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Prometheus Building
Dallas, Texas

Cam waited for Elizabeth to enter her bedroom before sauntering in after her. Strolling over, he sat down on her bed and looked up at her.

"So, what was that?"

She shot him a look of exasperation. "What was what, Cam? I don't have time for one of your games right now. I want to get some sleep before tonight."

"I'm talking about earlier, when you were playing with Angelique," he continued, ignoring this. "I know how everybody in this place feels. I can pick them after only a few seconds. But I've never felt the things I did today in that playroom. Was that you?"

"If you didn't think it was, would you be asking me?" she snapped. "What do you really want?"

"I want to know why I haven't picked up on it before," he responded, crossing his legs, Indian-style, and watching her closely. "You've been here for weeks. Why now?"

Yielding with a sigh, Elizabeth sat down on a chair opposite him, giving him a quick outline of her conversation with Angelique. "But I can't push away the emotions I pick up from other people's dreams for long," she finished, wearily pushing back a stray curl from her face. "It's like trying to hold up a house."

He nodded understandingly. "Is it worse here?"

"With the nightmares that the Centre causes? I think that's an understatement." She sent him a sympathetic smile. "Even you dream about it, and you weren't there!"

Cam propped his chin on his fist as he considered this. "I guess I must take on a little of other people's emotions when I know what they feel, if it's in my dreams."

"I don't know how you could avoid it," Elizabeth suggested. "Not with what must be coming at you all day, every day."

He grinned suddenly. "We're a pair, aren't we?"

She chuckled softly in acknowledgement. "Yeah, I guess we are. But I hope you never feel as weighed-down as I do."

Cam tilted his head slightly to one side, eyeing her candidly. "Maybe together we can find a way to get rid of it."

Elizabeth looked somewhat skeptical. "We can try, anyway. But let's try later, like tomorrow."

He stood up, laughing. "Well, I can take a hint."

"Good," she told him. "Now, if I can just train Trevor to do the same thing…"

"Oh, I don't think you want to do that," he interrupted, standing in the doorway. "If you only knew some of the stuff that goes on in his head when he looks at you…"

She turned sharply from the wardrobe where she had been putting away her sweater, but the door was already closing behind him and she could hear his footsteps running down the hall a second later. Half-smiling, Elizabeth shook her head as she got changed and slipped between the sheets, trying to dismiss his remarks from her mind.

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

Broots picked up the sheet of paper that contained an intercepted message and read through it, watching the same message flash on his computer screen. His latest scan of the system, to ensure that the morning's disruption had only been caused by Angelo and no other source, had uncovered this message, which the technician found disturbing. Usually he would have taken it straight to Miss Parker, but she'd said that she wanted as much information as he could find about problems he encountered before she was involved.

"Where are you coming from?" he muttered to himself, beginning the long and very laborious process of backtracking the message. It was well concealed and took him several hours, but he finally managed to find it, and his eyes widened as he realized the truth about what he had uncovered. Hiding the intercept in a safe area he had set aside for just such occurrences, he picked up the piece of paper and stuffed it into his pocket, walking immediately into his boss's office.

"Miss Parker?"

She looked up as he appeared in the doorway, and, noting the expression on his face, waved him inside.

"What is it, Broots?"

"I intercepted this." He handed her the sheet of paper and sank down in the chair opposite her as she read it. "Well?"

"Not 'well' at all," she retorted sharply. "Sam's being threatened?"

"He seems to be," the technician agreed. "I backtracked the message."

"And?"

"Somewhere in Europe," he told her succinctly.

"Die Fakultät?"

"Seems so," Broots agreed. "But I couldn't get an identity. There was a wall that kept me from working out exactly who sent it, but it's somebody pretty high-up."

She eyed him. "What did you do about it?"

"Nothing yet. I've got the message stored away. I didn't want to send it along until you knew about it."

"Good." She nodded slightly before eyeing the page again thoughtfully. "It doesn't seem like this is a one-time thing. The wording suggests that Sam's been getting these for a while."

The man eyed her. "So what do you want to do?"

"Put it through to him," she told the technician. "We'll both keep an eye on him. I don't want to confront him with nothing. This isn't enough -- it could be a mistake or a joke. Meantime I also want to know what you can find out about any connection Sam might have with anyone in Berlin." Her eyes narrowed suddenly. "And see if you can find out which computer Sam uses. Go through it to see if copies of the information about the Seraphim Kim saw him looking at is there. He must have done something with it."

