A Shot in the Dark

 

home / season six / episode thirteen / act III

   

Lake Catherine, Maine

The small alcove, set deep in the apple orchard behind Ben Miller's home, was the sort of serene and peaceful setting that Morgan Parker knew her mother must have loved. Ben had wandered a short distance away, supposedly checking on the bare trees, but the woman felt herself being watched, possibly compared, to the woman who had so often sat here. Whereas once this would have made her uncomfortable, now it merely saddened her.

Looking around, her eye was caught by a swing that hung on the branch of one of the trees. With a smile, she got up and strolled over to it, sitting down on the broad seat and looking up into the face of the man who had stepped over to stand beside her.

"I can see why my mother loved this place so much."

"She always dreamt of bringing you here," Ben reminisced. "She told me that, one day, she would manage to take her daughter with her when she came."

"Did you ever have children?"

The question was out before she could prevent it, but Morgan realized that she had been trying to find a way of phrasing it all morning that wouldn't sound too blunt. Before she could say anything else, however, Ben sadly shook his head.

"Not that I didn't want to," he admitted, "but I could never have any kids of my own."

* * * * * * * * *

Die Fakultat
Berlin, Germany

Julia pulled the door of the room closed after signing a farewell to its occupants and turned to find Tommy Tanaka leaning against the wall, his arms folded, in the stance he had adopted when she entered it. His face wore a look of enquiry.

"They're deaf?"

"Yes, sir."

"But not by birth."

She looked at him out of the corner of her eye as they headed for the elevators, her face wearing a small smile. "Are you psychic too, Mr. Tanaka?"

He chuckled. "When the woman spoke, her tones suggested that she learnt speech as a child. A child with hearing."

"You're correct, sir. They lost their hearing during an experiment slightly less than three decades ago."

"Here?"

"No, Mr. Tanaka." She led the way out of the elevator and into the café, large glass walls of which looked out onto the street below. "Both of them, along with a number of others here, took part in a project at the Centre in the mid-1970s."

"Under whose direction?"

"That of Mr. Raines. He was a doctor at the time. In fact," she remarked as she sat at a table next to the window, Tommy holding the chair for her before taking a seat opposite, "it was that project which stripped him of the title."

Tanaka raised an interrogative eyebrow. "I thought, from everything I read, that Raines got rid of it by choice."

"That," she commented with a smile, "is what he would like people to believe, but the project that caused the deafness in Clare and Michael as well as enhancing Joseph's ability to heal was what resulted in him officially losing his right to practice."

"Will you tell me about it?"

Julia made no attempt to hide her amusement. "Is this just another attempt to hear my voice, sir?"

He grinned. "Something like that, yes."

Nodding acquiescence, she smiled. "Very well, Mr. Tanaka. I will tell you."

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

"What can I do for you, Dr. Raines?"

"I need antibiotics," Edna responded. "And I need them as quickly as you can get them, Eve."

The younger woman eyed the two rows of full beds. "What is it?"

"Bacterial meningitis."

"All of them?" The woman's skepticism showed on her face. "Without any contact with each other, they all manage to get it simultaneously?"

"No," Edna stated firmly. "It was artificially induced in an attempt to make a vaccine."

"Obviously, it didn't work."

"Considering there was a mere half hour between administering the vaccine and the disease, it was hardly going to, was it?"

Eve narrowed her eyes. "And does the Triumvirate know about this?"

"Eve," the doctor reminded her. "We don't have time for this. The antibiotics."

"Yes, doctor," the woman murmured, leaving the room abruptly.

* * * * * * * * *

Green Acres Psychiatric Institute
Hartford, Connecticut

Sydney read through his notes, sitting in Michelle's car, in the parking lot of Green Acres. He had hoped Dannie would never recall that particular experiment and it had certainly appeared, before that day, as if that would be the case. Now, the psychiatrist thought ruefully to himself, it would be necessary to find the DSA on the mainframe and return the next day to show it to him, a result of Dannie's plea to know what really happened, and which Sydney felt was a good way to get rid of the nightmares. Starting the car and heading off to Springfield, Sydney's mind traveled back to his return from Europe so many years earlier, when he had been informed of the experiment that had been performed in his absence.

