Disillusions

 

home / season five / episode twenty-one / act I

   

Prologue

A passing car’s headlights glinted off the water covering the road. Stepping back, deeper into the shadows, a man stared up at the house across the street.

She’d just arrived home. Obviously, she’d either ignored, or not received his message the last time. This time, he’d make sure it was received.

Watching, he stood hidden in the darkness. The smooth leather jacket hung open over the black t-shirt and jeans he wore. The black cap he’d thrown on to cover his shockingly blonde hair allowed him to blend into the night. He waited.

She was pacing the living room floor, obviously agitated. When she found his messages, she would be more-so. Part of him regretted that he had to put anyone through these paces, but it was necessary.

Her pacing stopped and as he watched, she picked up her phone, moving to sit on the couch near the window. He’d wait until she was in bed to leave the package that rested in his hand. No use in getting shot while trying to help.

Leaning back against the tree next to him, he continued to wait. Luckily, he was patient.

*****************

April 22nd
Miss Parker's Home

“What?”

“Don’t you ever want to answer the phone like a normal person?”

Slipping her shoes off, Miss Parker sank onto her couch, leaning her head back against the cushions. “Nah, normal is highly overrated.” Smiling at the answering chuckle she received, she shut her eyes. “So what do I owe this honor to Jarod? It’s almost midnight here.”

“Here too. We’re sharing a coast at the moment. As for why I’m calling...” She could almost hear the wheels turning in his mind. “I missed your voice,” he informed her in a wry tone.

“For a pretender, you’re a lousy liar.”

Jarod’s laugh rang through the phone. “I don’t have to lie to pretender.” He paused for a moment, and when he spoke again, the mirth had left his voice. “How’s everything going there?”

“Same old, same old. Lots of running around on a giant gerbil wheel, never getting anywhere.”

“I know the feeling.” They fell silent a moment, the statement weighing heavy in the air. There was a rustling on Jarod’s end of the line. “I forgot how cold spring can be along the coast.”

“It’s an unusual year.”

“In more ways than one.”

Deciding that didn’t require a response, she propped her feet up on the couch cushion next to where she sat. “So, why did you really call?”

He sighed quietly. “Just wanted to check in, see what’s going on outside of the historic Virginia community I’m occupying at the moment.”

Blinking her eyes open for a moment, Miss Parker moved the phone from her ear long enough to stare at it, as if it had tried to bite her. “Uh, Jarod…” she began as she returned it to her ear. “Aren’t you giving me a bit more information than you should be?”

“Do I have reason to be concerned? I thought just maybe we were actually getting past that.”

“I guess we are,” she admitted softly, leaning her head back and shutting her eyes again. “But it is still my job…”

Jarod was silent for a long moment. “That doesn’t exactly mean you’re actually doing your job.”

Before she could answer, the call waiting beeped. “Jarod, I have another call...”

“I’ll wait.”

Smiling, Miss Parker clicked over. “What?”

“Miss Parker,” Broots’ hushed whisper met her ear. “You told me to call you if I found anything more about Eclipse.”

Eyes opening, she sat up. “And did you?”

“Not exactly.” He took a deep breath. “But I found something. There isn’t much, but I ran across a set of files. All tied somehow to Eclipse. All of them were empty, except for a single text file in each. All it said was ‘Nebula Series.’”

Broots was being far too straightforward; this was serious. “What the hell is that?”

“All I know so far is that it’s tied to Eclipse. And to three other projects. They were what I found files on. Aurora, Nova and Starlight.”

“I want everything you can possibly find on those.” She paused for a moment. “Like, yesterday Broots.”

Shuffling sounds came from his end of the line. “Of course Miss Parker. I’m doing what I can.”

Disconnecting her call with Broots, Miss Parker clicked back over to Jarod. “Jarod?”

“Hmm?” He sounded tired.

She bit her lip for a moment, considering how much to share. In the end, she was going to need extra minds on this one. And he not only had a right to know; he would probably be more help than anyone else, aside, perhaps, from Faith. “Nebula Series. Know anything about it?”

“Not a clue Miss Parker. Why?”

“I don’t know. But it’s related to Eclipse.”

“I’ll look into it.”

Standing, Miss Parker moved out of the living room to her bedroom. “Me too,” she said as she slipped out of her work clothes, holding the phone between her ear and shoulder while she unbuttoned her shirt. As she changed into her silk pajamas, she sat on the edge of her bed. “Jarod, it’s late…”

“Get some rest, Miss Parker,” he murmured into her ear, his fingers tapping over the keys on his keyboard. “We’ll talk again soon.

