Blue Cove, DE
Miss Parker stepped off the elevator and began down the corridor, shifting
nimbly around a maintenance worker on a ladder, changing a light bulb.
*How many forms had to be filled out to get that done?* she asked
herself, glancing over her shoulder just to make sure the worker was actually
changing a light bulb. He knew she had caught him looking at her and he
turned away quickly, feeling the heat of the snarl in her face.
A smile crept onto her visage as she made her way to her destination.
She entered the Tech-Room and there he was, diligently working as he had
been told. Leaning in very close, making no sound, she asked, “What have
you found?” in a husky whisper.
“Jesus.” Broots jumped out of his chair, knocking over his mug of coffee
gone cold hours ago. “You scared me.”
“Broots, shouldn’t you clean that up?”
The nervous tech pressed paper towels on the desk and floor, mopping
up the brown liquid.
“Have you found anything?” She rocked back on her heels and stood up,
placing her hands on her hips, a smile on her face.
Broots tossed the soggy towels into the trash can. “Did I ever. Miss
Parker, there are over four thousand items. This list includes everything
from office supplies that never reached their destination to the spare
tire for Mr. Raines’ oxygen tank.”
A shuffling sound coasted across the Tech Room. “Great. What now?” Miss
Parker mumbled, irritated. “What?” she snapped at the noise in her ear.
“This came for you, Miss Parker,” Sam replied. He had not even flinched
at her bark. These guys were trained well.
She took the package from her sweeper, examining it closely. “You’re
late, Jarod.” She spoke to herself, reading the *Happy Birthday*
on the shiny red and blue paper. Tugging on the stark, white ribbon, it
came loose, and Miss Parker let it fall to the floor. The happy paper
was plucked free and removed from the box. Lifting the lid, she expected
one of Jarod’s usual prank-type gifts - a snake flying out at her, plastic
dog doo - and was surprised by a simple note. ‘The dealer won’t rest
‘til he sells a child death,’ she read to herself. “Broots.” She waited
for his acknowledgement. “Jarod has found a person.”
“You think the thing missing is a person?”
“Well, he hasn’t found four-thousand paperclips,” she snapped, crossing
her arms over her chest.
“Okay… well, if it’s people, this should only take a minute.” The techie’s
fingers danced over the keys and the machine obeyed his commands. “Looks
like this is the best we can do. Fifty files.”
“Are all these people still here?” Miss Parker leaned over the man’s
shoulder, reading the information on the screen.
Broots turned his head, finding his face incredibly close to Miss Parker’s
breasts. Inhaling sharply, he tried to hold the squeak that rose to his
throat. Quickly, he looked away and cleared his throat. “Um, this list
hasn’t been updated since 1974. Well, I mean, things have been added to
it, but no one has gone in to remove any items that have been located.”
“Fine. We’d better get started. What’s first?”
“Actually, Jarod is at the top of the list.”
“Is this a joke?”
”No. Raines made the entry himself. Jarod is considered missing.”
“What’s next?” she asked, exasperated.
Broots keyed up the next file. “Um, hmm…”
“Someone really needs to clean up this file. Okay, we know he’s not missing
“Something called *Yellow Files*.”
“What are the *Yellow Files*?”
“I’m not sure.”
“Ow! Dammit! Who put this table here?”
Miss Parker turned to the commotion that was her single-thumbed brother.
“Trouble in paradise, dear brother?”
“You could say that.”
Broots returned to his terminal and shifted the screen to a different
file. Trying not to eavesdrop, trying to look busy, he still overheard
the discussion between the Parker siblings. A conversation about a project
that was not going well; he tried to ignore the two people behind him
and focus heavily on his computer.
Mission City, MN
“Mr. Hull,” Mrs. Hatcher put a hand to her mouth.
Jarod put an arm around her shoulder. “It’s all right. I know you’re
scared, but agent Ludwig is working night and day to find Andrea. We will
The dark-suited FBI agent shifted his glasses on his nose while he addressed
Jarod. “Mr. Hull, do you have anything further that might be of any aid?”