Entering the room, Sydney's eyes traveled over the empty but neatly made bed, unable to figure out where the room's usual occupant was. Even as he turned, a sweeper appeared behind him.

"Excuse me, Doctor?"

"Yes?"

"Mr. Parker asked to see you as soon as possible, sir."

"Thank you." He stopped the sweeper before the man could leave. "Do you know where I might find Jarod?"

"I believe that's what he wants to talk to you about, sir."

"Good." Sydney let the door shut behind him before heading for the elevators that would take him up from SL-22 to Mr. Parker's office in the Tower. A weary-looking Edna Raines got on several levels before he arrived at his destination and Sydney eyed her in concern. "Is something wrong, Edna?"

"It's been a long few days, Sydney." She looked over at him sharply. "Haven't you heard about what happened yet?"

"I've only just got back from a conference. I'm slightly out of the loop."

"Should I fill you in?"

"I've got to go up and see Mr. Parker now and I'm assuming he'll tell me."

"Well, when you're done, Jarod's in one of a series of rooms we had to set up on SL-11."

"Why?" The question came out like a shot, but she shook her head.

"I'm not going to do Mr. Parker's job. Let him tell you."

As the elevator stopped, he let her get out first, following her off it and then turning in the opposite direction, arriving outside Mr. Parker's office. Letting out a slow breath, he knocked once and then entered.

"You wanted to see me, Mr. Parker?"

"Yes, Sydney, come in." He waved towards an empty chair. "I have to inform you of a -- " the man paused. "A development that occurred while you were in Europe."

"Does it have to do with Jarod?"

"Among others, yes." He turned the DSA player around and inserted a disk, letting Sydney watch several minutes of Raines being subjected to a T-Board, before Parker stopped the footage and gave him a folder. "These are the notes he made of the project, or at least copies of them. You'll need to see them so you'll know approximately how long it will be before Jarod is able to resume his work."

* * * * * * * * *

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

"How many kids were sick?"

"In total, thirty, but I only ever got to know six or seven of them."

"And how many died?"

"All but ten." Jarod shook his head sadly before looking over at the boy who had curled up on his sleeping bag. "They created three different vaccines and gave one to each group."

"No control group?"

"To control what?" The man shrugged. "They weren't comparing anything; they were attempting to create something new. It's hard to control that. And anyway, they knew how normal meningitis progressed. "

"So what happened?"

"We were divided randomly into three groups and cared for on different sublevels during the time of the trial."

"Trial?" Jordan raised an eyebrow. "What kind of a stupid term is that?"

"It's Raines' term," the older man responded, grinning faintly. "And I had that exact same thought. But to continue, by the time I knew enough to be aware of my surroundings only six beds in the room were being used. All the others had recovered enough to be taken to other parts of the Centre."

"And you?"

"I developed a high fever, which they later found was a reaction to a vaccine component. A report I read stated that they didn't think I'd live for a few days." Jarod gazed thoughtfully at the ceiling. "They discovered my other allergy at that time too."

"Trust you to go to extremes," the boy grinned.

"Actually, I was pretty meek and mild -- "

"There's a first time for everything," Jordan interrupted.

"Can I continue?" Jarod glared at him in exasperation. "Or would you prefer I did to wake you up every night for the next week?"

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

Edna moved along the room, turning out the dim lights over each bed and placing a hand on each of the sick children's foreheads to check their temperatures. The twins at the far end lay on their sides, facing each other, and it was with a feeling of mild amusement that she noticed they were lying in identical positions, the expressions on their faces strikingly similar. Looking at the charts hanging on the end of each bed, Edna noticed that their temperatures were also the same at any given point in the day.

