Michael T. Weiss as Jarod
Andrea Parker as Miss Parker
Patrick Bauchau as Sydney
Jon Gries as Broots
Jamie Denton as Lyle
Harve Presnell as Mr. Parker
Albie Selznek as Mr. White
Wayne Northrup as General Washburn
Joshua Scott Chasez as Agent Noel Maxwell
Brian Krause as Agent Scott Higgins
Kate Mulgrew as SAC Greer Paris
Mitch Pileggi as Senator Kendall Evans
Ashley Peldon as Kendra Evans
The ceremony at the cemetery had been brief; the minister said a few words about Zoe, her fight to beat her illness, her zest for living. Someone read from Proverbs and Psalms at the gravesite. Then, the family drove back home.
A few good friends and family squeezed into the small neat house. It was painted white, with dark blue shutters and a picket fence. There were daisy bushes in the front yard, and a small rose garden that she loved so much. Standing in the grove of trees, where he had stood many months before and said goodbye, he watched her family file into the house.
Zoe's grandmother walked over to him, sadness filling her eyes, and her arms reached up to embrace him. His heart ached so badly he thought it would burst. Suddenly, one hand lowered, and her eyes darkened in fury.
"It's all your fault, Jarod," she said harshly. "Zoe's dead because of you. It's your fault... your fault...."
Jarod woke drenched from his dream, his left hand reaching for the remote to the television, pushing the button to change the station. He'd fallen asleep, something he didn't like to do, not since the day he'd found the origami figure of Onysius in Zoe's hospital room. He swung his legs off the bed and blindly stumbled to the bathroom.
* * * * * * * * *
The restaurant had originally been a barn. Stalls had been converted into booths, and the loft had been ripped away to expose splintery beams, now festooned with ropes of onions and red peppers. An unpainted plywood bar ran the length of the back wall, facing the counter and stools.
Sitting in the last booth, hidden from the other patrons, sat a man wearing a dark trench coat. A small diamond flashed in the lobe of his left ear. His hair was close-cropped and white as snow. He lifted his eyes to glance at the other customers in the restaurant, seeking the one who sat at the far end of the bar.
That man wore a white shirt, black tie, a sedate suit of European cut. He sat quietly, and made eye contact with the white haired man, briefly. The white haired man smiled, raised his glass and then left the bar.
The man at the bar watched him go. He then rose to his feet and strode to the booth, where he found the manila folder laying on the table. The man reached out a leather gloved hand for the folder. A few minutes later, the man smiled, tucked the folder under his arm and then departed. He pulled out his cell phone once outside the restaurant.
"How'd it go?" the voice on the other end asked.
"Call Senator Evans. Tell him that no place is safe," Lyle sneered.
* * * * * * * * *
Mr. Parker had the phone pressed against his ear, his voice strong and clear. He addressed a member of the Triumvirate with subtle sarcasm that impressed his guest, General Washburn of the Pentagon.
"A formidable man," the General remarked as he straightened the cuffs of his military uniform.
"Indeed," Mr. Cox replied, ice blue eyes glistening as he watched Mr. Parker terminate his call.
"My colleagues and I are concerned about --"
"I understand," Cox said gravely. "We are taking care of it."
"The Centre is ready to help in any way it can," Parker said. "Any way possible."
"That's wonderful, Mr. Chairman." General Washburn nodded his head, then got up from his seat and left.
"Have we heard from Lyle?" the older man asked, placing his hands on the glass desk top in front of him. With the ice blue eyes twinkling, Mr. Cox nodded his affirmation and grinned.
"The call is being placed as we speak."
"Good, we didn't spend millions on Project Bellona to see it die because some senator has a conscience."
"Not just any senator, Mr. Parker. Evans is the head of Defense spending in the Senate as well."
"Yes, yes. In other words, we own him," the older man snarled.