Shaking his head, “No. That’s all I know. I’m sorry it isn’t more.”
“Thank you. I’ll get on this right away. Mrs. Hatcher, we will find your
daughter.” The agent shook hands and returned to his dark car.
“Jarod, we need her back. She’s our life.”
A rage began to build within Jarod; a fiery rage that could only be quelled
by the destruction of The Centre. However, he knew he did not have nearly
enough resources to take on that mission; instead, he would have to take
it one step at a time; starting with the rescue of Andrea Hatcher.
The green glow from the laptop lit his face. So much had happened over
the last few days and even more would follow; he was certain of it. Jarod
tapped into The Centre’s files through an electronic backdoor, searching
for anything on Nemesis. An urgent e-mail from his sister, Emily, halted
his search. She informed him of big plans by The Centre - the current
element of which involved Nemesis.
He knew this was going to get worse. Now, he had to go to Blue Cove and
rescue Andrea. @He@ had to do it. One problem entered his mind, in this
case, he would require the aid of Miss Parker and Mr. Broots.
“Hello?” Jarod answered the beckoning phone. “Mrs. Hatcher. No, I’m sorry,
I haven’t heard anything more. But they’re working on it.” He attempted
to calm the still frantic woman.
“Jarod, there is something I think you should know about Andrea.”
“Is something wrong?”
“Not yet, but Andrea was recently diagnosed with a very rare genetic
disorder. And if she doesn’t receive her treatments, there’s a good chance
she will die.”
“What kind of genetic disorder?”
Jarod absorbed the details he was given. The doctors had diagnosed Andrea
with Von Willebrand’s Disease, but something told Jarod there was more
to this than a variation of hemophilia.
“Did she have any other symptoms?”
“No, Jarod. Not that I know of. I’m sorry.”
“It’s all right. Who is Andrea’s physician?” Jarod explained to Mrs.
Hatcher that as a biology teacher, he was researching rare diseases for
an article and was in need of information, and assured her that he would,
in no way, exploit her daughter.
“Mrs. Hatcher, one more thing. You said the disease was genetic…”
“Yes, but Andrea is our adopted daughter. Neither my husband, nor I,
nor our son have the disease. We were told it wouldn’t be a problem until
Andrea wanted to have children.”
“Thank you. I’ll see what I can do.” He placed the receiver in the cradle
and began his search.
A thorough search of the medical files in Minneapolis - there were no
doctors in Mission City specialized enough to diagnose Andrea’s condition
- revealed startling information. The doctor Andrea had been seeing was
a former employee of NuGenesis and was receiving regular payments to an
offshore account from a research firm funded by The Centre. A little more
hacking and he was logged into The Centre’s medical files. Thousands of
viral strain files to sift through, this would take a very long time.
He attempted a cross-reference with Nemesis, but this resulted nothing.
Sighing and settling in for a long night, Jarod began to read through
Several hours later he stood and stretched. A walk to the refrigerator
for more water seemed to stimulate his brain. He stopped, turned back
to the table, looked at the phone. The conversation with Sydney. *Time
is of the essence.* Sydney had emphasized the word *time*, that had to
be the key. Jarod returned to the computer and filtered the files for
anything related to time or chronology. The thousands of files were narrowed
to just under one hundred. He then eliminated any that were less than
fifteen years old and those that were not labeled as genetic, thus narrowing
his search to a dozen. Five of these files never reached the human testing
stage, leaving seven. Four more files were reserved strictly for animal
experiments. His list was down to three - Era IV, Kronos I, and Millennium
VII. That was the best he could do.
He received another e-mail from Sydney - Nemesis = Andromeda. This was
turning out to be the week of the cryptic e-mails. Jarod fully understood
the need for discretion, but this was far beyond the usual level of security,
even for Sydney. However, Jarod knew this must be important. The medical
files. He reopened the three he had downloaded and searched them for any
mention of Andromeda. Only one file referenced that name - Kronos I.