"Sure thing." Broots stood up before glancing at his watch. "Uh, you did say…"

The woman's eyes twinkled as she looked up at him. "Okay, Broots, we'll hold off on the next training session -- for today anyway."

With an audible sigh of relief, the man turned and opened the door. Miss Parker couldn't help laughing as he shut the door behind him.

* * * * * * * * *

Virginia

Ethan arrived back in his apartment, tossing a bag of library books he had just borrowed onto his bed. Sitting down at the table in front of the laptop he had purchased after leaving Barrow, he composed an email to Dr. Goetz, as he did each week, before checking his own mail. One message sat in his box, but the sender was unknown to him. Picking up a pencil lying on his desk, Ethan thoughtfully tapped the flat surface with it as he leaned back in the chair, gazing at the screen.

When the cell phone that Jarod had given him for Christmas rang, the young man jumped. Picking it up, Ethan activated it eagerly, expecting it to be one of his family.

"Hello?"

"Is that Ethan?"

The voice was unknown to him, soft and barely audible.

"Who is this?" he demanded, feeling a shiver of fear run up his spine at the thought that this could be a person associated with the Centre.

"Ethan, I have to talk to you. Did you get my message?"

The woman's tones were hurried and the man leaned forward slightly, lowering his own voice as if frightened of being overheard in the empty room.

"What message?"

"The email, Ethan. I sent you one. I'm sure you got it. It's very important for you to find out as much as you can about the boy."

"What boy?" he asked impatiently. His hand reached out for the mouse to open the message, but he caught it back. "Who is this? What do you want?"

"That boy is your son," the woman persisted softly. "Yours and mine. He needs you, Ethan."

"Look, I don't… At least tell me your name!" he finally forced out.

"I'm…"

There was a sudden noise at the other end, like a door being violently thrown open, and then a loud thud, as if the receiver had been dropped on the floor. The woman's voice on the other end was now a loud, almost hysterical scream, barely recognizable.

"Nein! Herr Direktor, bitte! Nein!"

Another thud followed, but this was softer, as if something soft had been flung onto the floor, and Ethan pulled the phone away from his ear, staring down at it as if he could see what had happened. Seconds later, there was a soft click, followed by the sound of the dial tone.

* * * * * * * * *

Caldwell, Idaho

Yuri shut the door of the apartment house where he was currently living, and, thrusting both hands into the deep pockets of his jacket to keep out the cold, pursed his lips into a whistle as he began strolling down the street. Glancing in a shop window as he passed, his eye was caught by a clock hanging on the wall and the man's jaw drooped slightly.

Pulling his left hand out of his pocket, Yuri consulted his watch, holding it to his ear to confirm that the battery was dead and that he was late. He cast a glance at a nearby church clock, just to double-check.

"She's going to have my neck," he muttered to himself as he broke into a run. "Punctuality is her big sticking point."

Rounding a corner, Yuri stopped just in front of the restaurant where he had arranged to meet Emily for lunch, strolling with casual nonchalance in through the door and looking around. His brow furrowed when he saw that she wasn't there. Casting a suspicious look at a clock on the wall, he checked that he hadn't misread the time before pulling his cell phone from his pocket to make sure that she hadn't called.

"Can I help you, sir?"

Yuri looked up to find that a waiter was standing in front of him. "I was hoping to meet a friend of mine here. We made a reservation in the name of Jennings."

"Oh, you just missed her," the waiter tutted. "Emily, wasn't it?"

Yuri's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "How did you know?"

"The man said it, several times. He came in with a group of four or five others. They went right for the table, like they knew who she was. Soon after they came, she left with them."

"Did she leave a message for me?"

"No, I'm afraid not," the waiter apologized. "I think they were in a hurry. Only the one guy said anything. They barely gave even her time to grab her coat, and it's like Siberia out today."

Rocking back on his heels, Yuri examined the man's face, trying to work out if he was telling the truth. After a moment of contemplation, a question occurred to him.

"Can you give me a description of any of these men?"

"They were all pretty unremarkable -- black suits and ties, white shirts, all the same, like they were part of a group."

Yuri felt a shudder go through him. That made it pretty clear.

"Oh, yeah," the waiter interrupted, "and the guy who did the talking was missing a thumb."