* * * * * * * * *
The teenager awoke on a small cot in a darkened room with the worst headache of her young life. Unable to determine whether it was morning or night, she turned on to her side. The urge to retch came upon her as she tried to rise from her position, so she lowered herself back down and fought to still her shaking.
A word, savior, along with an image of a woman, flashed in her mind. It was an image that haunted her ever since she could remember... a much older version of herself. Impossible that the image was real, or at least she thought it was. Closing her eyes, she drifted off to sleep.
* * * * * * * * *
Gone. Zoe was gone. At the hands of the Centre, a final betrayal. Jarod looked into the mirror, not liking the reflection that stared back at him. He had lost weight in the last few weeks, his mouth was like cotton, and he felt... Closing his eyes tightly, he did his best to prevent the tears from flowing out of the corners. He wasn't going to go there. Slowly, the anger crept back instead. Turning around, he was about to start the water for a shower, when the movie on the television was interrupted by a special news bulletin.
"Terror taunts our children. An explosion ripped through the halls of Wyndham Academy this afternoon at 2:34 Eastern time. The cause was apparently a bomb planted in the school's basement."
Jarod's heart nearly stopped at the sight of the news announcer interrupting the afternoon programming. The network news sound track beat rhythmically under the familiar voice.
He walked out of the bathroom, coming to a standstill in front of the screen, watching the horror unfold. Firefighters were frantically trying to extinguish the flames. He watched as lifeless bodies were carried from the rubble. Children were streaked with blood, and wounded victims sat dazed on the lawn. Smoke blackened the afternoon sky, wood burned and sirens wailed.
Something in the back of his mind nagged at him, and it wasn't until the newscaster started to talk about the prestigious history of Wyndham Academy that it clicked into place. Wyndham had a reputation for its program centered around gifted students who excelled in the areas of science and mathematics. Not only were the students that attended the school gifted, but some of them were offspring of high-ranking government officials.
He continued to watch as FBI agents surmised that part of the detonator that had been found at the origin of the blast was highly sophisticated, and not from some disgruntled person who had been rejected. Hurriedly he tossed his belongings into his duffel bag and headed for the airport. He had no future plans at the moment, so he made a quick call and booked himself on the next flight. Two hours later, he was headed for Virginia.
* * * * * * * * *
After disembarking from the plane, Jarod walked past rows of newspapers located in the airport terminal, all featuring a picture of the obliterated east side of Wyndham Academy.
A tap on his shoulder snapped him out his reverie, or more appropriately the anger that was seething just underneath his concern.
"Yes?" His answer was slow, hesitant, as he took in the men in front of him. Looking in their eyes, he knew. The look was there: regulation haircut and the generic dark suit... law enforcement. He had passed right by these men, the headlines from the papers having kept his attention. His heart took a free fall inside his chest, pressing against his lungs, shortening his breath to a few jagged gulps.
"Secret Service." The leather badge case sprang open in front of him. "Noel Maxwell, Scott Higgins. We've been asked by the task force to come and collect you. Do you have any luggage to claim?"
Nodding his head, Jarod pushed his earlier feelings of rage and anger behind him. The presence of the Secret service meant only one thing -- something else had happened besides the bombing. Feigning a "professional" smile, Jarod followed them back up the concourse, heading for the luggage terminal.
As they walked, Agent Maxwell strained from the weight of a three ring binder under his arm. It was stuffed with reports and photocopies of evidence. Wasting no time, he launched into a rapidly-paced introductory course, with emphasis on the national security implications.
Jarod listened, his mind still shaking the images from his head. It was only when Agent Higgins mentioned that Senator Kendall Evan's daughter Kendra was missing, that anger bubbled up again. She was the only student unaccounted for after the blast.
Everywhere Miss Parker looked, people were repressed, lied to, imperiled, even murdered. It outraged her. She inhaled, trying to calm her emotions, forcing herself to focus. She had goals. Protecting her two younger brothers was one of those goals, so she spent as much time as she could overseeing Gabriel's care. She also tried not to take umbrage at the fact that Jarod had decided the best way of protecting Ethan was to send him away. Granted, he was out of harm's way and being nurtured instead of tortured; still, it rankled.