Miss Parker pinched the bridge of her nose, forcing out some of the dull
ache that was building in her head. She arched her back and heard several
vertebrae snap in mild protest, but it relieved some of the stiffness.
“Broots, how much longer is this going to take? There are only fifty files.”
“The only way to be sure we find the right file is to go through them
one at a time.”
“All right, let’s keep going.”
They scanned a couple more files. What’s this? Miss Parker asked herself,
staring at the screen. She clapped Broots on the back of the head.
“Ow. What’d ya do that for?” he asked, rubbing his skull. His eyes followed
the fierce finger nearly poking a hole in the computer monitor. “Jacob,”
he read and risked a glance over his shoulder. “But he’s dead.”
She clapped his head again. “Of course he’s dead, Broots.”
“Would you mind not doing that?” He rubbed his head again. What had gotten
“Sort this list by alive and dead.” Her feet hurt, her knees were stiff,
she needed a strong cup of coffee, a massage, and a vacation. Stiletto
heels clicked against the linoleum in a steady rhythm across the room.
She could almost feel the shaking of his fingers as they tapped the keys.
He was really scared this time. That was partially her fault; she should
not have been so harsh, but Daddy had really angered her, and she was
taking it out on whoever was nearby, in this case, Broots. She made a
note to apologize for it later.
“Done.” Broots refused to say more, fearing another intense blow to the
Miss Parker scanned the list. Perfect, down to twenty-three from fifty.
“Broots, is there a faster way of doing this?” She rubbed her tired eyes.
*Yeah, don’t give me a concussion.* Broots keyed in a few lines, but
was unable to further shorten the list. “Sorry, Miss Parker. We still
have to go one at a time.” He resumed his examination.
Both Miss Parker and Broots were so intensely fixated on the computer
monitor and the wealth of information it held, that neither noticed Sydney
had entered and exited, leaving behind the strand of hockey love beads.
It was right in front of her and she had missed it. “Hockey, Broots.”
“Search for hockey. There can’t be more than a handful of names linked
to hockey on this thing.”
“How would hockey be relevant to anything in The Centre?”
“I just have a feeling. Now search!”
Broots did as he was asked; his search resulting in only one file. “Andromeda,”
Miss Parker hissed over his shoulder.
“Jarod has found Andromeda?” The tech swallowed hard. “That’s one of
Mr. Lyle’s projects.”
“That makes life more interesting.” She rose to her full height, towering
over the computer wizard in his chair.
Lyle paced the floor behind his subject. These tests were going nowhere
and he needed to know the true level of her abilities. The fact that she
was more than uncooperative was making his task much more difficult. Something
deep down inside begged him to not follow his next course of action. Easily,
he squashed that nagging piece of his conscience - the only piece of his
conscience - if that’s what it might be called, and proceeded with his
He marched his ward down the long, dreary corridor and took mental note
of her immediate reaction: intimidation. A pretty good feeling from his
end, one he knew would improve dramatically. “Ah, ah, ah,” he chided,
grasping her shoulders and turning her back to the solid, metal slab on
one side of the room. “Now, get on the table.”
She sighed heavily, “Why?” Somehow she was no longer standing on the
floor. Cold, hard metal met her back, the sound of Velcro, her ears, nylon,
her wrists. How had he done that? The straps were strong; she was barely
able to wiggle her fingers. Fear gripped her like a vice, squeezing tighter
around her, restricting her breathing. She saw the maniacal look on his
face as he leaned over her, brushing her hair away from her face; that
she would never forget.
Andrea woke in a fuzzy haze, still secured to the table. Her head ached
and a wave of nausea hit, forcing her to close her eyes until it passed.
She had not realized he had strapped her head as well, and an attempt
to roll her head to one side was met with a harsh scratch from the thick
nylon. What had happened? How long had she been out? And, that man, Mr.