* * * * * * * * *

Virginia

Ethan pressed the button to cut the connection, staring at the phone for a second longer, and finally dropped it on the table. Sitting back in his chair, frowning deeply, the man stared at the screen, his eyes running over the sender of the email. MD. All other information would have to wait until he opened the message.

And what had she meant by 'the boy'? A son? Ethan knew that he could have no son, at least not by traditional methods. He had never felt strongly enough about any of the women he had met to want to start a family. But there were other methods and he himself was proof of that. There would have been no difficulty in the Centre getting hold of his sperm for whatever nefarious purpose they chose. Without even knowing anything about the boy, he could immediately feel a flame of protectiveness flare up in him, as well as rage at the way he had been exploited by the Centre again.

Standing, he began to pace the room, trying to remember when they could have had access to his genetic material. He placed a hand on his side, remembering when he had suffered from pain and Raines had suggested that he have his appendix removed, not long after his 18th birthday. As that was the only operation that he could recall having occurred during his life, he decided that that must have been it. Ethan raged at this invasion of his privacy, but it was done and there was nothing he could do about it now as he sank back into the chair with a feeling of hopelessness.

Instinctively, he reached out to open the message. The email address told him nothing so he scrolled down the message, breath catching in his throat at the sight. A small boy gazed at him as a picture was gradually revealed, line by line. Large, blue eyes stared unblinkingly out of the scanned photo, underneath a shock of messy brown hair. A small smile showed on the child's face, revealing shadows that could be dimples.

Scrolling further down the message, Ethan saw several more images of the same boy playing with other children, one that he recognized instantly, drawing in his breath sharply. The photo of his nephew had been one of the first things Jarod had sent Ethan upon his return from his trip to Australia. Now Ethan saw a photo that showed the cousins -- if the woman had told him the truth -- playing with a small, dark-haired girl.

Under the pictures was a name, Uriel. Nothing else. Only the four images and that name. Pulling out a portable printer, Ethan attached it to the laptop and set the machine to print out the four pictures as he began packing a small bag, grabbing the cell phone from the tabletop as he passed it. He had no idea where Jarod was at present, but Ethan didn't simply want to call anybody for information about this. He had to see the expression in the eyes of the person he was talking to, so that left him with only one option. His sister, the one at the Centre. She must know something of the child, his son. At least she could verify if what the woman had told him was true or not. Snatching up the colored sheets of paper as soon as the printer spat them out, Ethan cut out the four pictures and slid them into a side pocket of the bag he carried before closing the machine and packing it away.

Putting on a jacket and dropping a cap onto his head to protect himself from the rain pouring down outside, he opened the door of his apartment, letting it fall shut behind him and locking it before pocketing the key and heading down the stairs.

* * * * * * * * *

Prometheus Building
Dallas, Texas

The boy was playing with a small train, his favorite of all the new toys at this house, building a bridge for it out of large wooden blocks, when he saw the face in the part of his mind where the pictures came. Sitting down in the corner, he stared at the floor, trying to understand who it was.

Daddy.

The word was a whisper, but Uriel had always heard this Voice and it didn't scare him. He concentrated hard on the man, watching him walk through the streets with a hat pulled down over his face to keep off the rain. Uriel wanted a daddy. He knew how much fun Gabriel had with his daddy and how Angelique felt about her Angel. Uriel hoped fervently that the Voice was right and that this man would play with him and love him like other daddies did.

Gabriel looked up from the book he was reading as Michaela ran across the room towards Uriel. In his role as intended head of the group, Gabriel had both naturally developed and been taught to have an awareness of the moods of the Seraphim, and knew that Uriel was seeing one of his 'pictures.' He intercepted the little girl, luring her over to the corner where toys were scattered. Two other children immediately ran up to be included in the game.

As quickly as it had come, the image vanished from Uriel's mind. His eyes cleared and he sat up straighter, knowing that he wouldn't see anything else, no matter how hard he tried. A shriek of laughter from the group gathered in the other corner drew his attention to them and he got up to join them.

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

Collecting her papers, Miss Parker stood and walked around her desk. As she had directed, in order to keep an eye on him, Sam was waiting just outside the office. When she appeared, he straightened up and walked with her down the hall.

"Have we arranged for translators, just in case?" she demanded.

"Yes, Miss Parker," the man responded. "But I don't think it'll be necessary."

"Still, we can't take the risk of complications due to language difficulties," she retorted. "We don't have a lot of time for this, and there's plenty to be discussed."