Her second goal was to find her mother's DSA, as well as accept the fact that who she was before her mother's death was important to her future success. However, that was going to take some getting used to. It was the one thing Ethan had told her before he went away, that her strength came from within.
Alone in her office, she stared out the window, but she didn't see the people or the buildings or anything else. Not anymore. What she was actually seeing and thinking about was her problem -- a problem that had grown almost imperceptibly over many years until it weighed her down like the proverbial thousand-pound gorilla. She wasn't sure she could trust her father again, but that no longer mattered as much; she was learning to trust herself.
Parker was waiting for Broots and Sydney when they strode into the office. "Cox seemed rather out of sorts today, any clue as to why?" she asked as she turned in her chair to look at the two men.
"Seems that someone tampered with Cox's taxidermy shipment," Broots whispered. "Manny... you remember Manny down in shipping..."
"Broots..." Parker snapped.
"Well, it seems that all the eyes Cox ordered were replaced with milk white orbs and mailed to him."
"Seems that Jarod isn't turning a blind eye to the Centre's business, eh Sydney?"
"That would seem to be the case, but..." Sydney's reply had a warning bell attached to it. "I think that you should turn on the television, Miss Parker."
"Why? Missing your favorite episode of the 700 Club now that Raines is gone?" She gave him a little smile, and watched as he walked purposefully toward the corner of her office, sliding back a panel to reveal a small television screen.
* * * * * * * * *
The Attorney General had sent in the FBI's highest-ranking special agents, for there was concern that the bombing was an indirect threat on the government.
As they approached the task force headquarters, Jarod and the two agents who had picked him up at the airport were stopped, their identification scrutinized and recorded. Jarod followed them up a long outdoor stairwell to the top floor. They entered a private area, when all movement suddenly halted. Jarod glanced around the frozen scene at the long rows of computer terminals, and the student photos that were near each. This was the pulse point of the operation: direct telephone land lines were linked to the offices of the Attorney General and FBI director.
SAC Greer Paris swung a folding chair around, than sat down knee to knee toward Jarod and pushed up her wrinkled shirt sleeves. Though she was in the center of unimaginable pressure, she smiled as she slowly dipped her hand into a bowl of candy corn.
"I've heard good things about you, Mr. Mershon," she said with a drawl. "Candy corn?"
"It's Jarod," he replied, as he stared at the bowl of yellow, orange and white shaped kernels. "Is Kendra Evans still missing?" He reached into the bowl, taking a handful, and popped them in his mouth, his eyes widening at the sweetness.
"Yes. We can't seem to get hold of a current photograph, she's rather camera shy. At least at school."
Jarod's heart sank. The only bet he was willing to place was that odds at this point were not in their favor.
* * * * * * * * *
By the time he reached the blast site, he had his own bag of candy corn. Strolling the length of the site, Jarod watched the rescue workers carry empty stretchers into the security ring. They worked more methodically now than when he'd seen the first day's televised footage, evidence that they had abandoned hope of finding the missing girl. He walked past shards of glass and boarded windows. He had comprehended the death toll almost immediately, as well as the sobering truth of the individual lives lost.
A wave of fury rose through his body, deeper and more powerful than he imagined it could be, and he founding himself waging a battle within himself. A feeling of sickness seeped through his limbs and heart to be this close to that degree of evil, to see it, to touch it. Once again, something tickled the back of his mind, teasing him with memories he couldn't quite access. It had something to do with evil and darkness... Gritting his teeth, he pushed those thoughts away.
"Jarod! You okay?" Agent Maxwell asked as he caught up with him. Jarod nodded, but kept his face turned away.
"Ten seconds," he muttered, angrily, his hand tightening on the plastic bag.
"From the moment of the detonation, the explosion and then the implosion. My estimation is ten seconds." He pushed the bag of candy toward Agent Maxwell, his anger slowly dissipating at the carnage and destruction he was witnessing.