Only one of the patients was still awake -- the eldest, who stared blankly at the ceiling, his lips moving soundlessly, and barely blinking.

"Jarod?"

Edna leaned over him, one hand on his forehead and startled at its warmth. As she bent closer, she could hear as he began to whisper the words that he had been mouthing for some time.

"Cree craw toad's foot…"

Walking over to the table, above which hung the only remaining illuminated light in the room, and on which lay an assortment of syringes, she picked one up. Even as she filled it, the door opened and a group of men walked into the room.

"Dr. Raines?"

She turned. "Mr. Parker, I'm not sure it's a good idea for anybody to be coming in at this point. All of the children are quite contagious."

"We need to review them." He stepped closer. "What do you know of your husband's plans about this project?"

"All I know, sir, is that I received word of a number of children being brought down here to recover from meningitis. That's what has happened since yesterday morning."

"And," he nodded at the syringe in her hand, "who's that for?"

"Jarod, sir. He hasn't slept since being brought down here, and unless he does, he's not going to be able to recover."

"Very well." The man stepped back slightly. "Give it to him, and then we'll need to hear everything you have to tell us."

Nodding, the woman walked over to the bed and quickly administered the shot, a hand resting on the boy's arm until she saw his eyelids finally close and felt his formerly tense muscles relax.

* * * * * * * * *

"I understand that you have concerns, Dr. Raines."

"Sir, it appears to me that a number of the children are reacting to components of the vaccine with which they were treated prior to being exposed to the meningitis itself. Until now, I'd been unable to account for it, but with what you just told me, it seems to be the most likely cause."

"Cause of what?" Mr. Parker looked at her sharply.

"Some of the children have begun suffering from violent mood swings."

"Dr. Raines, surely in illness…"

"Not to this extent, sir." She held out one arm and let him see the place where the skin had been rubbed raw. "One of them did that earlier this morning."

"Which one?"

"Dannie, sir."

"Dannie?" The man stared at her, his mouth partly open in astonishment. "Are you sure? He's usually one of the most gentle, peaceable…"

"He wasn't this morning, sir. It was as if he were possessed. If a sweeper hadn't been passing to give me a hand, I'm not sure we would have kept him down on the bed." She glanced over at the bed where the child lay, under heavy sedation.

"And the others?"

"Several of them seem to feel that they should be working rather than lying here and recovering. If it continues, I'm concerned that one or more of them could do damage to themselves…"

"Or to you," Mr. Parker mused. "Or each other. Very well," he stated abruptly. "We'll have at least one sweeper in here at all times to prevent things like that." He eyed the mark on her arm again. "And we will conduct tests on the components of the vaccine to find out what can be done to help the children."

Edna nodded, hiding her sigh of relief as he walked to the door. "Thank you, sir."

* * * * * * * * *

Wiping the last thermometer with the alcohol swab, she returned it to the holder by the bed before looking at the boy lying there. He's only a child, she thought sadly. Admittedly, a child who showed great powers to heal, but still only a child. What had a child done to deserve a life like this? Edna thought back to the conversations she had had with Catherine Parker about rescuing the children and now understood what drove the woman until her murder, at the hands of the man she, Edna, was forced to call "husband." Walking past the last bed, Edna saw the boy's eyelids flutter several times before they opened and she went over to him.

"Jarod? Can you hear me?"

The boy struggled to focus on her face, faintly able to note the curly red hair, as he licked his dry lips. "M…Mom?"

"No, Jarod." She shook her head, smiling. "I'm not your mother."

"Who are you?"

The woman recalled the directive from the night before given to her by Mr. Parker, that she not tell the children her surname in case it upset any of them, and replied softly. "My name's Edna."

"Are you a doctor?" the boy mumbled as she placed the back of her hand against his forehead.

"That's right." This, she thought, must be the child William had talked about sometimes.

"How did I get sick?" He looked up at her in drowsy astonishment. "I never leave here, and I don't see anybody who's sick."