As the elevator doors closed after them, the sweeper looked up at her. "Do you want me to be there for the whole time?"

"No, Sam," she affirmed, eyeing him cautiously. "When we start, I want you to go and find out how Sydney's doing with Angelo in SL-17."

"Of course," he agreed at once, casting a surreptitious glance at his watch as the door silently slid open and his boss walked out ahead of him. By doing so, Sam missed the sharp glance Miss Parker shot him over her shoulder as she put her hand on the door of the boardroom.

The five people around the table looked around as Miss Parker entered the room. Taking the place at the head of the table, which had been left vacant for her, the woman laid down her folder and then eyed each of the men. Her eyes immediately met those of one of the men seated to her left, noticing that he was now clear-eyed and alert, obviously having recovered from the exhaustion that had been apparent when she'd appeared on his doorstep in Berlin.

They had only seen each other once after those few quick minutes. He had still been asleep when she had left for Die Fakultät to begin her investigations, and when she had returned, he had gone to work, leaving her a note telling her that dinner was in the microwave. Their other meeting had been during his T-Board, but she had left Delius to do the questioning and had simply taken note of his responses. He had been professional and curt, the ideal picture of a man unjustly accused of lying. Even Delius had had no qualms, declaring to her that his head of security would have been utterly incapable of masterminding something as complicated as the abduction of the children.

But there was a knowing sparkle in the blue eyes that were watching her closely as she took out her agenda for the meeting, handing a copy to each man and giving another to one of the sweepers who lined the walls to be placed at the far end of the table for the Chairman. It was an effort for Morgan not to smile, but she managed, keeping her face expressionless and seeing him nod ever so slightly. Before she could speak, however, the Chairman walked in the door.

"Good, good, I see we're all here." He took his seat at the foot of the table. "I think, after this latest fiasco, we all know each other, so let's begin."

* * * * * * * * *

It was a mere twenty minutes after returning to her office that Miss Parker heard the knock on her door that she had been half-expecting. She caught herself smoothing her hair and firmly put both hands on the desk in front of her before calling out.

"Come in."

The man's blond head peeped around the door, his blue eyes twinkling. "Should I?"

"Of course, Mr. Winston," she replied, endeavoring to sound formal. The man grinned, sitting down opposite without an invitation.

"Come on, Parker. We aren't going to be all polite and stiff now, are we? It was bad enough when I was sweating blood at the T-Board." Dimples quirked in his cheeks. "Be nice to me."

"Well, what did you come here for?" she asked, trying to hide a smile. "To discuss security for our two corporations or other reasons?"

His lips twisted into a contagious grin. "That depends. Do you only do work in the office?"

"I try to."

"Then I came to discuss security. Maybe I'll be able to bring up other reasons at other times -- like over dinner tonight."

Miss Parker raised an eyebrow. "Is that an invitation?"

"Well, as I'd be in all sorts of trouble if I gave the daughter of the Chairman an order, I guess it'll have to be, yes."

Leaning back in her chair, the woman folded her arms over her chest. "How do you know that I'm available?"

He laughed. "I took the liberty of booking myself in to your schedule yesterday. I was positive you wouldn't mind."

Glancing sharply at an electronic calendar in a corner of her computer screen, Morgan saw the notation that indicated a high-level meeting and an initial. PW. The woman redirected her gaze over the desk at the man.

"Impressive that you managed to get through my -- "

"Security, yes I know." Peter smiled complacently and there was a knowing gleam in his blue eyes. "We have our own technical experts in Berlin, you know. Perhaps not as good as yours here. We don't seem so capable when intercepting messages as you here in Blue Cove. Still, we're not bad."

* * * * * * * * *

Boise, Idaho

Jarod looked down at the face of his clone on the computer screen. They were both reading a file that, after a lot of effort, they had managed to find in Donoterase's mainframe.

"Son, are you sure it was 'Echo' that the man said?"

Jordan's face was flushed as his eyes met those of his double. "Positive."

"Okay, well, we don't have much," Jarod commented. "It's a pretty big secret, whatever it is."

"Looks like they've been working on it for about six years," Jordan added as he picked out the date on which the project had been activated. "Who's in charge?"

"Cox," Jarod told him glumly, having found this piece of information first. "The thing I don't get is how he's got a project that the Centre doesn't know about."

"Most people didn't know about me," Jordan reminded the older man, and Jarod couldn't help smiling slightly.

"The most powerful ones did. And now," he added with a grin, "the most important ones do as well."