Lyle was his name; where was he? As far as she could tell, from what she
was able to see, she was surrounded by an empty expanse.
A door opened, then closed. Shoes tapped across the floor and shuffled
to a stop by her side.
“Good, you’re awake.”
Mr. Lyle. Now he was flipping through pages on a clipboard. Shaking his
head, he spoke over her again, “You did not perform to my expectations.
We will have to try this again.” Lyle laid the clipboard aside and collected
several items from a nearby tray. Andrea watched him load a syringe and
give it a flick to dislodge any air bubbles.
“Please, no more.” She tried to shake her head, with no success. “My
head aches. And I swear, if you give me any more drugs, I’m gonna hurl.”
“No you won’t,” he replied nonchalantly and pushed the needle into her
arm. “You’ll be awake for these tests.”
There was nothing she could do, the drug was taking affect, relaxing
the part of her mind that obeyed commands, thus ensuring complete cooperation.
The Centre had used this drug before on several other projects, but not
to this level. Lyle was pushing the envelope on this one, and no one was
questioning his methods.
He ran his tests. The conclusions were satisfactory. She answered all
of his questions accurately. She even informed him that Miss Parker and
Broots had discovered the files for his project and were digging for more
information. Nemesis was turning out to be an excellent venture after
all, and very successful too. The Triumvirate was sure to be pleased with
his accomplishments. And, he could now bring Jarod back to The Centre,
clinching his place in the Tower, and removing anyone who got in his way.
Testing complete, it was time to put Andromeda’s abilities to work. He
released her restraints and escorted her back to his simulation room.
“Andromeda, I want you to tell me where Jarod is.”
“Who?” She asked over her shoulder, only responding to that wretched
name because it meant he would not inject her with some awful drug.
“Jarod,” Lyle snapped, wishing he had kept her strapped to the table.
He took a deep breath - anger check again. Damn those drugs. And had
she forgotten what he looked like already? “I just need to know where
I can find him.”
She furrowed her brow at him. “Look, you want me to tell you where he
is, but you don’t give me any specifics. Do you know how many Jarod’s
there are just in Delaware?”
How did she know she was in Delaware? Her abilities were stronger than
he thought. “All right. He’s a Pretender. A genius. And very elusive.
He masquerades as other people, taking on any job he chooses. If you want
physical attributes, he’s about 6’1”, dark hair, dark eyes, muscular.
Anything else you need?”
“No. That should do. He’s in Blue Cove.” She crossed her arms over her
chest and reclined into the bean bag.
Lyle raised his hand to strike her, but stopped. “You’re lying. Jarod
is NOT in Blue Cove!”
“Suit yourself. I can only tell you what I know.”
Irritation was just the first of the expressions to strike his face,
anger and frustration were there too. “I grow weary of your foolish games.
We are going to try this again, and again, until I get the response I
want.” He administered another injection and leaned against the wall to
The girl began to convulse and twitch on the floor, catching Lyle completely
off guard. “What the hell is going on?” he asked to absolutely no one.
Not trained in any true medical technique, he was at a total loss about
what to do. He entered the number for The Centre’s medical center into
the phone and ordered a physician to SL-13 immediately. During the excruciatingly
long wait, he managed to keep the girl from hurting herself, but could
not cease the seizure.
Lyle attempted to conceal his frantic behavior when the doctor arrived,
but succeeded only in revealing much of his desperation. “What happened,
“I don’t know. She was sitting there, answering my questions, then she
“I have never seen anything like this. I’ve administered a mild sedative
that should control the seizures until I can do a full work up. We’ll
need to get her to the infirmary.”
“NO!” Lyle said sharply. “She must remain here. Whatever you need can
be brought to this room.”
“Very well, Mr. Lyle.” The doctor handed him a syringe and a bottle,
with instructions on how to administer and when, then left to make arrangements
for creating a medical lab on SL-13.