Disconnecting the call, her fingers buttoned the pajama shirt quickly. She lay back, curling her arms around the extra pillow on her bed. Instead of closing her eyes, she simply stared into the darkest corner of the room.

*************

Smiling as the dial tone replaced Miss Parker’s voice, Jarod hung up his phone, turning his focus back to the computer. He’d spent the night researching the small bio-chem and bio-tech firm just outside the Norfolk city limits that he was interested in and she’d been right, it was late. Closing in on one in the morning and he was due to meet with the director of the firm in less than six hours.

The ‘new mail’ notification sounded as he was going to disconnect the modem. Opening his mail program, he stared at the message for a moment. Blank subject line, ‘*.*’ as a sender. Deciding that the small file size precluded a virus, he clicked to open it, staring at the words that appeared on his screen.

Aurora.

Nova.

Starlight.

ECLIPSE.

Nebula.

Leaning back in his chair, Jarod squeezed his eyes shut for a moment, before opening them, standing and heading into the kitchen to make some coffee. He wasn’t going to sleep that night.

****************

April 23rd
CGB Bio-Tech
Norfolk, Virginia

Meeting over with, having met the director's approval before walking in the door, Jarod was escorted to his new office within the building by the director himself, who wanted to continue their conversation. "So, Jarod, you'll be sure and keep me informed as you work on these therapies? I look forward to seeing what you can come up with. Your ideas should be a welcome change from the same old monotony we've been working in around here."

Nodding, Jarod scanned the hallways. "Of course Dr. Kedis."

"Greg, please." The men smiled at each other as they rounded a corner, coming up short to avoid crashing into a petite redheaded woman walking toward them with her nose buried in a report. "Oh, Molly, good to see you. I'd like you to meet Jarod Worton. He'll be working with Shane. Jarod, this is Molly O'Brien."

Molly looked up at Jarod from behind a pair of glasses and smiled. "Pleasure to meet you," she said softly, her voice reflecting a strong Irish accent.

"You too." Jarod smiled warmly at her and extended a hand. Molly shook it and turned to move around them.

"She's very dedicated to her work," Greg informed him as they continued down the hallway. "Ah, here we are. I'm sorry you're so far from the main entrance." Opening the door, he held it open for Jarod to enter first. "There's parking and an employee entrance on this side of the building."

Walking into the office, Jarod looked around. It was actually half office, half lab and the office side was strewn with papers, as if someone had been rifling through them and had left quickly. "Thanks," he said to the man in the doorway. "I'm sure I'll be seeing you soon."

With a confirming nod, Greg left Jarod alone to acquaint himself with his new office.

Taking in the lab equipment, the computers, Jarod moved toward the desk and sat, running his hand over some of the paperwork, picking up a page here and there, skimming it, returning it to the messy pile. Finding a picture frame, which appeared to have fallen over and become buried, he lifted it, looking at the young, dark-haired woman in the photograph.

"Who are you?"

Looking up, Jarod smiled at the man in the doorway as he returned the photo to the desk, upright this time. "I'm Jarod Worton. You must be Shane Roberts, I've been assigned to work with you."

Shane tipped his head to the side, regarding the man sitting at his desk. "Worton? Any relation to Ronald Worton?"

Jarod grinned, and shook his head. "No, but working with him in Ottawa, it was hard to convince anyone I didn't get the job due to nepotism."

Removing his glasses for a moment, idly cleaning one of the lenses, Shane stepped closer to the desk. "I wasn't informed I'd be getting an assistant," Returning his glasses to rest on his nose, he ran his fingers through the short, somewhat spiky hair on his head, eyeing Jarod carefully.

"I think it was a last-minute decision." Jarod stood and held out a hand, which Shane took, shaking briefly. "Dr. Kedis was interviewing for a position on the chem side, but I expressed an interest in the ideas behind the drugs made here. He mentioned that there was going to be a second position opening in this department, and offered to let me in working with, as he put it, the best he has, in order to get up to speed before - Telkon, is it? Leaves."

"Telkon's leaving?" Shaking his head, Shane moved to sit in the chair Jarod had recently abandoned. "So, Jarod, I assume you come with qualifications?"

Jarod lifted his briefcase, popping it open, and extracting a resume, one that would turn anyone's head, without raising enough questions to get him into trouble. "Of course."