Jordan responded to the humor with a smile that slowly faded as he once more looked at the information in front of him. "But this isn't at Donoterase."

Jarod raised an eyebrow. "How do you know?"

"Once Da and I got somewhere safe from that airstrip in North Carolina, I went looking for my own file and found the code name they use for Donoterase. That wasn't it." He nodded at the name on the file. "Anyway, the address for that place -- whatever it is -- is in Blue Cove. We both know that Donoterase isn't there."

"Yes, that's true," Jarod agreed. He eyed the address thoughtfully. "You know, I'm wondering if Cox has this project at his own home. He'd know that the Chairman would visit Donoterase regularly. If he kept this project at his house, there wouldn't be any danger of it being found."

Jordan's brow furrowed. "So why does Cox have to keep in contact with someone at the Centre? Why isn't he doing everything at home?"

"He had to get access to the material so that he could create Project Echo -- whatever it is -- in the first place," Jarod reminded him. "It would also be almost impossible for him to do everything he had to -- create the project, either get rid of or pay off anyone who knew about it, arrange for a transfer for it with him from Africa -- without help of some kind."

The boy nodded in agreement. "When are we going to get it?"

"You aren't," another voice put in and Major Charles walked into the video shot, deliberately sitting in a chair beside Jordan. "No matter what this project is, there's nothing to be gained by trying to bring it here. You don't know anything about it. It's too dangerous."

"But…"

"No, Jordan," Charles told him firmly. "And I mean it. I won't take that risk."

Knowing that he did mean it, the boy shot a glare in the man's direction, grabbed the sheets he had printed out and bolted from the room. There was a long moment of silence after he had vanished, before Jarod spoke.

"You know, Dad, if we hadn't taken a risk three years ago, we wouldn't have Jordan now."

"I know," Major Charles admitted. "But I would have had you."

"No," his son contradicted immediately. "Our situations would be no different. We'd still be on opposite sides of the continent. The main difference is that we'd both be alone."

"Or I wouldn't have you at all," the older man stated softly.

"Possibly," Jarod agreed, quickly changing the subject. "Look, why don't we work on it when I get back there? We can weigh up the risks and do what we can."

His father raised an eyebrow. "You're determined to dig into this project too?"

"Yes," the Pretender stated determinedly. "I want to know about all their dirty little secrets, especially the ones they try to keep from each other."

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

Sydney limped slowly into the dimly lit former storeroom in time to see Angelo push something into one of the cubbyholes that the room boasted. When a corner of the white box caught on a hook, the psychiatrist stepped over, but Angelo forced himself between the carton and the man, a warning glare on his face. Immediately, Sydney took a step back, using the cane to maintain his still somewhat unsteady balance.

"All right, Angelo," he stated calmly. "You do it. I was only trying to help."

Expecting no response, Sydney was rather surprised to see the shy grin that the empath shot in his direction. Nodding in response, the older man turned away, seeing out of the corner of his eye as the other man scrambled out of the corner and hurriedly left the room. Sydney was going to follow him out, but his eye was caught by a familiar name written on a folder that was lying on a nearby bench.

"Kendra Evans," he murmured, picking up the folder and looking through it quickly. Seizing a photo that was taped to the back cover, he tore it out, holding it up so that light from one of the brighter lights in the hallway fell on it. His eyes softened as he took in the features, but it was when he took a look at one of the last pages in the folder that he gasped, slapping the booklet shut. Shooting a sharp glance around the room to make sure that Angelo was gone, Sydney slid the folder into a pile of others he was carrying before leaving.

When Angelo reentered several minutes later, the room was free of occupation. Looking at the shelf, the empath smiled to himself and reached into another pile of papers that he had pushed into a dark corner, producing a color photograph and holding it up to his face, gently stroking the female figure's cheek on the flat photographic paper.

"Momma," he mewled, gazing at it for another few seconds before letting the picture fall to the floor, where it was immediately hidden in the darkness, and ambling off in another direction.

* * * * * * * * *

Boise, Idaho

Jarod glanced at his watch as he disconnected the call and immediately began gathering his belongings, knowing that his sister wouldn't be happy it if he was late. Packing everything into his carryall and printing out the Echo files, his mind was still exercised by the project. Slipping the pages into a pocket of his laptop satchel, he was about to turn off the machine when he heard a sharp knock on his door.

