything behind, Hannah."
She dipped her chin in a quick nod. "I can do that."
He squeezed her shoulder. "Good. I'll tell you the rest at midnight. And, Hannah?"
She had already turned to go, but stopped and faced him again. "What?" she answered softly.
"Thanks. Thank you for helping, for being willing to leave with us, to testify." He reached out and touched her face briefly. "Like I said, he's my best friend. I won't forget what you're doing."
She smiled faintly and was gone.
Hutch sighed and shifted once again in the loose straw, trying to get comfortable despite his aching arms. The cult members had gagged him, bound his hands behind him, and tied his feet, but had not otherwise mistreated him. In fact, no one had even spoken to him since he had been dragged forcibly from the dairy.
He estimated he'd been there several hours at least, and guessed that he'd be stuck in there all night. I suppose in the morning I'll be beaten, he thought. Just like Starsky was...there goes our plan to get out of here tonight. He closed his eyes wearily. Hopefully, Starsky would have found out what had happened, and they could just plan on leaving tomorrow night instead. In the meantime, he would try to rest.
A sudden noise jolted him out of the half-sleep he had managed to achieve. He started to open his eyes, and immediately blinked as lantern light shone into his eyes, half-blinding him. Brother Benjamin stepped into the shed, accompanied by another man carrying the lantern, and closed the door behind him. Hutch struggled to pull his body into a more upright position as Brother Benjamin cleared his throat and addressed the imprisoned detective.
"The council of elders has met tonight, and you have been found guilty of adulterous contact with a virtuous widow. The sentence will be carried out at dawn, when your earthly body will be sacrificed for the good of your immortal soul." As quickly as they had entered, the two men departed, leaving a shocked Hutch staring into the impenetrable darkness.
My body will be sacrificed...oh my God, he thought. They mean it. They're going to kill me. Starsk...buddy, please find me.
Starsky crept into the darkened bunkhouse and listened for a moment to the sound of snoring. Moving as quietly as he could, he reached under Hutch's bunk and rummaged through the duffel bag until he found Hutch's service revolver, stuffing it into an inside pocket of his jacket. He then retrieved his own weapon and popped it into the shoulder holster that he had slipped on earlier. He left the rest of their things under the bed, not wanting to be burdened down with luggage if he needed to move quickly. If the ranch was later raided by law enforcement officials, they might be able to retrieve their belongings...if not, well, nothing they had brought with them was irreplaceable.
He left the building as silently as he had entered it. His watch showed 10:15, and a quick glance about the compound revealed nobody in sight at the moment. Keeping to the shadows near the buildings, he made his careful way to the converted barn that housed the cult's battered Jeeps and tractors.
When Hannah entered the dairy at midnight, Starsky had been waiting already for a good ten minutes, having arrived early with the purpose of getting his eyes to adjust further to the darkness. Through the cobwebby window, he spotted Hannah approaching the doorway...and breathed a sigh of relief when he saw no one follwing her. As soon as she stepped fully into the building he slipped up next her and clapped a hand over her mouth. She struggled briefly until he hissed in her ear.
"Sshh, Hannah, it's me." He removed his hand slowly. "Sorry to scare you, but we gotta be quiet. I can't be sure that someone might not be able to hear us," he whispered.
She nodded and said nothing. Starsky noted with approval that she was wearing sturdy shoes and a dark coat and dress, and had removed her the spotless white kerchief that usually adorned her head. Nothing that would look too suspicious if she were caught, but she would definitely be less noticeable than he had feared.
"All right," he continued in the same stage whisper. "We need to get over to the small shed behind the goat barn. That's where they kept me the other day before they whipped me...and I saw our friend Brother Benjamin hangin' around there earlier, the slimy bastard." This prompted an incongruous brief giggle from Hannah. "I think the door just has a simple latch on the outside, 'cause I don't remember seeing anyone use any keys to open it.
"We'll sneak over there, and you're going to hide by the goat barn and be my lookout while I go in and get him. If no one sees us, I'll have him out in a flash, and then we head for the Jeeps as quick as we can. Simple."
Hannah considered this. "Won't they follow us?"
Starsky grinned. "Only on foot. I let the air out of the tires on everything with wheels, except the Jeep we're taking. And even if they do get the tires changed, I took the liberty of removing a few vital engine parts."
"David, what do you want me to do if I see someone coming? How should I warn you?"
Starsky took a deep breath. "You can't. If they're just passing by, and they don't notice anything, keep quiet. If you see someone comin' to the shed, and you think they're gonna see us, you need to run out of where you're hiding and do some serious acting."
"If we're spotted, I want you to run up to me and yell and scream, act like you're trying to stop me. Remember, you're supposed to be playing the ravished woman in all this."
"But..." She swallowed convulsively. "If I do that, how will we escape?"
"Hannah, you've got to trust me. No matter what I say or do at that point, trust me, and play along, even if it looks crazy." He placed a finger under her chin, forcing her head up. "And...if everything goes horribly wrong, if Hutch and I don't make it, you've got to stay alive long enough to get out of here. Eventually, if we don't report in,, someone'll come lookin' to see what happened to us. Lie, call us every name in the book if you have to, but stay alive. You're the only one who can end what's going on out here. Got it?"
"Yes," she answered, meeting his gaze finally. He patted her shoulder.
"Good girl. Let's go."