Taking it, Shane settled back, reading over the information. "Let's see - you've worked on… bollworm moth gene splicing with Robert Staten. You worked with gene mutations and therapies with Dr. Worton. You wanted to work in this department… Are you one of those guys who grew up thinking that you should have been god, because you could have done it better?"

Chuckling, Jarod shook his head. "I didn't think it, no." Looking up from the report he'd been reading, he shrugged. "People around me told me as much though."

"I know that one." Looking over the papers in his hand once more, Shane tucked them into his desk drawer. "I suppose I can at least trust you to do the work." He smiled to show he was joking, but Jarod noted that the smile didn't extend to his eyes. Shane didn't trust him. He was a smart man and it was obviously going to take more than credentials to win him over.

"Shane?" The door to the office opened and the red-head Jarod had met in the hallway stuck her head in. "Are you busy, or can I get you to look at something?"

Looking up at her, Shane gestured for her to enter. "Come on in Molly. Have you met Jarod yet?"

Dipping her head at Jarod in greeting, she walked straight to Shane's desk. "Yes, Greg introduced us." Holding out a file, she perched on the corner of the desk. “This is not working. The reactions are all wrong. And I’m on a serious deadline to find out why. Can you take a look? I’ve been staring at the formulas for too long, a second pair of eyes would be extremely helpful.”

“Of course.” Shane looked up at her, and Jarod couldn’t help but notice the gleam that entered his eyes as he gazed at Molly.

Gracing them both with a bright smile, Molly hopped off the desk. “Thank you so much Shane.” Pausing at the door, she turned back. “Why don’t you take a look at that, and come find me for lunch -- we can discuss what you think.” Reaching the door, she paused. “How’s Mimi?” She asked quietly, not turning her head back to look at the men in the room.

The pause prior to Shane’s response was heavy. “She’s… doing all right,” he said, casting a quick glance at the photo on his desk, turning it back to the face-down position it’d been in before Jarod had picked it up. His gaze returned to Molly’s back. “I don’t know that there’s more that can be done at this point -- and she doesn’t want help anyway.”

Nodding, Molly slipped out the door without a response. Shane’s eyes remained glued to the door until Jarod’s voice snapped him back to the here and now. “She’s gone now.”

“Right, so, shall I show you around?” Shane’s head shook, his eyes clearing; the gleam instantly replaced with the emotionless, professional look he’d occupied prior to Molly’s entrance.

Staring at the picture frame for a moment, Jarod nodded, following Shane as he left the room.

*****************

April 23rd
The Centre

“Broots!”

Scrambling up from under the desk, Broots turned to look at Miss Parker as she strode into the room. “Y-yes Miss Parker?”

Her hand extended toward him, offering him a stack of papers. “Find out what the hell this is.”

He took the papers, glancing through them at the codes that left no white space on any of the pages. “Are these…”

“No. These appeared on my doorstep last night. They’re similar to the last set, but not the same.” She turned on her heel to leave.

“Um, Miss Parker?”

“What?”

“I, um… may have found something else.” He gestured to his monitor once she turned back to face him. “About Nebula.” As she moved quickly back to his desk, he pulled up a file. “I was cross-referencing the names of the files I found, against the Centre databases, and going through the archives -- some of that stuff is secured using 128-bit encryption, I’m still trying to hack into it…”

Miss Parker’s fingers snapped in front of his face. “In English and today Broots.”

He nodded and hit a few keys on his keyboard. “Starlight is referenced in an old file on Kyle.” Pointing to the screen, he pulled up an excerpt from a memo. “This was all I could find, before the system locked me out again.”

Test subject: Kyle

Protocol: Starlight

Notes: The new Starlight regimen seems to have secured the desired result. Subject will remain on the trial protocol until we have assurance of total success. Risk of imminent failure seems to have passed, proper effects appear lingering. Memory retrieval is becoming more

“I’m sorry Miss Parker,” Broots continued as she read. “That’s all I got. The memo seemed to just end there.”

“I want everything, Broots. And I want it now.”

His head dipped in acknowledgement. “Of course. I’ll do what I can with the encryption, but 128-bit is next to impossible…”

Reaching a hand out, Miss Parker gripped his shirt collar. “I don’t care if you have to walk on water to get me that information. Just get it.” Releasing him, she left the room quickly, her heels echoing into the silence she left behind, before it was turned into the click-clack of frantic typing.

On to Act II

 
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