* * * * * * * * *
The sun was setting, and he was going on thirty-six hours without sleep from the time he first saw the aftermath of the explosion on television. He had less than six hours to get to McLean, Virginia, and the senator's home. He sat on the edge of the bed, which was littered with empty candy bags, as he prepared for the interview with Senator Evans. A knock on the door interrupted him; sliding off the bed, he peered through the peep hole and then swung the door open.
"The video tape from the school's surveillance camera is back from the lab. Want to take a look?" Greer Paris held up the small black tape, her features expressionless. "I want to show you something. As you know, we interviewed everyone that was on staff, except..."
"What do you mean except?" Jarod replied, shaking his head, the earlier fury returning.
"The school hired a temporary groundskeeping assistant who has since disappeared; unfortunately, we haven't been able to locate him. We thought at first that he was caught in the blast, but that wasn't the case -- the hidden video camera leading to the woods caught him on tape and he wasn't alone." She slid the video in to the slot, picked up the remote and hit the fast forward button, stopping the tape.
The picture was fuzzy, but recognizable as Jarod studied the shot. The white hair a dead giveaway, and the young girl with him could only be Kendra Evans. Jarod hadn't seen Mr. White in well over a year, on the plane ride from Hell. His presence could only mean one thing: the Centre was involved. The question was, why? What was Kendra Evans' connection to the Centre?
"He should be rather easy to find, don't you think?" Paris turned to look at the man who had moved off the bed and closer to the screen. Jarod was beyond shocked, and a cold spike ran through him. "I want you to take a picture of this man to Senator Evans. In the meantime, I'm having these photos printed and flashed everywhere in the universe. We're going to get this son of a bitch no matter what."
* * * * * * * * *
Sydney hit a couple of buttons on the television, and Parker watched CNN announce that the explosion, which had killed fifteen students as well as wounded many others, was now being classified as an act of terrorism against innocent children. She watched the scene shift from the announcer to the devastation at Wyndham Academy, to a video shot of a man that she recognized. Sharp intakes of breath from her two companions signaled that they recognized the man as well. After all, they were the ones who had informed her about the albino in the first place. An all points bulletin had been issued in the states for any information. The news was like a transfusion. But locating him would be impossible on her own, especially with an army of Feds after him. Her expression was one of stone as she walked over and flicked off the set, then picked up the phone.
"Daddy, I have a lead on Jarod." She hung up the phone. "This is exactly the sort of situation that he would involve himself with, don't you agree, Syd?"
* * * * * * * * *
The house was silent at 8:15 in the morning, the sounds of his shoes echoing in the hallway as he walked into the elegant living room. Jarod had hit the stage of fatigue where sleep didn't matter anymore. He needed to help someone, and since it was too late for him to help Zoe, locating Senator Evans' daughter would have to suffice.
"Do you know why your daughter was taken, Senator?" Jarod asked.
"I've been raising too many questions, and expressed my doubts about approving the current defense budget in the Senate. There's a special project that the government, namely the Pentagon, wants approved. I've been rather vocal in the way that we received the technology, so I've made some enemies. Couple of weeks ago, my daughter thought that someone was following her, and yet no one at her school saw anyone."
"Did she get a look at the person that she thought was following her?" Jarod asked, as he removed the video scan from the folder in front of him, handing it to the Senator. "Anything she told you would be useful."
Evans handed the picture back. "Sorry, I don't recognize him. After she complained of being followed, I received a phone call about her, here at home." The man stopped talking for a moment, his body trembling. "I thought she'd be safe. She had security at the school, it was supposed to be airtight. I want my daughter found. Since her mother died five years ago, she's started to withdraw into herself. She used to be such a happy little girl." The Senator walked over to the baby grand piano and removed a silver frame from it. Walking back toward the couch that Jarod occupied, he extended the photograph. "My job doesn't allow me to spend a lot of time with her, but she's my life."