"You were given something that made you sick, Jarod," she told him quietly. "Don't worry about it now. I'm going to help you get better."

"Will Sydney help me too?"

"Sydney's not here at the moment, Jarod. I'm not sure when he'll be back."

"I won't get better unless he's here." Hot tears filled the boy's eyes, spilling down his cheeks as, much to Edna's alarm, he struggled to sit up. "I won't be able to. I'll die…"

"No, Jarod." She put a firm hand on his shoulder, pushing him back against his pillow. "No, I won't let that happen. But you have to lie still and try to sleep."

"I have to get up." He weakly fought against her for a moment. "I have to work."

"Jarod, listen to me." She spoke sharply, seeing the sweeper in the corner rise to his feet, but the doctor's shake of the head kept him away from the bed. "Jarod, you have to stay here. Do you understand? If you don't, then you'll only get worse."

She saw him give a nod and felt him relax back against the arm she slipped behind his shoulders, the beads of sweat glistening on his forehead as his lips parted to try and draw in breaths that his blocked nasal passages were preventing. His lips began to move once more, muttering the same words she had heard the night before, and after lowering him back down to the pillow, she leaned over so that he could see her face.

"Who taught you that, Jarod?"

"My mom," he answered with a tiny smile, his tone suddenly childish. "She taught it to me before I came here."

As the file completed its conversion, Angelo attached it to the email he had prepared and typed in the address. Sending it off, he waited until the voice told him that it had been successful before closing down the machine and putting another disc in the DSA player, starting it up and staring at the screen.

The room contained five empty beds and five with occupants, three boys and two girls. As Edna was about to rise from her seat and go around to the beds, the door opened and a group of men walked into the room.

"Can I help you?"

"We've come to collect the children."

Edna stared at the man in astonishment. "Excuse me?"

"We have orders to transfer these five children to Die Fakultät."

"I'm sorry but none of these five are fit to travel."

"And that's your professional opinion?" the man sneered.

"Certainly. If you want them to survive the trip," she replied quickly, "then you'll have to wait for at least another week."

"You have four days."

"Sir," she rose from her seat. "These children have been seriously ill. No matter how good your medical team on the way or on your arrival might be, if you take them before they are medically fit to be moved, you will, without doubt, cause permanent problems of some sort, if you don't kill all five outright."

* * * * * * * * *

Springfield, Massachusetts

After returning from the restaurant, Sydney opened his laptop on the table in the living room and was about to begin trying to locate the file when Broots came in, raising an eyebrow when he saw the man's attention fixed on the screen.

"I thought this was time for R&R."

"If that stands for 'recollection' and 'regret,'" Sydney replied bitterly, "then you're right."

"What is it, Syd?" Broots pulled out a chair and sat opposite him.

"Something you wouldn't know about," the man responded solemnly. "I want you to see if you can find…"

The announcement by the laptop's voice of an incoming email cut him off, and he stared down at the screen for a moment before looking up again, a tiny smile on his face.

"Never mind. I've got it."

"But what is it?"

Sydney sighed deeply as the smile vanished. "A project that all of the children in the Centre were involved in during the mid-1970s."

"Around the time of Eclipse?"

"A few months before it, yes."

"Who was involved?"

"Among those that you'd know: Jarod, Angelo and Dannie. I imagine that Faith was possibly also included."

"Dannie?" Broots frowned for a minute. "You mean that guy who thought he was Einnad and tried to kill Raines and Willie?"

"Precisely." Sydney's expression became serious. "It seems Raines' experiment might have been the cause of the second personality branching off initially."

"There's something ironic in that." The technician grinned half-heartedly. "Did you want me to find the DSA footage of the experiment or something?"

"I did." Sydney activated the attachment and stared down at the screen as the footage started to play. "But I seem to have just received it."