Remembering other occasions, when Faith and Rebecca had turned up with information about his work, Jarod found himself hoping that this would be a similar situation and eagerly moved over to the door, throwing it open. The Pretender stared in silence for a moment at the man who stood there before finally finding his voice.

"Yuri?"

The man smiled weakly. "Hello Jarod."

"What are you doing here?"

"I need your help." The man paused. "It's Emily."

The older man stiffened immediately, his eyes becoming hard, glinting dangerously. "What do you know about my sister?"

"It's… I'm… I think she's been abducted. By the Centre."

The hard beginning over, the younger man waited. It had taken Yuri quite some time to arrive at the decision that he would be unable to solve this situation on his own. Aware that his best chance of success would be the man who had eluded the Centre for so long, and knowing his sister was going to meet him, although Yuri had carefully excused himself from that meal, the Pretender had guessed that Jarod would be in the area. It had taken a few hours, but he had tracked Jarod down, trying to get there before the older man left to meet Emily, exceeding the speed limit all the way and now arrived on his doorstep. Before Yuri could explain this, however, the other man seized the lapels of his coat and dragged him into the room, throwing him up against the wall with such force that Yuri's breath was momentarily knocked out of him.

"What did you do to her?" Jarod snarled, his hands dangerously close to Yuri's throat. "What have you done to my sister?"

"Nothing, I swear," the younger man gasped, regaining his breath but stopping himself from striking out at the other Pretender, understanding his reaction. "It's not me at all. It's Lyle."

Jarod's eyes widened momentarily, but he didn't change his position, except to gain a firmer footing. "And why would you care? What do you care about anybody except yourself?"

"I do, Jarod," Yuri pleaded, trying to remain calm. "I care about Emily a lot. We met a couple of months ago and I guess you could say we're seeing each other."

Only his eyes revealed his astonishment, the rest of Jarod's face still wearing a furious glare. "I don't believe you," he sneered. "This is another one of your games. It's not funny."

"It's not, Jarod, I swear to you. When I first met Emily, I was trying to find you, and I'll admit that I was sort of using her at the time for that. But I felt sorry for her too. I know what she's gone through, with her family, with you. It was fun for me at first. She had no idea who I was, or that I had any connection to that place, and she treated me like a friend. I didn't want to feel things for her but, I don't know, it just kind of happened." He could feel his eyes widening, revealing the panic he felt. "Please, Jarod, you and I both know what Lyle might do to her. I couldn't bear for that to happen. Please. Help me and I'll help you. Working together, I know we can save her."

Jarod began to feel that the man was telling the truth. He loosened his hold and backed away a step, maintaining eye contact. "What do you know?"

"We were supposed to meet for lunch at this Thai restaurant we both like, in Caldwell. When I got there -- and I was running a little late -- she wasn't there, but one of the waiters told me a group of men wearing black suits had come in, talked to her, and she left with them. Now, you know as well as I do that they won't abduct someone in the middle of a busy restaurant, but, if they threatened her, she might not feel like she had any choice but to go with them."

Nodding slightly, Jarod's eyes narrowed. "How do you know Lyle was one of them?"

"One guy was missing a thumb," Yuri stated flatly. "Who else could it be?"

"And why come to me?"

"I don't know Lyle, " Yuri admitted. "I never had much to do with him. Raines mentioned him once or twice, but I never met him. Everything I know, I've read in the mainframe while I was making sure I could stay ahead of them. I never expected to have to confront them. But," he continued before Jarod could speak, "I know you do know him. It won't be as easy as it was last time, when Cox and Lyle took Zoe. They'll be expecting you or your dad to try to rescue her. But maybe, working together, we can come up with some way to beat them."

"You really did your research," Jarod commented sneeringly. "But, if you'd read a little better, you would have found out that they called me last time to tell me they had Zoe."

"They only took her four hours ago," Yuri retorted, glancing at the bedside clock. "Last time, they waited more than five before calling you."

Jarod allowed his surprise to show on his face, beginning to think that this was both true and serious. However, he was still reluctant to get involved in any situation where he might have to rely on a man whom he doubted he could really trust. Yuri seemed to read the expression in his eyes and stood up straighter.

"Please, Jarod. I'm not asking you to do this for me. Do it for Emily. Your sister."

This last point decided the older man, who nodded slightly, his voice still a deep growl. "Okay, Yuri. But if you plan to double-cross us, it'll be the last move you ever make."

On to Act III

 
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