"This phone call, what was it about specifically?" Jarod asked, his eyes never leaving the photograph. A smile that could light up a room, bright happy blue eyes, long reddish-brown hair... something about the photo struck a chord with him. His finger traced the girl's smile. "Beautiful."
"Isn't she? The call was a veiled threat, nothing more." The Senator turned away, and yet Jarod caught a flicker of worry in the man's eyes.
"Sir, if your daughter was threatened, we need -- I need -- to know the nature of the threat. It could help explain why your daughter was the target."
"You know that I am involved in the Committee for Defense Spending in the Senate. Well, about five years ago, a project known as Bellona fell into the government's lap."
Jarod's head jerked up at the use of the word Bellona, his eyes narrowing slightly. It wasn't possible... or could it be the same project that he, himself, worked on while at the Centre?
"This project, it's something that the DOD is eager to see funded because they've spent years developing it?" Jarod's voice took on a neutral tone.
"No, someone else did all the preliminary work. The Defense received designs for exotic, high-energy, pulsed-power sources. It was a done deal. The components worked, the defense was all excited, they saw how the technology could be used to create a fundamentally new kind of warhead. From the start, I've had my doubts -- the more I learned the creepier it got. The project is too weird, it didn't seem to come from any physics class I ever took. The technology is too advanced, some of the components are being fabricated elsewhere. I was going to speak out, demand full disclosure about the project."
"But why your daughter, Senator? Do you believe that someone you work for or with would kidnap you daughter, just to stop you?"
"It was whomever is funding this project, Agent Mershon. It had to be." The senator raked his hand through his hair, then turned back to face Jarod. "They knew the truth about --"
"Kendra was adopted. My wife and I never told her." The Senator paused before he continued. "My wife was planning to, but she was killed in an automobile accident. Kendra was ten, and I couldn't bring myself to do it after that. You see, Kendra's rather special. Not only is she intelligent, but she has a gift." Jarod's gaze fell upon the photograph again; there was something about the girl's smile that seemed to call to him. His eyes returned to the Senator.
And as he studied the grave face of Kendall Evans, what he was really thinking about was a little girl who had a similar smile a long time ago, a smile which had eventually been driven away. He also thought about how Zoe's smile was taken away through her needless death. For those smiles, he could handle anything. Even the Centre's machinations. The warning bells had gone off in his head at the mere mention of Bellona, but now when the Senator talked about his daughter and a special gift, Jarod knew that there was more at stake here than a weapons project for the Pentagon.
"The budget vote is scheduled for Monday, Jarod. I planned on demanding full disclosure on Friday, before the House votes," the senator said softly, as he slumped into the chair next to the couch. "Please find my daughter." He sat in long silences between his deep breaths, his eyes clinched shut in concentration. "I am still going to ask for disclosure..."
Jarod rose from his spot on the couch and headed for the doorway, then stopped and slowly turned around.
"Senator, you said that Kendra was adopted. Is it possible that her biological parents have tracked her down and want -- ?"
"Impossible, the people at NuGenesis told us her parents were dead."
Jarod's eyes opened wide. His feet unable to move forward. He couldn't make a single word emerge from his mouth.
"NuGenesis?" his volume edged up when he finally could speak.
Jarod started 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...."
Parker pulled her car off the road into a grove of dense oak and birch trees. She waited there, watching the rustic lodge and the matching outbuildings. Her pulse began to race.
Twenty minutes later, she heard the roar of car engines. With relief, she watched them pass her hiding place and disappear among the trees. She reached the lodge, watching everywhere. The three sweepers left behind were no problem since they knew her, but she didn't want to take the chance. At a side door to the lodge, she breathed deeply and gazed around one more time. Then she opened the door. The house was eerily quiet, a massive wood coffin. Almost everyone left when the alarm was sounded that Jarod was sighted in the vicinity. She had to admit that Broots was good at his job. She knew that Lyle would not stash a prisoner on the first floor.