* * * * * * * * *

Lake Catherine, Maine

Morgan stared out of the window to the star-dotted sky outside. The sun was still several hours from rising, but she hadn't slept. Her mother's diary lay open on the bed beside her at the entry in which she had detailed her last visit to this place. Strips of paper marked other important entries, and Parker picked up the diary, glancing through them again. With a sigh she replaced the book, linked her hands behind her head and stared at the ceiling.

"Who is it, Momma?" she breathed. "Why couldn't you tell me? No hints, nothing."

She had entertained a secret hope that, by coming to this place, she would find out who her real father was. It was true that she had eliminated one suspect, and one who had looked increasingly likely since she had first received Jarod's hints about him. Yes, Ben had been a man around who her mother had felt safe. Her regular visits to Maine had proved that. But, her daughter knew, she hadn't been having an affair with this man. Ben Miller had loved Catherine, as Mr. Sun had. But Catherine hadn't given herself to either of them. Morgan's father was someone else. Her instincts once more rose to the surface -- her mother had loved one man, and one man only. Morgan was sure of that. And, when she found that man, she would be looking into the eyes of her father.

Their father.

Rolling onto her stomach, Morgan Parker propped her hands on her chin and stared blankly at the floor. Was it possible that her twin brother somehow knew who their father might be? And, if he did, would he actually be able to tell her? His communication skills were still limited, at best, and it seemed unlikely that he would be able to shape the words.

With a frustrated sigh, she closed the diary and put it onto the bedside table. Getting into bed, she curled up between the sheets and switched off the light. The moon shone in through the window, casting a pale light over everything in the room, and the woman's eyes traveled across the various objects it contained before they closed.

* * * * * * * * *

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Jarod looked over at where Jordan had fallen asleep on his sleeping bag and, a tender smile on his lips, the man gently covered the boy with his coat, and then spread his own sleeping bag over the still form. Rising to his feet, he tossed another log on the fire, watching it ignite before walking over to the window. Outside, the sky was beginning to lighten in the east, and Jarod felt a sudden longing to be in the open air. Taking a notepad out of his shirt pocket, he wrote a short message and left it where Jordan would see it before picking his jacket up from the chair where it lay and pulling it on.

One hand still absent-mindedly rubbed the back of his neck as Jarod closed the door of the cabin and took a step away from the building. His other hand in the pocket of his jacket, Jarod began to walk down the hill in the direction of the rising sun. When his cell-phone rang, he quickly got it out of his pocket and activated it, surprised at receiving a call so early and hoping nothing was wrong at Barrow.

"Hello?"

"Thought about me lately?"

The Pretender stopped short and his jaw dropped. "No way…"

"Nice to hear your voice again, Jarod. It's been a while, hasn't it?"

Jarod's tone was incredulous. "Alastair?!"

"They don't call you a genius for nothing, do they?"

"What are…how are you…when…?"

"Hey, one question at a time!" There was a laughing protest. "I only have one mouth, you know."

"And two ears," Jarod responded quickly. "And unless you've changed a lot since 1975, a darned good brain too, so you should have absolutely no problem in remembering them all."

The man laughed. "Well, we'll see. I might have changed."

Jarod's voice was eager. "Where are you?"

"Yellowstone." The man's amusement was evident. "About half a day's hike away from you. Wake up that other half of you - oh, don't bother. He just woke up on his own - and we'll meet at your crash site."

Jarod turned on his heel and hurried back to the cabin as the man on the other end disconnected the call. He could see the boy in the doorway and ran for the last few hundred feet.

* * * * * * * * *

"So who's Alastair?" Jordan demanded as they began to walk.

"One of the other people who was also given the same vaccine as me."

"Is he a pretender too?"

"No, he's a psychic, or that's what they said about him in the files. According to those I read, he was taken to the German branch as soon as he was well enough to travel, and, as far as I knew, he'd been there ever since."

"Well, unless he learned to fly as well as becoming a psychic," Jordan joked, "I'd guess he got out at some point a while ago."

