My Would-Be Savior
to tally up the odds against success as he walked toward his car. Under
an overcast sky, he climbed into the front seat, and just sat there. He'd
forgotten what city he was in, he even forgot that he was pretending to
be an agent. The weather, the voices, the crime, the hotels, the fatigue,
the fear -- most of all, the fear -- were all the same. Only the name of
the city had changed. Only the faces of the children were different. Reaching
for his cell phone, he hit the key pad and waited.
"Miss Parker, on your way to Virginia?"
"Checking in as we speak."
"White's involvement in this means that Lyle's not far from his lackey. I take it that you have been watching the news reports? Any idea where your brother is?" Jarod's voice was gruff and angry.
"Yes to your first question and no, to the second. Why?" Her voice had an edge to it.
"Once you find him, then we find a scared 15 year old girl, who for some reason plays a very important role in this."
"You think that the Centre took her," she replied. "Why? And what's with this 'we find,' Jarod?"
"The Centre doesn't blow up schools and kidnap children just for kicks, Miss Parker. I know that and you know that, so there's a reason. I know part of it, it's the other part that's eluding me, for now." He terminated the call, leaving Parker stunned momentarily.
"Find out where Lyle is for me as soon as we check in to our rooms, Broots." she snapped causing the tech to jump.
* * * * * * * * *
He thought he'd be all right as he started to drive away, but at each stop light he felt more overwhelmed. His hands felt numb, his motions were automated, he couldn't remember starting the car though he was already blocks from the Senator's home. White's face was everywhere he looked, on street lamps and telephone poles, pasted to windows in cars next to him at intersections. He careened into the parking lot of the unused, unheated office, where he changed clothes and did some personal investigation of the Centre's mainframe before heading back to his hotel room.
Turning on his computer, he looked up the private files for NuGenesis dating back sixteen years. He searched for anything that would yield names of Kendra's biological parents. The Centre had installed lock-check software that would signal if anyone tried to access their files, giving the password of the intruder. Luckily, he had the current password of the day; that new program he had written to counteract Broots' efforts worked like a charm.
Finding the files that seemed to pertain to Kendra Evans, Jarod's breath stopped short. For an instant he felt as if he had been hit by a truck. No need to be surprised, he thought, as he read between the lines and dissected the information like a surgeon, cutting into soft flesh.
So, he wasn't the only one with a young double.
An hour passed and he pulled himself together. He pushed himself up from the chair, his legs wobbly like a newborn colt's. But he had a sudden sense of purpose. Could the Centre be that twisted? After a quick call to headquarters to inform them that he was caught in the traffic jam caused by an accident, he returned by mid-afternoon to inform Greer Paris of his talk with the Senator.
* * * * * * * * *
Something told Kendra that she was being watched.
Call it a sixth sense or psychic powers or conditioned paranoia, but she was like one of those delicate seismographic devices that picked up tremors just below the threshold of human perception.
It didn't go off very often, but when it did she knew it -- like that time last week when she thought she was being followed at school. Now the needle was jumping again.
She looked around the room, trying to find the epicenter. Nothing. Still alone. But not for long.
She was coming.
* * * * * * * * *
Jarod punched a number on his cell phone.
"Hello, this is Sydney."
"Sim number 230? Supposedly an alternative energy source?"
"Bellona." Sydney heard the fear and the anger in Jarod's voice.
"Just another government contract, Syd?" Jarod questioned.
"No, as far as I knew that was one of the Mr. Parker's own projects. Why do you ask, Jarod?"
"Seems that some high-ranking government officials, quite a commodity in today's world, invested capital in the project and are quite eager to cooperate with the Centre for a share of their weapons program. Only they didn't count on a Senator that was going to ask too many questions. His daughter's the trump card, Syd, unbeknownst to him."
"Meaning the relationship between the Pentagon's most secret operation branch and its longtime benefactor is still intact. With Mr. Parker's appointment as head of the Triumvirate. . . ." Sydney began before he was interrupted.
"Are they moving of the power base to the States? Then the Centre is going to be more involved with top-secret DOD information, then ever before," Jarod finished for him.
* * * * * * * * *
His eyes haggard, his back bent, his face to close to the keyboard, Broots battled to overcome the last barrier and assume control of the Centre's mainframe from the outside. He had long since ceased to mutter and cry out. He lapsed into a deep and determined silence as he struggled.
Outside on the balcony, Miss Parker, a tumbler filled with amber liquid in her hand, no longer watched the cars pulling in and out of the parking lot. It was Sydney who called her in. Stepping through the sliding glass door, she noticed that the room bristled with tension.
"I'm in! And you won't believe this!" Broots whispered, then turned the screen for Miss Parker to view. "Lyle's been using the Grange these last couple of weeks. Jarod was right, the Centre is involved in this nasty business."
Miss Parker's eyes narrowed as she straightened up. "The Centre's airstrip in Washington," she murmured, vehemently.
"What are you planning, Miss Parker?" Sydney inquired.
"Lyle's been back and forth to Virginia, Mr. White is wanted in regards to the bombing and disappearance of the Senator's daughter. I'm going out to the Grange to check out the Lodge there."
"Do you want us to go with you?" Sydney asked.
"I'll go alone, but here's what I need you to do, Broots...."
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