She slowly made her way upstairs, when she stopped before a closed door. Parker tried the knob. Locked. He skin prickled. Nerves.
Glancing left and right, she drew a small case from behind her back and extracted a set of narrow picklocks. She worked skillfully through three of them. Finally, the fourth opened the lock with a quiet click. Again, she listened. Parker pulled out her 9mm and turned the knob. The door swung open silently, its hinges well oiled. She gripped her weapon firmly.
The room was a dark, shadowy cell with no windows. A rectangle of light spilled in from the hallway. Ahead a mounded figure lay on the only piece of furniture -- a narrow cot shoved against the far wall. She sped softly to the bed.
"Kendra?" she whispered.
"What? Who?" the figure moved into a sitting position, causing the cot to creak.
"Are you all right?" Parker reached out to support her shoulders but Kendra was sitting upright already. Kendra stiffened. "Let's get you out of here."
Kendra was suddenly suspicious, and cringed back against the wall. "You could be one of them."
"I am one of them, but I'm going to get you out of here safely."
Kendra cocked her head. Her gaze grew sharp and analytical. It was a simple matter; if she decided not to trust this woman, she would lie. That is, if the voice in her head would let her.
With Parker in the lead and Kendra half-running, they moved quickly down the stairs, and through the deserted hallway to the rear door where Parker had parked the car. Kendra's brain was working at full speed now, and her emotions were ratcheted to a fever pitch. As they reached the door, Kendra stumbled and grabbed for Parker's arm. A surge of something unfathomable pulsed through them, almost dropping them to their knees. Parker froze for a second. Once recovered, Parker pushed her outside. She pulled open the door and Kendra climbed in.
Parker turned on the ignition and drove away, breathing deeply with relief. It was only when they were on the highway that she looked over at the young girl who sat in the passenger seat. Then, she saw it. She realized why she had risked so much to rescue the Senator's daughter. She was saving something good. Herself. Every fiber in her body screamed with a sense of purpose.
Kendra reached forward and turned on the radio, then started to tune in another station. Parker watched the young teen from out of the corner of her eye. Picking up her cell phone, she hit the speed dial button, waiting.
"Sydney, I need Senator Evans' home address."
The young girl looked over at the woman who had rescued her, opening than closing her mouth, when suddenly the radio station's news update mandated their attention.
"Never mind, Syd. Just meet me at the Capitol Building. Seems that the Senator isn't at his residence. Oh, by the way have you heard from Jarod lately?" His response was in the negative, and Parker terminated the call.
* * * * * * * * *
Jarod was still locked in a meeting with SAC Greer Paris and the others from the team when the call came that the Senator had decided to address the press at the steps of the Capitol building. Excusing himself, he made his way out of the upstairs office and pulled out his cell phone.
"Sydney, where's Miss Parker?"
"She's on her way to the Capitol Building."
"I take it that the visit to the lodge at the Grange yielded the results expected. Tell her to be careful, Sydney. The Centre's going to be at that meeting with the Senator, and I wouldn't want her to get caught in the crossfire."
"Neither of you plan on telling me why though, other than Sim 230's importance."
"The less you know, the better. I've got to go," with that he terminated the call.
* * * * * * * * *
Dusk had settled over the city, and the streets were no longer subject to the rush hour traffic as Parker neared the Capitol Building. The car pulled up along the curb, only to find themselves blocked from the numerous TV news crews, there for the Senator's press conference. The young girl looked out her window, her blue eyes frantically searching the crowd for someone. When her eyes found the tall figure surrounded by not only men in dark suits but lights and reporters, a small smile graced her features. As suddenly as the smile appeared, her brow furrowed and she rubbed her fingers to her temple.