"Smarty," Jarod teased, ruffling the boy's hair as they walked side by side. "Considering how little sleep you've had, that brain of yours is still ticking over pretty well, isn't it, son?"

"Look who's talking," the boy protested indignantly. "That from a guy who's doing well if his head's on the pillow for more than three hours at a stretch."

Jarod raised an eyebrow. "Who told you that?"

"Lauren Taylor called Da from Down Under last week to see how you were."

"Oh, so she's still telling on me," he laughed. "I'll have to think up some nice form of revenge."

"Maybe invite her here for a visit and then you can be the pilot of the plane that crashes this time," Jordan suggested helpfully. "I'm sure she'd like the lack of responsibility."

"Thanks," Jarod commented sarcastically. "Wonderful."

"I aim to please." The boy grinned. "So how did you and Alastair meet, considering how sick you both must have been?"

The boy opened his eyes, staring blankly at the ceiling for a minute, before trying to pull himself up in bed.

"Bad idea," a voice to his right stated, and Jarod slowly swiveled his head to see a boy in the next bed watching him. "Edna's not here right now, but she won't be too pleased to see you sitting up when she comes back in, considering how sick you've been."

Jarod's voice was weak in reply. "Who…?"

"Edna's the doctor." He looked at the door. "She's about to walk in."

The door opened and the woman softly entered the room, looking up in time to see the boy slide down in bed, and walked over with a half-smile. "Alastair, do we have to have this discussion yet again?"

"Sorry, ma'am." The boy closed his eyes.

"You're not sorry," she scolded, with a degree of severity. "If you were really sorry, you'd use that ability of yours to already be lying down when I came back into the room each time."

"Maybe I like talking to you," he stated in a small voice, opening his eyes to smile at her, a look of innocence on his face.

"You're a regular attention-seeker," she commented, suppressing the urge to smile back at the cheeky boy. "But if you promise to try and sleep now, I'll read you a story later, okay?"

"Uh huh." The boy nodded eagerly, closed his eyes again and rolling onto his side. Smiling, Edna resettled the blankets around him, smoothing his hair, before the doctor turned and saw Jarod watching her.

"How are you feeling, honey?" Gently she touched the back of her hand to his forehead. "Better?"

"I think so." The boy's forehead puckered slightly in confusion. "I don't really remember…"

The doctor's voice was soothing in reply. "That's okay, Jarod. It doesn't matter."

"Have I been sick?"

"Why do you ask that?"

"Well," Jarod glanced over at the boy in the other bed, who winked quickly before closing his eyes again. "He said that you were a doctor, so I guess…"

"He's right." Edna put an arm around the boy's shoulders and raised him to turn the pillow, before putting him back against the cool material. "You have been sick, but it won't last much longer. In a couple of days, you'll be well enough to get up."

Jarod glanced around at the other beds. "Is this a hospital?"

"No, honey, it's still the Centre."

He nodded before looking up at her. "How come Sydney's not here?"

She smiled sympathetically. "He's away, Jarod. He'll be back here in a few days though, and then he'll come to see you."

The boy was about to ask another question when Edna stood up. "That's enough talking for now, Jarod. You need to get some rest." She gently pulled the blanket up, covering him with it. "Later, when I'm reading to Alastair, you can listen, but, like him," she shot a sharp look at the other bed, "you have to sleep for it to happen."

Nodding, Jarod yawned, gazing up at her drowsily for a few seconds before closing his eyes. He vaguely felt her hand touch his forehead again and then the boy was asleep.

On to Act IV

 
  The Pretender - NBC, All rights reserved.
Web Maintenance by Rayhne
  home | primer | season five | season six | staff | updates | guestbook
"Ownership of the characters of The Pretender is property of NBC/TNT/Pretender Productions. Copyright of the original works on this site, including title graphics and written episodes, are the property of their creators and the VS site only, and may not be used without express written consent of the authors/artists/webmaster."