"He's in danger," she whispered, "I need to get to him." And before Parker could stop her, the young girl bolted from the car and made her way toward the steps of the building. Parker caught the movement of three men, and instinctively got out of the car and slowly made her way toward the crowd. Scanning the crowd, her eyes finally fell on Kendra, who had almost reached her father. Her skin prickled as she watched the Senator turn at the sound of his daughter's voice, when there was a popping noise. Parker watched the Senator's back arch and then he fell to his knees. Parker watched as the Senator pushed his daughter toward the man on his right, while pistols barked around her. Kendra twisted to her right and fell into Jarod's arms. There was no mistaking what had happened, the Senator as well as his daughter had been shot.
"No!" Her scream was drowned out by the sound of sirens and gunfire.
Parker started to reach behind her for her own gun, when a hand gripped her shoulder.
"Don't, Parker, there could be repercussions."
"But..." she started, only to have the good doctor shake his head.
Adrenaline pumping, Jarod pressed a hand to the hole in his charge's back, time lost all meaning. Closer the sirens wailed. His eyes scanned the crowd, and locked with Parker's. His lips trembled, but no words came.
He looked down at the blood oozing through his fingers. He applied more pressure, then closed his eyes and prayed.
* * * * * * * * *
It was Halloween, and Broots was trying to finish up his work so he could get home and take his daughter and her friends trick-or-treating, when the door to the lab opened and a large wooden crate was delivered.
"Mr. Cox?" the messenger said.
"Mr. Cox... he's not..." Broots stuttered. At that moment Mr. Cox stuck his head into the room. His face tense, his eyes cheerless in the harsh fluorescent light.
"What's this?" he asked, his mouth compressed into a thin, tight line.
"It's for you," Broots whispered, sweat already glistening on his forehead, his mouth dry, as he tried to leave the room.
"Stay, Mr. Broots." Following the directions that were stamped on the crate, Cox slowly removed the top to reveal a grim gift. Broots' eyes nearly bulged out of his head, and he had to suppress the urge to speak. The gift, similar to the one that Jarod had left to remind Miss Parker of her first meeting with Thomas Gates, was personal in nature. A graveyard scene, three tombstones, each bearing a name, and a familiar person standing behind them, only this person had turned-down wings attached to him.
"Happy Halloween, Mr. Broots," Cox said as he turned and stormed out of the lab.
Broots walked over to the model and got down on his haunches, looking closely at the tombstones. He shuddered. One was labeled Zoe; the second, Senator Kendall Evans; and the third bore the name of Mr. Cox.
* * * * * * * * *
In her home, Parker flicked on her desk lamp and collapsed into her chair, weary and frustrated. She leaned back and massaged her temples, trying to ward off a headache, when the shrill of her phone pierce the silence.
"Are you all right?" Jarod's words hung in the air.
"How should I be?" she countered. "More innocent people died because of..."
"And will continue to die, unless something is done to stop them. You took a step towards that by rescuing her."
"Some would-be savior I turned out to be. How is...?" her voice trailed off.
"Nothing has changed, Miss Parker. We are still alone, all of us, for now, " and with that the call was terminated.
* * * * * * * * *
Jarod looked through the glass windows at the frail figure hooked to all the machines of a modern hospital, held captive for now. He pushed the door open; took a seat next to the bed, patting her pale hand before he reached for the worn paperback on the nightstand.
"Should I read some more to you?"
She nodded slightly, then tried to smile.
Opening the book to the marked page, he began to read:
"If plain men hide their true name from all but a few they love and trust utterly, so much more must wizardly men, being more dangerous, and more endangered. Who knows a man's name, holds that man's life in his keeping. Thus. . . ." Jarod looked up from the book and saw Kendra's eyes slowly close, her breathing changing to signal that she had drifted off to sleep.
The door opened slowly, the doctor in-charge entering, a clipboard in her hand.
"I'm not sure I feel comfortable about releasing her. I made the call that you asked, though, and St. Catherine's on the Hill is expecting her. You will monitor her closely, won't you, Doctor Brazelton?"
"Of course," Jarod replied. "She's rather special."
End of Episode
My Would-Be Savior